Great Pacific Garbage Patch Impact on Humans/Sea Life











Great Pacific Garbage Patch Impact on Humans/Sea Life


Institutional affiliation












Great Pacific Garbage Patch Impact on Humans/Sea Life

People have dumped tons of garbage into the oceans over a few decades, prompting devastating effects on both humans and sea life as a result of pollution. Firstly, plastic can take thousands of years before they decay and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) among other accumulation zones show resiliency in the marine environment (Sigler, 2014). Sea life is highly affected by the accumulation of garbage in the oceans because when plastics break down into small fragments, it becomes almost impossible for fish and other marine animals to distinguish it from plankton. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the United States asserts that a higher intake of plastic fragments could result in malnutrition of marine animals, leading to the death of approximately 100,000 marine mammals (“The Great Pacific Garbage Patch - The Ocean Cleanup”, 2018). Additionally, the plastics in the GPGP can carry bacteria and algae which could be invasive to the ocean life. Due to the size of the patch and its content such as fishing nets, some marine animals get trapped and sunlight is prevented from penetrating the water surface, therefore, affecting the development of sea life.

In addition to affecting the sea life, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch also affects humans in a significant way. Studies have shown that more than 35% of the fish in the Pacific Ocean contain a large amount of plastic in their body systems (Sigler, 2014). As such, humans might end up eating the same trash when it is consumed by fish after the plastics turn into small fragments. Although there is no exact calculation of the impact of the trash in the food chain, it is evident that the garbage moves up the food chain affecting humans in a significant manner. Furthermore, the cost of cleaning the Pacific Ocean is tremendously high and it requires a global effort to reduce the accumulation of the garbage.

The Ocean Cleanup is a company that has a plan to get rid of the plastic pollution in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch through a system designed by Boyan Slat, a Dutch innovator. Boyan Slat’s company began hauling their system, and if it works according to the expectations, a small portion of the GPGP will be removed (Williams, 2018). The company is expecting to deploy the scheme which will curve into a U-shape as a result of being pushed by the ocean waves and wind. The plastics will be corralled by the system while at the same time allowing the fish and other marine life to swim underneath. An effective deployment will result in the cleanup of approximately half of the patch in the next five years (“The Great Pacific Garbage Patch - The Ocean Cleanup”, 2018). As such, the company, with the help of other organizations would be able to fully eliminate the patch.

Figure 1: The Concentration of Plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Alt description

Source: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch - The Ocean Cleanup. (2018). Retrieved from

Figure 1 exhibits the dire situation of the Pacific Garbage Patch. The region is dominated by mega-plastics which are harmful, amounting to more than 40,000 in number. It also consists of other types of plastics in their thousands and ranging from 0.05 to 50 centimeters in density as depicted in Figure 1. The Ocean Cleanup System 001 was created after an elaborate sampling method was conducted to allow a more accurate estimate of the swirling vortex as well as the concentration levels by following the seasonal and inter-annual variations (Williams, 2018). The mass concentration model has been used to calculate the processes required for the cleanup of the garbage in the Pacific Ocean. Once the collection of the garbage is done, smaller boats will be used to scoop the plastic and take it to the shore where it can be recycled. However, the challenge presented by the cleanup system is that it might end up catching fish as well as other marine life. As such, the collected garbage will be regularly checked to ensure that sea life is not trapped.




Sigler, M. (2014). The effects of plastic pollution on aquatic wildlife: current situations and future solutions. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution, 225(11), 2184.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch - The Ocean Cleanup. (2018). Retrieved from

Williams, D. (2018). Plan to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch gets underway. Retrieved from