GPS Tracking Devices Placed on Marine Garbage Patch

15 Aug 2018

EXXpedition is a scientific research team dedicated to tackling modern-day pollutants, such as chemicals, plastics and carcinogens. This all-female group is devoted to empowering women to make better, healthier and more sustainable choices.

Most recently, the group set out on a voyage across the North Pacific to study the horrifying impacts of single-use plastics being dumped into our oceans. The group ventured about 3,000 nautical miles in total, and their trek from Hawaii to Vancouver led them straight through the North Pacific garbage patch.

According to crew members aboard the vessel, there was a constant stream of muck, garbage and microplastics as they sailed through the patch. Researchers were both disturbed and devastated to witness various creatures, particularly dolphins and albatross, eating in areas that were overflowing with microplastics.

Incredibly, the crew managed to get close enough to a 10 cubic meter pile of debris to attach a GPS tracking device on top. The group confirmed that the data gleaned from the device will be utilized by scientists from the United States, Canada, the UK and Switzerland. The massive garbage patch study is currently being funded by NASA.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a massive heap of trash, mainly plastics, that has accumulated in the Pacific Ocean halfway between Hawaii and California. The ocean’s currents cause the massive trash to continuously cycle in a spiraling vortex. This accumulation of plastics was initially discovered between 1985 and 1988 by scientists from Alaska.

The gyre is only one of five giant oceanic trash heaps known to exist today, but the Pacific Garbage Patch is the biggest. National Geographic explains how both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans have similar trash vortexes, and even smaller bodies of water are beginning to develop garbage patches over time.

The center of the Pacific Garbage Patch is calm and stable, but the circular motion of the outer ring of the circle continuously draws in more trash that gets trapped in the center. These accumulated plastics are not biodegradable, so they eventually just break down into tiny pieces and float along the ocean.

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