Friday, February 8, 2008
The "Great Pacific Garbage Patch," or "trash vortex" - essentially a floating expanse of waste and debris in the Pacific Ocean is now covering an area twice the size of the continental U.S. Believed to hold almost 100m tons of flotsam, this vast "plastic soup" stretches 500 nautical miles off the Californian coast, past Hawaii and almost as far as Japan.
The pernicious effects of this "trash vortex" aren't just limited to the marine ecosystem either. Every year, hundreds of millions of nurdles, tiny pieces of plastic, are dumped into or lost at sea, where they eventually make their way into the food chain by acting as sponges for a variety of anthropogenic chemicals (e.g. hydrocarbons and DDT).