A ‘Patchy Patch’

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is, well, patchy. We’ve spent the last few days skirting its fringes, while still well within the area the Algalita Marine Research Foundation previously collected dense plastic samples. Just last week, the gorilla trawl was one of the densest Marcus has seen from the smaller trawls used on the crane-less Sea Dragon. Our most recent samples, however, have been coming up mostly jelly. As in jellyfish. Mostly blue, but sometimes pink, pulverized into messy jam-like goo by the water passing through the high-speed trawl. There seems to be more zooplankton than the synthetic variety here, at least on the surface that we’re skimming. This shows some of the trouble with the 6:1 plastic to plankton ratio circulated widely as a measure of density – conditions are variable as plastics and currents circulate, plankton blooms and congregates at the surface. Traveling through this amorphous, shifting accumulation with changing sea states, it’s difficult to tell if we or the plastics are ‘there’ or not.

We’re officially headed to Vancouver now, but Northbound traffic is being forced east by the winds (supposed to change any minute now). At least we had one last morning sail straight into the sunrise. Marcus saw a ‘green flash’ but I was too busy posing on demand for the film crew, trying not to be bounced off the bow into what are increasingly chilly seas (down from 25 C to 16).

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