The Great Pacific garbage patch is the biggest one, but it’s not the only garbage patch you can find in our ocean. These patches have tons of plastics floating without control, guided by the ocean currents. Usually, you can find them within the five major oceanic gyres, all of them in the subtropical oceans.
You have to imagine the patch not as something solid, but as a diffuse mass of plastic pieces, like bottles, bricks and other plastic bits. This fact makes the patches something really difficult to deal with, because you can’t just locate it and collect it with a net or similar. It takes hundreds of years, even thousands, for the plastic to degradate, so we need to stop our contribution to the plastics right now.
A new study says that even if we completely stop plastic entry to the ocean, the patches will stay another thousand years. That’s not the worst thing. The patches will continue growing for hundreds of years! The Australian researchers placed drifter buoys, to know the movement of the currents, as a part of the Global Drifter Program. They used the collected data to know how the garbage moves around the ocean, and it somehow always ended in one of the gyres. So everyday new garbage from somewhere unknown is added to the patches. And that’s another problem. It’s really difficult to stop the pollution because it has no determined origin. It’s a global problem!
The patches are not a problem for sailors, as one of the authors says: “If you sail through these areas you will not see big lumps of plastics or rubber duckies or things like that. The sun and interaction with the ocean breaks the plastics down into very small pellets that are almost invisible to the naked eye.” But they are a huge problem for the animals, because the bits are so tiny that they eat them while catching the plankton. Also, those plastics have poisonous chemicals that can affect to the ecosystems.
Would you donate to organizations that are going out into the Oceans to clean up the garbage patches?