This ‘garbage constellation’ might be charming at first sight. But when you find out that this is what covers a large part of the Pacific Ocean, forming the world’s largest landfill then it starts to be worrying. This is what fishes, turtles and sea birds have for breakfast. And it’s a killing breakfast.
Referring to this landfill known as the Great Pacific Global Patch, British photographer Mandy Barker made SOUP, a collage series made out of global garbage and debris from seas and beaches around the world. She is exhibiting the global garbage the world’s waters contained at various times with the intention to raise awareness and concern on this issue.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is not easy to see because it mainly consists of small pieces suspended beneath the surface of the ocean. Estimates of its size range from 700,000 sq km – which is almost 20 times the surface of The Netherlands – and 15 mln sq km – meaning twice the surface of Australia. A recent study estimated it at twice the size of Hawaii.
Plastic can decompose into polymers and simply because they are small does not mean they’re not there.
A study showed that they amount to about 5.1kg of plastic per square kilometer. And birds and animals are not prepared to distinguish these pieces from real food nor to digest them after they ate them.
And if it affects marine life, it affects human life. On the microscopic level the plastic particles absorb seawater pollutants. Jelly fish eat this debris, after which they’re eaten by fishes. The same fishes that end up on our plates.
Captain Charles Moore is the one who first found this large landfill in the Pacific Ocean.
‘Only we humans make waste that nature can’t digest’ he says in his TED talk below.