Saturday, April 3, 2010

April 2: Unidentified Swimming Objects

Latitude: 20 33 South, Longitude: 63 58 East

"What on EARTH is that??"

Yesterday, we found perhaps the strangest organism we've ever seen in a trawl. Wrapped around a broken plastic coffee scoop was a silvery, eel-like fish as long as a pencil, with tiny, spines lining its sinewy body. Its body shape suggested it swam vertically.

No one has any idea what it is, not even the marine scientists on board. Our resident naturalist/author Redmond O Hanlin has a very fun hypothesis, but we won't bias you with his guess yet. Can anyone out there ID this fascinating creature?

2 days from Mauritius, and we're undoubtedly seeing an increase in plastic. This morning's trawl was full of trash - a broken cup, piece of a bowl, loads of broken down plastic film, and dozens of fragments, along with 6 small triggerfish, 5 pterapods, a few pelagic crabs, a strange, broccoli-like sea plant, several halobates (marine water skeeters), and another tiny, unidentified fish, possibly related to the Sargassum fish.
By the next blog entry, we will have either spotted land or landed. An incredible voyage coming to a close - and a third oceanic gyre now explored for plastic pollution. Though our research here will end tomorrow, the Beagle crew has agreed to continue gathering samples en route to Cape Town, hopefully coming closer to the center of the gyre. We will eagerly await their findings.

Click here to send a comment or question to the crew!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations from the students of Radford College, Canberra Australia on a successful voyage. We have really enjoyed reading the blog. In your last comment, 4th April, you have already answered one of our questions. What are you going to do upon your return? One other question we have is how does the density of plastic you found on this trip in the Indian Ocean compare to the Pacific and other oceans you have undertaken similar expeditions? Have you been able to compile a comparative chart of the amount, type and origin of the plastic found? Looking forward to follow your next trip. Peter & students.