Garbage Patch is a colossal amount of non-biodegradable waste (especially plastic) found across 5 'islands' in the north and south Pacific, the north and south Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. While the image of a floating landfill comes to mind, garbage patches are actually mostly made up of microplastics. You won't see millions of whole plastic bottles floating around in the ocean, but there is a large concentration of micro plastics in the upper portion of the water column in these areas, which poses a threat to marine life.
It was discovered in 1997 by the oceanographer Charles Moore who ignored the recommendations to avoid that area of the Pacific, not a good area to sail due to the lack of wind and currents, and decided to take a route that ended up with such a horrible finding. However, there are reports on plastic debris in the oceans that date back to the 1970s.
The garbage patch in the North Atlantic was discovered in 2009 and is also linked to the North Atlantic Ocean Gyre. Estimates state that 80% of the rubbish that forms these islands comes from land and 20% from boats, according to the United Nations Environmental Programme. The size of these ginormous marine tips is appalling.
Effects on the marine ecosystem
When plastic starts decomposes and it becomes a terrible pollutant for the marine ecosystem given the toxic substances it releases and introduces into the food chain.
This floating plastic debris affects the marine ecosystem as it can transport microbes and organisms from one area to another where they did not exist before. It also affects the usual photosynthesis process for algae and zooplankton. This alters the production of oxygen and creates an imbalance in the entire ecosystem.