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About This QuizDid you know the world's biggest landfill isn't actually on land? It's in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. How did it get there, and what's in this landfill?
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is caused by the North Pacific Tropical Gyre. What's a gyre?
a spiral of currents in the ocean
A gyre is a series of currents that move in a circular pattern. They aren't popular places for large fish, but they do attract a lot of trash.
a series of large waves
suction that comes from the ocean floor
If you dragged the Great Pacific Garbage Patch onto dry land, how much territory would it cover?
all of England
all of Texas
all of the United States -- twice
The Western and Eastern Pacific Garbage Patches are connected by the Subtropical Convergence Zone, a 6,000-mile (9,656 kilometer) long current. The result is an oceanic landfill that spans an area twice the size of the continental United States.
How much trash is currently in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?
1 ton (0.91 metric tons)
3.5 tons (3.18 metric tons)
It's hard to know for sure, but researchers estimate that you can find about 3.5 tons (3.18 metric tons) of trash in this oceanic landfill.
5 tons (4.54 metric tons)
Where does all that garbage come from?
Only 20 percent of the Garbage Patch's trash comes from people working on the sea. The rest starts out on land and makes its way there, carried along by the wind or by sewer systems.
The Plastiki is like the anti-Garbage Patch. It's an environmentally friendly catamaran built to raise awareness about waste and the ocean. How many plastic bottles will make this boat float?
Approximately 12,000 reclaimed plastic soda bottles will be used to float the Plastiki on its attention-getting journey from San Francisco to Sydney.
Nurdles make up 10 percent of the ocean's plastic trash. What is a nurdle?
a small piece of plastic
A nurdle is a small piece of plastic formed by photodegradation. Plastic doesn't chemically change as it decays -- it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces over time. Also, a nurdle can refer to the basic form of plastic used to make other products.
a Styrofoam pellet
a noodle-shaped marine animal
Nurdles are a threat to marine life because:
Animals that swallow them become more buoyant and can't stay underwater.
The nurdles contain concentrated toxins that can poison the animals.
Nurdles act like sponges in the ocean and absorb toxins. The toxins are concentrated in the nurdle and can be detrimental to marine life.
Animals that eat nurdles think they are full and eventually starve.
Compared to the amount of plastic, how much plankton lives in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?
1 pound (.45 kilograms) of plastic to 3 pounds (1.36 kilograms) of plankton
3 pounds (1.36 kilograms) of plastic to 1 pound (0.45 kilograms) of plankton
6 pounds (2.72 kilograms) of plastic to 1 pound (0.45 kilograms) of plankton
For every 6 pounds (2.72 kilograms) of plastic, there is 1 pound (0.45 kilograms) of plankton.
How many marine animals die because of trash each year?
Approximately 100,000 marine animals die each year from a trash-related incident.
What do experts believe is the best way to stop the Great Pacific Garbage Patch from growing?
reducing waste on land
Recycling and handling trash properly on land is the best and easiest way to keep litter from entering the ocean. It sounds ironic, but removing the trash that's already there could harm some marine ecosystems.
cleaning the trash out of the ocean
nothing -- It's a lost cause.
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