Floating marine debris collection, seen from below. Photo source: NOAA
In 1997, Capt. Charles Moore was guiding his boat through the doldrums when he noticed some plastic debris floating in the water.
Now, 15 years later Moore has returned to the garbage patch, along with five other people, to track its extent once again and study its impact on marine life. The expedition is part of Moore’s organization, Algalita Marine Research Institute, a nonprofit focused on reducing marine plastic pollution. People can learn more about Moore’s voyage at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro, California, on Sunday (July 20), where he will be answering questions from his boat via a live satellite webcast.
The team has also found more permanent fixtures in the garbage patch’s landscape. For instance, the team has discovered a “trash island” more than 50 feet (15 meters) long, with “beaches,” a “rocky coastline,” and “underwater mountains” and reefs made up of ropes, buoys and other plastic debris, Moore said.
Mussels, clams, sea anemones and seaweed were found sheltering on this artificial island, Moore said.
Moore speculates that the island formed after the tsunami that battered Japan in 2011 swept a tremendous amount of ropes, buoys, mooring lines and anchors out to sea from Asian aquaculture farms that were harvesting mussels and oysters.
“It’s showing signs of permanence,” Moore said. “There will be a new floating world in our oceans if we don’t stop polluting with plastics.”
“The unprecedented plastic waste tide plaguing our oceans and shores, can become as limited as our chosen relationship with plastics, which involves a dramatic behavioral change on our part…”
Captions and Photo: © SAF — Coastal Care