Thursday, September 13, 2007

Day 4, Debris!

Sept 13, 2007

Today, over 100 miles west of San Francisco Bay, during very calm sea conditions, the calmest so far on our trip, we began to encounter plastic trash. First was a very yellowed piece of styrofoam (expanded polystyrene), about the size of a briefcase, with no fouling organisms attached. When we picked it up, it had a tern standing on it. If we took a knife and opened a small cut, the yellow styrofoam was bright white underneath. This presents a mystery, since we would expect yellow, aged styrofoam in the ocean to have lots of barnacles attached. One theory is that, being so light, the styrofoam is blown upside down on a regular basis and the sun bleaches out the incipient life forms on the exposed side. The second piece of debris we found was a smaller, bright white piece of styrofoam, also with no fouling organisms. The third piece, in the same local area, was a liter water or soda bottle with barnacles attached. It had about 100 cc of water inside which acted as a ballast to keep the cap end under water, so the barnacles could grow.
The last debris item was perhaps the most troubling, as it represents the farthest from land we have found mylar balloons. Someone had had a birthday party, and released a pair of them, never thinking that they might choke one of the beautiful dolphins that continue to accompany us. We onboard are enjoying our ship to shore educational blog produced by ORV Alguita Vessel Support Coordinator, Holly Gray. The blog is located at Our noon position today was 37 14 N, 125 10W.
Hoy fue un dia especial para nosotros, la tripulacion, que por primera vez viene a estas partes del oceano y empezamos a encontrar basura plastica. Recogimos dos trozos de poliestireno, uno amarillo y otro blanco, asimismo, nos encontramos una botella de agua o soda, pero lo mas impresionante, por llamarlo asi, fue el encuetro de dos globos de "feliz cumpleanos", esto comprueba una vez mas lo peligroso de la basura plastica representa para la salud de los oceanos y del planeta entero. Nos seguimos encontrando delfines que nada tan tranquilamente en estas aguas que estamos contaminando con el uso del plastico.
Aloha from ORV Alguita

1 comment:

Paul Clarke said...

It seems counterintuitive that a released balloon would go west; most weather systems move generally from west to east. Perhaps if it got picked up in the counter-clockwise flow of an approaching low?? In any case, that is a long way offshore, and is a testament to the stability of many plastics: this picture of the mylar balloon looks nearly brand new.