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Indian Ocean garbage patch

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Map showing 5 circles. The first is between western Australia and eastern Africa. The second is between eastern Australia and western South America. The third is between Japan and western North America. Of the two in the Atlantic, one is in hemisphere.
North Atlantic
North Atlantic
North Atlantic
South Atlantic
Map showing 5 circles. The first is between western Australia and eastern Africa. The second is between eastern Australia and western South America. The third is between Japan and western North America. Of the two in the Atlantic, one is in hemisphere.
There are trash vortices in each of the five major oceanic gyres
Map of gyres centered near the south pole (click to enlarge)
The Indian Ocean Garbage Patch on a continuous ocean map centered near the south pole

The Indian Ocean garbage patch, discovered in 2010, is a marine garbage patch, a gyre of marine litter, suspended in the upper water column of the central Indian Ocean, specifically the Indian Ocean Gyre, one of the five major oceanic gyres.[1][2][3][4][5][6] The patch does not appear as a continuous debris field. As with other patches in each of the five oceanic gyres, the plastics in it break down to ever smaller particles, and to constituent polymers.[7] As with the other patches, the field constitutes an elevated level of pelagic plastics, chemical sludge, and other debris; primarily particles that are invisible to the naked eye. The concentration of particle debris has been estimated to be approximately 10,000 particles per square kilometer.[8][9][10][11]


The existence of the Great Pacific garbage patch, the first to be discovered, was predicted in a 1988 paper published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States. The prediction was based on results obtained by several Alaska-based researchers between 1985 and 1988 that measured neustonic plastic in the North Pacific Ocean.[12]

Research studying trash washed onto beaches in and around the Indian Ocean suggested that there would be plastics found in the water column in the Indian Ocean as well.[3]

As plastic items of neutral and positive buoyancy piles up in this infamous garbage patch, researchers and scientists have difficulty pinpointing their location due to treacherous currents.[13] For example, litter collected from Asia on both the western Indian Ocean islands and the eastern African coast send plastic pollution across the Indian Ocean via the South Equatorial Current.[14] Although the Indian Ocean Garbage Patch collects mounds of plastic, harming marine life, researchers and scientists have also discovered two more garbage patches: the South Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch and the North Atlantic.[15] Unfortunately, about 90% of the debris collected in these garbage patches is plastic, a detrimental threat to marine life's health.[16] Plastic debris collects and washes ashore, thereby affecting living creatures' health. Due to strong currents, plastic debris washes ashore in various locations, diminishing environmental prosperity and harming living organisms.

In 2010, the 5 Gyres Project set off on the first of its planned series of transoceanic voyages to determine whether the South Atlantic, South Pacific, and Indian Ocean gyres were affected in the same way as the North Pacific and North Atlantic gyres.[2][3][5][6] On the Indian Ocean leg of their trip, they travelled between Perth, Australia, and Port Louis, Mauritius (east of Madagascar); each of the water samples they collected in the 4,800 km (3,000 mi) between contained plastic.[3] They found that the South Atlantic, South Pacific, and Indian Ocean gyres were affected in the same way as the North Pacific and North Atlantic gyres.[2][3][5][6] Anna Cummins, cofounder of 5 Gyres Institute called the pollution they found "a thin plastic soup".[3]


Of the top 10 ocean plastic polluters (of which China is No.1 worldwide with 30%), the Indian Ocean features five: Indonesia (No. 2); Sri Lanka (No.5); Thailand (No. 6); Malaysia (No. 8), and Bangladesh (No. 10).[17]

Ten rivers carry 90% of the total plastic pollution in the oceans. Of these, two are in the Indian Ocean: the Indus (No. 2 worldwide with most plastic) and Ganges (No. 6).[18][19]

Action for creating awareness[edit]

