Spotting and Collecting Plastics

27 08 2010

23 August 2010 Monday
Latitude 33 degrees 28 minutes North
Longitude 146 degrees 25 minutes West

The seas are very flat. We have a slight breeze and occasional rain squalls. We begin another day of debris collection. We decide to keep our inflatable dinghy in the water, and we have three different teams alternating on collecting plastics out of the ocean.
Nick Mallos and Kaniella Lyman-Mercereau have become the “A” team at diligently spotting and collecting plastics. They have spent the most hours both on and off watch in the inflatable and spotting from the rig. Their energy and expertise is greatly appreciated. Nick is an energetic and skilled representative for Ocean Conservancy. Kaniella is a natural seaman and his belief in the project makes him a fine representation of Ocean Voyages Institute. The collaboration between Ocean Voyages Institute/ Project Kaisei and Ocean Conservancy is well represented by the team spirit onboard Kaisei. Others that have been very helpful with retrievals and spotting include Drew, Nikki, Stephen, Kelsey, Henry, Gabe, Annie, Robin, Chip, George, Andrew, Tim, Juanita and Mary.

Kaniella and Nick bring back about a 300 lb multi-colored ghost net, with green, brown, bright blue, aqua, yellow, and orange strands. It is a fragment of a much larger net, and contains at least 20 types of net. We see fish trapped and strangled by the netting. Crabs of all sizes, gooseneck barnacles and mussels are part of the maze of the net. We carefully shake the nets and then by hand return the remaining living creatures to the ocean.

Every evening, typically after sunset, we have meetings so that the team can share experiences they’ve had during the day collecting and sighting, as well as for general brainstorming. Mary Crowley, as Project Kaisei Expedition Leader, is able to relay project information and compare this year’s expedition with last years. She leads discussions about what we will be doing over the next days, and provides historical perspective on the marine debris issue. Nick also is able to contribute with his scientific background and interest in the marine debris issue.

Kelsey Richardson graduated from UC Berkeley and did her thesis on the marine debris issue. She is a welcome addition to Project Kaisei/Ocean Voyages Institute.

Nicole Caputo (Nikki) is engaged in graduate studies at Humboldt State concentrating on the area of Marine Debris, and she shares interest in the concept of “fishing for plastics” with Mary Crowley. Nikki offers worthwhile insights and valued energy to Ocean Voyages Institute. Everyone on board likes this poignant quote from Nikki’s paper.

“Burgeoning populations infected by an ethos of disposability coupled with plastics’ relative indestructibility have helped to catalyze a plastic pollution crisis. Waste and pollution are cancers of consumer society, and disposable consumer cultures have been metastasizing globally in pandemic proportions.”

Nicole Caputo, 2010, Drowning in a Sea of Plastics

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