Pacific Gyre Voyage
A six-week expedition to check out floating trash in the Pacific Ocean returns to Southern California after traveling more than 3,3000 miles with some disturbing results.
The catamaran carrying a research team and their findings at sea returned to Long Beach Friday. It’s Captain Charlie Moore’s 10th trip to what he calls the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” But this voyage to measure the volume of trash and plastic in the ocean 1,000 miles from California turned up startling results.
“We couldn’t travel without seeing copious amounts of garbage pass by the boat each and every day for hundreds and hundreds of miles,” said Moore.
Moore say the amount of garbage coming from Asia and America is much larger than he anticipated.
The Algalita Marine Research team collected samples of what they saw: tires, plastic crates and countless plastic bottles. Video taken during the trip shows a debris field, filled with large plastic buoys and other plastics that don’t degrade.
One water sample showed small jellyfish surrounded by bits of plastic. Some of the plastics that end up in the ocean are eaten by fish.
Researchers have taken blood samples and looked at the livers of these fish, including many varieties that people eat, such as tuna. Researchers believe the plastic is impacting the ecosystem.
“For the size of the fish, the livers were way, way larger than they should be,” said researcher Jesus Reyes. “And the discoloration was very variable. You went from very milky white, almost snow-white-type liver, to a very sort of brown, reddish sort of nasty rusted-looking liver.”
The extent of the contamination won’t be known for about six weeks, when testing is expected to be completed.