Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Day 28

Noon coordinates: 34°22'55.20"N 169°12'14.40"W
July 7th, 2009

Today, as we were preparing to drop the mainsail, we discovered the line was jammed-not good news. Joel foolishly (in his own words) volunteered to go to the top of the mast and replace the main halyard (the line that pulls up the main sail) with the backup halyard. This required hoisting Joel up 50 feet or so in the boatswain’s chair. Immediately after getting up the mast he spotted a ghost net, which we were unfortunately too preoccupied to retrieve- safety first... Unfortunately for the already motion sensitive Joel, the sway of the vessel is amplified atop the mast. He got seasick and the unsuspecting Captain and I to got doused from above with Joel’s breakfast. One flying hammer later (good thing we had hard hats) and the switch was complete. Joel charged through his bout of seasickness and got the job done, earning the crew member platinum star for the day.

We were spotting debris left and right, so after the halyard business we put out the Manta and an education trawl. While the Manta trawl samples will be analyzed back at the lab, the education samples will be used for outreach purposes. In fact, Algalita Educators Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins just wrapped up a 3 month education tour of the west coast of the U.S. They cycled down the coast stopping along the way to pass out education samples to educators, legislators, and community.

Interesting trash find of the day: a Japanese honey bear bottle and ½ a trash can lid. Wildlife citing of the day: a close encounter with a Black Foot Albatross. And by close, I mean close. We stopped for a swim in the late afternoon. While netting and documenting debris with cameras and video equipment, we managed to spark the curiosity of part of our albatross fan club (they are still following the Alguita). She landed right next to us and proceeded to ham it up for the camera. She was tagged, however she didn’t sit still quite long enough for us to get the information off of her band.

We are making headway, although not much, toward our goal sampling zone. From the amount of debris we are bringing on board, it seems as though we are in the thick of the plastic soup at the moment. Every survey over the water surface unveils the presence of some sort of debris-small fragment or otherwise. At this point we have logged over 110 larger pieces of debris, and have yet to bring in one Manta trawl that was free of plastic. The past several trawls have been especially disturbing, blanketed with a layer of floating plastic particles.

From the thick of it,

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