The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is an accumulation of different plastics floating around in an area of the Pacific Ocean. It is made up of discarded plastics and sadly this mess is getting bigger. In this soupy mixture you can find cigarette filters, drink bottles, food wrappers, plastic bags, fishing line and nets. All this plastic that has become the Garbage Patch has accumulated with the help of ocean currents. In this part of the Pacific you can find more plastic than you can find Plankton. It is not only the plastic floating around on the surface that is a worry it is the plastic that you can’t see that is the big problem. The plastic does break down to tiny pieces and then it is eaten by marine life and then eventually eaten by us.

All this plastic ends up in the ocean through rubbish coming out of storm water drains, ships and other vessels, oil and gas platforms and the lack of proper waste disposal on land. 80% of the rubbish comes from land sources and the other 20% comes from ships.

The impact on marine life is huge. The marine life mistakes the plastic for food; this causes physical and mental deformities when consumed. A lot of the marine life ends up getting tangled up in the mess and this causes suffocation, starvation, injury and in some cases death.

The problem is so big now that cleaning it up is not possible. What we need to ensure is that no more plastics reach our oceans. We must all be more conscious when purchasing plastics and then recycling them.

Plastic bottle on beach
An empty plastic water bottle washed up on a beach in Taghazout, Morocco Image: Louis Hansel
© Louis Hansel