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Directory:Ocean Trash Vortexes (Gyres)

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Page first featured June 9, 2010

The five major ocean gyres. – Wikipedia.
The five major ocean gyres. – Wikipedia.

The Greatest Ecological Disaster in the World?

Directory of technologies and resources pertaining to the five ocean trash vortexes, especially as it pertains to harvesting them for energy generation or materials production.

"As we contemplate the ecological damage of the Gulf Oil catastrophe, we shouldn't forget that the trash vortexes cover a much more vast area of the ocean, and may pose an even greater risk to sea life than the oil escaping from the Gulf Oil disaster. The five ocean trash vortexes pose perhaps the largest ecological blight man has imposed on the planet.
"The good news is that I know of a company that is poised to harvest that plastic junk and use it for generating building materials as well as fuel. Waste to Energy technology in general will eventually help us remove the waste at its source and clean up the heaps of trash around the planet, including in the oceans." -- Sterling D. Allan, June 8, 2010, World Oceans Day



The world churns out around 60 million tons of plastic every year, and a portion of that ends up in the oceans – "downhill from everywhere – where it floats and accumulates into these garbage vortexes, which are said to cover as much as 40% of the world's oceans, though much of that coverage is visibly sparse because of the plastic becoming microscopic.

Though the plastic has a long lifespan, the ocean waves pummel the plastic turning larger pieces into mostly small pieces. Closer to the middle of the gyres is where deeper concentrations of the plastics can be found. The gyres are one of many places marine debris accumulates. Most of this marine debris is plastic, which never biodegrades. Instead it breaks down into small pieces that seabirds and fish often mistake for food. [1]

Travel through the plastic waste is difficult because it is hard on the propellers, gumming them up and otherwise damaging them, so travel to and from a harvesting facility would need to surmount that obstacle, e.g. by having wind-powered propulsion via air rather than via propellers in the water.

Ocean Travelers typically don't encounter these trash heaps because they follow the currents, not the eddies.

Planet 100: The Pacific Trash Vortex Explained

  • You've heard about it on the news. You've read about it in blogs, What exactly is the Pacific Trash Vortex? Planet 100 is here to give you the facts. (YouTube; June 7, 2010)

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The Garbage Patch

An overview by Algalita Marine Research Foundation. See also the many related video links in the right column.

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Pacific Garbage Dump- Nightline

  • Great Pacific Garbage Dump is a graveyard of toxic plastic. (YouTube; August 27, 2008)

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World biggest garbage dump -- plastic in the Ocean

Another overview by Algalita Marine Research Foundation.

  • The world biggest garbage dump is a floating one and has twice the size of the USA. (YouTube; February 10, 2008)


According to Wikipedia:Ocean gyre

A gyre in oceanography is any large system of rotating ocean currents, particularly those involved with large wind movements. Gyres are caused by the Coriolis Effect; planetary vorticity along with horizontal and vertical friction, which determine the circulation patterns from the wind curl (torque). The term gyre can be used to refer to any type of vortex in the air or the sea, even one that is man-made, but it is most commonly used in oceanography, to refer to the major ocean systems.

5 Gyres

North Pacific

Image:300px-North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone jp70.jpg Image:North_Pacific_two-section_trash_patches_400.jpg

According to Planet100, the North Pacific Trash Vortex is said to be twice the size of Texas, being the biggest landfill (equivalent) on the planet. 80% comes from land, and 20% comes from see-faring vessels and oil platforms.

It's actually comprised of two separate vortexes. One is between Hawaii and California. The other is west of Japan and east of Hawaii.

According to the Algalita Marine Research Foundation the North Pacific garbage gyres contain over 7 million tons of plastic – six times as much plastic as there are plankton, this area's most abundant food source. "If you're a fish or a bird trying to find something to eat, you have a better chance of selecting plastic than food." Ingestion of plastic leads to plastic poisoning or blockage of the digestive system.

South Pacific


North Atlantic

Image:North Atlantic gyre.jpg

See also Directory:BP's Gulf Oil Volcano

South Atlantic


Indian Ocean

Image:Indian Ocean Gyre.gif


In the News

  • Feature: Environment > Pollution > Plastic and Energy >
    Ocean trash vortexes are the greatest ecological disaster - The five oceanic trash vortexes are said to cover as much as 40% of the ocean surface. The North Pacific gyre is split into two smaller gyres, each the size of Texas. With all the attention that the Gulf Oil catastrophe is getting, don't forget that these ocean trash vortexes pose perhaps the largest ecological blight that consumerism-bent mankind has imposed on the planet. (PESWiki; June 9, 2010)
  • In Honor of the 40th Celebration of Earth Day - The ocean is our life support system that comprises 98 percent of the world's biosphere; recycles carbon, nitrogen, water, and other essential substances; produces 70 to 80 percent of the oxygen we breathe; and contains the greatest diversity and abundance of life on our planet. (Ocean Futures . org; Apr. 22, 2010)


See also




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