A warm, overcast sky burns into a gentle breeze and sunshine making for a pleasant day of nearshore sampling aboard ORV Alguita. Our work and enjoyment of the ocean scene along the Long Beach coast is, as usual, too often interrupted with balloons. We follow a bundle of silver hearts and an inflated #1 as it drifts out of reach over the water. Facundo skillfully hooks the bundle just after it settles on the ocean surface. Closer inspection reveals this pollution was generated in celebration of a little girls first birthday. Another colorful bundle of balloons reads "Caring with a personal touch".Thankfully our first otter trawl yields more fish than plastic (on the left Captain Moore pours the tub of specimens into a tank for further inspection). Later in the lab we will see if these fish have been including plastic in their diet. Above research crew member, Christiana, holds up a bit of plastic she untangled from the net along with these fish.
Above, our second otter trawl yields a familiar reminder of the confusion marine organisms can have when deciphering between plastic and prey (the infamous visual similarity between sea jellies and clear plastic).We draw a second, less common comparison between a fragment of a moon snail egg collar (on the left above) and the fragment of plastic.
We also sampled the surface water just inside the break wall of the Long Beach Harbor using a manta trawl (above). On the left, Christiana and Emily are rinsing the sample from the cod end of the net into a bowl. Unfortunately, even a quick inspection of this sample reveals that it is largely composed of plastic. Christiana points out some of the smaller fragments floating in the collection bowl beside a plastic bag.