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Skip the plastic, save a fish. Texas-sized ocean garbage vortex found in Pacific, plastic sea trash doesn't biodegrade


By WcP.Watchful.Eye - Posted on 05 September 2009

Matt Durham, center, pulling in a large patch of sea garbage with the help of Miriam Goldstein, right, Aug. 11, 2009 in the Pacific Ocean. Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography on Thursday Aug. 27, 2009 announced findings from an August expedition to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, about 1,000 miles west of California. The patch is a vortex formed by ocean currents and collects human-produced trash.

(quote)

Shocking gigantic sight of ocean debris is found in the Pacific. The Texas-sized Pacific Ocean garbage patch is a vortex formed by ocean currents & collects human-produced trash. Plastic sea trash doesn't biodegrade and often floats at the surface. Bottlecaps, bags and wrappers that end up in the ocean from the wind or through overflowing sewage systems can then drift thousands of miles. "Seeing that influence just floating out here in the middle of nowhere makes our power painfully obvious, and the consequences of the industrial age plain." Plastics have entangled birds and turned up in the bellies of fish, and one paper cited by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates 100,000 marine mammals die trash-related deaths each year.

Texas-sized Pacific Ocean garbage patch, a vortex formed by ocean currents & collects human-produced trash, one of the bigger pieces of trash in a sprawling mass of garbage-littered water, where most of the plastic looks like snowy confetti against the deep blue of the north Pacific Ocean.

A group of University of California scientists found much more debris than they expected. "It's pretty shocking — it's unusual to find exactly what you're looking for," said Miriam Goldstein, who led fellow researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego on the three-week voyage. While scientists have documented trash's harmful effects for coastal marine life. But even the weather-beaten, sunbleached plastic flakes that are smaller than a thumbnail can be alarming.

This image provided by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography shows a patch of garbage in the Pacific Ocean on Aug. 11, 2009. Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2009 announced findings from an August expedition to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, about 1,000 miles west of California.

"They're the right size to be interacting with the food chain out there," Goldstein said. The team also netted occasional water bottles with barnacles clinging to the side. Some of the trash had labels written in Chinese and English, hints of the long journeys garbage takes to arrive mid-ocean. Plastics have entangled birds and turned up in the bellies of fish, and one paper cited by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates 100,000 marine mammals die trash-related deaths each year.

The scientists hope their data gives clues as to the density and extent of marine debris, especially since the Great Pacific Garbage Patch may have company in the Southern Hemisphere, where scientists say the gyre is four times bigger. "We're afraid at what we're going to find in the South Gyre, but we've got to go there," said Tony Haymet, director of the Scripps Institution.

Only humans are to blame for ocean debris, Goldstein said. In a blog entry posted a day before the science ship arrived in Newport, Ore., she wrote the research showed her the consequences of humanity's footprint on nature. "Seeing that influence just floating out here in the middle of nowhere makes our power painfully obvious, and the consequences of the industrial age plain," she wrote. "It's not a pretty sight."

*update*
June 23, 2014 - Gray whale dies (after accidentally ingesting plastic bags and 100 feet of plastic sheeting) bringing us a message — with stomach full of plastic trash - It is estimated that over one million birds and 100,000 marine mammals die each year from plastic debris. July 29, 2013, a sperm whale was stranded on Tershelling, a northern island in the Netherlands. There was a rescue attempt, but unfortunately the whale died. A young adult at 13.5 meters was taken for a necropsy at the port of Harlington. The sperm whale had plastic in its stomach, an increasing common phenomenon say researchers at the Biodiversity Centre Naturalis. In March of last year, a 10 meter long sperm whale washed up on Spain’s South Coast. This whale had swallowed 59 different plastic items totaling over 37 pounds. Most of this plastic consisted of transparent sheeting used to build greenhouses in Almeria and Grenada for the purpose of tomatoes for the European market. The rest was plastic bags, nine meters of rope, two stretches of hosepipe, two small flower pots, and a plastic spray canister. Cause of death was intestinal blockage.

