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We’ve reached the Garbage Patch!

September 28, 2009

We’ve finally made it! After days of waiting to hit the convergence zone of the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre we’ve finally arrived. And how did the morning start? I woke up and saw an oversized light bulb floating by the bow. Unbelievable.

All the trash we’ve found has been truly amazing but somehow seemed “unofficial” since it was outside the realm of the garbage patch. Captain Moore, however, kept reminding me that the term “garbage patch” is almost irrelevant since he believes the entire world ocean is a toxic plastic soup.

Even so, we’ve been excited all day to see what the mantra trawls would bring in. We’ve found more fishing line and hundreds of pieces of plastic in each sample. Gwen spotted a glass fishing float off the stern this afternoon and Jeff hopped in the motorboat to chase it down; I tagged along to take photos.

But by the time we got out in the water it was nowhere to be found. When I looked back toward the ship it was a speck in the distance-we’d been motoring away from it for twenty minutes and the ship was headed in the opposite direction to keep the manta trawls going.
Jeff reminded me that if the motor broke we were in serious trouble-this as we headed back on choppy seas. The good news is, (and I use good in the most untraditional sense) I managed to find a floating buoy and a white plastic lid while I was out there.

Moore also wrangled in an enormous chunk of Styrofoam with a length of bamboo sticking through the middle. It was probably a homemade float attached to a drift net, which was used to catch fish. The underside was covered in algae and barnacles.

Photo Lindsey Hoshaw

Photo Lindsey Hoshaw

By the end of the day we’d done a few trawls and were ready to do a few more. In order to resample all the areas Moore examined in 1999 we’ll have to keep a tight schedule. This means taking samples in the middle of the night and traveling quickly to get to each destination within the next three days. There are twelve spots Moore needs to sample and we’ve completed two.

Right now we’re heading through strong trade winds and the ship is ferociously rocking back and forth. Every once in a while dishes start clanging and spice jars go flying off the shelf. But I can see the moon through the front window and hear the water splashing over the bow, and it’s actually completely relaxing.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 28, 2009 3:04 pm

    congratulations!

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