Islands of Trash in World’s Oceans

islands

The world’s oceans are filled will millions of tons of plastic garbage, creating islands of trash. According to scientists there is enough plastic trash released into the oceans annually to fill five grocery bags of trash on every foot of every country’s coastline.

The scientists released this information on Thursday. Their estimate is that eight million tons of plastic trash pollutes the oceans of the world each year. This information is based on data collected in 2012, so the scientists are considering the number could be even greater today. By the end of 2015 they suspect that nine million tons of plastic pollution would be released into the oceans yearly.

These islands of trash in the world’s oceans are killing large numbers of marine animals including birds, mammals, turtles, and other sea creatures. Ocean ecosystems are being soiled creating an inadequate habitat for marine plants as well.

China was the leading nation contributing to the plastic pollution in the seas. 2.4 million tons belonged to China alone. This is 30 percent of the global annual amount of trash released into the oceans. Indonesia and the Philippines are following close behind.

The United States was the only rich industrial country that was ranked in the world’s top twenty contributors. The islands of plastic trash are composed of discarded bottles, bags, cigarette filters, toys, food wrappers, fighting gear, sunglasses, and even toilette seats. These pieces of plastic often kill marine mammals when fins and wings get stuck in them or they suffocate. Research professor of oceanography, Kara Lavender Law, says that if you can name it, it is in the oceans.

The estimates of trash amounts were collected from World Bank data that records how much trash each person in each nation creates every year. The numbers are based on how much trash the nations produce as well as the waste management practices of each nation.

Scientists and researchers are hoping this is a wake up call to public consumers who play their role in creating trash. They estimate that all the nation’s trash output combines created 275 million tons of trash that ended up in the ocean the previous year.

High-income countries, like the United States, are expected to take the leading role in illuminating the high numbers of trash output. Researches say that these wealthy nations are expected to take responsibility for these islands of trash issues, because they have the means to do something about it. In order to help reduce the amount of trash in the world’s oceans, investing n proper waste management systems is necessary, especially in nations with rapidly developing economies.

“The Great Garbage Patch” is a collection of trash debris in the Pacific Ocean that litter up the large bodies of water and harm marine life. The trash has been linked together by the spinning of tidal currents. The patch is actually made up of micro-plastics, millions of tiny pieces of plastic stuck together. The islands of trash floating in the world’s oceans are a major concern for scientists and environmentalists alike.

By Audrey Madden

Sources:

Live Science

Scientific America

National Geographic

Photo by – killerturnip – Creative Commons License

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