Our Plastic Seas

Here’s a rather disturbing article.

The LA Times has been running a series on our horribly polluted oceans. While it’s hardly news that our oceans, gasp!, are polluted, the sobering doomsayer articles are rife with runaway algae, toxic bacteria, red tides, acidic seawater, disappearing species, deformed offspring, and apocalyptic forecasts.

Something I found most fascinating, however, are the so-called Garbage Patches. Garbage Patches (also known as a garbage gyre) are where the ocean currents take most of the plastics and floatable trash dumped into our oceans. These swirling masses literally trap garbage for decades.

Two such patches plague the Pacific Ocean; the Western Garbage Patch south of Japan and the Eastern Garbage Patch off the west coast of the United States. The Eastern Garbage Patch is twice the size of Texas.

Let me just reiterate that: TWICE THE SIZE OF TEXAS!

Since plastic can take more than 100 years to break down in the ocean, the LA Times points out that every bit of plastic that has found its way into the ocean in the last fifty years (indeed since plastic itself was invented) is still floating out there–including that Frisbee you lost at the beach in 1972.

This does not bode well for those who rely on the ocean to survive. Scientists who recently cut open the stomach of a baby albatross on Midway Atoll discovered within its stomach, “a collection of red, blue and orange bottle caps, a black spray nozzle, part of a green comb, a white golf tee and a clump of tiny dark squid beaks ensnared in a tangle of fishing line.”

Hardly the stuff of albatross dreams.

There really is no other way to end this post than with the following exclamation which pretty much sums up the situation: Ugh!!!