These are not uncommon incidents. In 1989, a stranded sperm whale in the Lavezzi Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea died of a stomach obstruction after accidentally ingesting plastic bags and 100 feet of plastic sheeting. In 1990, a sperm whale examined for pathology in Iceland died of an obstruction of the gut with plastic marine debris. In August of 2008, a sperm whale washed up in Point Reyes, California with 450 pounds of fishing net, rope, and plastic bags in its stomach. The California Marine Mammal Stranding Database tells of another sperm whale stranded in 2008 with stomach contents that included an extensive amount of netting from discarded fishing gear.

The sperm whale that stranded in the Netherlands had a large part of its lower jaw missing. Among hundreds of thousands of sperm whales that whalers harpoon, regularly encountered are sperm whales with broken or deformed lower jaws. Most of these whales have full stomachs and are healthy right before being slaughtered. This, and the fact squids are found in their stomachs whole and seldom show bite marks, lead to a theory that the lower jaw plays no significant role in catching of prey and that these sperm whales instead suck their food in. If this theory is true, sperm whales are just as vulnerable as baleen whales to the ingestion of marine debris.

Another family of deep diving, squid eating cetaceans is the beaked whales. May 2011, a female juvenile Gervais’ beaked whale was found on a beach in Puerto Rico with ten pounds of plastic in her stomach. In July 2006, a 20-year old female Cuvier’s beaked whale died in the Cook Islands, Rarotonga after ingesting a single plastic bag. Sperm whales and beaked whales are especially susceptible to swallowing plastic and fishing gear as they resemble their natural prey, squid, the same way a sea turtle is susceptible to swallowing plastic bags because they resemble jelly fish.

Baleen whales suffer the same fate, not for the fact trash resembles their food, but because they gulp large amounts of water when feeding. In August 2000, a Bryde’s whale was stranded near Cairns, Australia. The stomach was found to be tightly packed with six square meters of plastic rubbish, including supermarket bags, food packages, and fragments of trash bags. In April 2010, a gray whale that died after stranding itself on a west Seattle beach was found to have more than 20 plastic bags, small towels, surgical gloves, plastic pieces, duct tape, a pair of sweat pants, and a golf ball, not to mention other garbage contained in its stomach.

Plastic is not digestible, and once it finds its way into the intestines, accumulates and clogs the intestines. For some whales, the plastic does not kill the animal directly, but cause malnutrition and disease, which leads to unnecessary suffering until death.Whales are not the only victims to our trash. It is estimated that over one million birds and 100,000 marine mammals die each year from plastic debris. In September 2009, photographs of albatross chicks on Midway Atoll were brought to the public’s eye. These nesting chicks were fed bellies full of plastic by their parents who soar over vastly polluted oceans collecting what looks to them to be food. This diet of human trash kills tens of thousands of albatross chicks each year on Midway because of starvation, toxicity, and choking. We can all do our part by limiting our use of plastic products such as shopping bags, party balloons, straws, and plastic bottles. Be a frugal shopper and recycle!r of sweat pants, and a golf ball, not to mention other garbage contained in its stomach. Plastic is not digestible, and once it finds its way into the intestines, accumulates and clogs the intestines. For some whales, the plastic does not kill the animal directly, but cause malnutrition and disease, which leads to unnecessary suffering until death.

Bird Island - Plastic Vs Nature - Published on Feb 19, 2013
This video is about an island in the ocean at 2000 km from any other coast line. Nobody lives there, only birds and yet ....You will not believe your eyes!!!!!!!

Comments on video -
Heartbreaking video. Especially knowing that humans cause this. It's so easy to do the right thing and take your rubbish with you and recycle it properly, and yet so many people keep leaving their rubbish behind not thinking about consequences. :(

Comments on video -
We talk about recycling, but do we take any action and are we aware of the consequences? The photographer has documented how thousands of birds on an island in the ocean at 2000 km from any other coast line can be effected by human plastic products. Shall we ever ban the production of plastic or mandate recycling? EARTH DAY 2014 CELEBRATION APRIL 22. What's your next step? 
(unquote)

Photos courtesy of AP / Scripps Institution of Oceanography / Mario Aguilera

Original Source: ABC News

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