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Trash Talk: Great Pacific Garbage Patch

2 minutes

(Describer) Under a round logo of a wave, title: Ocean Today. In an animation, garbage flies out of a can into water. Title: Trash Talk.

(woman) What is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

(Describer) Asma Mahdi:

First, let's talk about what it's not-- a floating island of trash like a garbage dump or a landfill. It's also not the only patch. They're throughout the ocean. The Pacific Garbage Patch just happens to be the most famous. Garbage patches are large areas of marine debris concentration that are formed by rotating ocean currents called gyres, like big whirlpools that suck things in. A garbage patch is made up of tiny plastic pieces called microplastics that are less than five millimeters long-- more like pepper flakes swirling in a soup than something you can skim. You might see larger items like plastic bottles, but it's possible to sail through a patch and not see anything. And they're a big problem for the ocean and us. People often ask why we can't scoop up all the marine debris. The answer is, unfortunately, it's just not that simple. The first challenge is the sheer size of these garbage patches. They're huge! They're constantly moving with ocean currents. And there's debris from the ocean surface all the way down to the seafloor, not to mention the marine life we would disrupt scooping it. So what can we do? The ultimate solution is prevention, which must be our highest priority. We can reduce, reuse, and recycle to keep trash out of the ocean. We can participate in shoreline clean-ups. It's easier to deal with debris before it gets to the ocean, because until we stop debris at the source, we'll just be cleaning it up forever.

(Describer) Some of the garbage flies back into the can. Titles: Trash Talk. OceanToday.noaa.gov Accessibility provided by the US Department of Education.

Accessibility provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

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The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a large area of marine debris, which forms by rotating ocean currents. These currents, also known as gyres, act like whirlpools and collect floating pieces of microplastics. Part of the "Trash Talk" series.

Media Details

Runtime: 2 minutes

Trash Talk
Episode 1
2 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Trash Talk
Episode 2
2 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Trash Talk
Episode 3
3 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Trash Talk
Episode 4
2 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Trash Talk
Episode 5
3 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Trash Talk
Episode 6
3 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12