The trash that’s in our oceans

After the disappearance of the Malaysian Airlines flight somewhere above the Indian Ocean, we noticed once again something we knew for a long time – the ocean is full of rubbish.

The loss of the plane, which occurred on March 8th 2014 led, as it was expected, to a series of search missions in order to find the passengers. Once the rescue mission was underway, countless areas of floating garbage were discovered, mostly made up of plastic materials. These scraps are then ingested by marine creatures and cause them serious damage.

pacific-garbage-patch-map_2010_noaamdp_720Ocean garbage is generally made up of large amounts of plastic, followed by fishing gear, container parts, wood and debris caused by hurricanes, storms or tsunamis that hit the coastline. Most of the time though, plastic is the main ingredient of floating waste. After the recent air accident, the world could truly see that the oceans are humanity’s garbage dump. This problem is unfortunately found in every ocean, and waste covers vast expanses where objects gather yet float freely, aided by currents.

ocean-plastic-garbage-patch

Kathleen Dohan, from the Seattle Earth and Space Research Institute, speaks about these giant garbage patches that have formed in our oceans. She has created a video which illustrates their movement and the areas where they will be in ten years time. The Atlantic and PacificOceans both have two large patches, one in the south and another one in the north, while the Indian Ocean has a large garbage patch in its middle, between Africa and Australia.

Among these areas, by far the largest is the garbage patch located in the northern part of the Pacific, formed mostly after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan. There are around 100 million tons of wood floating in the water, and these objects can affect maritime traffic and even cause accidents. The Pacific patch is roughly the size of Texas.

Instead of affecting navigation, plastic harms marine wildlife, because animals swallow these scraps. The largest concentration of floating plastic is found in the North Atlantic and it comes mostly from the US, Canada, Europe and Mexico.

74248-debris-is-pictured-floating-in-the-pacific-ocean

The Indian Ocean garbage patch was discovered recently, in 2010, and it spreads over 5 million square kilometers.

Due to the oceanic circulation, garbage can expand over vast areas. For example, the currents of the Indian Ocean determine a free circulation of trash back and forth between Australia and Africa, and a complete rotation may take 6 years.

We should think about a waste management system, because the garbage that clogs our oceans is affecting our health through the fish that we eat.

recycled-island-1_Gf8HV_11446-1Waste recycling

Sources:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/04/140404-garbage-patch-indian-ocean-debris-malaysian-plane/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=Social&utm_content=link_fb20140407news-malpla&utm_campaign=Content
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/green-living/the-worlds-rubbish-dump-a-tip-that-stretches-from-hawaii-to-japan-778016.html
http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/about/media/how-big-great-pacific-garbage-patch-science-vs-myth.html

Article écrit par Mirela Micu et traduit par Mihail Mitoșeriu.

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