SEA: New Expedition to Study the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”

Written by on October 4, 2012 in Marine Life, Physical Oceanography
Debris washed into the sea by the March 11, 2011 tsunami in northeastern Japan. The debris was initially highly concentrated, but has dispersed over time. Photo credit: U.S. Navy

Debris washed into the sea by the March 11, 2011 tsunami in northeastern Japan. The debris was initially highly concentrated (as shown), but has dispersed over time. Photo credit: U.S. Navy

Sea Education Association (SEA)’s tall ship departed yesterday on a 37 day research expedition to study the effects of plastic marine debris.

The crew will sail between in a region between San Diego and Honolulu where the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” floats.  It is a region where high concentrations of marine debris accumulate and the researchers expect to find debris from the March 2011 tsunami in Japan.

In addition to measuring the debris, the researchers will also study the organisms living on the plastic, from microorganisms to barnacles and crabs.

“This expedition will be one of the first to unravel the impact that plastic pollution is having on our ocean’s ecosystem.  SEA has over 25 years of experience sampling marine debris and, using this knowledge, we will further investigate the health of our marine ecosystem,” said Emelia DeForce, the expedition’s chief scientist.

“Those onboard will have a productive and eye-opening experience with long lasting effects.  We will extend this experience to the public at large through our outreach program that will take place during and after the expedition, with the goal to raise awareness of the impact that this long-lived pollutant is having in our oceans.”

Take a look at this short video about the expedition:

To learn more:

Marine debris accumulation locations in the North Pacific Ocean. Image credit: NOAA Marine Debris Program.

Marine debris accumulation locations in the North Pacific Ocean. Image credit: NOAA Marine Debris Program.

Copyright © 2012 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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