Tuesday, June 16, 2009
We are still headed for Hawai’I, but have added a slight detour to the northwest of our route. Dave Foley, an oceanographer with NOAA, has predicted an accumulation zone not too far out of our way and we are headed there to investigate. You may be wondering, “where is he getting the idea that marine debris might be accumulating in this area?” Well, Dave has put together the Debris Estimation Likelihood Index (DELI) based off of chlorophyll levels. Essentially high levels of chlorophyll correlate to high levels of plankton. Plankton rides the ocean currents, as does marine debris. So it is hypothesized that where the currents have caused an accumulation of plankton, there might also be an accumulation of debris.
We deployed the third Manta trawl of the trip this afternoon. The trawl produced lots of juvenile sawrys, some more of the purple gastropods which Capt. Moore has identified as Janthina janthina, and to our disgust, but not to our surprise, several plastic fragments and some plastic line.
After trawling we practiced how to heave-to, which is a way to set the sails that effectively stops the boat from moving forward. This is an important tool to have under our belt in the case of an emergency. Since we were already stopped from the heave-to drill, the Captain, Christiana, Drew and Jeff decided to take a dip in the ocean. Capt. Moore searched for trash while Drew captured underwater footage of the debris gathering. They pulled up a piece of a plastic shopping bag, a newspaper packing band, and some plastic fragments. This is what happens when throwaway consumerism meets the open ocean.
The winds are starting to pick up and the seas are beginning to get a little feistier. Some of us are reapplying our scopolamine patches, and others have sea legs (and stomachs) just as sturdy as ever. The day ended with a valuable lesson (at least for me): don’t leave the hatches open. As you can imagine, hatches and active seas don’t mix very well. I experienced this first hand today as a large wave swept over the deck and down the hatch located DIRECTLY above my head. Needless to say, I was jostled from my pre-watch nap with seawater to the face and left with a pile of wet sheets.
We are cruising along at a speed of 9.0knotts and climbing; the fastest we’ve seen yet…and we are achieving it without the help of our engines!