On April 11, 2013, in order to create awareness, artist Maria Cristina Finucci founded the garbage patch state at UNESCO[20] – Paris, in front of Director General Irina Bokova, the first of a series of events under the patronage of UNESCO and of Italian Ministry of the Environment.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ocean Geography ~ MarineBio Conservation Society". www.marinebio.org. 17 June 2018. Retrieved 17 September 2021.
  2. ^ a b c First Voyage to South Atlantic Pollution Site SustainableBusiness.com News access-date=10 December 2021
  3. ^ a b c d e f New garbage patch discovered in Indian Ocean Archived 2 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Lori Bongiorno, Green Yahoo, 27 July 2010
  4. ^ Opinion: Islands are 'natural nets' for plastic-choked seas Archived 6 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine Marcus Eriksen for CNN, Petroleum, CNN Tech 24 June 2010
  5. ^ a b c Our Ocean Backyard: Exploring plastic seas Archived 20 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine, Dan Haifley, 15 May 2010, Santa Cruz Sentinel
  6. ^ a b c Life aquatic choked by plastic 14 November 2010, Times Live
  7. ^ Moore, Charles (November 2003). "Across the Pacific Ocean, plastics, plastics, everywhere". Natural History Magazine. Archived from the original on 6 July 2009.
  8. ^ Sesini, Marzia (August 2011). "The Garbage Patch In The Oceans: The Problem And Possible Solutions" (PDF). Columbia University.
  9. ^ For a discussion of the current sampling techniques and particle size, see Peter Ryan, Charles Moore et al., Monitoring the abundance of plastic debris in the marine environment. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 27 July 2009 vol. 364 no. 1526 1999–2012, doi:10.1098/rstb.2008.0207
  10. ^ "OSU: Reports of giant ocean 'garbage patch' are exaggerated". 4 January 2011. Archived from the original on 14 February 2011. Retrieved 7 January 2011.
  11. ^ Transoceanic Trash: International and United States Strategies for the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Susan L. Dautel, 3 Golden Gate U. Envtl. L.J. 181 (2009)
  12. ^ Day, Robert H.; Shaw, David G.; Ignell, Steven E. (April 1988). "Quantitative distribution and characteristics of neustonic plastic in the North Pacific Ocean. Final Report to US Department of Commerce, National Marine Fisheries Service, Auke Bay Laboratory. Auke Bay, AK" (PDF). pp. 247–266.
  13. ^ "The Indian Ocean's Great Disappearing Garbage Patch". Hakai Magazine. Retrieved 22 September 2021.
  14. ^ Connan, Maëlle; Perold, Vonica; Dilley, Ben J.; Barbraud, Christophe; Cherel, Yves; Ryan, Peter G. (1 August 2021). "The Indian Ocean 'garbage patch': Empirical evidence from floating macro-litter". Marine Pollution Bulletin. 169: 112559. Bibcode:2021MarPB.16912559C. doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2021.112559. ISSN 0025-326X. PMID 34116371. S2CID 235411945.
  15. ^ US Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "Ocean Garbage Patches". oceanservice.noaa.gov. Retrieved 22 September 2021.
  16. ^ "Plane Search Shows World's Oceans Are Full of Trash". Science. 5 April 2014. Archived from the original on 26 February 2021. Retrieved 22 September 2021.
  17. ^ Will Dunham (12 February 2019). "World's Oceans Clogged by Millions of Tons of Plastic Trash". Scientific American. Retrieved 31 July 2019. China was responsible for the most ocean plastic pollution per year with an estimated 2.4 million tons, about 30 percent of the global total, followed by Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Egypt, Malaysia, Nigeria and Bangladesh.
  18. ^ Christian Schmidt; Tobias Krauth; Stephan Wagner (11 October 2017). "Export of Plastic Debris by Rivers into the Sea" (PDF). Environmental Science & Technology. 51 (21): 12246–12253. Bibcode:2017EnST...5112246S. doi:10.1021/acs.est.7b02368. PMID 29019247. The 10 top-ranked rivers transport 88–95% of the global load into the sea
  19. ^ Harald Franzen (30 November 2017). "Almost all plastic in the ocean comes from just 10 rivers". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 18 December 2018. It turns out that about 90 percent of all the plastic that reaches the world's oceans gets flushed through just 10 rivers: The Yangtze, the Indus, Yellow River, Hai River, the Nile, the Ganges, Pearl River, Amur River, the Niger, and the Mekong (in that order).
  20. ^ "The garbage patch territory turns into a new state". unesco.org. UNESCO Office in Venice. 11 April 2013. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  21. ^ "Rifiuti diventano stato, Unesco riconosce 'Garbage Patch'" [Waste becomes state, Unesco recognizes 'Garbage Patch']. www.rivistasitiunesco.it (in Italian). 14 July 2014. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014.

Further reading[edit]

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