Day 07 S/V Kaisei: The Gyre

10 08 2009
Science Experiments with Andrea Neal and Michael Gonsior

Science Experiments with Andrea Neal and Michael Gonsior

Monday, 10 August 2009
Lat: 33° 51’ N Lon: 137° 24’ W
1100 miles due west of Santa Monica, CA

“The sea is the conscience of our civilization”
− Phillipe Costeau

Dr. Andrea Neal, Project Kaisei’s principal science investigator, wanted to start her science blog today with these words: “CAPTAIN’S LOG, STARDATE 2109.”
She reflected, “Maybe because what we came across today is something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime.”

Andrea continued, “We need to make a united effort as a global community to make sure we are no longer dumping our trash into the oceans. No matter where you live, from the top of the Continental Divide to Siberia, what you throw away ends up in our ocean.”

A week into our voyage, our planned mission transitioned into a shocking reality. When we began our trip, to the elusive vortex, we were not sure what we would find. We gather data from twice-daily trawls, plus thirty-minute observations from the bow and main mast, counting the number of pieces of debris sighted.
The second of today’s trawls yielded a preponderance of plastic, versus marine life. The tally of plastic pieces counted in the thirty-minute observations today increased from 115 in the morning to well over 300 in the afternoon.

“Our team is disturbed by the fact that we have found plastics in every trawl, even in the first days when we expected to find clean water. Sailing west on a flat blue sea, we have now clearly entered the gyre. The energy on the ship has changed from anticipation to a deep sense of concern for our ocean; just a week into the voyage, we are awed by the urgency of our mission.”

“I am stunned by the juxtaposition of the beauty and majesty of the ocean, combined with the profound reality of the terrible problem as confirmed by today’s sightings and trawls. I, and the entire shipboard community, feel even more committed to Project Kaisei’s research/rescue mission. We need your help for all of the world’s oceans.” said on-board Project Director Mary Crowley.

Consulting oceanographer and marine scientist, Curtis Ebbesmeyer could have been describing our mission when he wrote this year in his book, FLOTSAMETRICS and the Floating World,

“We will only save what we love … and we can only love what we know. Knowledge is power—the power to mend the world. This logic in some form or other drives and consoles the legions of scientists, naturalists, activists, and teachers who struggle, often in arduous conditions for meager compensation, to uncover and share the secrets of a natural world they see being assaulted and diminished daily.”

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8 responses

11 08 2009
Tom Smithberger

When San Francisco banned plastic bags I thought, “this will spread and eventually, what will I use to package my garbage in each week?” I see solutions are already forthcoming! Trader Joe’s, at least in SF, has available a nice, soft, smooth bag which is biodegradable and compostable (not recyclable)made from EnviRo 6400 film meeting ASTM 6400 standards. It is made using resin from corn and other available materials. Compostable! Progress.

Tom Smithberger

18 08 2009
projectkaisei

Thanks for your thoughts and keep up the good work finding great solutions to wise use of our resources!

11 08 2009
Lauren

Actually, they are making all kids of products like that…. for take out containers, plates, everything. The problem is that restaurants and stores aren’t using them yet. We did a little piece on it if you go here:

http://www.diveintoyourimagination.com/cool-scientists-you-should-know/cool-scientists/eco-green-supplies-303.html

18 08 2009
projectkaisei

Dear Lauren,
Thanks for your comments. I agree more education needs to go our showing the cost benefits to businesses of using these eco friendly products! Check out Santa Barbara this month we are launching a voluntary program in stores! Best The Kaisei Team

12 08 2009
Sharon Drechsler

How long will it take everyone to get the message, you wonder? Keep trying to raise public awareness. Eventually, it will happen; but change takes a lot of work and patience!

Thanks for keeping the faith!
Sharon Drechsler

18 08 2009
projectkaisei

Dear Sharon,
Thanks for all of your support! I agree it’s a long road so please tell all of your friends about us, and keep up the good work passing on the messages of environmental awareness.

Best The Kaisei Team

12 08 2009
Lauren

I think businesses will only start to jump on the bandwagon when using reusable materials becomes more cost effective for them. Until then, especially because we’re in a recession, businesses will keep the cheaper, non-environmentally friendly products.

18 08 2009
projectkaisei

Dear Lauren,
In many cases this is true and the only way to do it is if we the people push the market in a greener direction. Many of the large chain stores would save a lot of money by charging for bags. Some chains can spend six figure sums on plastic bags for our use. Thanks again for all of your support!

Best The Kaisei Team

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