A friend recently wrote to warn me not to end up in the North Pacific Garbage Patch when I set out to row to Hawaii. I sincerely hope I don’t – if the garbage can’t make it out of the gyre, I may not be able to either.
The gyre is ten million square miles in size – about the size of Africa – and the garbage collects in the middle. Strange objects that have found their way in there include rubber ducks, Nike trainers and hockey equipment, as well as huge quantities of plastic. Disturbingly, in samples taken from the gyre in 2001, the mass of plastic exceeded that of zooplankton (the dominant animalian life in the area) by six times. Jellyfish mistake the plastic fragments for zooplankton and eat them, and thus the plastic enters the ocean food chain.
It would almost be funny to imagine this surreal island of ducks, running shoes and hockeysticks, if only it wasn’t such an environmental tragedy.
For more information, watch the video made by the same Cryptic Moth video team that interviewed me last summer: Click here.