News Home Video Gallery Newsletters Photo Gallery Cruising Int

 

Sail-World.com : What IS a 'Great Ocean Garbage Patch'? - Gyre science updated

What IS a 'Great Ocean Garbage Patch'? - Gyre science updated

'Many sailors report first hand on the garbage in the ocean, but confusion remains'    .

Sailors for the Sea, a nonprofit organization that educates and engages the boating community in the worldwide protection of the oceans, has written a lot about plastics in the ocean - so-called 'islands of trash' float, trapping fish, choking birds, and growing larger with the passage of time. However, confusion remains, so here is an update from the Sea Education Association (SEA):

Despite widespread concurrence on the subject the confusion remains due to the fact that these gyres are not actually floating mats of garbage the size of entire states, an image fostered by some of the earlier, more publicized reports.

They are, rather, concentrations of surface and sub-surface floating debris at the convergence of ocean currents. But how much plastic is really there? Conflicting reports and opinions have made it difficult to get a secure handle on the magnitude of the problem.

Every year SEA sails the Atlantic, Pacific and Caribbean with upwards of 25 college students and 10 professional crew aboard the Corwith Cramer and the Robert C. Seamans. SEA Semester students combine an interdisciplinary academic program of oceanography, history, literature, marine policy and nautical science with a six week open ocean voyage.

For forty years and one million miles sailed, SEA has been the only program in the world to teach college students about the ocean in this way. From 1986 to 2008, in the Atlantic Ocean, over 4,887 individuals have participated in this study of ocean-bound plastics, collecting and cataloguing over 64,000 individuals pieces of plastic, most only millimeters in size. Through these efforts, SEA has amassed an 'unrivaled dataset' that helps describe the extent of this pollution, and can teach us about the fate of plastics in the ocean.

North Pacific Gyre -  .. .  


So what did SEA find?

Over those 22 years, SEA conducted 6,136 surface plankton net tows on annually repeated cruise tracks throughout the North Atlantic and Caribbean Sea. Sixty-two percent of all plankton tows contained some amount of plastic, with the highest in a single 30-minute tow being 1069 individual pieces. To scale, that equals 580,000 pieces per square kilometer (about 360,000 per square mile). That sounds like a LOT of plastic, but many of these pieces are less than a millimeter thick. While it makes for a less thrilling visual, it does make for a more dire outlook for the ocean and its fauna. The data reported by SEA in Science only accounts for floating surface debris. It does not account for plastic that has sunk below e surface or to the sea floor, or been ingested by fish, mammals or birds. Over 22 years, that could be quite a lot of plastic.

To get a sense of how much plastic could be in the ocean far below the surface, where SEA's plankton nets could not get to them, try this exercise:

Find a plastic bottle (Poland Spring, Gatorade, etc.). Remove the cap, fill the bottle to the brim with water, and submerge in a tub or a bucket (make sure to get all the bubbles out). Does it sink or float? Now submerge the cap. Sink or float? If you were using a Poland Spring bottle, or another brand with a 1 recycling number stamped on the bottom, it should have sunk (this is one of the most dense plastics). The cap (probably made of less dense HDPE #2) should have floated. Now think about this: Every year between 30 and 50 BILLION plastic bottles are used in the U.S. alone. Of these, only about 12% get recycled. We don't know exactly how many of reach the ocean, but if you've ever seen a bottle lying on the ground and didn't pick it up, chances are, it's in the ocean now. 80% of all marine debris is thought to originate on land.

Gyre North Atlantic -  .. .  
But back to the Atlantic.

Compiling the data, SEA discovered that plastic does indeed accumulate in the North Atlantic Gyre (see image). Not surprisingly, the highest densities of plastic they collected are concentrated between 22 and 38 degrees latitude in an area also known as the Sargasso Sea (or the Bermuda Triangle).

Though this data set displays no significant increase in plastic accumulation between 1986 and 2008, it does show persistent high concentrations of plastic. During this time period globally, there is a very significant increase in the production and discarding of plastic; however data does not account, as we mentioned previously, for sinking, ingested plastics or plastic fragments smaller than 1/3 mm, the mesh size of the plankton net. Readers should also remember that these gyres are not firmly constrained sites, and that currents carry water and debris constantly throughout the interconnected ocean.

