Q & A for Kaisei

Dear Friends,

Both vessels, Kaisei and New Horizon are now close to the Gyre. From speaking briefly with Mary Crowley on the phone today they are “seeing more and more plastic and marine debris, both in the manta trawl and floating on the waters.” She expressed shock and disappointment to the extent of the floating debris.

All team members and crew are well, (a number are still getting their sea legs but on a whole in good spirits).

I know many of you have questions about the Marine Debris issue and also Project Kaisei. If you would like to ask a specific question to one of our Team or the crew on board Kaisei, I would be pleased to relay it to the vessel and try to get you an answer.


Ryan Yerkey


8 responses

9 08 2009

Carol Wrote:

Q: What kind of debris are you seeing, how often? Do you know where it’s from?

How are you trawling? What kind of nets and what do you do with what you bring up?
Curious! More details please, if you can.

How’s the sailing? How’s the weather? What’s it like to see nothing but ocean around you (for the first-time sailors)?

thanks! I love the blogs. More stories from the crew?


Doug Woodring Responded:

Dear Carol,

We have been seeing small particles of debris at up to 100-300 per hour, based on only a 5m wide visual inspection zone we are looking in. In every net sampling we are catching this material. There are not too many large pieces where we are now, but we did find something very interesting last night – a piece of plastic at 210m deep, found in our CTD canister which collects water at deep depths.

We don’t know what the small bits are from, but it looks like plastic
and styrofoam bits. For the larger pieces we have seen crates, plant
pots, buckets, toothbrush, and broken pieces. We are doing surface
trawls with a manta net, a depth trawl at 50m, and then a deep trawl at
up to 850m. We then store these for analysis later.

We are in good weather, with some squals, but the seas aren’t too bad. Great sunsets and moon rises! Not much to see except blue, clouds and water…and then our debris bits as we catch them! A few birds (albatross), but no whales out here as of yet from our point of vision.


11 08 2009

Hi, I am curious whether or not the tides and winds cause large scale movement of near surface marine debris. Did you notice anything on your way towards the gyre? Also, at what speed are you guys dragging the trawl net?

13 08 2009

Hi Ren,

The night and day trawls are both at 3.5 knots. The “Norton” trawl, at
one meter subsurface depth, is at 2.5 knots.

The Niskin deep water samples are taken at 200 meters. The ‘CTD’ also at 200 meters measures Conductivity, a measurement of salinity; Temperature, and Depth to study dissolved O2, pH and flourescence to indicate chlorophyl.

Winds and currents are both factors while tides out here are not. We
have seen less production in our trawls in rough seas however.

The reality is the ocean looks beautiful to the naked eye generally
until you haul in the samples.

I hope that answers your question.


17 08 2009

Hi all,

Working on a piece for Surfline, enjoying the trip blog. Couple of questions:

1) Question for Mary (hope we have a chance to connect by phone): How has the trip thus far matched up to your expectations? Does the debris issue appear better, worse, or similar to what you imagined?

2) Question for Dennis Rogers: As a lifelong surfer Dennis, I’m wondering how the physical visit to the Pacific Garbage Patch has impacted your perception of the problem as it relates to the coastal waters you surf in? Has it connected you more with the issue and your to local beaches?

3) Who on the boat is posting the blog entries? Would love to know the specific individual…

Thanks all!


21 08 2009

What is the size range of fish caught in the trawls? How many different trophic levels are represented by the fish, jellies, and other organisms caught in the trawls? Which ones are ingesting plastic particles?

21 08 2009

Thank you for your interest and question. We are capturing several different fish species, and the samples range in size from about 20 mm to just under 100 mm. We are collecting plankton as well as many organisms that feed on plankton – mainly two trophic levels. Occasionally we also get crabs. We see plastic in the jellies – their transparent nature really helps us see that!

29 08 2009
Michelle Marks

Firstly, I’d like to thank you all for your amazing work and look forward to reading scintific outcomes and results of your projects. As a scuba diver who manually to removes plastic from the water, I relish the fantasy of plastic free seas.

I have two plastic related questions which I hope someone can throw some light on.

During a recent trip to Grand Cayman, I was distressed by the number of disposable plastic cups used buy the pool and beach of the hotel I was staying in. I was told that the cups were not plastic, but soya based and that these would totally and safely degrade in the sea in just a couple of months. Is this true?

Secondly, on a quest to use less plastic bags, I keep seeing ‘biodegradable plastic’. I am curious to know what this material is and if the accelerated process of breakdown makes is a safe product for the environment – or is it just a way of introducing minute toxic particles more rapidly?

Thank you

12 09 2009
Libby McQuiston

Thanks for the blog and the work done on the Kaisei. I would like to join the next trip to the gyre if possible. Would be willing to cook.
I just came back from Kamilo Beach on the big island for a plastic cleanup. Most of what I saw comes from the fishing industry. The plastic confetti from the many colored plastic buckets used for bait. Oyster spacers, eel cones, nets and ropes, large plastic containers for liquids made up the bulk of debris. I watched plastic float in with the tide.
Please put me in touch with the folks who would like a cook for the next trip.


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