The Plastic Ocean

geochem1st

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Scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography are 11 days into an unprecedented plastics watching expedition in the North Pacific Gyre. They say there's a lot to see, and it's not pretty.

They are seeing tons of litter from North America and Asia -- including detergent bottles, milk crates, toothbrushes, bottles and buckets -- that have been sucked into the gyre's whirlpool.

"Last night we pulled out a large plastic tube with a whole accumulation of fish and crabs inside of it," said Ph.D. student Jesse Powell, who took a few minutes from his sampling duties to speak with me by satellite phone today from the research vessel New Horizon, which is currently in an area 1,500 miles from the San Diego coast.


The area is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, even though scientists say it’s more like a plastic stew. The Algalita Marine Research Foundation estimates the plastic-rich region is twice the size of the United States. The 28-member crew is sampling deeper than other oceanographic missions have to date, about 500 meters below the surface.

This sat photo shows the 'Eastern Garbage Patch" off the coast of Japan. The green whirlpool swirl is composed of garbage and plastics:

 

River

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This might explain the bukkit shortage the LOLruses have been complaining about...

Seriously, it just makes me ill.
 

Jason

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Pretty mind-blowing. Twice the size of the US. :shock:

 

KSG_Standard

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Sucks to have that much trash floating around...but how cool is it that there's such a naturally occuring phenomenon to suck it all together in one place.:thumb:
 

Hemply

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Yeah caught that on NatGEO a few months back... horrible!
 

mikemack

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Very sad. I watched it on discovery, the shorelines are made up of small eroded bits of plastic rather than rock and sand. That picture is quite disturbing.
 

FrankieOliver

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I actually have nightmares about that. Seriously. Damned shame is what it is.

:(
 

randelli

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Is it really twice the size of the US? Wouldn't that be about the size of europe and asia? I don't know the land masses in the photo; but surely it is not as big as that quote states or it would fill the entire pacific ocean.

That said - it is a terrible thing to have no matter what size it is.
 

coldsteal2

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Isnt that Japan that that stuff is floating off of?

I spent over 4 years in the Pacific never seen anything
like that, including that area off of Japan.

Not saying it doesnt exist, but all the time at sea in the navy
never seen anything like it, people that fish the sea wouldnt
even be able to drop a net without filling up with garbage.
 

coldsteal2

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Is it really twice the size of the US? Wouldn't that be about the size of europe and asia? I don't know the land masses in the photo; but surely it is not as big as that quote states or it would fill the entire pacific ocean.

That said - it is a terrible thing to have no matter what size it is.
yea a rediculous size quote
 

Splattle101

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No, not really. The US is not physically very big when compared to the size of the Pacific Ocean. Have a look at it on a globe, not a map. The problem with maps is that most of them are old Mercator projections that stretch the crap out of the extreme northern and southern portions of the map. They make, for example, Alaska and Greenland appear absurdly large. It's just the geometrical compromise you get trying to represnt a spheroid on a flat surface.

So check it out on a globe or on a newer map using something like an equal-area projection. The US is not as big as you might think.
 

coldsteal2

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have you ever spent 6 months at sea in the Pacific?
i have, you never see garbage much less two continents
of it, and we follow the same water ways that
it would be floating on
the only time you see any is when you get into bays or near
the beaches

I miss the open ocean, its the cleanest place and air on
earth
Bays on the other hand are disgusting
 

Splattle101

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So you're saying they're wrong on the basis of what? Looking out the porthole?
 

coldsteal2

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So you're saying they're wrong on the basis of what? Looking out the porthole?
Porthole? there are no portholes on Navy Ships
(Not since WWII days)

No Standing watch on the Open Deck for hours at a time
and when i flew in Helicopters, i watched the ocean
from over a thousand feet up you can see for over
100 miles and you can easily see schools of fish,
wales, subs up there, if there was large piles of garbage
i would have seen them
 

Splattle101

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So on the basis of you not seeing something you weren't looking for some years ago, you are saying these scientists - who are out there right now and are looking for exactly this phenomenon - are wrong.

I don't think you would have seen what they are looking for. Please note, the dramatic pic of somebody on a canoe in lake of garbage has nothing to do with the story that Geo referred to. I would also suggest to you that the satellite image is not a normal visual spectrum shot.

You could have thousands of tons of shite out there in a large debris field (twice the size of the US) without there being enough stuff to draw your attention. The area of the US is 9.87 million square km. A circle with that area would have a radius of about 1800 km. A circle with twice that area would have a radius of about 2500 km.

You can fit a lot of junk in a circle 5000 km across without it being an eyesore.
 

geochem1st

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have you ever spent 6 months at sea in the Pacific?
i have, you never see garbage much less two continents
of it, and we follow the same water ways that
it would be floating on
the only time you see any is when you get into bays or near
the beaches

I miss the open ocean, its the cleanest place and air on
earth
Bays on the other hand are disgusting
I have spent a total of 2 continuous years out at sea (yes, 24 months with layovers in port of 1 week or a few days in between, one break of 3 weeks when my second daughter was born).

I have seen plastic and garbage floating in the Arctic Ocean, the Atlantic (sargasso sea) and the Pacific.

Its real Coldsteal.
 

TOMMYTHUNDERS

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i dunno. if mylespaul forum member coldsteal2 didn't see it then it doesn't exist.
that's how i feel about everything in existence.
squirrels? yes
grass? yes
angler fish? no
duckbilled platypus? no
automobiles? yes
haiti? no
it's an easy system.
now get out of here geo, and take your facts, photographs, and logic with you!
 

randelli

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Neither Coldsteal2 or I said it did not exsist; we only questioned the reported size of the area. The satellite photo is off of japan, which is roughly the size of california, and the image indicates that the area is much smaller than twice the US.

It could be that the entire mass (x500 meters deep) could be spread over an area the size of europe and asia. The article was not clear on how the size was determined. It is obviously a big problem that needs to be addressed - but I don't think that flaming a member will fix it.
 




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