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Great Pacific Garbage Patch now contains 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic

18 April 2018

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch now contains 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic, 16 times higher than previous estimates.

A three-year mapping project led by the The Ocean Clean up Foundation, which is based in The Netherlands, has discovered that the problem is far worse than first thought.

The ‘Garbage Patch’ also known as the ‘Pacific Trash Vortex’ was first noticed by US boat captain Charles Moore in 1997 when he was sailing from Hawaii to southern California and claimed to have stumbled upon ‘plastic…as far as the eye could see”

It congregates in one area due to the circular movement of the oceans current which picks up the ‘garbage’ from the coast line and swirls it in to one patch in the ocean. It can take up to 6 years from coast line to the garbage patch from the USA and up to 1 year from Japan.

The new study involved traditional trawling with nets, as well as aerial scanning to map plastic in the ocean in 3D. the patch shows that it is nearly three times as France, weighing in as much as 500 jumbo jets.

Some plastics that were found were over 40 years old, petroleum-based product, disintegrates very slowly. Plastic also harms marine life, killing creatures such as turtles and dolphins who ingest it, and humans by entering the food chain in the form of microplastics. Microplastics are especially worrying for scientists, as the tiny fragments of plastic can enter the food chain when eaten by fish.

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