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Yesterday, June 8, 2015 was World Oceans Day, when people around the world celebrated with various events. Since 2008, the 8th of June has been officially recognized as World Oceans Day by the United Nations. This year the theme was  ‘Healthy oceans, healthy planet’. We watched a documentary about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and it was disheartening to see how it affects marine and avian life.

oceanus-map

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (aka Pacific Trash Vortex) is a collection of marine debris/litter in the North Pacific Ocean, which includes waters from the West Coast of North America to Japan. And most of the garbage is plastics. This is the largest trash vortex in the oceans. And there other such smaller garbage patches throughout the world. To put it in very simple terms, the spinning ocean currents in this area create a highway of garbage moving trash from one patch to another. “These areas of spinning debris are linked together by the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone, located a few hundred kilometers north of Hawaii. This convergence zone is where warm water from the South Pacific meets up with cooler water from the Arctic. The zone acts like a highway that moves debris from one patch to another.” (national geographic.com). It forms a huge stew-like mix of mostly plastics, plastics never biodegrade, they are broken down by the elements, mostly the sun, and some of these bits aren’t even visible to the naked eye.

ocean garbage
About 80% of the trash in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch comes from human land-based activities in North America and Asia, which is very harmful to marine life and avian life and eventually to human life as dangerous plastics get into the food chain. “Loggerhead sea turtles often mistake plastic bags for jellies, their favorite food. Albatrosses mistake plastic resin pellets for fish eggs and feed them to chicks, which die of starvation or ruptured organs. Seals and other marine mammals are especially at risk. They can get entangled in abandoned plastic fishing nets, which are being discarded more often because of their low cost.”
pacific_ocean_garbage_patch_pollution_plastic_albatross_chick_q_48866
There is something we can all do to mitigate this or at least reduce it, stop using plastic. Plastics break down when exposed to the sun’s heat and
leach out colorants and chemicals, such as bisphenol A (BPA), which have been linked to health problems in humans. Also, with all of that soupy plastic-y garbage in the ocean, it is sure to enter our food chain if it hasn’t already. Let’s take a small step today and stop using plastic.
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“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

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