THE GREAT NORTH PACIFIC GARBAGE PATCH

Oceans and seas that are polluted with plastic

 

 

World map showing the five great ocean garbage patches

 

This world map derived from a National Geographic source, shows that the North Pacific Gyre is by far the largest - and divided into three regions, the western, sub-tropical-convergence zone and eastern garbage patches. We estimate these patches collectively to be around 80,000 tons in mass.

 

 

GREAT PACIFIC GARBAGE PATCH

 

There’s a lot of trash masquerading as flotsam in our oceans. But with much of the mess in international waters, the campaign to clean up the water is largely left to non-profits with limited budgets and staffs. Hauling plastic out of the oceans by hand is never going to work. In the time it takes to fill a freighter with junk, several times that much will be dumped into the sea through everyday human activity. Are you beginning to get the picture. It's a huge problem that none of the G20 are looking at, they are looking the other way. Perhaps we need a See20. A G20 that actually looks at international pollution problems.

 

The vast swirl of plastic waste floating in the North Pacific has increased 100-fold over the last 40. Scientists warned the killer soup of microplastic - particles smaller than five millimeters (0.2 inches) - threatened to alter the open ocean's natural environment. The latest report from the NCEAS dated February 2015, tells of up to 12 million tons of plastic in the ocean.

 

There are five large patches of plastic. One of them, the North Pacific Gyre, is roughly twice the size of the United States. These bits of plastic look like food to fish and birds and once consumed, end up killing these animals. But the plastic bits also contain chemicals, such as DDTs and PCBs, that once consumed by small sea creatures then enter the food chain to be consumed eventually by people. And because plastic doesn’t break down and dissolve, these gyres are going to be around for hundreds, if not thousands of years, even if we stopped polluting tomorrow.

 

Not only could robots clean up the ocean, save the lives of aquatic animals and reduce the amount of pollutants from entering the food chain but it would also save industry millions per year. Marine vessels are damaged every year from the garbage floating in the ocean, countries lose money when tourists no longer want to visit their polluted beaches.

 

 

 

 

LEFT - A lady diver collects plastic waste from a polluted ocean. RIGHT - A sport diver risks becoming entangled in a fishing net of the type that dolphins and whales frequently get caught up in.

 

 

THE GUARDIAN, DECEMBER 2014

More than five trillion pieces of plastic, collectively weighing nearly 269,000 tonnes, are floating in the world’s oceans, causing damage throughout the food chain, new research has found.

Data collected by scientists from the US, France, Chile, Australia and New Zealand suggests a minimum of 5.25tn plastic particles in the oceans, most of them “micro plastics” measuring less than 5mm.

The volume of plastic pieces, largely deriving from products such as food and drink packaging and clothing, was calculated from data taken from 24 expeditions over a six-year period to 2013. The research, published in the journal PLOS One, is the first study to look at plastics of all sizes in the world’s oceans.

Large pieces of plastic can strangle animals such as seals, while smaller pieces are ingested by fish and then fed up the food chain, all the way to humans.

This is problematic due to the chemicals contained within plastics, as well as the pollutants that plastic attract once they are in the marine environment.

“We saw turtles that ate plastic bags and fish that ingested fishing lines,” said Julia Reisser, a researcher based at the University of Western Australia. “But there are also chemical impacts. When plastic gets into the water it acts like a magnet for oily pollutants.

 

 

 

 

Youtube ocean pollution

 

 

“Bigger fish eat the little fish and then they end up on our plates. It’s hard to tell how much pollution is being ingested but certainly plastics are providing some of it.”

The researchers collected small plastic fragments in nets, while larger pieces were observed from boats. The northern and southern sections of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans were surveyed, as well as the Indian ocean, the coast of Australia and the Bay of Bengal.

The vast amount of plastic, weighing 268,940 tonnes, includes everything from plastic bags to fishing gear debris.

While spread out around the globe, much of this rubbish accumulates in five large ocean gyres, which are circular currents that churn up plastics in a set area. Each of the major oceans have plastic-filled gyres, including the well-known ‘great Pacific garbage patch’ that covers an area roughly equivalent to Texas.

 

 

 

 

Reisser said traversing the large rubbish-strewn gyres in a boat was like sailing through “plastic soup.”

“You put a net through it for half an hour and there’s more plastic than marine life there,” she said. “It’s hard to visualise the sheer amount, but the weight of it is more than the entire biomass of humans. It’s quite an alarming problem that’s likely to get worse.”

The research found that the gyres themselves are likely to contribute to the problem, acting as “shredders” to the plastic before dispersing it.

“Our findings show that the garbage patches in the middle of the five subtropical gyres are not the final resting places for the world’s floating plastic trash,” said Marcus Eriksen, another of the report’s co-authors. “The endgame for micro-plastic is interactions with entire ocean ecosystems.”

The research, the first of its kind to pull together data on floating plastic from around the world, will be used to chart future trends in the amount of debris in the oceans.

But researchers predict the volume will increase due to rising production of throwaway plastic, with only 5% of the world’s plastic currently recycled.

“Lots of things are used once and then not recycled,” Reisser said. “We need to improve our use of plastic and also monitor plastics in the oceans so we get a better understanding of the issue.

“I’m optimistic but we need to get policy makers to understand the problem. Some are doing that – Germany has changed the policy so that manufacturers are responsible for the waste they produce. If we put more responsibility on to the producer then that would be part of the solution.”

 

 

 

SeaVax ocean going plastic vacuum cleaner

 

A SEAVAX DRONE - This is a raw proposal for a robot ship that is designed to vacuum up plastic waste from the ocean. It is based on the Bluefish ZCC concept (seen at the foot of this page), being solar and wind powered - and shares components. The front end (left) is modified so that there is a wide scoop area, into which plastic waste is funneled as the ship moves forward. The waste is pumped into a large holding bay after treatment, then stored until it can be off-loaded. The rear of the ship (right) carries two large wind turbines that generate electricity in combination with deck mounted solar panels (shown here in blue) to power the onboard processing machinery. The system can be semi-autonomous, such that the robots alert HQ to any potential problems and share data as to progress for backers.

 

 

 

http://www.unep.org/  World Wildlife Fund

 

LINKS

 

National Geographic 2014 ocean garbage patch plastic pacific debris

The Telegraph Great Pacific Garbage Patch has increased 100 fold since the 1970s

Plosone ocean pollution article Fjournal pone 0111913

The Guardian 2014 December full scale plastic worlds oceans revealed first time pollution

Robotics Tomorrow ocean pollution

Daily Dot technology ocean cleaning drone

Interiorholic gadgets ocean robot cleaner

PSFK 2012 marine robots clean oceans

http://www.unep.org/

http://www.unep.org/environmentunderreview/

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/04/140414-ocean-garbage-patch-plastic-pacific-debris/

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0111913

http://www.roboticstomorrow.com/content.php?post_type=1919

http://www.dailydot.com/technology/ocean-cleaning-drone/

http://www.interiorholic.com/other/gadgets/ocean-robot-cleaner/

http://www.psfk.com/2012/07/marine-robots-clean-oceans.html

http://www.unep.org/environmentunderreview/

 

 

 

http://www.oceanicplasticrecovery.com/

 

The Oceanic Plastic Recovery project is based on technology that is viable and proposed in a manner that should work. The suggestion is to use solar powered robot barges to truck plastic waste from the five ocean gyres to a land station for processing. We believe this to be one of the most promising solutions and is well worth supporting.

 

 

 

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