North Pacific Gyre

North Pacific Gyre

Figure: Fangz / Photo: Karen Holman

The North Pacific Gyre is a rotating system of ocean currents created by trade winds, prevailing westerlies and the Earth's rotation.

Even though marine debris is found throughout the world’s ocean, it tends to accumulate in the gyre because of the circular current pattern. This area is commonly called the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch", but this term can be misleading. Although there are high concentrations of marine debris in the gyre, the majority of the plastic pieces are very small. The “Great Pacific Garbage Patch" is not a floating island of trash!

Researchers from C-MORE are investigating the effects of the plastic on the microbes and ecosystems of the North Pacific Gyre.