The ultimate message here is that plastic, once created, doesn't go away and a lot of it ends up in the ocean, swirling around for eternity, confusing fish and tainting our food supply.

So what can you do?

1. Reduce - Use less plastic! Give up straws, single-use bottles and disposable forks.
2. Reuse - Used some plastic? Save it, use it again!
3. Recycle - If your plastic is used up, make sure to recycle it properly. Find out if your town has single-stream or separated recycling and only recycle those items your local plant can handle.
4. Read more - Read the full SEA article in Science
5. Check out the more recent data collected in the Atlantic
6. Learn more about SEA and how you can support their work www.sea.edu
7. Enroll in a semester at sea and help SEA continue their data collection, and see how they do collect data in the video below:




by Sailors for the Sea

  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=84830

11:06 PM Thu 16 Jun 2011 GMT






Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.

Click for further information on
Environment and the ocean

Related News Stories:

27 Nov 2013  World Oceans Day appeals for funds
16 Nov 2013  Gigantic iceberg sails north from the Antarctic
09 Nov 2013  Sailing and swimming with manatees - Oceans Watch Essay
01 Nov 2013  OceansWatch: cruising sailors give something back in the South Pacific
23 Oct 2013  'The Ocean is Broken' - without fish, there can be no birds
13 Oct 2013  PlanetSolar reaches Paris after successful ocean study
02 Oct 2013  Monaco Yacht Show goes Green
07 Sep 2013  Great Pacific Garbage Patch - the real story
03 Sep 2013  World's largest solar yacht drops anchor after marine science quest
25 Aug 2013  Boat owners: cover vessels to deter seagulls
MORE STORIES ...

Cruising USA

The Marion to Bermuda Cruising Yacht Race have announced the opening of registration for its 20th anniversary, which will commence on June 19, 2015. Supported by the Beverly YC of Marion, Mass., the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club of Paget, Bermuda, and the Blue Water SC of Boston, Mass., the race is open to seaworthy yachts appropriate for an offshore ocean race as defined in the USSER. ... [more]  

Just the thought of falling overboard scares most sailors into a 'stay-aboard-at-all-costs' mindset. And yet this most serious of sailing emergencies does happen now and then. Recovery will be tough no matter what the marine weather conditions. ... [more]  

If a car or truck's vanity license plate can tell you a lot about the person behind the wheel, what can a boat name tell you about the person behind the helm? ... [more]  

The Cauden Basin in Port Louis has come alive with rally atmosphere over the last week. Transformed to a vibrant marina with yachts dressed overall, boat parties and welcoming new arrivals has made for a great spectacle and an exciting place to be. ... [more]  

Boyan Slat is a 20-year-old on a mission - to rid the planet's oceans of floating plastic. He has dedicated his teenage years to finding a way of collecting it. But can the system really work - and is there any point when so much new plastic waste is still flowing into the sea every day? ... [more]  

Tell me what self-respecting Galley Guy could possibly (while on the beautiful island of Barbados) turn down an opportunity to tour the famous Mount Gay Rum Distillery? For sure, not this Galley Guy! Sadly, the other Galley Guys did not get the call. ... [more]  

Nv charts announces the release of their newly updated chart set for Region 9.1, Bahamas Northwest, including Bimini and Berry Islands, Nassau to Abaco, and Grand Bahama, for 2015-2016 in paper and digital format. ... [more]  

We are northwest of the southern peninsula of Haiti lying within radar range south of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and drifting in the current in the direction of Port-au-Prince at less than a knot. ... [more]  

The 60ft Makayabella was stormed by elite members of the Irish Navy some 200 nautical miles off Mizen Head - Ireland's most southerly point - in the early hours of Tuesday, September 23rd. Five men, including the three onboard the yacht and another two in England, have been arrested and police are hunting for a sixth man in connection with the seizure. ... [more]  

A pearl among Gulf Islands parks, this sandy haven is ideal for hiking, beachcombing, birding, fishing…or just hanging. Sidney Spit is a park of superlatives. With the best sandy shores, the best sunsets, the best crabbing and some of the best hiking in the Gulf Islands, it’s no wonder it’s a hit with just about all who visit – for a few hours, a day or a week. ... [more]  

