Around 90% of the world’s sea birds have eaten plastic items that they mistook for food, a study estimates. Photograph: Chris Jordan/Midway: Message from the Gyre
We’ve alluded to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch before, though we haven’t shared any stories covering it directly. Last week, The Guardian reported some good news from The Netherlands, where the prototype for a 100km-long, crowdfunded cleanup boom for the ocean was tested successfully. Arthur Nelsen reports:
Further trials off the Dutch and Japanese coasts are now slated to begin in the new year. If they are successful, the world’s largest ever ocean cleanup operation will go live in 2020, using a gigantic V-shaped array, the like of which has never been seen before.
The so-called ‘Great Pacific garbage patch’, made up largely of tiny bits of plastic trapped by ocean currents, is estimated to be bigger than Texas and reaching anything up to 5.8m sq miles (15 sq km). It is growing so fast that, like the Great Wall of China, it is beginning to be seen from outer space, according to Jacqueline McGlade, the chief scientist of the UN environmental programme (Unep).
Ever heard of Jellyfish Lake? Located on the Eil Malik island of Palau, Ongeim’l Tketau (as the natives call it) is a lake which was formed about 12,000 years ago by the Pacific Ocean. Along with the clean blue waters of the Pacific, the tides brought in immigrants – jellyfish of the genus Mastigias . Today, after 12,000 years of isolation and removal from the predator-rich environment of the Pacific Ocean from which they originated, the jellyfish have evolved into a significantly different organism. Due to the fact that the only predators the scyphozoans have is a species of anemone which is significantly removed from their swimming depth, they reduced their defensive mechanisms to virtual non-existence, meaning that unlike most beach-faring jellyfish, they don’t sting.
Due to this remarkably friendly gesture, Jellyfish Lake has become a popular snorkelling destination, and those fortunate enough to swim those waters are graced with an ethereal sensation of a world different and far removed from our own.