“The largest pieces of plastic—miles long discarded fishing nets and lines— take an obvious toll. These “ghost nets” snare and drown thousands of seals, sea lions, and dolphins a year. Researchers have also watched in horror as hungry turtles wolf down jellyfish-like plastic bags and seabirds mistake old lighters and toothbrushes for fish, choking when they try to regurgitate the trash for their starving chicks. As Barnes is documenting, tiny marine animals riding rafts of plastic trash are invading polar seas, while Japanese researchers are finding high concentrations of deadly chemicals clinging to floating, tapioca-size plastic pellets called “nurdles.” And Moore, back from a three-month North Pacific voyage last week, is tracking it all and discovering that tiny fragments of plastic are entering the food web right near its bottom.” – Thomas Hayden / U.S. News & World Report 4nov02 from mindfully.org
the Algalita Marine Research Foundation [same one i mentioned before that was founded by Charles Moore] has conducted periodic studies of the concentration of plastics in the pacific since 1999. their data sets are more complete than anything else that i’ve come across about the pacific ocean. they don’t give a full picture of the plastic concentrations in the pacific but they do begin to illustrate the proximity of different concentrations to each other and to land masses. their data can be found on this web page: http://www.algalita.org/research/Maps_Home.html the page also has a helpful outline of what the methods of data collection are. there is a plethora of information beyond that at algalita.org.
a TEDx conference that focused on the great pacific garbage patch was held on november 6, 2010 in LA. below is a link to all of the lectures that were given at the gathering. i have not watched them all yet, but every one that i have watched so far is great and approaches the subject from a different angle. http://www.tedxgreatpacificgarbagepatch.com/agenda/]
the media depicts this plastic island in many ways and there are many misconceptions. i like this brief New York Times article from August 26, 2009 because it poses questions about the topic instead of projecting numbers and offering solutions. the reality is that we don’t have numbers and there are not any solutions. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/27/opinion/27thu3.html?th&emc=th