Imagine yourself drifting along in a boat in the middle of the ocean. The sky and waters are blue, the wind is calm, and you feel like you are as far as possible from civilization. Up ahead you notice some colorful floating items, and as you continue forward, you see what it is – plastic stretching out toward the horizon in all directions.
Just how large is this area between California and Hawaii? According to scientists from the Ocean Cleanup Foundation, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is about three times the size of France and is made up of 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic debris, weighing about seventy-nine thousand tons. This is between four to sixteen times larger than previously estimated, and the debris range from tiny specks to large fishing nets.
These findings are consistent with land-based plastic research which shows waste volumes entering the oceans are continuing to grow. In fact, researchers were surprised the patch was not larger and understand that a large amount of plastic pollution has been sinking to the ocean floor.
[Source: The Washington Post]