Great Pacific Garbage Patch Research Team Sets Sail for 3 Weeks
The great pacific garbage patch has been a subject of mystery for quite some time now; it is literally an island of trash floating in the North Pacific Ocean that is made up of six million tonnes of plastic that can't break down and is twice the size of Texas.
Marine scientists left California this Sunday to study this garbage patch, and there are 20 researchers, technicians, and crew members on board and for three weeks they will look at how much debris has collected in the ocean and how it is affecting marine life. This study will mostly look at plankton, small fish and birds and other microorganisms.
The debris collects in this manner due to the pattern of the currents in the region and where the plastic converges is where the currents cross one another.
"The concern is what kind of impact those plastic bits are having on the small critters on the low end of the ocean food chain," Bob Knox, deputy director of research at Scripps, said on Monday after the ship had spent its first full day at sea.
The ship, New Horizon, has a laboratory on board and is fully equipped for exploring this garbage patch.
Not much is known about the garbage patch. It was discovered by Charles Moore in 1997, and is mostly composed of small plastic particles that are on or just under the surface of the water. The mass can shift by about a thousand miles north and south depending on the season.
The scientists also want to look at if the pieces of plastic can transport other pollutants or organisms far out to sea or to other lands.