Log: The Vortex

[DAY 27] The belly of the beast

Today was our first day in the core of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. We saw much more pieces of plastic floating but this was nothing like some of the articles and pictures online describing a floating island of plastic! What we saw on the surface didn’t give the full image of the problem. The microplastic and synthetic microfiber counts give a much better representation of the state of the ocean. 

We started the day with a net tow, our microplastic count was 1152, the second one, later in the day, had 1775 pieces, what a disaster!!

Everyday we also collect synthetic microfiber, by filtering water and trapping them on a filter. But unfortunately we don’t have the equipment on board to see how many pieces we get. We have to wait until we will reach land to pass on those filters to our scientific partners to get a count.

For those two tows we also noticed that we did not collect as much sea life, less plankton, little fish, jelly fish than the previous days.

Adam and Heather were on the dinghy and Heather started the day by swimming with me, we jumped off I Am Ocean together and got a welcome from a school of mahi-mahi. She swam with me for over an hour. 

We found some “interesting” pieces of plastic in addition to the usual small ghost nets: a toothbrush, an eel trap, a spaghetti strainer, and a plastic shovel for kids.

At end of the day, Heather and Adam counted more than 200 floating pieces of plastic, all bigger than 5 cm.

We found two dead squids, about 40 to 50 cm long. One of them had been chewed up and the other was intact. 

In the last hour, Adam joined me but he had a leaking mask and took on too much water with the snorkel so that he stopped before he could finish the hour. 

Toward the beginning of my swim line, I had noticed earlier in the day something attached to it. I swam a little faster to catch up with it, and as I was right above it, I saw a small crab with its legs wrapped around the line bobbing up and down with it. This little guy had been there for I don’t know how many hours but it looked like he had been enjoying the ride. This was my last encounter with sea life for the day

30°24 N / 144°56 W


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Photo credits: @osleston

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