The Great Pacific Garbage Patch Is Not What You Think It Is | The Swim

Road scenes like this are a daily reality for the crew of seeker on a Pacific track some estimates hold that by 2050 there could be as much plastic as there are fish in the ocean every day when it's shown what seven please good luck with this net so it's not only one is it many nets that are tangled together also some other interesting items like this toothbrush was trapped in the net but what is all this junk exactly where does it come from and is it really concentrated and a giant Garbage Patch somewhere out there Marcus Ericsson is an environmental scientist who has made it his life's mission to solve the problem of marine plastic it's a global issue because plastic accumulates in gyres large circular currents that thread through the world's oceans what's leaving land heading out to sea is all the single-use packaging it's two straws the bags of bottles the cup lids and stir sticks all this junk have used once and throw away a plastic bottle in California we'll get to Japan in about three to five years and come back across the northern half of the North Pacific that's spinning mass of water as a gyre classic trash will migrate to those zones and get stuck we actually take boats out of nowhere we drag our net behind the boat and account for plastic particles that are floating working with ocean modelers we can get these regional maps of how much trash is out there what it is and where it is but answering even these basic questions about marine debris has proven to be surprisingly challenging in fact everything we know about the proverbial Great Pacific Garbage Patch started in 1990 when a container ship spilled sixty one thousand sneakers into the ocean realizing that a lot of these sneakers would never come to shore that they would just be stuck in this vortex Kurtis Emma Skye are working with James Ingram jr. at NOAA they're the ones that came up with the term Great Pacific Garbage Patch captain Charles Moore is often credited with the first observations of the patch the constellation of micro plastic particles that captured the public's imagination captain Charles Moore had described the area he said look I'm in an area roughly twice the size of Texas where I'm doing my transects and that hit the media by storm there aren't these islands of trash they don't exist it's more like a smog of micro plastic particles billions of them very toxic over a wide area even when they become brittle and break apart plastic pieces persist unable to oxidize or become waterlogged like metals wood or paper all types of plastic are designed to defeat natural decay in general high-density polyethylene number two plastic is the most common plastic and consumer use and it makes your soap bottles that makes your toothbrushes that makes many of the consumer goods that float out of the Garbage Patch if we think in terms of all the plastic that's been produced since 1950 since it's a scientific material hydrocarbons it's probably still here today on the planet dr. sarah jean roy a works with dr. Nicolai maximenko and his team at the University of Hawaii to tackle the problem of tracking trash most of the time we will find only bottle caps and not the butter itself because the butter is made out of PEP and it's sinking because the density of PEP is higher than sea water despite the dramatic amount of plastic the crew of seeker has encountered some estimates hold that 99% of ocean bound plastic waste is still unaccounted for that's why Sara's team is working with the swim expedition and the ocean voyages Institute to tag and track the waste B find the swing are using two different protocols the first protocol is a visual survey of all marine debris the DC from the vessel itself and whenever defined an object that is large enough they will get closer to the debris they will take pictures of it and if there are numbers or lettering they will share this information with us so we can track back the origin of that debris the second protocol is basically to add that GPS buoy on to marine debris to track their movement in the ocean we go to the net and target and then we take out this and it's activate the tracker once the tracker is activated and enable scientists to both improve models of how trash travels in the ocean and learn where to focus cleanup efforts most of the time Sara and her team can't immediately tell where a piece of plastic comes from but they can look for other clues we need to use an FTIR micro Raman spectroscopy this spectrum is matching a spectrum that is found in the library telling us what is the type of plastics it's probably the dream of our scientists to have a satellite and a new instrumentation to be able to quantify the amount of plastic floating at sea the entire lifecycle of plastic is poisonous its manufacturing process depends on harmful chemicals and when released into the environment it soaks up even more toxins and transports them far and wide including into our bodies plastic can choke the oceans ability to absorb co2 from the atmosphere exacerbating climate change only 10% of the habitat is on the land the rest of 90% of the habitats in the ocean are totally unexplored for the most part imagining all the jungles all the deserts all the savannas all the Rocky Mountains the ocean would be 9 times more than the idea that somehow it could be 50% of plastic 50% fish in a mere 30 years is horrifying the ocean is in peril right now if we don't do something that is going to reverse that in the next few years and it's going to be much more difficult but the situation is far from hopeless organizations are developing innovative solutions to clean up ocean plastic material scientists are turning their attention to new packaging solutions and consumers are making more informed choices every day how can we use our science to influence laws and policy makers when you refuse the singer's plastics it has an effect on your neighborhood on your local watershed and the ocean now seeing the UN talking about it seeing companies rise up and say we're going zero waste there see countries make commitment to stop the flow of trash from land to sea I feel optimistic and we can solve this problem be sure to visit secret calm / the swim to read daily updates from Ben LeCompte track as progress in real-time and watch more videos about the science happening on board secret click here for this next episode and don't forget to subscribe thanks for watching


  1. Ocean health is so important, we're dedicating an entire week to raising awareness of the plastic pollution problem! Join us this week, and tell us what you're doing to reduce plastic waste with #JoinTheSwim. 🏊🏻‍♂️🐋

