Fateh Veer Singh Guram @ The Hush Post: Aerial surveys of the Pacific Ocean have revealed a shocking truth: There is a garbage dump in the ocean which is nearly 3 times as big as France, which in turn is the third largest country of Europe.
While the patch was discovered in 1977 by Charles Moore, a yachtsman, it was named by Curtis Ebbesmeyer, an oceanographer. The patch is being targeted under a 32 million dollar clean up campaign launched by Dutch teenager Boyat Slat, who heads Ocean Cleanup, the organisation that was founded by him to clean the patch.
However, recent details that have emerged have baffled and unsettled people across the world.
Nearly 79,000 tonnes of plastic waste is floating in the Pacific Ocean, between California and Hawaii. To put this into perspective, the largest creature on earth, the blue whale, weighs nearly 200 tonnes. The weight of the total garbage in the dump is equal to 395 blue whales. That is, simply put, a lot of garbage. And what is even more scary, is the fact that scientists say that the size of the dump is, to put it in their words, “growing exponentially.”
However, the patch is not a land mass, and is not even an island. It is an area in the ocean where the concentration of high volume plastics increases significantly as you approach the center. Nearly 46 per cent of the total garbage is made up of fishing gear, as per a study conducted by the Ocean Cleanup Foundation.
“This suggests we might be underestimating how much fishing debris is floating in the oceans,” said Chelsea Rochman, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto. “Entanglement and smothering from nets is one of the most detrimental observed effects we see in nature.”
While most of the plastic is coming from countries bordering the Pacific Ocean, large amounts of plastic is also coming from other countries, since plastic travels in the entirety of the world’s oceans.
Jenna Jambeck, an environmental engineer at the University of Georgia conducted a study in 2015, where she found that on an average, humans dump nearly 8 million tonnes of plastic every year, and this is slated to increase by nearly 22 percent by 2025.
However, the study also pointed out that a lot of plastic doesn’t stay on the surface of the ocean, but instead, sinks to the ocean floor, thus causing a lot of harm to the marine ecosystem. An estimated 1 lakh marine animals get strangled, suffocate, or get injured by plastic wastes every year.
A report by National Geographic also highlighted the increasing menace of plastic being dumped in the world’s oceans.