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Studying the plastic soup
August 4, 2009 12:18 PM   Subscribe

Discovered in 1997 by oceanographer Charles Moore, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is 3.5 million tons of trash, 80% of which is plastic. Moore is the founder of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, which is conducting ongoing research into the patch. Blog from their current expedition on the research vessel Alguita. The Scripp's Institution of Oceanography is also studying the patch. Blog from their SEAPLEX expedition. greatgarbagepatch.org tracks community efforts to stop trashing the ocean. Previously: [1, 2].
posted by kanuck (17 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Also:

Oprah Shines Light On Great Pacific Garbage Patch (video).

New Yorker video): "David de Rothschild’s plan to sail across the Pacific Ocean on a 'bottle boat' made entirely of recycled materials. A highlight of the trip will be a visit to a region of floating plastic trash and particles known as the Eastern Garbage Patch."
posted by ericb at 12:36 PM on August 4, 2009


That's supposed to be: *New Yorker (with video)...*
posted by ericb at 12:39 PM on August 4, 2009


I'm hoping they find dinosaurs.
posted by Artw at 1:14 PM on August 4, 2009


Flagged as fantastic.
posted by scottymac at 1:29 PM on August 4, 2009


I worked on the Plastiki for a few months, ericb (there's a picture or two of what I did somewhere in my Flickr set). They certainly put a nice face on it, and it's an admirable goal, but the whole thing's more of an ego project for Mr. de Rothschild than anything else. If they can pull their heads out of their asses long enough to build the thing they might actually accomplish something, but I think the best that can come from the whole endeavor is they never sail (which would mean they never require an open-ocean rescue). They've been heavily into the publicity end of things so far, and raising awareness of oceanic garbage issues, which can't be a bad thing.

Strangely enough, VBS did a bit on the Garbage patch, sailing with the Algalita (video). The piece was surprisingly good.
posted by Pecinpah at 1:53 PM on August 4, 2009


My first working dive in the ocean was in about twenty feet of water outside Cameron, Louisiana. I jumped in and hit the bottom, following the downline to a pipe we were working on.

To my dismay, I immediately discovered I was walking on a solid carpet of bottles, bags, cans and other assorted crap.

I think we were near the mouth of some small river. Maybe the Calcasieu. I wonder how many tons of garbage come out of rivers around the world every day.
posted by atchafalaya at 1:54 PM on August 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you're after a bit more depth than Oprah generally provides, I highly recommend the short (12min.) film Alphabet Soup - a firsthand account of a voyage to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch with Charlie Moore by Toronto-based documentarian Ian Connacher.
posted by gompa at 2:58 PM on August 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pecinpah -- cool that you were involved. Yeah, if anything, the Plastiki has garnered a ton of press.
posted by ericb at 3:05 PM on August 4, 2009


Here's a good infographic on the patch put out by Good Magazine a couple of months ago.
posted by jabberjaw at 4:39 PM on August 4, 2009


You know that it would be untrue
You know that I would be a liar
If I were to say to you
girl we couldn't clean this gyre
posted by Tube at 5:35 PM on August 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


He gave a talk at Google last not too long ago.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:05 PM on August 4, 2009


So we humans made a gigantic garbage patch in the ocean? Twice the size of texas?

Ok. We deserve to be extinct. I'm not joking...every single one of us dirty humans.

High five, everyone!
posted by hal_c_on at 8:50 PM on August 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've been wondering if some kind of incinerating cleaning robot could fuel itself on all that plastic.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:06 PM on August 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


You can also follow them on Twitter: http://twitter.com/seaplexscience

Recent Twitter: Cool discovery on the way to the Patch: Vampire squid caught in broad daylight!
posted by emjaybee at 11:30 AM on August 5, 2009


hal_c_on: "So we humans made a gigantic garbage patch in the ocean? Twice the size of texas?"

LOOK ON OUR WORKS, YE MIGHTY, AND DESPAIR.
posted by maus at 3:11 PM on August 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


> I've been wondering if some kind of incinerating cleaning robot could fuel itself on all that plastic.

I think that is a brilliant idea. Plastic can be repurposed as fuel. Looks like some people are already working on it. At 300 million tonnes, there is far more fuel in that plastic than the machine would require.
posted by molecicco at 3:02 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Time to market Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch kids!
posted by curiousgridlock at 7:27 AM on August 6, 2009


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