Monday, April 13, 2015

The Oceans Are Full of Junk

Did you know there are islands of junk floating around in the ocean?

We're talking huge floating piles of plastics and assorted other garbage.

These are the major garbage islands in the world's seas. Notice the explanation of gyres, the currents that carry the junk around in the water. A ship's captain first found the floating islands of junk in 1997, but they probably formed years before that....and they continue to collect more debris every day.

90% of it is plastic: Garbage bags, wrappers, bottles, caps, balloons, straws, sandwich bags, These piles of garbage also include, ironically, fishing nets that were either discarded or broken and floated away from their boats or fishermen.

                                  Some objects found in one of the ocean garbage heaps
  • Did you know: an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are used  every year, worldwide.
  • 50 billion plastic bottles are used every year, and 80% wind up in landfills even with recycling of some.
  • We in the U.S. use 1500 plastic bottles a second.

That's just the use of two common items, the bag and the bottle. How many do you use on a daily basis? Could you cut down on that, and could you recycle more of them?
In time, plastics break down into little microbeads, making the water like a sort of 'soup', but the plastic never disintegrates. 

Not only does the water become polluted from these objects, animals such as whales and seabirds become caught in it, can't escape, and can starve. Becoming entangled can also choke them, rendering them unable to breathe or swallow.

                             This bird ate all sorts of things that were not food.

Sometimes, sea creatures and birds mistake the brightly colored objects for fish eggs or other foods, eat the objects, and it poisons them. Eating these and the plastic microbeads can also cause mutations when they reproduce.

Another danger is that some forms of barnacles will attach to the garbage and then just float wherever the island goes, spreading into areas where they didn't live before. Some are invasive and can wipe out other creatures, upsetting the natural food chain.

                               Barnacles attached to plastic bottle

                                              Barnacles will attach to ANYTHING.

                                              And, barnacles.

Here is the story of a woman's quest to row across the ocean to raise awareness of the pollution already there and getting worse:

A video explaining about these garbage patches is here:

You'll find more information about the garbage patches at National Geographic, here:

As you know, the solution to pollution is to recycle everything you possibly can, create less garbage and waste, be aware of how things you buy are packaged, and avoid plastics whenever possible. If you're already doing these things, get even more strict about it.

We only get one planet-let's take good care of it.

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