Looking at the globe, we easily identify seven continents and five oceans. By looking at the colors of the landscape and the ocean, we can estimate their heights above and below the sea level. However, one thing that can’t be identified with the globe we use today is the huge trash vortex known as the Great Pacific garbage patch
The Great Pacific garbage patch was first discovered in 1988 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). When garbage and chemicals are discarded into the ocean, they are swept up and broken apart in the Pacific currents, circulating counter clockwise. The waste becomes trapped in the North Pacific Gyre; the density of the typically microscopic debris is very low, at four particles per square meter, so the Great Pacific garbage patch is usually invisible to the naked eye.
Since the time of its discovery, the Great Pacific garbage patch has never decreased in size. Estimates range from 270,000 square miles to 5,800,000, which is from about 0.4% to 8% of the size of the Pacific Ocean. Just to give senses of how big it is, the minimum size of the patch is bigger than the size of Texas.
One of the major problems with this patch is the garbage decomposition. It normally takes 12 years for a plastic water bottle to completely decompose when landfilled, but researchers suggest some plastic wastes decompose within only one year when it contacts with water.
Through ingestion, these decomposed plastic particles eventually enter the marine food chain, releasing toxic chemicals from plastic, such as bisphenol A, PCSs, and polystyrene.
Furthermore, as a fish consumes another fish, digested plastic matter enters the body of the bigger fish, causing bioaccumulation, which occurs when an organism absorbs a substance at a rate faster than that at which the substance is lost by catabolism and excretion. Therefore the bigger fish is likely to have a higher concentration of plastic. In the end, humans, who are at the top of the food chain, are exposed to the highest concentration of toxic plastic matter.
Although some say it should not be cleaned up due to some beneficial effects, others disagree and believe that the garbage patch needs to be cleaned up and efforts need to be made to reduce the increase in size of the garbage patch.