sfenvironment.org


Phoebe Home

Our Home

Recycle

Teacher Lounge

Getting Involved






The Pacific Garbage Patch

How Did it Get There?

Where Does the Trash Come From?

Persistent Plastic

The Problem with the Patch

What Can We Do to Help?




san franciscoHow Did it Get There?

No one really knows when the Great Pacific Garbage Patch began. In the 1970s, scientists started studying the area. They noticed that garbage was floating in the water, collecting together in a cluster, or group. They could see that ocean currents carried this plastic garbage. Currents are the flow, or continuous movement, that water takes in one direction. Some large currents are circular; instead of moving in a straight line, they move in a circle, kind of like the way water moves when you flush a toilet! These circular currents are called gyres (rhymes with fires,) and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is basically one enormous collection of trash floating in a huge circular current. The only time trash leaves the gyre is when it sinks, or is flushed out by a big storm and washes ashore hundreds of miles away.

more