Marine scientists from California are venturing this week to the middle of the North Pacific for a study of plastic debris accumulating across hundreds of miles of open sea dubbed the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.”

A research vessel carrying a team of about 30 researchers, technicians and crew members embarked on Sunday on a three-week voyage from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, based at the University of California at San Diego.

The expedition will study how much debris — mostly tiny plastic fragments — is collecting in an expanse of sea known as the North Pacific Ocean Gyre, how that material is distributed and how it affects marine life.

The debris ends up concentrated by circular, clockwise ocean currents within an oblong-shaped “convergence zone” hundreds of miles across from end to end near the Hawaiian Islands, about midway between Japan and the West Coast of the United States.

The focus of the study will be on plankton, other microorganisms, small fish and birds.

“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…

Besides the potential harm to sea life caused by ingesting bits of plastic, the expedition team will look at whether the particles could carry other pollutants, such as pesticides, far out to sea, and whether tiny organisms attached to the debris could be transported to distant regions and thus become invasive species.

You can track their progress through the project at the Seaplex blog.
We have discussed this patch on the blog before. Click here. And here.




  1. freddybobs68k says:

    Humans cannot make large changes to the world. A christian told me, with a direct line to God.

    Therefore this cannot be real. And for the same reasons climate change cannot real.

    QED.

  2. mo says:

    Since Dolphins are smarter than humans, we should be asking them their opinion. They should have a say in this study too…

  3. marine biologist says:

    We would have liked to ask the dolphins but unfortunately they’re all dead. It turns out eating a steady diet of plastic waste isn’t good for their health…….who knew? The only dolphins left have been raised in captivity and are stupid from being around humans for too long.

    Lets just milk this bitch (the earth) for all she’s worth and hope by the time we’ve used her all up someone smart has figured out a way to move to another planet and do it all again.

  4. Mark Derail says:

    I remember reading right here comments from “deniers” about this, that it was just universities looking for grant money.

  5. Thinker says:

    Deniers?? Who can deny a garbage patch? You can take pictures.

  6. bob says:

    yeah… no one ever denied the garbage patch. Killing a straw man doesn’t make the straw man look bad, it makes the killer look like a fool.

    I also think it’s incorrect to call the garbage patch a large change to the world.

    Also- freddybobs- have you zero cultural sensitivity? Or do you go around flinging slurs at every religion, social, cultural, and ethnic group that is sufficiently identifiable to be distinguished from whatever you think is normal? Kinda… provincial of you, isn’t it?

    Oh wait- it’s not bigotry if YOU do it. I forgot. Carry on.

  7. bob says:

    and Mark- Universities >are< looking for grant money, EVERY BIT as assiduously as corporations are seeking profits. There is no difference, except that while everyone knows to take self-serving corporate scientific assertions with a grain of salt, some people are foolish enough to assign special virtue to the universities.

    That's not the same as saying that universities must be lying in pursuit of grant money, any more than the profit motive is enough to say that the latest out of DuPont or GE or _________ labs must be bunk.

  8. Smack says:

    Not a denier but WHERE ARE THE PICTURES? A trash pile several meters thick and as big as Texas would be seen from space. Cruise ships, planes, fishermen and privateers all have digital cameras.

    Drop a GPS on a buoy and track the damn thing.

    No coordinates, no pictures, no predicition on where it will move = no such thing

  9. BubbaRay says:

    Here’s a satellite photo of the monster.

    Pacific Garbage Patch

  10. green says:

    All this talk about green environmentalism and they get around to checking this island of trash after how many years?

    Green my ass!

  11. bobbo, always saddened by agressive ignorance says:

    Smack==ever hear of google? Pictures and video’s all over the place. Do you do “any” research at all on being introduced to a new subject or is continuing ignorance your trump card?

    Green–right you are. BS on those cleaning up trash on Mountain Trails on their week ends off not hiring boats to go on three week cruises to the middle of the ocean. The hypocrisy is crippling!!!

