Thursday, April 16, 2009

Preparing for the 2009 Gyre Expedition

The ORV Alguita crew is busy preparing for the big research voyage to study plastic marine debris in the Pacific Ocean this summer. Would you like to get your class involved with this expedition? It's not too late! Send an email to; and I will send you information about how your class can participate!

Background- Pacific Gyre Expedition 2009 Voyage #1
The quantity of plastic pollution in the ocean is increasing rapidly, paralleling the rapid rise in global plastic production. Each time the ORV Alguita crew collects samples from the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, we find that the abundance of plastic has increased since our previous visit. In previous research voyages we have found a very high abundance of plastic in the area of the gyre that has come to be known as "The Eastern Pacific Garbage Patch", but we suspect that the contamination is much more widespread. This summer we will have the opportunity to test this hypothesis during the first voyage of our four month research expedition. During this voyage the ORV Alguita research crew will be at sea for over six weeks as they sail west from California past the Northern Hawaiian Islands as far as the International Date Line (180 degrees longitude) to sample areas of the Pacific Ocean previously un-sampled for plastic marine debris. We will be collecting samples of plastic debris, plankton and fish to analyze back in our laboratory to better understand not only the quantity of plastic debris pollution in remote areas of the ocean, but also the impacts the plastic is having as it is consumed by marine animals. Below is a map that shows the area where ORV Alguita has sampled for plastic pollution over the past 10 years. The first voyage of the summer expedition hopes to extend the study area all the way to the International Date Line at 180 degrees longitude.

Meet the Crew!
Get to know the six dedicated crew members that will be corresponding with you during the upcoming voyage. Find out about how they got involved in oceanographic research, and why they are willing to leave land for six weeks to study plastic marine debris in remote areas of the Pacific Ocean. Click here to read more!

If you would like to post a comment or question to the crew click here!