Welcome to this month's Science in Fiction feature! Science in Fiction is a meme I created to showcase the wonderful aspects of science in Young Adult fiction novels. For more information and previous feature, check out the "Science in Fiction" tag!
This month, I'm featuring Dark Tide by Jennifer Donnelly!
Dark Tide is book three of the Waterfire saga, set completely undersea. Donnelly's spin on mermaids is completely unique and refreshing! Serafina and five other mermaids are tied together by a magical connection, and they must find six ancient amulets to stop the threat of destruction, both in the deep ocean, and top-world. In this series, Donnelly makes references to the state of the ocean, in terms of trash and waste and lost shipments.
So today, I'm going to talk about a very specific area in the ocean that is filled with trash - the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
What is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?
You can see the "garbage patch" within the red circle. It's unclear exactly how large the Patch is, but it is massive, and very scary. The entire Patch isn't exactly what it sounds like - it isn't simply this island of water bottles and bags and junk. While there are water bottles and plastic (and even fleece jackets?!), the Patch is compromised of a whole bunch of microplastics debris, smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
The Patch is, in a way, held and maintained where it is, because of ocean currents. There is a Western Garbage Patch and an Eastern Garbage Patch (see National Geographic's pictures), and both are where they are because of wind and waves. According to NOAA, it is entirely possible to ravel through the areas of the Patch and not see any garbage, or feel any debris. But that does not mean the Patch does not exist, or that we shouldn't be concerned about it.
The Western Garbage Patch was formed largely by the debris from the coast of Japan. The Eastern one was formed from the coast of the West Coast of the United States. The waters in these two areas are fairly stationary, and the wave currents keep the debris where they are. Debris can come from ships, docks, storm drains, harbors, etc.
Marine life is heavily affected by the Garbage Patch. Birds choke and die on plastics; organic pollutants clog the water and ecosystems, and these pollutants can kill native species. Invasive species are likely to be introduced in these areas, because of the debris.
It's sad and disheartening and infuriating, to see how human waste is accumulated and dumped. There is no easy solution when it comes to waste, but dumping in the ocean is not one of them. Too much is unbalanced - marine life, bacterial and microbial life, and even human life.
So, now that I've introduced you to this thoroughly depressing subject: did you know about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? Thoughts?
Holy Fae on a cracker... I had no idea such a thing existed! What in the name? No one is of course thinking of taking responsability and making a joint effort to start cleaning it up, of course...ReplyDelete
It's pretty bad! And just as you said, many people don't know it exists. I don't think our world leaders (especially the USA and Japan, and maybe China too) want people knowing about it. It would be nice to see something done about it, but I'm not sure the world knows what to do! This is such a large-scale problem in a very complex system, so there are many factors to consider when attempting to remediate and restore. I'm hoping that, at least in my field (environmental engineering), there will eventually be more of a push to tackle this problem!Delete
Unfortunately, I did know about this. Frightening and enraging for sure. I agree with Pili, every country should be "encouraging" their participation in a cleanup and now, not tomorrow. I guess the saying, out of sight out of mind is apt.ReplyDelete
sherry @ fundinmental
Out of sight, out of mind - that is exactly what is happening!Delete
Ahhh. That is all kinds of depressing :( People suck, sigh. Gorgeous post, as always, Alyssa :D Thank you so much for sharing about this. <3 Hugs. I love your Science in Fiction posts :DReplyDelete
Isn't it? I try to pick topics that people don't know about, and that are really horrible and need attention!Delete
Thank you so much, Carina!
I didn't. Ohmygosh that is horrifying. One of my most hated thing in the world is when I see people throwing trash anywhere.ReplyDelete
On a positive note, I love Jennifer Donnelly! :)
Haraiah @ Random Things In Action
Yeah, especially when it's mass-dumping! Or when cargo ships overturn or are lost - that's even worse because now no one can use those goods, AND they're polluting the ocean! Ugh!Delete
You should totally check out this series, if you haven't already, Haraiah! Dark Tide (book three of four) publishes on Tuesday. :D
Wow. I had never heard of this before! That's horrible! People are so awful for creating a mess like this! Maybe everyone who travels through there should just drop a giant net in the water to pick up some trash to dispose of every time they go through and then maybe someday it will be gone! That's probably a totally dumb idea. But wow that is BAD!ReplyDelete
It is! The whole world is to blame, to be honest. And now it's such a big issue that no one knows what to do. I wish it were that simple! :/Delete
This is absolutely heartbreaking... The problem is, even if we clean the ocean, we will soon enough run out of space to put our garbage. I wish I could think of a solution or help in some way, I just don't know how... Maybe raising awareness and preventing more damage is all we can do. Thank you for showing me this :)ReplyDelete
EXACTLY! That's the problem with trying to get all of that trash out of there (besides manpower and feasibility and whatnot). Scientists are looking to possibly shoot the trash into space... not a totally smart idea though, lots of ramifications. Definitely making people aware is a start.Delete
You're very welcome! Thank YOU for stopping by!
How did I not know this was an actual thing? I think I've seen pictures, but didn't realize it was so BIG or not something that didn't dissipate? We kind of suck as people, don't we?ReplyDelete
It's scary, no? The world leaders don't want to publicize something so immense and disheartening and expensive, methinks.Delete