Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on May 12, 2009
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch stretches from the coast of California to Japan, and it’s estimated to be twice the size of Texas. “This is the most shocking thing I have seen,” Oprah says. Where did this trash come from? Marine biologists estimate that about 80 percent of the litter is from land, either dumped directly into waterways or blown into rivers and streams from states as far away as Iowa.
Like his grandfather, undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau, Fabien Cousteau has devoted his life to exploring and protecting the world’s oceans and sea life.
Many of those affected by the enormous garbage swirl—like sea birds, turtles and beluga whales—can’t speak for themselves. “They get caught in these nets, or they swallow some of these bottle caps,” Fabien says. “Killer whales, which are kind of our mirror, our canary in the coal mine, so to speak, are ingesting all sorts of things that are affecting their health.”
Experts say plastic trash has already killed millions of sea birds and marine mammals. In one case, pieces of plastic and a cigarette lighter were found in the stomach of a dead albatross.
Beluga whales are also suffering. Fabien says some of these marine mammals have been diagnosed with breast cancer, which may be caused by the chemicals they’re ingesting.