A great excursion is about to take place! Thanks to Emelia DeForce, Chief Scientist in the expedition for letting us know about an important research project taking place this month in the North Pacific Ocean. The health and maintenance of our oceans is a subject near and dear to our hearts here at MO BIO, and those of many of our customers. That’s why we are excited to tell you about a research voyage embarking this week that seeks to understand the fate of plastic in the oceans and the microbes that make plastic their new home.
A team of 38 scientists, sailors, and students led by PIs, Kara Lavender Law, Erik Zettler, and Giora Proskurowski sets sail out of San Diego, California October 2nd, en route to Honolulu, HI to study the effects of plastic marine debris on the ocean ecosystem. The expedition is called Plastics at SEA: North Pacific Expedition 2012 and is being conducted by the Sea Education Association (SEA). The goals of this research are to better understand the impact of plastic on the ocean ecosystem, while also providing updated estimates of floating plastic concentrations in the region dubbed the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”.
The teams of scientists will collect plastic debris from the ocean and isolate the biofilms growing on the surface, called the “Plastisphere”, as well as collect water and analyze the microorganisms in these regions. This work is an extension of a 2010 project to study the accumulation of plastic in the North Atlantic Ocean. The 2010 expedition documented high plastic concentrations from Bermuda to the center of the North Atlantic Ocean, including the highest plastic concentration ever recorded (26 million pieces per square kilometer).
This current trip takes place from October 2-November 9, 2012 on the SSV Robert C. Seamans, SEA’s 134-foot brigantine-rigged sailing oceanographic research vessel. The expedition will follow a 2500-nautical mile cruise track extending more than 1,500 nautical miles west of San Diego before turning south towards Hawaii.
The website http://www.sea.edu/plastics/ will be updated daily if you are interested in their progress and there will also be weekly updates on National Geographic’s website too. This short video can tell you so much more than I can here so I encourage you to watch and learn more about this amazing effort and why this work is so important.