Vast, magnificent and remote, Prince William Sound offers the ultimate adventure for cruisers on North America’s West Coast. Few cruising boats visit beautiful and remote Prince William Sound. Some 2,800 square miles in area and situated at the very northern tip of the Gulf of Alaska, this inland sea has a coastline equal to that of Oregon and California combined. ... [more]  

Cast off on a cruise on someone else's boat and you'll want to remember to pack those basic essentials that form the foundation of your personal 'sailing ditty bag'. Each sailor will have their own ideas of the best gear to bring aboard. But here are some pieces of gear I've found to come in handy time and again, day after day. ... [more]  

This was our eleventh Malacca Straits passage, and it turned out to be just like some of the others - a pain in the neck. Keeping in mind that the boat hadn't been actively used for fifteen months, we started cautiously with a 40 mile passage from Singapore to Pulau Pisang. ... [more]  

The Marion Bermuda Race and Harraseeket Yacht Club are thrilled to announce a cruising yacht rally from Maine to Marion in advance of the 2015 Marion to Bermuda race. Called the M2M2B, the rally will be an enjoyable and convenient way for Maine-based yacht skippers to sail from Maine to Marion, MA as they stage their boats for the 2015 Marion-Bermuda race. ... [more]  

The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) revealed in a peer-reviewed journal, PLoS One on October 9th that inshore reefs are particularly vulnerable to Ocean Acidification (OA)* on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). 'We found that inshore reefs were particularly vulnerable to ocean acidification (OA) during the wet season. ... [more]  

Estimating the diversity of life by Australian Institute of Marine Science
How many species are on Earth? Answering this simple question is not easy, but essential if we are to understand impacts of global change and manage environmental resources successfully. Without baseline knowledge of how many we have or what we have in different places, how do we know what we have lost, or might lose and how do we manage these natural resources to minimise extinctions? ... [more]  

NOAA, with assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard, will manage the historic wreck of Diamond Shoal Lightship No. 71, the only American lightship to be sunk by enemy action during World War I. The two agencies signed a formal agreement between NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the Coast Guard’s Historian's Office last month. ... [more]  

A British couple was rescued off Spain's Almeria coast after their 21.6m yacht caught fire. The Coastguard and the 112 Emergency Coordination Service received several reports of a flare going up 12 nautical miles east of Carboneras at 11:30pm on Saturday. ... [more]  

We sail with just two crew most times, so it was amazing to visit a vessel with a ship's crew of 3000, plus another 3000 'passengers' being the various air wing teams deployed aboard. That's 6000 people on a ship that is 1000' long, and displaces 192,900 tons. ... [more]  

Nature’s Own founder Vaughan Bullivant had previously hoped to get around $65 million for the Daydream Island resort he paid $25 million for in 2000. But with his health deteriorating and the island failing to sell in two years, agents have convinced Mr Bullivant to lower his expectations — and the price — to about $30 million. ... [more]  

After sailing approximately 2350 nautical miles, the first of the World ARC fleet has arrived in Port Louis, Mauritius. Nexus, the 17.90 meter Semi Custom Catamaran skippered by Russell Owen, arrived today in the late afternoon. Completing the passage in 13 days, a warm welcome ashore greeted them with offerings of fruit and rum! ... [more]  

A new research project being run by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) with the support of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) is exploring attitudes towards risk and safety, and the various ways yacht sailors participate in their sport. ... [more]  

Will your lifelines pass this sailing test? by Captain John Jamieson, Florida
Most production sailboats have lifelines these days, but just how safe are they. Would they keep your sailing crew or partner, spouse or family members safe in all sailing weather-fair or foul? Put your lifelines to the test today with these five easy sailing tips. ... [more]  

After her gruelling and eventful maiden voyage of over 8000 miles, Aventura was left in the care of the New England Boatworks in Portsmouth, R.I., to give her a thorough service before being exhibited at the Annapolis boat show. With everything done on time, my crew joined me last Saturday ready for the passage to Annapolis. ... [more]  

Super Typhoon Vongfong reached sustained winds of 155 mph (250 km/h) this morning (Oct. 7), with gusts of up to 190 mph (306 km/h), according to the U.S Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. ... [more]  

The Commander in charge of the warship that helped rescue a stricken sailor says she is proud of her company. Conditions during the drama, which began with a May Day distress call on Monday afternoon, were intense, with heavy rain, wind, little light and an incoming electrical storm. ... [more]  

