Tuesday, October 28, 2008

It's Not Just In The Pacific

I told someone recently that I went to the Surfrider East Coast Chapters Conference in Virginia to talk about marine debris. She said that they probably didn't feel very connected to the issue over there because they are far from the Pacific, that is, from the 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch.'

I yipped "Nooooo- there's one in the Atlantic too! There's one in every ocean, it's because Charlie Moore has done so much research and outreach and gotten media involved that people KNOW about the Pacific Garbage Patch." After a few seconds of digesting- "Ohhhh, I had no idea... I guess that makes sense" she replied.

Garbage is pretty much everywhere on this planet, streaming down rivers and drains and off of beaches. We know that. So it's interesting to think that now that one particular area has been given a name (GPGP) - it exists. That's largely a media thing. I think it's been very useful for our purposes- to describe what is happening with accumulating non-biodegradable trash. But it's critical we don't get too caught up in the one area, because people think it's just There, and, they most commonly ask- Why don't we just clean it up?

The answer really is: because it's EVERYWHERE. (We have to stem the flow. That's way harder and way more complicated than cleaning it up.) So when we talk about the GPGP let's do emphasize that it's the most studied, most well known, likely the biggest due to it's location b/w manufacturers and consumers, but gyres exist in every ocean, so by no means is it the only one. In fact, here is a shout out to sailors- more data collection is needed. If you have a boat, some time, and a desire to get involved in helping out the oceans, give us a shout...