Day 15a S/V Kaisei: Flotsam and Jetsam

18 08 2009

Tuesday, 18 August 2009
Lat: 34° 24’ N Lon: 138° 39’ W

Plastic Jug

Plastic Jug

A Kaisei Impression by Michael Daley

We have been seeing plastic for days. Looking down into the water, I saw innumerable small bits of plastic hovering beneath the surface; from an inch below, to as far down as I could see. Anytime I looked at the sea around the ship, in any direction, I saw several larger pieces floating on the surface – bottles, strips of tarp, and larger broken chunks. It’s not something that could seem “normal”, but it had become predictable.

I saw a larger object ahead, rising in the swell. It looked like it might be a rolled up ghost fishing-net. I got out my binoculars and asked the helmsman to steer closer. As we approached, I could see that it was not flexing with the swell as a net would. It did have a peculiar, rolling motion however. Closer still, I saw that it was stiff, but curved, and larger at one end than the other. It had a rich growth of sea life covering its surface.

Eventually, I could make out that it was the base of a palm tree, with part of the root-ball attached and a curving section of trunk perhaps 8 feet long. It had a large school of medium sized fish, 1 or 2 feet long, taking advantage of its protective shade.

It suddenly struck me that of all the thousands of floating objects we had seen here, hundreds of miles from the nearest land, this was the only one that was natural, the only one that belonged here.

This was a sobering thought that drove home the importance of our mission in a new way.

I hope this expedition can, in addition to the scientific research it is supporting, help to raise peoples’ awareness of the far-flung and lasting impacts their personal actions, and political inactions, can have.




2 responses

21 08 2009
Mary Akers

Very sobering, indeed. Thanks so much for the important work that you are doing.

30 08 2009
Catya von Karolyi

Thank you Michael,
A powerful image, that. Being so focused on, and surrounded by plastic that one’s response to the sight of the palm tree shifted from being likely pollution, to being ~”the only thing that belonged there.”~
I have told a number of people about this project, and will continue to do so. It is a difficult and wonderful thing to look such a big problem right in the eye. I’m glad you’re there!!!

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