Sunday, September 16, 2007

Day 6


September 15, 2007
Today we were able to sail without the engines for the first time. We used the genoa jib and the mainsail. The wind held steady at about 15 knots for four hours, and we were able to make about 6 knots over the ground. We are a day late, so we didn't stop to pick up any debris, but we saw a bottle and sev
eral pieces of broken plastic floating by. One of the questions that we have been discussing, is the significance of the habitat provided by plastic for sessile organisms and pelagic fish and crabs. You can see that there are lots of creatures, including fish in the attached photos of the derelict fishing buoy we pulled up. According to Dr David. Barnes, in his 2005 paper Remote Islands Reveal Rapid Rise of Southern Hemisphere, Sea Debris, "rubbish of human origin in the sea has roughly doubled the propagation of fauna in the subtropics and more than tripled it at high (>50o) latitudes." So what's wrong with the "propagation of fauna" on our trash in the ocean?
Aren't we just providing places for things to live? There are at least two problems with this. One is that plastic trash travels slowly on ocean currents, which allows
the organisms attached to adjust to changes in climate and water temperature. They may end up colonizing areas where they were never known before and out compete local species. This leads to a loss in what is called "biodiversity." The second problem we have been
discussing onboard Alguita, is the limit on the ocean's primary productivity far from shore. Primary productivity refers to the fact that food in the ocean, like on land, starts with photosynthesis, the process of plants turning solar energy into food for other creatures. There is a limit to the amount of solar energy impacting the ocean surface each day. Filter feeding organisms come up from the depths each night to feast on this plant
bounty -- the eat it practically all up. If we are making habitat for billions of creatures that wouldn't have survived in the open ocean otherwise, are they r
obbing the filter feeders of the food they have come to expect each night over millions of years? Will our trash mean less zooplankton in the ocean? Not to mention the fact that the plastic actually has chemicals that can kill zooplankton directly.
Tomorrow, we will do our first trawls and associated water sampling.
Aloha from ORV Alguita

El reporte para el dia de hoy es el siguiente:
Por fin hoy pudimos velear sin necesidad de motores! Usamos la vela principal y una vela secundaria, el viento se mantuvo a unos 15 nudos por cuatro horas, con eso fuimos capaces de navegar a 6 nudos sobre la tierra. Estamos atrazados un dia,
asi que no recogimos ninguna basura, pero vimos una botella y algunas piezas de plastico flotando. Una de las preguntas que estamos discutiendo es acerca del significado del tipo de habitat que el plastico provee a organismos sesiles, peces pelagicos y cangrejos. Como
ustedes pueden observar hay muchas creaturas, incluyendo peces en la boya que atrapamos, ustedes pueden ver la foto. De acuerdo con el Dr. David Barnes en su articulo del 2005 "Remote Islands Reveal Rapid Rise of Southern Hemisphere, Sea Debris". La basura de origen humano en los mares ha permitido al doble la propagacion de fauna en los subtropicos y mas de tres veces a altas latitudes (>50o)". Asi que la pregunta obvia es, ?cual es el error en la propagacion de la fauna en nuestra basura en el oceano?, ?Acaso
no les estamos provechendo de un lugar para vivir a los or
ganismos? Hay al menos dos problemas con esto, uno es que la basura plastica viaja lentamente en las corrientes oceanicas por lo cual permite a los organismos pegarsele y aclimatarse a los cambios de temperatura del agua. Al final terminan colonizando areas donde ellos nunca estuvieron y compite con las especies locales. Como consecuencia esto lleva a la perdida de lo que llamamos "biodiversidad". El segundo problema que hemos discutido abordo de la
Alguita, es el limite de la productividad primaria en los oceanos lejos de las costas. Productividad primaria se refiere al hecho de que la comida , al igual que en la tierra, empieza con la fotosintesis, el proceso por el cual las plantas convierten la luz solar en comida para otras creaturas. Existen limites para la cantidad solar que impacta la superficie del oceano cada dia. Los organismos filtroalimentadores vienen de grandes p
rofundidades cada noche para darse un festin de estas plantas y se comen practicamente todas. Si estamos haciendo habitats para billones de creaturas que no podrian
sobrevivir en el oceano abierto y si ellos toman la comida de los filtroalimentadores que ellos han venido consumiendo cada noche desde hace millones de anos? ?Estara nuestra basura creando menos zooplancton in nuestro oceano?. Sin mencionar el hecho de que los plasticos actualmente tienen quimicos que pueden matar al zooplancton directamente.
Bueno, manana sera nuestro primer dia que usaremos la malla llamada "trawls" y tomaremos al mismo tiempo una muestra de agua de mar para asociar ambos resultados.
Aloha desde el ORV Alguita.

3 comments:

Paul Clarke said...

My experience as a sailor is that at sea, anything unusual attracts attention. A log will have several small fish hovering in its shadow. A boat, if it is stopped will soon attract its own flotilla.

So I guess the little fish pictured has found a micro-habitat that affords some protection, or perhaps offers shelter to food sources that the fish take advantage of. Interesting.

Profe AquaSendas said...

I know Dr. Martin Thiel at Universidad Catolica del Norte in Chile working on similar issues.

He has a project called:
Rafting dispersal on macroalgae dependes on floating time-factors affecting the survival of floating kelp after detachment.

And another called: Efecto filtro de centros de cultivos marinos para la dispersión de larvas de invertebrados y génesis de basura fllotante a la deriva en los fiordos y golfos de la X Región.

I will mention to him your current research.

Luis Pinto, AquaSendas, CHILE

ORV Alguita said...

Luis Pinto,
Thank you for sharing information about Dr Martin Thiel's research! We would be very interested to hear more and would love to know if he has published any papers on these topics. We keep a database and library of Marine debris related literature at our office.
Holly Gray
ORV Alguita Vessel Support Coordinator