On Pacific Ocean garbage patch, marine life finds a way

i24NEWS

2 min read
A flightless cormorant sits on her nest, surrounded by garbage in the Pacific Ocean, 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, on February 21, 2019.
Rodrigo Buendia/AFPA flightless cormorant sits on her nest, surrounded by garbage in the Pacific Ocean, 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, on February 21, 2019.

Experts are worried that trash carried away from coastlines could transport invasive species

Scientists say coastal species of marine animals are colonizing a massive collection of floating plastic waste, dubbed the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch."

The variety of life found on the patch is swept along off of the shores usually inhabited by coastal creatures and into the high seas, along with trash brought by the currents into open waters

The accumulated waste brought by these flows formed a patch of garbage in the Pacific Ocean that is approximately double the size of Texas, according to The Guardian.

Though the patch was previously thought to be inhospitable, scientists were shocked to find that coastal creatures established a significant presence there, with marine life found on 90 percent of the trash, according to the BBC.

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Marine experts found over 40 coastal species on the garbage patch, Greg Ruiz, a senior scientist with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, said.

“Prior to this we thought many of those coastal organisms wouldn’t be able to persist for a long period of time in a less food-rich area, let alone grow and reproduce,” Ruiz explained to The Guardian

“Much to our surprise, a lot of coastal organisms were alive on that debris.”

However, scientists are also concerned about the implications of trash carrying marine life so far from the creatures’ point of origin, citing the potential for the transport of invasive species.