Our planet's beloved confluence of sea trash is getting bigger by the day.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a pulsating island of trashed plastic that exists hundreds of miles off the coast of California, has increased in size to more than 600,000 square miles, a study published this week finds. That is equivalent to double the size of Texas.
Prevailing winds and ocean currents direct the garbage to the same general area, according to the Ocean Cleanup Foundation's study.
Discovered in the 1990s, the island of trash comes courtesy of the wasteful continents around the Pacific Rim such as Asia and North and South America.
Our newest man made monument to futility includes over 1 trillion pieces of plastic and weighs somewhere north of 88,000 tons. These newly discovered figures are 16 times higher than earlier estimates.
Unfortunately, the Pacific patch isn't the only trash island floating around out there. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the largest of five known such trash collections in the ocean.
Privately funded groups like the Ocean Cleanup Foundation are stepping up to take the lead on getting rid of the garbage. No governments have come forth with plans to begin a cleanup.
Mass produced plastic has only been around since the mid-20th century and no one knows just how long the ocean garbage will exist. Unless it's collected, the plastic could remain there for decades or even centuries.
Photo: Ulrike Schmitt-Hartmann/DigitalVision/Getty Images