Friday, June 6, 2008

Why there are no pictures of the North Pacific Trash Gyre

From the Oyster's Garter:
The most common misconception is that the trash pile is like an island... It’s not packed in as tight as that - it’s more like a dense collection of tiny floating pieces of plastic, most of which are not on the surface. A big container ship or naval vessel going through there would probably not notice much out of the ordinary - after all, there is some degree of plastic trash floating on the surface all over the world...

For this reason, the trash gyre would be very, very hard to clean up. The plastic is so small, and so scattered, that it would take high-intensity trawling similar to that for shrimp. And shrimp trawling kills 10 pounds of non-targeted life (sharks, turtles, fish, you name it) for every pound of shrimp gathered. (Yes, Forrest Gump lied to you - for some reason they didn’t want drowned turtles next to Tom Hank’s angelic self.) The mortality caused by trying to remove all the trash in the gyre would probably be similar. We’re just going to have to live with it and try to prevent it from getting any bigger.

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