Sea’s Sick: 6 Floating Garbage Patches

China’s Three Gorges Dam Garbage Patch

(image via: Wuhu News)

China’s Three Gorges Dam on the mighty Yangtze River is certainly a wonder of the modern world but with modern wonders come modern problems, in this case floating masses of household trash and garbage in the dam’s enormous reservoir. These images were taken in mid-July and depict what happens when a river that has flowed unhindered since before the advent of human civilization backs up behind a man-made barrier: people who thought the trash they dumped would float downstream as always find they have to think again about how they dispose of trash.

(images via: Wuhu News)

At its maximum water level, the Three Gorges Reservoir stretches about 660 km (410 mi) in length and extends 1.12 km (3,700 ft) in width. Its surface area averages 1,045 sq km (403 sq mi). Though Chinese engineers expected silt and sediment to gradually build up behind the dam, they didn’t count on much more visible floating fields of trash despoiling what was once a picturesque view.

The Indian Ocean Garbage Patch

(images via: Coastal Care, Wikimedia and Pippa’s Place)

In 2010, researchers from the Five Gyres Project confirmed the existence of an Indian Ocean Garbage Patch in the center of the Indian Ocean Gyre. The concentration of debris had been suspected for some time due to the amount of trash and garbage that had been washing ashore on beaches bordering the Indian Ocean. Anna Cummins, cofounder of the 5 Gyres Institute, likened the pollution in the Indian Ocean Garbage Patch to “a thin plastic soup.”