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Great Pacific Garbage Patch

“Great Pacific Garbage Patch” is 87,000 Tons and Growing

The patch between California and Hawaii is 99.9 percent plastic.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a swirling mass of plastic waste between California and Hawaii, has grown to at least 87,000 tons, according to researchers. The plastics are swept into the patch by the currents and eventually disintegrate into smaller pieces, at which point the particles are eaten by fish and, ultimately, humans.

Researchers examining the patch found traces of glass, rubber and wood, but 99.9 percent of what they found in the patch was plastic. Abandoned plastic fishing nets made up almost half the weight of the patch.

New York Times has more information:

study published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports quantified the full extent of the so-called garbage patch: It is four to 16 times bigger than previously thought, occupying an area roughly four times the size of California and comprising an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of rubbish. While the patch was once thought to be more akin to a soup of nearly invisible microplastics, scientists now think most of the trash consists of larger pieces. And, they say, it is growing “exponentially.”

“It’s just quite alarming, because you are so far from the mainland,” said Laurent Lebreton, the lead author of the study and an oceanographer with the Ocean Cleanup Foundation, a nonprofit that is developing systems to remove ocean trash and which funded the study. “There’s no one around and you still see those common objects, like crates and bottles.”

Read the full story here.

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