Marine debris/marine pollution
Marine pollution is the trash that we put into the ocean and can be anything from fishing equipment to toys and plastic bags.
How can this be a problem? When we throw trash away, it should be recycled or given back to nature. What we don’t take into consideration is how long it takes for it to get back into nature’s cycle. With regards to organic trash we throw into nature, like banana peels or apples will take 2-10 days to decompose, paper bags up to 5 months and cigarettes up to 12 years. So even if all of this is organic material, it takes a long time for it to be one with nature. Other objects that are common to see getting thrown out of car windows are soda cans, glass and plastic bottles. The cans will take up to 100 years to decompose while the glass and plastic bottles never decompose. That is the reason that most trash picked out of the ocean are the glass or plastic objects. The two seen most often are plastic bags (1000 years) and fishing line/nets (600 years).
A said before one way to stop this is to not leave trash in nature but to take it home and recycle it, but what do we do when the trash is already in the ocean? Pick it up if you see it when swimming or snorkeling. Also what a lot of dive schools or just divers do on a yearly basis is underwater clean ups. They go in and take out whatever they can find. Most divers actually collect trash on every dive to keep the ocean clean.
This is a great help, but only popular dive areas get cleaned and with the depth restriction only shallow parts of the ocean. In the deep open ocean, the strong currents drag the trash from the shore out to sea and aggregation points are created. There are five patches in the oceans where the currents from gyres. This is patches where a lot of objects can accumulate. The biggest one is in the Pacific Ocean where the estimated amount of trash is the size of Texas. That is a lot of trash, so there should be photos to prove this? Its not that easy as all of the nets, fishing line, plastic bags and toys are not sitting in a big mountain. Its spread over a much larger area with bigger aggregation of trash or single bags and nets floating around. It’s the amount of trash in the area that is the size of Texas, not a pile of trash that is the size of Texas.
So why is this a problem? In the middle of the Pacific no one sees the amount of trash and if there are no photos it cant be true? This is a large problem for marine life as marine birds will sit and eat some of the plastic and later feed it to their chicks, that don’t get fed properly and die. Seals, turtles, dolphins and whales get entangled and drown. See last weeks post (entangled-seals-dolphins). Some of them also eat the plastic mistaking it for food, especially the turtles and sperm whales. A sperm whale that was washed up on the beach in Italy was found to have mainly plastic in its stomach, not only small grocery type of bags, but larger ones used on greenhouses. One of the last problems is the spreading of species across the globe. We have a problem that when species that does not belong in one place ends up there and they can take over and destroy that Eco system. We are now aware of this problem and are stopping it, but if the organisms can hitch rides on floating trash around the globe we might lose the special Eco- systems anyway. We will goo deeper into this next weeks research update.
The ORCA Foundation Crew