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Shipwreck Survivor Rescued After Spending 3 years on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Fuzhou| The crew of Malaysian fishermen aboard the small ship named Puteri laut, could hardly believe their eyes when they encountered a man living on some sort floating raft made of garbage, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Wang Bohai, had been stuck alone on his artificial island since May of 2011, when the ship on which he worked as a crew member, sank a few hundreds of kilometers to the Northwest of Hawai.

Sole survivor of a crew of seven Chinese fishermen whos ship capsized during a violent storm, Mr. Wang showed some incredible perseverance and resourcefulness to survive in this harsh environment, making the best use of every possible resource available. He first gathered thousands of plastic bottles that he put together by using some torn fishing net, creating a raft of acceptable floatability. He then arranged a few large plastic tarps that he found to cover the maximum possible surface area in an attempt to collect some drops of rain or condensation, gathering with difficulty the minimal quantity of water he needed to survive. He also achieved to gather some fish and even catch some sea birds by using some other pieces of fishing nets and his ragtag fishing rod.

Luckily for him, Wang Bohai was sighted by the captain of the Puteri laut while he was fishing just outside the garbage patch on August 16. The crew took him on board and decided to take him home to China on their way back.

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Dozens of very poor families live from scavenging anything that can be worth something from the seemingly endless amalgam of trash. Unfortunately, none of them encountered the poor man over the last 39 months.

Mr. Wang managed to stay alive for more than three years, but his mental and physical health have greatly suffered from this trial. He has been admitted to the Fuzhou General Hospital this morning for a series of medical exams, and could need a few weeks of treatments to overcome various health issues linked to his many nutritional deficiencies and his overexposure to the elements. Some psychological symptoms linked to his prolonged isolation will however, certainly haunt him for the rest of his life.

The Great Pacific garbage patch, also described as the Pacific trash vortex, is a gyre of marine debris particles located in the central North Pacific Ocean. In a 2001 study, researchers found concentrations of plastic particles at 334,721 pieces per square kilometer, with a mean mass of 5,114 grams per km2. It formed gradually as a result of marine pollution gathered by oceanic currents. As material is captured in the currents, wind-driven surface currents gradually move floating debris toward the center, trapping it in the region. The patch occupies a large and relatively stationary region of the North Pacific Ocean, bigger than the state of Texas.

The Patch is created in the gyre of the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone, one of the five major oceanic gyres.

The Patch is created in the gyre of the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone, one of the five major oceanic gyres.