Spotty Plastic

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7 October 2011

Wednesday October 5th, we successfully finished the second long station of the leg between Honolulu (Hawaii) and San Diego (California). Our second sampling done with the Manta trawl (a surface net designed to collect plastic) is less loaded with plastic than the sampling we did yesterday.

Meanwhile, in the dry lab scientist Jeremie Capoulade observes with astonishment the presence of a tiny silicon bead actually inside a plankton sample. He calls on Bendetto Barone to identify the intruder and make sure it’s not just another unfamiliar organism. The drop of water that Jeremie places under the microscope does indeed contain plastic, rather unexpected in such a tiny sample.

Thursday, October 6th we finally change direction and head east, veering close to the wind. On deck we keep a pair of binoculars handy and continue to observe plastic macro-debris floating around chaotically. In general, we see less plastic rubbish than the first two days when we were actually sailing within the gyre. This confirms the variable quantities of plastic observed during expeditions of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation.

As we sail towards the center of the “plastic continent” we keep our eyes wide open.

Andres Peyrot