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Pacific Ocean – a load of rubbish?

ABC news reports a large floating rubbish, thought to be the size of Australia, floating through our blue Pacific Ocean.

The rubbish collects in one area because of a clockwise trade wind that circulates around the Pacific rim. A research vessel, skippered by Captain Charles Moore has just returned from a trip through the plastic stew floating between Hawaii and San Francisco. The Captain reports of streams of plastic goods, such as toothbrushes, plastic bottles and bags, umbrella handles and toolboxes. One could compare to an oceanic form of white elephant sale.

Captain Moore, founder of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, says the eastern part of what is labelled the "Pacific Garbage Patch" is joined by a rubbish superhighway to a western collection of debris off Japan.

"We’re talking about an area larger than the continent of Australia," he said.

Captain Moore says the marine debris between Hawaii and California contains 40 times more plastic than plankton.

"The currents make the identifiable plastic come mostly from Asia, because it arrives rather quickly, whereas the North American debris takes over five years in some cases to get to this garbage patch," he said.

He says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was mounting a clean-up effort to rid the ocean of "extremely destructive" nets.

"It’s like rolling a giant mesh bowling ball against the coral reef when they hit land, and the waves push them across and it rips out all the coral and tangles the endangered monk seal – the only tropical seal," he added.

Dr Holly Bamford is the director of the marine debris program at the NOAA.

She says the NOAA is considering flying unmanned aircraft over the oceanic rubbish dump to collect more data.

Read this link for the full story and photos.



Sara-Lise Haith
Sara-Lise Haith
Sara-Lise is the former News Editor for She is based in Dubai.