Earth Wind Map - with typhoons by Sail-World Cruising
The Earth Wind Map is an amazing project to visualize global weather conditions carried out by Tokyo based software engineer Cameron Beccario, resulting in a beautifully mesmerising depiction of the earth's winds. Weather data is produced by the Global Forecast System (GFS), operated by the US National Weather Service. Forecasts are produced four times daily and made available for download from NO ... [more]  

For the first time, scientists have used an unmanned aerial vehicle to study killer whales from above. The device they're using is a remote-controlled hexacopter with a high-resolution camera mounted in its belly, and the photos it produces are beautiful and full of detail. The images offer an entirely new view of this species. ... [more]  

Having taken Operation Command of the EU Naval Force at the end of August, a priority for Major General Martin Smith MBE was to visit the Horn of Africa and the east African region to strengthen ties with the EU’s partners and highlight EU Naval Force’s commitment in the fight against Somali piracy. ... [more]  

Since leaving the paradise of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands exactly one week ago, the World ARC fleet have made good progress towards their next destination of Port Louis, located on the western coast of Mauritius. Awaiting the fleet is a beautiful island with its blend of diverse cultures and religions including Hindus, Creole, Chinese, Muslims and Europeans. ... [more]  

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) researchers are part of a collaborative effort to understand and monitor changes in marine biodiversity within U.S. coastal waters. Marine biodiversity is a key indicator of ocean health and critical to sustaining natural resources such as fisheries. ... [more]  

In preparation for his forthcoming circumnavigation with the Blue Planet Odyssey round the world rally, Jimmy Cornell completed this summer a grueling test of his new 45 foot Aventura, an Exploration 45 aluminum centreboard yacht built by Garcia Yachting in France. ... [more]  

Join Andy Schell and Mia Karlsson, event managers at our World Cruising Club USA base, for the 45th edition of the Annapolis Sailboat Show. For the first time, WCC USA will be featuring a boat in the show (in lieu of a booth this year), to demonstrate what it takes to make a classic cruiser into a proven bluewater voyager. ... [more]  

Canadian shipwreck discovery solves 170-year-old mystery
British couple help stranded Syrian refugees to safety
Blue Planet Odyssey yacht completes Northwest Passage transit
World ARC fleet embarks on leg 11, across the Indian Ocean
Pantaenius and Camper & Nicholsons Marinas become strategic partners
How to make a distance scale for faster navigation
New maps of the polar regions reveal unseen world beneath the ice
Naval Commanders talk on-going piracy threat at sea
Erie, Pennsylvania - Small place, big boating
EU Naval Force frigate, ESPS Navarra aids yacht in the Gulf of Aden
Insurance, towing and safety 'provisions' reminder for snowbirds
A guide to steering without a rudder + Video - a must read and watch!!
You scratched my seagrass!
Cocos Keeling Islands - Yet another paradise for the World ARC fleet
Hurricane Odile: Two Brits missing in Mexico after yacht overturns
Sailor texts girlfriend for help after yacht sinks in Bristol Channel
Gas safety: don’t let it go off the boil
Arctic sea ice summer minimum 2014: A scientific perspective
British Virgin Islands, a taste of Caribbean cruising
The Galley Guys take on the Vancouver International Boat Show
Are you ready to enter that marina?   
Cruising the Bay of Quinte and Thousand Islands   
Ten safe and clean refueling tips for boaters   
World ARC fleet moored at Christmas Island   
Blue Planet Odyssey welcomed to Bora Bora   
Remember to properly dispose of obsolete distress beacons   
Blue Planet Odyssey - Aventura makes landfall in the US   
World ARC fleet bids farewell to Bali   
Antarctic Team discovers mechanism for massive ice shelf collapse   
Baltic 4 Nations - Next edition sets sail July 2015   
BoatUS offers 'Boater's Guide To Winterizing'   
Yachts prepare for second Atlantic Odyssey, departing this November   
Thai drama with Phuket yacht clampdown   
Sailing Rallies launch two new events at PSP Southampton Boat Show   
World ARC crews in Bali   
Could your sailing navigation use a tune-up?   
Images of marine sunsets by Tripadvisor   
Citizen science model proposed to fill fundamental ocean data gap   
Ocean Cruising Club celebrates 60th Anniversary with record gatherings   
The Boat Cookbook   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL NEW Cru USA
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT