As the eXXpedition North Pacific crew travel through the North Pacific Gyre, they are gaining a greater awareness of exactly how much plastic is gathering. Crew member Eleanor Church updates us on a different kind of science the crew are helping with:
“As we were putting out the manta trawl into the water today, Siri spotted a huge mass of tangled fishing nets. It measured around 5 meters wide and extended even deeper below the surface. Scientist Nikolai Maximenko had given us a tracker to put on a piece of marine debris that was about the size of a boat’s cockpit. Here it was, nine days into our journey.
We tacked back round to get closer. A few of us were charged with making sure we didn’t lose sight of it, two people were put on shark watch, and Emily and Anna jumped in with the tracker. They attached it, quickly got back on board to cheers from the crew, and we sent a message back to Nikolai to check that it had been properly activated.
We carried on with the trawls and our other science, the sun beating down on us. And then we heard from NASA! This gigantic mass of ghost fishing gear will now be tracked as it moves around the ocean for the next several months.
Discarded fishing gear, also known as ghost gear, makes up a big percentage of ocean plastics. We’ve seen a substantial amount of it out here, along with other identifiable objects like crates, bottles, a chair and thousands of tiny fragments.”
This update from Sea Dragon is made possible by Iridium Communications, the only mobile voice and data satellite communications network that spans the entire globe.
The North Pacific Crew will be sending us daily updates from Sea Dragon, which will be posted here on the eXXpedition website. You will also be able to see updates from the crew and ground team throughout North Pacific on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
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