The Pacific ocean ‘Garbage Patch’ is the worst it’s ever been

Published by Raquelle de Vine on

Author – Amber-Leigh Woolf 

A growing “vortex of trash” in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean is the largest it’s ever been, according to those who have been there. 

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a rubbish and plastic-filled vortex that is more than twice as large as the US state of Texas. 

Algalita South Pacific director Raquelle De Vine recently returned from weeks at sea and said her feelings of helplessness and “total despair” worsen every time she goes back.

“It was alarmingly, significantly worse than what we’ve previously experienced.” 

De Vine travelled to the North Pacific Sub-Tropical Gyre from July 14 – August 4. 

For five days, they sailed through relentless waste without the concentration letting up, she said.

“For hundreds of miles in the central accumulation zone, there was no relief.

“Typically, the plastic comes in waves and gives you a sense that the ocean eco-system has some relief from the plague.

“However, this time you could not watch the ocean and not have visible pieces of plastic floating past the boat for five full days.”

Both of the boat’s propellers were obstructed, despite having specific cages to protect them from entanglement. 

The gyre is a popular feeding place for birds, and plastic is causing blockages in their digestion and eventual starvation, she said.  

Raquelle de Vine of Algalita South Pacific accompanied Captain Charles Moore to the North Pacific Sub-Tropical Gyre.
ALGALITA SOUTH PACIFIC/SUPPLIED
Raquelle de Vine of Algalita South Pacific accompanied Captain Charles Moore to the North Pacific Sub-Tropical Gyre.

Comparison data collected on the voyage showed the pollution was getting worse. 

“We need our leadership to take a more proactive approach, rather than waiting until it is too late to react,” De Vine said. 

“If we fail to act now, we will be forced to adapt to a different ocean.”

As well as the Government, it was up to every single person to make change, she said. 

The eleventh voyage was to revisit monitoring sites to capture comparative data, with the comparison showing plastic pollution getting worse.
ALGALITA SOUTH PACIFIC/SUPPLIED
The eleventh voyage was to revisit monitoring sites to capture comparative data, with the comparison showing plastic pollution getting worse. 

A large amount of rubbish was commercial fishing debris like buoys, nets and ropes. 

The voyage, led by the Algalita Marine Research and Education organisation, was the eleventh to the gyre. 

De Vine said the Fox River Landfill disaster, which required months of clean up, was a clear example of leaders waiting until it was too late before acting. 

However, it was positive to see the Government’s recent announcement for mandatory product stewardship schemes, which could make manufacturers responsible for their own waste. 

– As published in Stuff Environment on August 28 2019 –

https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/115333836/the-pacific-ocean-garbage-patch-is-the-worst-its-ever-been

Categories: Stories

Raquelle de Vine

Raquelle de Vine

Lover and friend of the ocean from an early age Raquelle set her heart on pursuing the conservation of the oceans and in particular protecting them from the plague of plastic pollution. From reading scientific papers late into the night and dreaming of working at sea she now has over 16000 nautical miles of blue water sailing aboard Algalita Marine Research & Education's [AMRE] Oceanographic Research Vessel Alguita. On board she is First Mate and vessel coordinator, second in charge to Captain Charles Moore, the discoverer of the swirling soup of plastic in the Pacific coined “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch”. Their time at sea consists of: - sea surface monitoring for their 11 stations in the North Pacific Sub-Tropical Gyre, and their newly established stations in the South Pacific - Myctophidae sampling to look at fish ingestion, - Macro debris collection - A range of hosting for independent scientists and their focused studies Back on shore at home in Aotearoa, she has recently established a South Pacific Chapter of AMRE, Algalita Marine Research & Education South Pacific. Algalita South Pacific aligns to AMRE's vision of a world where plastic pollution is unthinkable as well as continuing their work in research and education, their mission is to inspire and educate the South Pacific Community towards a strategic shift away from waste. Through providing the tools and experiences for young people to think critically, demand action and be agents for change. Raquelle's background in environmental and outdoor education and experience at sea gives her a diverse yet specific expertise to design and implement both plastic (in particular sea surface sampling) investigative and educational programmes.

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