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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.

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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."

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

Original Source: ABC News

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