BENEFITING: THE CLEAN OCEANS PROJECT
EVENT DATE: May 15, 2013
HOURS PLEDGED: 150
It's our trash, it's time to clean up our act!
The patch is characterized by exceptionally high concentrations of pelagic plastics, chemical sludge and other debris that have been trapped by the currents of the North Pacific Gyre.
Despite its size and density, the patch is not visible from satellite photography, since it consists primarily of suspended particulates in the upper water column.
Since plastics break down to even smaller polymers, concentrations of submerged particles are not visible from space, nor do they appear as a continuous debris field.
Instead, the patch is defined as an area in which the mass of plastic debris in the upper water column is significantly higher than average.
The Great Pacific garbage patch was predicted in a 1988 paper published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States.
The prediction was based on results obtained by several Alaska-based researchers between 1985 and 1988 that measured neustonic plastic in the North Pacific Ocean.
This research found high concentrations of marine debris accumulating in regions governed by ocean currents. Extrapolating from findings in the Sea of Japan, the researchers hypothesized that similar conditions would occur in other parts of the Pacific where prevailing currents were favorable to the creation of relatively stable waters. They specifically indicated the North Pacific Gyre.
Charles J. Moore, returning home through the North Pacific Gyre after competing in the Transpac sailing race in 1997, came upon an enormous stretch of floating debris. Moore alerted the oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer, who subsequently dubbed the region the "Eastern Garbage Patch" (EGP).
The area is frequently featured in media reports as an exceptional example of marine pollution.
The patch is not easily visible because it consists of very small pieces, almost invisible to the naked eye, most of its contents are suspended beneath the surface of the ocean, and the relatively low density of the plastic debris at, in one scientific study, 5.1 kilograms of plastic per square kilometer of ocean area.
A similar patch of floating plastic debris is found in the Atlantic Ocean. The longer we wait to do something, the end of our earth will is to be.