World Oceans Day has been celebrated internationally every year on June 8th since 1992, when it was first proposed by environmental enthusiasts attending the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Officially, World Oceans Day was recognized by the United Nations in 2008 and has gained greater success and global participation in the ensuing years. Through World Oceans Day, attention is brought to the crucial role the ocean plays in our lives and its need for environmental protection.
In honor of World Oceans Day, and as part of the “Ocean Gyre Project“, Orange County students are encouraged to reach out to other young people in the O.C. community and become the “Next Wave for Change.”
Through personal and community action and involvement like beach cleanups, educational programs, art contests, and film festivals, ocean conservation can be accomplished. The future of ocean is in your hands!
The Ocean Gyre Project
Ocean gyres are any large system of rotating ocean currents, particularly those involved with large wind movements. These gyres collect and move ocean debris and trash throughout the world’s oceans. Often, the debris and trash will localize at one location. Scientists have a name for this – ocean garbage patches.
What are ocean garbage patches?
- The garbage patch is made up of about 7 million tons of mostly floating plastic waste, most of which is no larger than 10mm across, similar in size to plankton that the fish eat.
- The plastic particles are more concentrated in the center of the ocean’s gyres.
- The garbage patches area not stationary. They move and change as a result of ocean currents and winds.
- Larger pieces of plastic in the ocean eventually breakdown from the sunlight they are exposed to into smaller and smaller pieces, but it does not ever go away completely.
How do the garbage patches impact Orange County?
- The North Pacific Garbage Patch is located about 1,000 miles northeast of Hawaii and about 1,000 miles off the coast of California.
- Much of the plastic comes from storm run off from towns off the coast where we live.
- If fish are absorbing toxic chemicals from the plastic they ingest, then it is possible that these chemicals bio-accumulate up the food chain as larger animals, or humans eat the fish.
To learn more about World Oceans Day and the Ocean Gyre Project visit http://www.scienceoc.org/ocean-gyre-project/