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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 franciscoThe Problem with the Patch

Some people think that because the ocean is so big, a gyre full of floating garbage doesn't matter that much. Well, they're wrong! Oceans are complicated ecosystems where billions of organisms, or living things, live in natural balance. Plants like algae, plankton, and seaweed make up the beginning of the food chain for animals such as shrimp, fish, jellyfish, birds, sea turtles, otters, dolphins, sharks, and whales. A food chain is the natural order of how animals get food.

When plastics end up in our ocean, they often appear as food to animals and become a dangerous part of the food chain. Imagine a plastic bag floating in the ocean. It can look just like a jellyfish, which sea turtles and dolphins love to eat! When these animals eat plastic bags, it can choke them. It can also fill their stomach with trash that doesn't digest or move through their bodies to provide them with the nutrition needed to survive. Often, animals will stop eating if their belly is full of plastic, and they end up starving to death! Each year, more than 1 million sea birds and 100 thousand marine mammals die from plastics. Not only do they die from eating, or ingesting it, they also die from getting entangled or caught in it. Plastic six-pack rings and plastic ropes and nets are common traps for fish, birds and other marine life that get entangled in them.

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