Great Pacific Garbage Patch
The vast dump of plastic waste swirling in the Pacific ocean is now bigger than France, Germany and Spain combined – far larger than previously feared – and is growing rapidly, a study warned.
Researchers based in the Netherlands used a fleet of boats and aircraft to scan the immense accumulation of bottles, containers, fishing nets and microparticles known as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” (GPGP) and found an astonishing build-up of plastic waste.
Size of dump
“We found about 80,000 tonnes of buoyant plastic currently in the GPGP,” Laurent Lebreton, lead author of the study published in the journal Scientific Reports, told.
That’s around the weight of 500 jumbo jets, and up to sixteen times greater than the plastic mass uncovered there in previous studies.
But what really shocked the team was the amount of plastic pieces that have built up on the marine gyre between Hawaii and California in recent years.
They found that the dump now contains around 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic, posing a dual threat to marine life.
Cause for concern
– Microplastics, tiny fragments of plastic smaller than 50mm in size that make up the vast majority of items in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, can enter the food chain when swallowed by fish.
-The pollutants they contain become more concentrated as they work their way up through the food web, all the way to top level predators such as sharks, seals and polar bears.
-Fishing net fragments kill marine life by trapping fish and animals such as turtles in a process known as ‘ghost fishing’.
(Adapted from The Hindu)