Boaters stumble on massive Caribbean gyre of plastic garbage


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/11/20/boaters-stumble-on-massive-car.html


#2

Ain’t this the way it’s supposed to work?

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#3

Let’s blame the NFL players who are kneeling and suspend all of them. Somehow I think this is their fault. /s


#4

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#5

You wouldn’t find me jumping into that mess. It undoubtedly contains syringes and other sharp things.


#6

Homo “sapiens” is certainly going to leave a very interesting fossil record. Fucking sad, really.


#7

A hurricane just plowed through several islands in the Caribbean, practically scouring them flat. Naturally a lot of that debris, especially the lightweight stuff, would have blown out to sea.


#8

Makes sense. I wonder though what “naturally” makes it clump together like that.


#9

Humanity’s filth is really starting to build up, isn’t it?


#10

I think it’s being held together by the flotilla of organic matter that sticks together because that stuff has rough edges that cling.

It appears to be about 20% white plastic/polystyrene materials to 80% brown organic matter in the first part of the video. But when they get to the dive spot later in the video, it appears to have more of the white plastic materials. When he jumps in, you can see that the white stuff is more buoyant and on top of a mat of darker material.

Eventually, the organic material will break down, leaving the gyre of plastic. Likely, another storm will come through and push it around, some of it back to land, and a lot of it dispersed further out to sea.


#11

A couple thoughts:

  • It’s massive compared to a human but, sadly, it’s tiny compared to the amount of garbage spread out over the oceans
  • I wish they had some underwater footage of it. I’d be curious to see what it looked like from the divers point of view. Were there fish hanging out under it like they often do with anything large floating in the sea?

#12

About 20 years ago we camped on the beach at Mona Island, between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. The beach was littered with plastic which had washed in. We removed buckets of it from a 100-foot stretch. The next morning it looked just the same as before.


#13

And thus we take another step closer to the futures described by William Gibson and Neil Stephenson.


#14

I don’t think we can make a difference, unless we completely change the priorities of the folks who like to get rich.

Nope, we can’t make a difference.


#15

The aliens are in for a shock the next time they open their Bermuda Triangle wormhole.


#16

No wonder the bees are having problems.


#17

Yeah, I suspect that’s the source. I was wondering how close to shore they are. The ocean gyres don’t concentrate debris that well - all these pictures they use to illustrate the Pacific Ocean “trash heap,” for instance, are all random stock photos taken right off the shores of countries where debris gets washed down streams into bays. The concentration of debris in the gyres isn’t even visible, unless you drag the water with a net. This misunderstanding of the whole situation is leading to money being spent on surface-skimming devices that are solutions in search of (imaginary) problems. Meanwhile there are extremely serious problems being caused by micro-plastics that are everywhere.

Also because we’re poisoning the shit out of them. A recent study asked that people bring honey back from around the world for them to test. What they found, universally, was that it was contaminated with high levels of neonicotinoids, which are known to kill bees. Which also explains those studies showing insect biomass and biodiversity dropping like rocks…


#18

This is horrible…but I’m curious why a flotilla of marine skimmers can’t collect the trash like we do during oil spills?

Surely we have the technology and wouldn’t the concentration of debris be an ideal place to start?


#19

I often wonder if there is economic value in the garbage: the organic material as compost, the plastic as recyclable, if it could be sorted …or ground up first and then sorted …or sorted electro-visually or something. I am totally making this up. If ground up finely enough, metals could be magnetically or centrifugally removed. I mean, it’s a mine of free raw materials, isn’t it?


#20

And put it where?