North Pacific Debris Gallery

NOAA Debris Research Cruise

In the spring of 2008 I joined the ATI team on a NOAA research cruise into the “North Pacific Gyre”, AKA “North Pacific Garbage Patch” — an area north of Hawaii the size of Texas where floating plastic debris collects.  Plastic can break into smaller chunks but it doesn’t really decompose, or it degrades so slowly that it is accumulating much faster than it is disappearing.  This leads to an increasing colleciton of junk and garbage on the surface of our oceans and is an ecological problem.  I’ll leave it to others to debate the magnitude …
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Tracking Ocean Debris in the North Pacific

The Search

On April 2, 2008 I found myself on a 224′ NOAA research ship, the Oscar Sette.  We were sailing about 1000nm north of Hawaii in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This was day 10 of a nearly 3 week cruise.  Our mission was research. The task for the day was to search for debris. We had entered the North Pacific Gyre two days earlier. This is often called the “garbage patch”. A debris field of floating plastic junk the size of Texas.  It is made up of human generated plastic waste that never really decomposes, instead it …
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