An ocean gyre is a large system of circular ocean currents formed by global wind patterns
and forces created by Earth’s rotation.
The world has five major ocean gyres which help to drive the “ocean conveyor belt.”
The ocean conveyor belt circulates ocean water around the entire planet.
It is essential for regulating temperature, salinity and nutrient flow throughout the ocean.
There are three major types of ocean gyres:
tropical (forming near the equator) subtropical (forming between polar and equatorial regions),
and subpolar (forming in polar regions).
It is in the subtropical gyres that ‘garbage patches’ exist; as the gyre turns in a circular motion,
it draws in plastic waste which has travelled from land via ocean currents or been dumped in the sea by ships.
The Indian Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean, and North Pacific Ocean all have significant garbage patches;
the North Pacific patch is currently known to be the largest, at twice the size of France.
Unfortunately, as these garbage patches generally accumulate far from any country’s coastline,
it is nearly impossible to track the origin of marine debris.
Consequently few countries have accepted the responsibility of cleaning up the ocean’s garbage patches.