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Borderlands: The Crew Finds Pollution Before Reaching the Garbage Patch

September 11, 2009

[These posts are coming in via email from Lindsey and being posted by the Spot.Us community which helped fund Lindsey’s trip. We are in communication with Lindsey – comments and questions are welcome.]

I woke up to the sound of Captain Moore shouting from out on the stern. The first thing I did? Grabbed my camera.

He’d spotted a floating buoy off the starboard side of the boat-the first large piece of plastic pollution we’ve seen on the trip. It came closer as Gwen steered the ship and Moore scooped it up with a pool-like mesh skimmer.

buoy

It was covered with algae and small gooseneck barnacles. Some of them even opened up after they’d been on board for a few minutes. Their brownish-purple “tentacles” came out of small white shells.

We haven’t even reached the garbage patch yet so Captain Moore was surprised we found anything this far south. Especially since in the next hour the crew spotted three more floating buoys.

One of them had Chinese writing on it, well, Chinese words spelled out in English. Captain Moore thinks this means it’s from Taiwan-he suspects that Chinese fishermen wouldn’t bother translating into English.

During the afternoon we hopped into the water; I dove in equipped with my underwater camera and I furiously began taking photos of a large rope that was floating by.

There were over fifty golden rudder fish swimming around the rope. Jeff tells me that the rope provides a habitat for the fish, it keeps them protected from the sun and other predators and the algae on the rope is their food. They did not want to let it go!

everyone diving

As Jeff dragged the rope toward the ship they furiously swam alongside it. They kept up the entire time until he hauled the rope up onto the boat.
Not to worry though. Captain Moore has decided we’ll “hang out” in the gyre for a while and put the rope back in the water to see what type of creatures it attracts. He’s thinking more rudder fish, I’m hoping Mahi Mahi.

buoys and rope

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Rick permalink
    September 11, 2009 6:32 pm

    The fish around the rope look suspiciously like small reef fish. Interesting that they found this artificial reef. Lindsey–are you collecting fish? You might consider catching a few and at least photographing them if you want to catch-and-release. If they’re reef fish, the larvae must be drifting huge distances. Pelagic fish are not this general shape and size I suspect. It may be that this has been studied before, but I will check it out.

  2. September 11, 2009 9:11 pm

    Beautiful photos, Linds! I’m so excited to see you guys start collecting samples and observing the way fish interact with all our trash.

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