More info on our floating vortex of plastic in the ocean

Below is an article about the tragic plastic pollution in our oceans. What can we do to help:
1. Be informed. Know the issue.
2. Cut back on plastic in any way possible
3. As surfers, why not pick up a piece of trash every time you walk up the beach from a session? If we all do it, it will help...and maybe other people will be inspired (or feel guilty), when they see us picking up the trash?

On a sea of trash
Two men set sail to call attention to the 100 million tons of plastic flotsam fouling the world's oceans.
June 30, 2008|Margaux Wexberg Sanchez, Margaux Wexberg Sanchez, a writer, teaches journalism at UC Irvine.

On the first of June, two men and a rabbit set sail from the port of Long Beach, bound for Hawaii, on a raft made of junk. Their cabin is the cockpit of a Cessna 310, white with a blue racing stripe, salvaged from the desert. It floats on a system of handmade pontoons -- 15,000 plastic bottles held together with recycled nets -- propelled by currents and wind. If it sounds dangerous and makeshift, that's the point. The pilots of Junk, as the vessel is called, want to get your attention.
They are Dr. Marcus Eriksen, director of research and education at the Algalita Marine Research Foundation in Long Beach, and Joel Paschal, a former employee of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (The rabbit was abandoned early on -- to a safe home, not the depths -- after proving a less than seaworthy companion.) Their cause is alerting the world to the fouling of our oceans by plastic debris, and Junk is the poster child (
Plastic flotsam -- 100 million tons of it -- already litters the oceans of the world. Another 60 billion tons of plastics will be produced this year alone. A particularly dense accumulation of debris can be found in a holding pattern 1,000 miles off the California coast, in an area known as the central North Pacific gyre, the calm core of a convergence of four major ocean currents rotating clockwise under a large high-pressure zone. What gets in there can be trapped for decades.
The buildup of plastics in the gyre is estimated to span 5 million square miles. That's the equivalent of the area of the United States -- all 50 states -- plus India. Some of the debris at the surface floats, some is "neutrally buoyant," suspended just below the waves, and some hovers even deeper. Some is apparent and recognizable -- water bottles, balloons, degraded buoys -- but over time, these objects break down into smaller and smaller plastic pieces until they become particulate, invisible to the naked eye. (And small enough to be ingested by fish and filter feeders, as the larger pieces are by birds and turtles.) Also, the central gyre is so vast that even a devastating quantity of visible debris will appear relatively diffuse. There's no observable "plastic island," no obvious "garbage patch."
To study the plastics in the gyre is costly and time consuming. Sailing through the region, a journey that can only be undertaken at certain times of the year, takes a full month. Eriksen and Paschal made their first gyre voyage in January, captained by Algalita founder Charles Moore, who has studied the area for more than a decade. Moore's work has shown that, in parts of the central gyre, plastics outweigh surface zooplankton 6 to 1. Put bluntly: That's more trash than life. As Moore puts it, "The constituency of ocean water has been fundamentally altered."