  12. green says:

    bobbo – If we are relying on yippies to clean things up we’re in worse shape than i thought.

  13. freddybobs68k says:

    #6 bob

    Sorry, if I offended you.

    I’ve heard that exact explanation here and elsewhere. I’m just repeating it – why? Because it seems kind of stupid to me.

    Was it offensive when others promoted that idea?

    Or is it just me.

  14. bobbo, only a week end environmentalist says:

    #12–green==well isn’t the sad truth that “we” aren’t relying on anyone to clean up these messes? And that is why the Pacific Gyro is GROWING and we don’t know what the critical mass/pollution tipping point might be that plastic rather than carbon dioxide will kill off the ocean as a food source. Not outside the range of reasonable fear/study. Now, I’m no yippie, but when I go camping I bring out more trash than I take in. Just trying to act locally. Your basic error I think, assuming good faith, is thinking “monolithically.” Its a common fault, easy to fix.

    Speaking of the error of monolithical thinking, #13–“no one ever denied the garbage patch” is just another example.

    I can’t think of *any* issue that doesn’t have advocates for every possibility. Silly not to grant that any idea has some supporters and go on from there. Once again–google before using one’s own ignorance as a sword against the foe. I do recall a few denying type statements along the lines of: “Wouldn’t plastic sink to the ocean floor?” and other such buoyant views of displacement.

  15. freddybobs68k says:

    #14 bobbo

    Eh? Someone did did deny the patch in this very blog? Hey I didn’t see it before I posted, but I was confident it was going to happen.

    Score.

  16. bobbo, able to change his mind with new info says:

    http://dvorak.org/blog/2009/02/27/video-sailing-the-great-pacific-garbage-patch/#comments

    Comment No 3. and 5.n just for a start. Others if not close enough==and DU is not the only blog that has touched on the issue. Every idea no matter how loopy has supporters. Thats why “appeal to authority” is a logical fallacy.

    Its all “mindset” and how we model the world of ideas.

  17. bob says:

    freddybob, I have little doubt that you saw similar contempt being flung at christians for no reason on a previous occasion. That matters why? It differs from some crosseyed redneck explaining how he didn’t think there was anything wrong with persecuting black folks because he’s seen it done a thousand times how? You’re that guy, you just don’t realize it.

    BTW, I’m not a christian myself. I just have a modicum of respect for others, and I thought a little public peer sanction of a gross bigot was called for when I was in a public place and saw that bigot feeling free to let his freak flag fly.

  18. freddybobs68k says:

    #17 bob

    It’s not without reason, from any perspective.

    You’re analogy with racism is idiotic. So its just like racism if someone puts forward a different view. Gotcha. Why don’t you say it’s just like Hitler?

    I may have put it across somewhat crudely in your eyes. But that doesn’t make it analogous to racism, or bigotry either. Really.

    Thanks for your public service. But I think you might have pushed it a bit far on that one.

  19. bobbo, missing the more eggregious says:

    #17–bob==I’m a bit at a loss as to why you are climbing freddybob’s cage. The post is about the danger of the garbage patch and a well known activits group against protecting the earth is a bunch of idiot christians who thinks God controls these details as he wishes. Course, this does ignore the growing group of GOOD christians who are evolving their religion to take dominion of the earth and treat it with reverence.

    I have read your posts a few times and I don’t get what the gravamen of your position is. You are against someone being anti religious even when it is relevant? The reference does not dispose of all issues, no comment does, but it is accurate and meant to draw comment==just what a blog is supposed to do.

    Why do you maintain a modicum of respect for a group that deserves none? Rather silly.

  20. qb says:

    Green, shmeen. Cleaning up after ourselves and taking care of planet is just the right thing to do. Ask any long time farmer, hunter, or fisherman.

  21. Vengo says:

    I just heard about this TEXAS size trash pile . I believe but I can,t BELIEVE that this is real.


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