Saturday, September 22, 2007

Three Firsts!

September 21, 2007
The day before yesterday we talked about how the Gyre is an oceanic desert. Well today, the desert was visited by three large animal species, and we got a good look at all of them. In the morning, a mola mola began swimming around the dingy while we were still sea anchored for our dawn dive. We tried diving just before dawn to see the zooplankton before it began its daily migration back to the depths. We set the sea anchor and after diving in to inspect it, the first thing we saw was a plastic shopping bag floating by about 3 meters below the surface. It's mass, though small, was greater than all the zooplankton we saw on the dive. After the dive we began doing repairs taking advantage of the stability of the vessel at sea anchor, and we thought we saw a large plastic sheet floating by the dingy, but on closer inspection, it turned out to be a sunfish, or mola mola. Two of the crew were able to swim with the large fish as it lazily circled around curiously inspecting the strange contraption it had encountered in the middle of the ocean.
After we hauled in the sea anchor, we changed course for our destination, Hilo, Hawaii on a course of 195 degrees magnetic. Not long after, we spotted a humpback whale on its annual migration from Alaska to Hawaii. It came close enough to us for us to be able to see its shape underwater. We followed it for a while and then began seeing lots of trash, which we stopped to pick up. It's amazing how much life is carried by a 13 cm float. We are sending a foto of just the crabs that we took ofgf the small float.
We began seeing black footed albatross in an area, and when we approached, we found five adults and juveniles sitting together on the surface. This is the first time we have observed a group of albatross sitting together at sea. Two divers were able to swim up to the group, which immediately approached them with great curiousity. When one of the divers went below the surface, the birds flew. Evidently they are sensitive to being preyed on from below. Notice how small the diver's head is compared to the large albatross. Three firsts for the Gyre in one day, a mola mola, a humpback whale and a group of sitting black footed albatross. The desert has its visitors.
Aloha from ORV Alguita

Que dia mas raro! Anteayer hablamos sobre el hecho de que el giro es como un desierto. Pues hoy, el desierto tuvo visitas de tres especies de animales bien grandes. Por la manana, una mola mola gasto bastante tiempo con nosotros, y dos tripulantes nadaron con ella. Por la tarde, una ballena jorobada,en su viaje de Alaska a Hawaii, nos acerco, y la seguimos un buen rato. Tambien por la tarde vimos un grupo de cinco albatros, pata negra, juntos en la superficie. Nunca habiamos visto un grupo aqui de ese especie que nomalmente vuela solo. Hoy tambien empezamos a ver mas y mas basura, y nuestros redes trajeron abordo muchas cosas hechas de plastico. Es impresionante cuantos animales una pequena flotadora de 13 centimetros puede guardar. Estamos mandando un foto de solo los cangrejos que sacamos de ella. Hoy tambien cambiamos rumbo para el sur y estamos marcando un curso de 195 grados magnetico para Hilo, Hawaii.
Saludos desde ORV Alguita

1 comment:

Nikki said...


Here in Britain the BBC (one of our TV broadcasting companies) recently aired a documentary on the state of plastic pollution in Hawaii and talked briefly about the gyre that causes it. I showed it to my Girl Guide group last night and they were shocked and a bit upset by what they saw. They are all avid animal lovers and were devestated that something that they use everyday (plastic) could cause such misery for any creature.

Then today I did a quick search and found your research video from 2005. It astounded me and I wish I could find a way to do something myself. You are doing amazing and essential work to promote this problem and I hope that more people come to realise the scale of it.

I've never really thought much about the ocean and assumed that the main source of pollution was badly regulated sewage outlets owned by water companies. When our beaches got cleaner I took less notice. Perhaps if we were more immediately affected by a gyre in the UK, such as the one you are studying, I would have know better.

I'm going to forward the links both to this blog and the research video to as many people as I can so that by next week even more people will be aware of the issue.

I hope you are aware of how important your work.

Thank you so much.