Saturday, January 30, 2010

Day One At Sea! Plastic Ring

We end our first day at sea after an unbelievable 10 days in Bermuda. The island in now a distant glow on the horizon as we put the research trawl back in the water. We slow the sailboat down to 2 knots and trawl for 3 hours, skimming the surface for whatever floats. At 1:30am we pull in the net. Among the shredded plastic film, nurdles, and random pieces of plastic confetti, we’ve also nabbed a milk jug ring. (Click on the image above to get a closer look at the contents of the sample.)

This is an example of two key problems to the plastic pollution issue. First, that milk jug ring is a product made to last forever, yet designed to be thrown away. Throw away plastic products, which do not biodegrade, are quickly littering our world. Second, of the millions of products made in plastic, only a handful have a reasonable plan for recovery.

In our lectures we often talk about the impact of plastic pollution on wildlife. There is a snapping turtle named “Mae West”. When she was a hatchling she walked into a milk jug ring. As she grew she could not break this corset around her waist. Now she’s as big as a football, but with a thin waist, looking more like an hourglass. Her spine has never healed.

Video: Snapping Tutle with Plastic Ring - Crew members Dr. Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins meet a snapping turtle that was entangled in a plastic ring when young, and view the effects the entanglement had on the turtles body. Note: this is an archived video from before the voyage that they requested we share with you.


Anonymous said...

Why are only some plastics made biodegradable? Also, how long do you normally leave the trawls in the water, and what are expecting/hoping to find on this trip?

Christina-11th grade-River Ridge High School

Anonymous said...

What is the average life span of the animals affected by the plastic products washed out at sea? Will pollution eventually lead to extinction?

Beatrix from River Ridge High School in New Pt.Richey Fl

Anonymous said...

I was wondering, what kind of plastics are acually biodegradeable? How long do they take to degrade? Also, when you encounter an animal with a piece of plastic wraped around it, what precautions do you take to ensure the animals safty?

Evan from Rver Ridge High School, New Port Richey, Fl.

Anonymous said...

It amazes me how many animals can be harmed by plastic. I mean that is really wrong and I approve that the world should change the fact of throwing plastic into the ocean. My only question is that if you found an animal stuck in plastic, harmed, or actually dead by it what should you do? I think your giving great information on the fact that it is wrong that plastic is thrown into the ocean.

University High School, Los Angeles, California
9th grade

Anonymous said...

my name is kayla aparicio and i am a freshman at university high school.the pictue that got my attention was the one with the plastic ring that they found. it is so sad to discover things like thhis in our waters because they dont end up anywhere else but the necks of our under water is hard to see these poor fascinating animals in pain and suffering when something like that happens. they dont deserve everything that us humans put them through. it gets me upset to see things like this and all i want to say is please becareful with your fishing lines and where you throw your trash, because if you liter, then it will go no where else but our oceans and either in the animls stomachs which will eventually kill them or around their neck which will sufficate them.

Anonymous said...

When you find animals with plastic on or around their bodies, what are some of the thoughts that run through our mind? Personally, I would crushed that a poor animal has to suffer because of someone else's carelessness. Casie from River Ridge High, FL..