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What is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Well first, let’s talk about what it’s not. It’s not a floating island of trash, like a garbage dump or a landfill. It’s also not the only patch. They exist all throughout the ocean, and the Pacific Garbage Patch just happens to be the most famous.

Garbage patches are large areas of marine debris concentration that are formed by rotating ocean currents called gyres - kind of like big whirlpools that suck things in. A garbage patch is made up of tiny plastic pieces called “microplastics” that are less than 5 millimeters long. It’s more like pepper flakes swirling in a soup than something you can skim off the surface. You might come across some larger items, like plastic bottles, but it’s possible to sail through a garbage patch and not see anything. And they’re a big problem, for the ocean - and us. See Ocean

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