A New Continent

A new continent has formed in the Northwest Pacific Ocean. It is an area roughly 10 million square miles in size. It has been forming for years and was first documented in the 1950’s.

Mountains of plastic trash that has not and will not, biodegrade are responsible for the deaths of about 100,000 marine animals and more than 1 million seabirds who mistake plastic for food.


“Our ocean is sick, and our actions have made it so,” Vikki Spruill, president and chief executive of Ocean Conservancy, said in a statement accompanying the report. “We simply cannot continue to put our trash in the ocean. The evidence turns up every day in dead and injured marine life, littered beaches that discourage tourists, and choked ocean ecosystems,” she said.”

The ocean has fed countless generations of humanity the world over with its once-endless bounty. That is changing as we enter a new era of severely depleted oceans due to indiscriminate commercial fishing and now, pollution, exacerbated by global climate change. There are about five or six major trash-collecting gyres in the world’s oceans, with the most famous located in the Pacific Ocean about midway between North America and Asia. Trash collects at these locations, where ocean currents swirl, and form a gunk of small plastic pieces. The plastic eddies are responsible for the deaths of about 100,000 marine animals and more than 1 million seabirds who mistake plastic for food.

This is not a new problem. 2001 Research Video:

The existence of the Eastern Garbage Patch was predicted in a 1988 paper published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States and has formed gradually over time as a result of marine pollution gathered by the action of oceanic currents. It has been estimated that 80% of the garbage comes from land-based sources, and 20% from ships at sea.

Currents carry debris from the west coast of North America to the gyre in about five years, and debris from the east coast of Asia in a year or less a huge tragedy because plastic is full of nasty toxic stuff…toxic to you, toxic to me and toxic to our animal, fish and bird friends in the environmen. It does not biodegrade. It breaks up into small pieces fooling the acquatic life and birds that it is potential food.

Green peace

estimates that a million sea birds a year die form ingesting plastics. The plastic fills their stomachs, they can’t digest it and they die, slow agonizing deaths by starvation with full bellies. Sea turtles mistake floating shopping bags for jelly fish, and even the small single celled creatures that act as natural filters for the water have been discovered with colorful flecks of plastic in their transparent bodies. One soda bottle can break down in enough small particles to leave one on every beach in the world! Why is this a problem? Read on!

The plastic as it breaks down releases large amounts of toxic substances into the water of the Pacific ocean. What ever might have originally been stored in the plastic: DDT, PCBs, other oils and pollutants, is all released into the water as the plastic breaks down. Anyone for some fresh, wild caught Pacific Salmon?

The following expose written by CAPT. CHARLES MOORE / Algalita Marine Research Foundation (AMRF) for gives a very, detailed explanation for the layman of the problem.