Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The debris front

Day Three off Hilo,
Sam said she was glad that we had left the rough weather behind us as ORV Alguita spent all night motorsailing from the southern face of the Big Island, where new real estate is being made by Madame Pele, the volcano goddess, to the edge of the plankton bloom northeast of Hilo. We arrived at first light and began sampling about 40 miles offshore. We trawled for an hour, then ran northwest along the front for an hour and sampled again. The first two times we did this we caught moderate amounts of plastic mixed with typical planktonic organisms. The third trawl was different. It had a brownish hue and contained more small plankton and more plastic. It seemed that there was a relationship between greater plankton content and more debris. We wondered if the brown hue was indeed caused by a phytoplankton bloom. Perhaps we can ID some of the species in this trawl at the UH Hilo Marine Science Department's wet lab. Tina Chau of KGMB 9 in Honolulu has been following this voyage and our work with the Marine Debris class at the University. She just aired a great special that we saw in the conference room at the University on our small portable TV while writing this blog. Students analyzing samples were interviewed and our findings today made it on air the same night.
Pretty amazing,
Aloha from UH Hilo
Captain Charles Moore

1 comment:

cradocean said...

I am so glad to find that people are doing something about this. I am excited that your findings were aired on TV. Maybe it will get more people involved. The greater the exposure, the greater number of citizens will get involved. I read the article in the July 2008 Discover magazine and was delighted to find out you have a blog! I was thinking of a completely unrealistic idea to keep some plastics out of the ocean. You know how we have metal detectors in all of the important buildings? Well, what if we had some sort of plastic detectors at the beach? And, guards to reinforce them? How Science Fiction, right? But, also we need to definitely discourage big business from using so much and basically forcing it on the consumers who are buying more reusable bags than the stores can keep in stock. I don`t know if it`s just me, but I see more customers who avoid plastic at all costs!So, you are becoming known! I am proud of you and keep up the good work!