This piece of plastic was pulled out of the Pacific by the crew of the Esperanza

© Greenpeace / Alex Hofford

Back in August we talked about The Trash Vortex in the Pacific Ocean, where marine debris collects. Now it's back in the news again - our ship, the Esperanza, is currently in the area, and some disturbing images are filtering back...

The North Pacific sub-tropical gyre covers a large area of the Pacific in which the water circulates clockwise in a slow spiral. Winds are light. The currents tend to force any floating material into the low energy central area of the gyre. There are few islands on which the floating material can beach. So it stays there in the gyre, in astounding quantities estimated at six kilos of plastic for every kilo of naturally occurring plankton. The equivalent of an area the size of Texas swirling slowly around like a clock. This gyre has also been dubbed “the Asian Trash Trail” the “Trash Vortex” or the “Eastern Garbage Patch”.

For more, including maps, animations, slideshows and video, see:

Disposable Oceans »

LA Times: Altered Oceans (multimedia) »