  2. I wish all trash were an island that were stuck togheter, would be easier to clean up

  3. PLEASE GUYS!!! IF you remove bigger pieces of Plastic, like boxes or something that size. Have at least some coconut leafs with you to replace. Every idiot knows FISH likes shadow, so if you remove the box, the fish LIVING under it has nowhere to go anymore and will be easy prey for bigger predators.
    We was thinking a couple of years ago to build artificial islands from coconut to have small fish under than…small fish attract bigger fish wich will attract bigger and bigger fish…makes sense? 😉 … so no kidding, dont just take the plastic out without giving some protection made from biodegradable material

  4. Storms and Tsunamis are the real problems ~ If countries would do a better job of deposing of their plastic and trash instead of leaving it lying around for months if not years in some cases waiting for then the """ next big whatever """" to wash their trash out to sea ~

  5. The world needs to come together, we need to eliminate trash. We need to come together.

  6. can this be a job for everyone that would love to participate and do anything to save our home??

  7. If global warming happens and the ice melts and the sea will rise then we should remove the garbage to decrease the sea lvl height, idk if this would work or it could 🤷

  8. India and China must take responsibility

  9. Great work guys, good luck

  10. We know what is happening, and how to stop it, but we all do nothing. We are all guilty.

  11. It is exactly what I thought it was

  12. Before the video started there was a ad about plastic in the ocean by 4OCEAN

  13. That’s probably scary to swim there

  14. Leave a like if you want to help.

  15. cool to see this as a means to raise awareness towards plastic pollutants

  16. For a moment I was thinking about just dumping the plastic in space, since plastic takes so long to decompose. 💀

  17. Yeah well if companies weren't so greedy they could seel tube of toothpaste the size of let's say a big shampoo bottle. Which means it would last probably at least 10 times as long which would mean you would throw away trash less often. This is just one example of stopping the amount of plastic waste.

  18. I made a website on Pollution. If you want to see it, you can check it out at

  19. Youtube: Delete if this comment isn't allowed


    Youtube.delete if this comment isnt allowed

  21. Just pack the trash in a space shuttle and drop it off into the universe. Easy.

  22. It’s gonna change in the future trust me this upcoming generation is gonna be beast environmentally literally tons of teens are protesting climate change and pollution

  23. So there's no Atlantic Garbage Patch?

  24. if there was a way of cleaning the oceans 100% then all nations should pay out and help, but a large percentage of plastic is NOT due to man, we may have made the stuff that's true but look at also the natural causes like tsunamis that have caused so much and probably dragged tonnes of plastic back into the ocean, we are not to blame for that, we did not cause it but we are to blame for making the plastic, we need a new storage method, one that has a maximum life span of say 5-10 years so we buy our products and we use them us in that time, once we have used the products then 100% recycling should help but if that fails a plastic with a shortish life span is the next best thing

  25. Why can’t we shoot plastic up into space towards the sun, I know obviously that is going to cost and new technology will be needed but is that not a long term solution?

  26. plastic is what you see, but the ocean is the garbage dump for the world

  27. People who throws plastic waste is the problem

  28. They talk about this shit but come up with no way of correcting it. Plastic will alway's be produced and used, and governments will always dump it in the oceans. people don't care. Governments don't care. Thats what's horrifying.

  29. The oceans are the worlds ultimate toilet bowls. Too bad it can't be flushed.

  30. Packaging and one time use items need to be made of biodegradable material such as hemp. Da

  31. family guy

  32. We, a country as a whole, became landlocked for zero ocean plastic.

  33. We need to clean up our oceans

  34. Force countries to make recyclable options

  35. I have an idea on how to reduce if not eliminate all of it, if anyone wants to hear it….

  36. Take care of the planet just like you would take care of a flower garden.

  37. Where is thanos when you need him

  38. So why beat us north Americans over the head with this propaganda? This show should be in asian and african languages and nations as they are the ones dumping their crap in the oceans all the time.

  39. we've had the solution right under our nose. it needs to be incinerated and the smoke needs to be scrubbed and cleaned.
    we've had the technology since 1920's……..

  40. so how do we force other countries other then North America and Australia to start cleaning up the ocean? why is it always white people coming to save the day?? can't asians pick up trash too? what about India or Africa or even South America? why always why do white people want to save the day?
    let others have a chance to contribute to humanity other then their garbage.

  41. Can't we stop to use plastics for sake of our nature please..😢😢😢😢 we humans are killing the nature . And I love nature only …..🦁🐯🐂🐷🐳🐟🐬🐠🐙🐡🐚🐌🌲🌳🌴🌲🌳🌳🌳🌳🌳🌳🌱🌱🌱🌱

  42. how dumb we really are ,,, the problem is right in your face… but you can't figure it out

  43. when you go on a cruise. take your straw and garbage and just throw it of the side of the ship…. because they will anyway when you're sleeping

  44. ships are the problem there aloud to Chuck all there trash overboard. dummy's

  45. If we made huge boats with fishing nets and set out to sea we could scoop up garbage

  46. San Francisco used to empty it's garbage trucks onto barges and dump it in the ocean. No joke! Not sure if they still do that.

  47. What dumbasses. They don't clean up garbage they find they just add to the problem by attaching satellite trackers. They should be fined for that.

  48. This is disgusting. We should just ban us production of plastic and be done with it. Most items can just be dispensed into something like a mason jar and re-filled.

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