While humans and nature have been tied into a constant battle for decades, human activities have been showing signs of triumph as nature nears its defeat. This is evident from numerous garbage patches that are located in the oceanic bodies of the world. As of now, there are a total of 5 garbage patches, one of which is located in the Indian Oceans, two in the Atlantic Ocean, and two in the Pacific Ocean (Marine Debris Program).
Garbage patches are referred to as the accumulation of plastic waste and other forms of debris that are collected over time owing to the rotating movements of gyres. Gyres are defined as rotating ocean currents that form the shape of a whirlpool that engulfs the ambient marine debris into its fold. Marine debris is said to be the plastic and other material wastes that are thrown into the water bodies. The buoyant plastic, the density of which is less than the water’s, is swayed into the gyres, owing to the water currents. Once the debris enters the gyre, their exit is improbable unless they decompose into microplastics with thermal and tidal impact.
One of the largest ocean patches is said to be the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The estimated size of the Great Pacific Garbage patch is gauged to be about 1.6 million square kilometers (The Ocean Cleanup). This patch was discovered in the year 1997 by an environmental activist, Charles Moore, whose organization – Algalita Marine Research Foundation advocates the preservation of the environment (National Geographic).
The accumulation of ocean patches has had drastic ramifications on the health of the ecology. For one, aquatic animals residing in the region around these patches have been subjected to harm and degradation due to the implications of plastic. Due to the marine debris forming a shelter on the ocean surface, sufficient light is not able to reach the bottom of the ocean, leading to restrictions in the growth of Algae (Wisznieswski, 2018). This stunted pattern of growth of algae has disrupted the food chain of the ocean, leading to a massive impact on the ecology of nature. Sea turtles have been consuming plastics, thinking that they are jellyfishes. The consumption of plastics has resulted in the deterioration of their health.
Garbage patches also have a notable impact on the public water supply. Since the water supply to various cities of the world is done by extracting water from oceanic bodies, polluted water bodies will lead to poor water quality, which is supplied to numerous households for reasons like cooking and bathing. Therefore, not only are garbage patches negatively affecting marine life, but also humanity.
To counter the further development of such patches, certain measures by local and global governments could be undertaken. This includes the formation of a large-scale fleet that is entirely dedicated to cleaning the oceanic patches. This process of cleansing could be lengthy, but fruitful, as clean oceans will lead to the rejuvenation of the ecology. Moreover, governments should begin funding certain environmental organizations that work towards preaching the reduction in the use of plastic materials. This will ensure that water bodies are not introduced to any more plastic than they already have. People should begin to use bio-degradable plastic, this practice can only be ensured if the governments enforce suitable legislation.