In an oceanic gyre, wind is scarce and that fact in combination with high pressure weather structures greatly affects the ocean circulation in these areas. The biggest marine ecosystems are called subtropical gyres which make up approximately 40 percent of the globe’s surface (Macdonald, Morton and Johannessen). These enormous areas of gradually spiraling warm equatorial air tug winds and joining sea currents in. All of the matter located in a gyre exchanges and moves very slowly. In fact, sailors avoid these portions of the ocean altogether because there is very little wind for active sailing. These oceanic regions contain areas of dead calm in which no wind blows for many days. In these areas, surface chlorophyll thickness is low and plant and animal growth and is decreased as well. Because of the conditions, these areas tend to harbor tons of trash and debris. This trash upsets the entire planet, animals and people alike. How can we fix such a major issue?
The pollution in the sea is a huge concern for everybody. The North Pacific Gyre is huge region of slowly swirling, warm equatorial air which tugs in airstreams and converging sea currents. Gyres are discovered in all of the globe’s seas; and the garbage debris issue in the North Pacific Gyre tends to be a recurring issue throughout the gyres of the world. In a mere nine years, the North Pacific Gyre stretched about 10 times to 25 times quicker than prototypes of global warming anticipated (Davis, Rothstein and Dewar). Today the North Pacific Gyre is at least double the size of the state of Texas. This part of the sea has extended to the northeast into the eastern Pacific and areas of the Hawaiian archipelago as well (Moore).
Moreover, the pollution problem in the North Pacific Gyre is not only a problem specific to that oceanic area. The problem places other habitats in danger as well, and other parts of the ocean are already getting pollution from the North Pacific Gyre. Wildlife is greatly affected by the trash in the ocean. Some of these species comprise of the vulnerable Green Sea Turtle, the vanishing Hawaiian Monk Seal, endangered Nihoa Finches, endangered Nihoa Millerbirds, the Laysan Duck, and other seabirds like the Laysan Albatross. In addition, countless species of plants including the Pritchardia Palms, and numerous other species of arthropods are threatened by pollution as well (Moore).
Researchers reveal that a vast ninety percent of all trash floating in planet earth’s seas is plastic. For instance, in the year 2006, United Nations environment researchers projected that nearly every square mile of the ocean contained at least 46,000 fragments of floating plastic (Macdonald, Morton and Johannessen). The surface layer of the ocean contains fragments of plastic products, heaps of abandoned drift nets, countless plastic bags, packing straps, along with usual household items such as soap, electronics, vehicle tires and deodorant packaging. One particular alleged plastic bag dumping was assumed to have covered about ten miles of the ocean’s surface. Ninety percent of the plastic waste currently in the North Pacific Gyre has natural degradable cycles which are not completely understood. However, the breakdown of these plastics likely range from 50 to 500 years; plastic items around 50 years old have already been discovered in the North Pacific Gyre (Macdonald, Morton and Johannessen).
Great amounts of the trash in the ocean have accumulated expectedly from events and activities. For example, cruise ship crews, sailors, yachtsmen, passengers, and even merchant marine personnel sporadically and nonchalantly throw undesirable items overboard. Even unnoticed winds blow garbage and light-weight objects from the decks of ships and boats into the sea. Other garbage derives from the land. Manufacturing waste and human unawareness places plastics into local water settings. Then, streams and rivers carry plastic waste to the beaches and oceans. These events might be considered trivial if considered one by one, but they are devastatingly horrible when their continuous effects are considered.
A large concern of the pollution in the North Pacific Gyre is the devastation inflicted upon the wildlife. Furthermore, the effects don’t merely subside at the beach. The pollution and waste makes its way to the human dinner table as well. This is an issue that concerns all of mankind.
Unfortunately, there is no existing legal authority which is responsible for the North Pacific Gyre trash problem. Every piece of plastic produced throughout time currently exists in one form, and much of it is quickly and progressively accumulating in the oceans. Some portions of the North Pacific Gyre actually contain more plastic than organic organisms. Is there a way to clean up the North Pacific Gyre? How can we prevent this problem from growing more out of control?
For starters, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States is currently searching for methods to eliminate debris without killing living organisms and destroying the habitat. As an organization from the United States, NOAA’s attention exists in the influence of this problem on the outer Hawaiian Islands as well as the National Marine Sanctuary. However, The North Pacific Subtropical Convergence seems to be the responsibility of the Hawaiian archipelago. This area tends to be inflicted dramatically because trash concentrates over numerous years due to convergence.
Although the clean-up of this issue is necessary, there are things that we can do as citizens to help eliminate this problem as well. This world issue highlights the necessity to reduce the use of plastic in our lives. This is something that can be done on a personal level. Try getting paper instead of plastic bags in the grocery store checkout. Or better yet, bring your own canvas totes! Use reusable water bottles and glasses instead of drinking from plastic bottles. By foods in glass jars instead of plastic jars. The large scale issue in the North Pacific Gyre is the consequence of the plastic used and irresponsibly discarded in millions of individual lives around the world. Raise awareness on the issue.
The beautiful Maui is one of the most gorgeous tourist escapes in the world, and sits nearly one thousand miles from the closest border of the North Pacific Gyre and its massive trash patch. Ninety percent of the garbage in the world’s oceans is plastic. The North Pacific Gyre tends to harbor tons of trash and debris. This trash upsets the entire planet, animals and people alike. What will you do about it?
Corno, Guido, et al. “Assessing Primary Production Variability in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre: A Comparision of Fast Repetition Rate Fluorometry and 14C Measurments.” Journal of Phycology (2006): 51-60. Print.
Davis, Xujing Jia, et al. “Numerical Investigations of Seasonal and Interannual Variability of North Pacific Subtropical Mode Water and Its Implications for Pacific Climate Variability.” Journal of Climate (2011): 2648-2665. Print.
Eiler, Alexander, et al. “Dynamics of the SAR11 bacterioplankton lineage in relation to environmental conditions in the oligotrophic North Pacific subtropical gyre.” Environmental Microbiology (2009): 2291-2300. Print.
Macdonald, Robie W., Brian Morton and Sophia C. Johannessen. “A review of marine environmental contaminant issues in the North Pacific: The dangers and how to identify them.” Environmental Reviews (2005): 103-139. Print.
Moore, Charles. “Trashed.” Natural History (2005): 46-51. Print.