Day 17 S/V Kaisei: Tangling With the Plastic Dragon

20 08 2009

Thursday, 20 August 2009
Lat: 36° 56’ N Lon: 140° 49’ W

Monster pile - A real mess

Monster pile - A real mess

Monster pile - Cutting through it

Monster pile - Cutting through it

Today ended up being a day filled with work and accomplishments. We had slightly better weather, sun, and a little less wind, about 5 knots. We stopped and launched two more of our passive-collection prototypes for testing. Crews of plastic gatherers, photographers, and scientists were ferried to and from the Kaisei, aboard one of the inflatables – so that they might obtain what they needed, during the 3 to 4 hour window of opportunity. The gatherers hauled in their bounty; the scientists caught fish for tissue sampling; and photographers caught images to bring back home. Back on deck, manta trawls ensued, as well as more deep-water sampling.

Among the day’s catch, we had various beer crates; one was labeled “Sapporo” beer and the other is labeled as “yet-to-be-identified.” But one does not live by beer alone. We hauled in sack loads of plastic goodies, including: toys, containers of all shapes, bottles of all descriptions, and a mishmash of plastic pieces torn from their original bodies and left astray in the open waters.

Late afternoon, we encountered a very disturbing ghost net. Many of the crew onboard wanted, of course, to remove the ghost net from the ocean; so, we maneuvered the ship to bring it alongside. This particular net had obviously been in the water for some years; it was an accumulation of dozens of different nets, rolled into each other, including a gill net. We ended up working for many hours, trying to cut the net into smaller chunks, as all of its accumulation weighed over 2,000 pounds. Upon further inspection, we discovered within the mire other devoured plastic prey: a child’s bright-blue plastic chair, more bottles, fishing floats, and bits of plastic that once served a useful life. We did end up being able to get just under half of this ghastly compilation onto the vessel before we had to admit defeat. It was just too big and heavy. Tired, from a very full day, some felt quite discouraged about our inability to get all of the ghost net on board.

This whole experience made us think that next year we definitely wish to have several large fishing vessels with big cranes and holds, so that, whenever we encounter ghost nets and other debris, we are able to remove it from the ocean.

We then proceeded to do additional deep-water sampling and a series of four night-trawls past midnight.

All in all, everyone felt satisfied by all we had accomplished, during this long day.

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2 responses

23 08 2009
Victoria

Just wanted to say ” Happy Birthday” to Aleui. We’ll celebrate when you get home. Choc cake again?
We love you
Mom

23 08 2009
Grandmom Cookie

Happy Birthday Aleui,

Can’t wait to see you again. What an adventure for your birthday.
Love you,
Grandmom

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