Most plastic is lighter than water so it floats on the surface and is swept around by ocean currents. A lot of plastic gets caught in the spiralling ocean gyres. It accumulates in these gyres, creating garbage 'patches' in the ocean.

The circular motion of the gyre draws the debris into the centre where it becomes trapped and builds up. While the water in the centre of the gyres sinks, the plastic is too light to sink and stays at the surface.

Check out this cool interactive graphic by Dumpark to see whose plastic ends up where.

Adrift is a website designed to help you explore how objects, like plastic, drift through the ocean. The website uses real data from the Global Drifter Program to show how interconnected our oceans are. Start exploring and see just how far your plastic can travel!

Or go to the fully functional version of adrift.org.au here

Each ocean has its own accumulation of marine debris. There are five ocean gyres, and so there are at least five ocean patches. One in the North Pacific, one in the South Pacific, one in the Indian Ocean, one in the South Atlantic and one in the North Atlantic. But there might be even more patches; there is some evidence that plastic also accumulates in the Mediterranean Sea and in the Arctic Ocean.

The five ocean gyres, each with an accumulation of marine debris. Source: Earth First

Congratulations! But this is just the beginning..

Now you've finished all six lessons of plastinography, what's next?

Go out and let others know about plastics in our ocean. Perhaps share this with your friends on Facebook?

If you want to find out more, please contact us

plastinography.org was created by Dr Erik van Sebille, Jennifer Halstead and Chloe Vandervord at UNSW Australia. Artwork by Social Growth. Support for this site is provided by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science and the NeCTAR Research Cloud.