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Greetings from Oahu!

September 3, 2009

After a bumpy ride, I made it safely into Hawaii on Monday morning. I’ve spent the last two days with Stanford graduate student and Waikiki Aquarium intern Micki Ream. While Micki is at work I’ve been busy making last minute preparations for the trip–checking my equipment, reading recent articles about SEAPLEX and Project Kaisei, responding to emails and kicking off the start of the blog.

Standing on the beach in Waikiki a few blocks from where the Alguita will depart

Standing on the beach in Waikiki a few blocks from where the Alguita will depart

And I’ve been talking to just about everybody about the trip. From my experience, about half the people I run into on the street seem to have no idea about the floating mass of plastic trash. The other half either vaguely know what I’m talking about or pretend to know and nod quietly as I explain the expanse of the oceanic “landfill”. One man I ran into in a coffee shop, Jerry Bush, a lithographer, suggested we get the Navy to clean it up, a woman I sat net to on the bus suggested we use the plastic pieces to soak up oil from oil spills since plastic in the ocean concentrates toxic chemicals anyway. It’s very gratifying to know that everyone has some opinion on the matter even if they’ve just learned about it.

In a few hours I’m meeting with Captain Moore, the first time since I interviewed him back in March for a mini-documentary about nurdles. It will be the first of four consecutive days learning to be a member of the crew–working the sails, mastering emergency rescues and scheduling my night watches to check for oncoming boats. I’ll have full internet access until September 7th when the 50-foot aluminum catamaran Alguita sets sail, and limited access from then on. Right now I’m working on my maritime vocabulary–if anyone knows the word for neophyte sailor let me know…

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. sebmathews permalink
    September 3, 2009 6:48 pm

    that idea about soaking up oil is pretty creative! Can’t wait for you to show people just how large this mass is…

    For those who haven’t seen it, here’s Captain Moore talking about the trash http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/capt_charles_moore_on_the_seas_of_plastic.html

  2. Jillian Keenan permalink
    September 3, 2009 6:54 pm

    Hi Lindsey!

    I am really looking forward to reading your blog and learning more about this important issue. I didn’t know anything about the garbage patch before you told me about it, which makes me wonder: how well-known is this issue? Do you get the impression that many people already know about the Garbage Patch, or is this more of a niche issue that is only widely understood among environmentalists? What factors are influencing the Garbage Patch’s publicity, or lack thereof?

    Eat some ahi for me!

  3. September 3, 2009 6:55 pm

    Hoshaw (n): a neophyte sailor normally accustomed to sipping non-fat vanilla lattés in Palo Alto.

    Sounds like a fabulous project! Are they gonna sell this island paradise?

  4. September 3, 2009 7:45 pm

    Great to see you made it there safely. Very jealous that you get to be in Waikiki again. I’d be interesting in knowing everything and anything about this garbage patch –what garbage comes from where, how the ecosystem there has been affected (are there are lot of mutations, or just dead things), and why it hasn’t gotten more attention until now (would love to hear some conspiracy theories 🙂

  5. Ivan Prock permalink
    September 4, 2009 6:59 am

    I think the nautical name for a neophyte sailor is a “landlubber” 🙂 but I doubt that appellation will last for long as I’m sure you’ll learn the ins-and-outs of sailing quickly! After all, your a Stanford grad!

    From my brief readings on the garbage patch, I thought the claim was that a lot of the plastic is in small pieces, probably as suspended particles. It will be interesting to read your on-the-spot accounts of whether you can see noticeable (say, larger than an inch) pieces, or if the garbage is almost microscopic. Other components of the garbage would be interesting to hear about: I assume all organics would have decomposed/been devoured by sea creatures, but is that correct? Metals probably have sunk. What about wood? Hopefully there are no medical wastes!

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