When I was teaching Chemistry, my philosophy was for the students to see, hear, write, and learn, using as many of their senses as possible. This was the reason I used note taking and multimedia presentations in the classroom. So a picture being a worth a thousand words:
There are always reasons for my articles. A recent visitor and I had an excellent exchange of ideas on the ocean and the trash that liters our beaches. The recent Autumn 2007 issue of Ocean Conservancy contained a feature article, What Comes Around. We recently had SOVL....Be a SOLVer.....Help stop Oregon litter and vandalism. That was enough to ignite the spark.
The LATILONG coordinates in the question is the approximate location of the Northern Pacific Subtropical Gyre--also called the less scientific names: The Plastic Sea, Garbage Patch, and The Trash Vortex. Northeast of the Hawaiian Island chain, this gyre is the clockwise circular motion of water formed by wind driven ocean currents: the North Pacific Current (North), the California Current (East), the North Equatorial Current (South), and the Kuroshio Current (West). A simple example is pulling the stopper in a bathtub and watching the swirling water going down the drain, but the Pacific Ocean has no drain.
There are five central gyres, two in the Pacific Ocean, two in the Atlantic Ocean, and one in the Indian Ocean. Gyres are affected by wind direction, storms, tides, temperature, salinity, Coriolis effect, and liquid density. These factors then affect the depth, width, and the circulation speed in the gyre. The Northern Pacific Subtropical Gyre is a slow moving spiral of water. Debris entering the currents that bound the gyre, are forced into its low energy central area. A Greenpeace research animation shows that debris entering the water from the Western Pacific coast of the United States and the Eastern Pacific coast of Japan will be entrapped in the Northern Pacific Gyre in six years. Approximately 100 million tonnes (metric ton) of plastic are produced each year and approximately 10% ends up in the sea. Sea borne debris, about 20% of this, comes from ships and platforms and the remaining 80% from land. This gyre has been estimated as being larger than the state of Texas. All the plastic type polymers every produced since Leo Baekeland produced the first resins of Bakelite in 1907 and the "Plastic Age" began, are still here.
Plastics are not biodegradable but most breakdown into smaller fragments over time.
From the Greenpeace article again: "A single 2 liter drink: bottle will breakdown over time to put one fragment on every mile of beach in the entire world". The larger fragments, bottle caps, lighters, balloons, and fishing nets often entangle or are consumed by sea birds and other animals, such as the sea turtle, strangled by a plastic band.
Plastic fragments also provide a vehicle for numerous organisms to "ride-the-waves" and live on. These organisms can then invade a new habitat and become an invasive species. These fragments may also provide a "sponge" to attract and concentrate pollutants found in the ocean, especially POPs (persistent Organic Pollutants). Animals eating this chemical soup are also ingesting these highly toxic pollutants an then transporting them throughout the food chain ..
We have all heard the saying, "Out of sight, out of mind". Some plastic debris does sink to the sea bottom, about 70%. Dutch scientists have estimated that there are approximately 110 pieces of litter for every square kilometer of the seabed in the North Sea. The animals that inhabit the sea floor are now confronted with the intrusion of plastic debris on their domain.
We have all seen the disclaimers on TV about the side effects of the meds being presented. My disclaimer is: Do not read the information on the web sites listed below before or just after eating or before going to bed as it will probably cause mental anxiety about what we have done and are doing to this planet.
More info HERE.
So, what did we learn from this? Maybe to recycle everything, how about that? Maybe to think before you toss that lighter or pen into the trash. Maybe just to think about what happens to all the trash you throw out each year; where it goes, what it does, what it kills. It really takes no time to recycle, it hurts no one, and yet it might save the life of a bird on a tiny atoll somewhere you've never been nor heard about. And, if you don't want to recycle, then understand that it is YOU killing the birds, and the fish and the animals on this planet. Take responsibilty.
We all went up in arms about the woman who was mauled by the chimpanzee, but she could scream for help. These tiny birds cannot ask for help.
They can only die.