Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Texas Garbage Patch

The Texas Garbage Patch is not off the coast of Texas in the Gulf of Mexico, but in the Pacific Ocean north of the Hawaiian Islands about half the distance to San Francisco. It is also called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the Eastern Garbage Patch or the Pacific Trash Vortex. About a decade ago, my wife and I were at the National Seashore in the North Padre Island in the Gulf of Mexico. It was the end of a wonderful vacation in Texas. We were disappointed, rather we were appalled, in the amount of trash we discovered on the National Seashore coming in with the tide. When I first heard the term Texas Garbage Patch, I immediately thought of the National Seashore. But the Texas Garbage Patch was named for its size not its location. It is now the size of a continent about twice the size of Texas.

This garbage patch is made of mostly plastics that for whatever reason has ended up in the ocean either from dumping or by accident. It is plastic bags, bowling balls, plastic bottles, Nike sneakers etc. It weighs approximately 3.5 billion tons and it doubles in size every decade. Here is a link if you like a look:

Texas Garbage Patch

Pretty disgusting huh? It is one of the reasons why we get the feeling the ocean is not pollute because it looks as clean as it always has. But a lot of the trash just gets concentrated in a few spots due to the winds, tides and general motion of the Earth.

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