‘Plastic soup’ in Pacific Ocean bigger than the United States

FEBRUARY 4, 2008—Ever wonder where all the garbage goes? Well, there’s a United States-sized pile of plastic trash swirling around in the Pacific Ocean.

Discovered by American sailor Charles Moore in 1997, this massive “plastic soup” is alarming scientists all over the world.

The debris is two huge, linked areas of trash, Dr. Marcus Eriksen, research director of the U.S.-based Algalita Marine Research Foundation, told the Sydney Daily Telegraph.

While the boundaries shift with the tides, the floating debris spans about 500 nautical miles in the Pacific, from Japan to California. Smack dab in the middle, the Hawaiian islands’ regularly clean up piles of this flotsam from its beaches.

“The original idea that people had was that it was an island of plastic garbage that you could almost walk on. It is not quite like that. It is almost like a plastic soup,” Eriksen told the Sydney Daily Telegraph. “It is endless for an area that is maybe twice the size as continental United States.”

Underwater currents pull floating trash into the mass where it is trapped. The trashy, wet mess is composed largely of plastic as it does not biodegrade.

By Care2 editorial staff

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Dave C.
Dave C.3 years ago

sad...sickening....embarrassing to humanity....

Tanja Z.
Tanja Zilker3 years ago

so much waste tsunami! the low marine animals that had to bother with it and die because of the waste.

LMj Sunshine


Michael T.
Michael T.3 years ago

You may note that this article was written in 2008 well before the tsunami. But it may have added to its size. There is an abandoned Japanese fishing shipping vessel without a crew from that tsunami that is floating toward and within 200 miles of Alaska.

Kamryn M.
Kay M.3 years ago

nasty. and this was posted several years ago.

Heidi Aubrey
Heidi Aubrey3 years ago

Wow. Its bigger than I thought.

Kip Mapes
Kip Mapes3 years ago

lot of it is from the recent tsunami.That just added to what was and is there to make the pile Bigger again.Love to see others are concerned may that continue to Grow too!

Carolyn P.
C P.3 years ago

John - tried to sign your petition but it says its now closed!

John Kuczwara
John Kuczwara6 years ago

Help is on the way The Environmental Cleanup Coalition is building the ship

Sign My Petition to show your support

William Zaffer
William Zaffer6 years ago

I am surprised n one has started a non profit to start a ship to start cleaning up the plastic which would get others to join. I was thinking of the same idea.