Aloha to all of the students, teachers, and friends following our progress!
Following our plan to sample at each degree of latitude, we began trawling at 31 degrees this morning, and pulled out our most impacted samples yet. This photo shows the contents of our educational trawl – a bottle cap, surrounded by colorful plastic fragments. The calm winds we experienced appear to allow the smaller particles of plastic to reach the surface where they can be captured by our manta trawl.
Today, we have a special assignment from crewmember Dr. Marcus Eriksen. Marcus devised a real world question for you all, based on our experiences here in the gyre. As you’ll note, whoever answers first will receive a gyre sample, straight from the source!
“As you know, one of our research questions is to see if a sea surface temperature of 18 degrees Celsius, and the convergence of phytoplankton (seen as chlorophyll a from sattelite), which often go together, can also be a predictor for where plastic marine debris might converge. Other scientists, like Dave Foley of NOAA, have suggested this possibility. We’re here to test this hypothesis with our surface trawls. Last night Dave sent us a sattelite image of phytoplankton blooming in the ocean. He reports that most of the action east of the International Dateline is around 170 degrees West Longitude, between 28-32 W Latitude.
So here’s a real math problem for you, and the first right answer gets a gyre sample mailed to them when we return!
Question: Our current position is 32 degrees North Latitude and 165 degrees West Longitude. If we want to maintain the same latitude, but move 5 degrees to 170 degrees West Longitude, which direction do we go and how many nautical miles do we travel?
Break out your maps and calculators, and go for it!