Floating in the plastic sea
Yesterday Captain Moore took out a motorboat to search for more plastic debris. His search yielded a caulking tube with a trigger fish living inside and a hairbrush surrounded by two Hawaiian sergeant fish. Both had algae and small barnacles growing on the outside.
Rick McCourt, of Pennsylvania, recently wrote a blog comment asking whether the fish we’re seeing around all the debris are reef fish, meaning they usually live near coral reefs. And Gwen, the director of lab research for Algalita, says yes. The floating plastic looks like a reef to the fish and they follow it, sometimes for miles away from their natural habitats. It’s a fascinating phenomenon, and one that, according to the Algalita crew, hasn’t been studied much.
So let’s count, how many pieces of plastic has the crew collected since we’ve been out here? Over 20 large pieces of trash, with everything from an empty 55 gallon barrel to a caulking tube. And these are just the big things. We’ve seen countless plastic fragments that are smaller than a grain of rice.
Also, we haven’t even reached the garbage patch. Captain Moore says we still have a week until we reach the patch!