Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Did you know that there is an “island” made up entirely of rubbish and plastic estimated to be approximately the size of Queensland floating in the North Pacific Ocean? 

First discovered in 1997, the 1.6 million square kilometre Great Pacific Garbage Patch – also known as Trash Island or the Pacific Trash Vortex – consists mostly of tiny remnants of debris known as microplastics. It is estimated that there are 1.1-3.6 trillion pieces of plastic in the patch, with 46% of it being made up of discarded fishing nets. 

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is situated north-east of the tip of Queensland, east of the Japanese coastline, and south-west of California in the US. Once rubbish and debris enter the patch, it is unlikely to ever leave due to strong, circular ocean currents that form a vortex – sucking in the litter and growing the size of the patch. 

Plastic pollution negatively impacts both sea animals and humans alike, with plastic being responsible for the deaths of 100,000 marine mammals and turtles, and 1 million seabirds per year. Abandoned fishing nets or “ghost nets” are responsible for around 70% of marine entanglements, killing sea turtles, dolphins, seals and fish. Minute plastic particles, called nanoplastics, were also found in 210 fish species consumed by humans, as the miniscule pieces of plastic enter the muscle tissue of fish that we eat. 

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) it would take 67 ships twelve months to clean up less than 1% of the North Pacific Ocean. Innovative companies such as not-for-profit The Ocean Cleanup have started to develop new technologies to clear the oceans of plastics that are killing wildlife. It is expected that in conjunction with the introduction of single-use-plastic restrictions, these sorts of clearing projects could have 90% of ocean plastics removed by 2040. 

If this information is motivating you to do your part, the Ocean Society has provided seven steps you can take to limit your impact on ocean pollution:

  1. Reduce Your Use of Single-Use Plastics
  2. Support Legislation to Curb Plastic Production and Waste
  3. Recycle Properly
  4. Participate In (or organise) a Beach or River Cleanup
  5. Avoid Products Containing Microbeads
  6. Spread the Word
  7. Support Organisations Addressing Plastic Pollution

On June 8th we’ll be celebrating World Ocean Day so there has never been a better time to start implementing best practices to keep our oceans clean!

5 of the Funnest Turtle Facts

Turtles are some of the cutest reptiles on the planet, and they can be found almost anywhere in the world including most continents, islands, and even the sea! 

Here’s our five favourite fun facts about turtles to celebrate World Turtle Day:

  1. Wormy Tongues
    The alligator snapping turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) has a worm-like tongue which it sticks out and wiggles around to attract hungry fish before snapping its jaw and gobbling it up!
  2. Butt Breathers
    A turtle’s butt is called a cloaca, and during brumation (a reptile version of hibernation) they move their cloaca through the water to absorb oxygen – this is known as cloacal respiration
  3.  Hermits
    Turtles aren’t social creatures and choose to spend their days alone, and if they do come across another turtle, they won’t interact. Awkward!
  4. Home Bodies
    Unlike crabs that may outgrow their shells and move into bigger ones, a turtle’s shell is part of their skeleton – meaning it grows with them – which is why a turtle can’t leave its shell. 
  5. Old Folks
    Turtles belong to one of the oldest reptile groups in the world, dating back to over 200 million years ago!

Do you have any turtle fun facts we haven’t included? Let us know! Be sure the next time you visit Amazement Farm & Fun Park to keep your eyes out, and you may be lucky enough to spot a turtle or two!

Get Involved in Endangered Species Day

Endangered Species Day is celebrated on the third Friday of May every year globally with nature walks, educational talks, and fundraising events to continue scientific advancements of breeding programs.

Central Coast Zoo and Amazement Farm & Fun Park Curator Jeni says that special discussions during the twice-daily Wildlife Presentation and Reptile Presentation shows will be held as part of Endangered Species Day on May 20th, 2022. 

“We will educate our show audiences on best practices for preserving local wildlife and their habitats. We will also provide tips on recycling, information about native plants, and how to encourage native bees to thrive” she said. 

Here at Central Coast Zoo and Amazement Farm & Fun Park, we believe in making an active effort towards conservation that everyone can participate in locally. After all, conservation starts in your own backyard.

Here are some simple ways to make a real difference each day:

  • On your drive home, hop out of the car and help a struggling turtle cross the road safely and be sure it reaches its destination. Why did the turtle cross the road anyway?
  • Call a snake catcher to safely and humanely remove the Nope Noodle from your backyard – don’t kill it!
  • Remember that your cute and cuddly pet cat Mittens is essentially a tiny tiger, so don’t allow them to roam freely and attack our wildlife
  • Recycle correctly – stop being lazy!
  • Get competitive with the neighbours about who has the best garden, and grow beautiful native plants to boost our natural ecosystem
  • Learn how to compost so you can attend friend’s dinner parties with a smug sense of superiority because now you’re better than everyone else

Have some other easy ways to get involved in local conservation? Let us know, we’d love to hear from you!