Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

January 14, 2008

Trashed: The oceans as a dumping ground

Forget global warming, oil spills, the mess in the Middle East and anything else that troubles you. Look to the oceans for something you should really be worried about: Trash.

Yes, the refuse from our modern life is floating around the world’s oceans and washing up on our beaches just to remind us that we’re some of the biggest pigs in the universe.

In the Pacific Ocean experts even have named an area for it: “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” The trash in this area collects due to a clockwise trade wind that circulates along the Pacific Rim. The area in the North Pacific Gyre accumulates garbage the same way foam gathers at the center of hot tub.

Disposal lighters, fishing line, plastic toys, fast food containers litter the ocean affecting birds and other marine life. The garbage beaches itself too, (see photo above) causing peril to pelicans and shorebirds that get tangled in the trash or injest the plastic items thinking that it may be food.

See: How ocean trash affects birds

Also see SF Chronicle story: Feds want to survey, possibly clean up vast garbage pit in Pacific

Photo by Paulo Von Borries. Brown pelican at San Gabriel River in Seal Beach, CA.

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