What is the garbage dump in the Pacific Ocean

Garbage island in the Pacific 19 times the size of Austria

A new study shows that there is even more plastic swimming in the Pacific than previously thought. The largest garbage vortex is up to 16 times larger than assumed. It has an area of ​​around 1.6 million square kilometers.

An international team of researchers has evaluated aircraft images of the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch", the largest garbage vortex in the ocean between Hawaii and California. They examined more than a million plastic samples from the Pacific. And calculates that the garbage dump in the ocean extends over an area four to 16 times larger than previously assumed: namely on around 1.6 million square kilometers. That is more than 19 times the area of ​​Austria. The vortex contains at least 79,000 tons of plastic.

Plastic waste in the oceans is particularly condensed in certain drift current eddies. The North Pacific Gyre was therefore given the nickname Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It is often referred to as a stain - also in this study by the Dutch Ocean Cleanup Foundation published in the journal "Scientific Reports". In fact, it is not a garbage island in the form of a closed mass, but an area with a high garbage density.

Old fishing nets make up almost half of the trash. Therefore, the garbage is also a great danger to fish, turtles and other marine life, emphasize the researchers. They assume that, among other things, the tsunami in Japan in 2011 contributed to the spread of plastic waste.

According to a study published in 2015 by the journal "Science", around eight million tons of plastic waste ended up in the oceans in 2010 alone.

(apa / red.)