Great Pacific Garbage Patch - Accumulation of Plastic Case Study


Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Gyre = Large scale circular currents in major oceans which are a product of wind patterns

  • Composed of the Western Pacific garbage patch and Eastern Pacific garbage patch

Causes of Accumulation

  • Plastics are long-lived - avg. 1000 years
  • Increased demand for its usage
  • 80% from land sources
  • 20% comes from ships - a cruise ship creates 8 tonnes of rubbish per week
  • At the centre of the gyre water is calm so plastic accumulates

Composition of Rubbish Found There

  • Micro-plastics
  • Found at the surface; also suspended several metres below the surface

Risks of Plastic Pollution

  • Strangelation and drowning of seals and birds due to ingestion of plastic
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Great Pacific Garbage Patch

  • 693 species affected
  • Large pieces of plastic wrap around animals
  • High chance of human ingestion of plastic as we are at the top of the food chain (bioaccumulation) - 50 species of fish estimated to contain plastic
  • Release of BPA which impairs reproduction
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