Sea’s Sick: 6 Floating Garbage Patches


The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is shockingly huge, and it’s not alone. These 6 floating flotsam fields display the consequences of blindly dumping downstream.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

(images via: Milky Way Broadcast and Icewolves Of Europa)

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch was first discovered by oceanographer and racing boat captain Charles J. Moore in 1997, though its presence and form was predicted almost a decade earlier by researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Estimated to be twice the size of the state of Texas, the “patch” is actually a concentrated soup of plastic, chemicals and trash suspened in the ocean’s upper water column and herded into a roughly circular area by a rotating gyre of ocean currents in the North Pacific Ocean.

(image via: CalPoly Science Cafe)

What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger… but unfortunately, the only species who are deriving benefits from the existence of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and others of its type are invasive species who “hitchhike” on the debris. Floating solids like plastic water bottles provide handy platforms for snails, barnacles and other creatures who otherwise would not be able to cross great expanses of open water.

Indonesia’s Citarum River Garbage Patch

(images via: Mother Nature Network and Peakwater.org)

Not all garbage patches are oceanic; smaller patches on lakes and rivers exist to varying degrees of foulness wherever human activity combines with abuse and neglect of local waters. The poster child for riverine garbage patches has to be the Citarum River in West Java, Indonesia. This hard-working river serves the needs of over 28 million people along its course and boy, does it ever look it! In December of 2008, the Asian Development Bank declared the Citarum to be the world’s dirtiest river and approved a $500 million loan dedicated to cleaning and revitalizing the toxic, filth-clogged waterway.

(image via: RWS Photo)

The Citarum River may look like an open sewer but at the same time it provides 80 percent of the surface water supply used by approximately 12 million people living in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital city. Though garbage dumped by humans is the most visible component of the Citarum’s tide of trash, there are also some 2,000 factories and millions of homes continually flushing untreated waste into the river.

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