The Giant Garbage Vortex In The Pacific Ocean Is Over Twice The Size Of Texas - Here's What It Looks Like

Some of the plastic the Ocean Cleanup team found while surveying the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.The Ocean Cleanup

In 2016, the Ocean Cleanup foundation used a Hercules C-130 aircraft to conduct an aerial survey of the region to refine its data and count larger pieces of plastic (greater than 50 centimeters).

The Ocean Cleanup

The researchers collected 1,136,145 pieces of debris that weighed a total of 668 kilograms and was 99.9% plastic.

The Ocean Cleanup

From that, the researchers estimated the area had at least 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic in the water, weighing 79,000 metric tons — with more arriving every minute of every day.

The Ocean Cleanup

They estimated that 1.7 trillion pieces were microplastics, between 0.05 and 0.5 centimeters, but that 92% of the total plastic mass came from larger pieces.

The Ocean Cleanup

Shockingly, they also estimated that 46% of the plastic mass was from lost fishing nets known as "ghost nets" that drift through the sea, ensnaring creatures and breaking into smaller bits of plastic.

The Ocean Cleanup

The team also thinks the 2011 tsunami that hit Tohoku, Japan, could have added significantly to the mass of plastic.

The Ocean Cleanup

This may vastly underestimate the amount of plastic in the area, both because the researchers measured only within the boundaries of the "patch" — not the full gyre — and because many others think there are far more microplastics deeper in the water.

The Ocean Cleanup

While the foundation wants to push for a plan to clean up the plastic in the patch, many researchers think our best bet is stopping pollution from making it into the ocean in the first place.

The Ocean Cleanup

Read the original article on Business Insider. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Copyright 2018.

Read next on Business Insider: A 22-year-old is moving ahead with a controversial plan to trap plastic floating in the great Pacific garbage patch

Full Article
Comments

If you liked this story, you'll love these

This website uses cookies

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By continuing to use our website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.