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 The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

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PostSubject: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch   Tue Apr 30, 2013 9:39 am

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a collection of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean. Marine debris is litter that ends up in oceans, seas, and other large bodies of water.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also known as the Eastern Pacific Garbage Patch and the Pacific Trash Vortex, lies in a high-pressure area between the U.S. states of Hawaii and California. This area is in the middle of the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre.

An ocean gyre is a circular ocean current formed by the Earth’s wind patterns and the forces created by the rotation of the planet. The area in the center of a gyre tends to be very calm and stable. The circular motion of the gyre draws in debris. Debris eventually makes its way into the center of the gyre, where it becomes trapped and builds up. A similar garbage patch exists in the Atlantic Ocean, in the North Atlantic Gyre.

The motion of the gyre prevents garbage and other materials from escaping. The amount of material in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch accumulates because much of it is not biodegradable. Many plastics, for instance, do not wear down; they simply break into tinier and tinier pieces.

For many people, the idea of a “garbage patch” conjures up images of an island of trash floating on the ocean. In reality, these patches are usually made up of tiny bits of plastic, called microplastics. Microplastics that make up the majority of garbage patches can’t always be seen by the naked eye. Satellite imagery of oceans doesn’t show a giant patch of garbage.

The existence of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch was predicted by many oceanographers and climatologists. However, the actual discovery of the patch was made by a racing boat captain, Charles Moore. Moore was sailing from Hawaii to California after competing in a yachting race. Crossing the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, Moore and his crew noticed millions of pieces of plastic surrounding his ship.
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