Under a Brilliant Sky
Lindsey’s trip to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch made possible by community members at Spot.Us.
As soon as I woke up and stumbled into the galley (the kitchen) I saw Captain Moore out on the stern untangling the Mantra Trawl to take the first ocean samples.
The Mantra Trawl was built especially for Moore and looks exactly like a mantra ray-with aluminum rectangles for wings, a wide open aluminum cage for a mouth and a long cylinder of mesh dragging behind that looks like a tail. The mesh catches anything in its path and the 1/3mm mesh is small enough to catch plankton and tiny pieces of plastic.
Jeff lugged the manta into the water and slowly let out the two ropes that secured it to the stern. About an hour later, it was time to pull it in. He hauled the manta out onto the deck and Captain Moore unscrewed the end of the tail where all the debris gets caught.
Over a glass bowl he turned the mesh inside out and sprayed it down with a plastic bottled filled with seawater. The plankton and plastic dripped down into the bowl, which was soon filled with salps and tiny jellyfish and a few pieces of plastic.
The pieces were so tiny, if you weren’t looking for them you’d miss them. They were smaller than grains of rice. The three pieces I immediately saw in the bowl were blue, green and white. Who knows how many more there were; Moore and his crew won’t know until they process the samples in their lab.
The rest of the day we went for a swim and the water is so amazingly clear-you could see down for probably 100 feet. But there is nothing much to see. The plankton and plastic are so tiny right now, that all you see is clear cobalt blue water.
And this evening while having dinner on the bow as the sun set I realized why Moore felt so passionate about saving the ocean. The natural beauty is overwhelming. Under a deep blue-black night sky I could see hundreds of stars. I’m inside the ship now with the hatch open, slowly falling asleep to a luminescent night sky.