Gallery: 5 Gyres Update: The Finale of Our Oceanic Plastic Research Exp...

 

My journey on the Sea Dragon with the 5 Gyres crew — sponsored by Electrolux — has finally come to a close, and I am back home safe and sound. Traveling through the fjords in southern Chile in search of chemical pollution in the ocean was an eye-opening and inspiring experience. We saw some of the most beautiful places in the world, and I learned about the plastic epidemic from people that have been through the worst plastic accumulation zones in the world. The reality of the problem is that it is widespread, damaging and remains to a large extent unknown. Plastic is invading our seas, harming our marine life, and we are still ignorant to its long-term effects on the environment. The good news is there are people working on a solution.

Our last night on the Sea Dragon was seriously incredible, the moon was out over the South Pacific as we sailed toward our landing place in Valdivia, Chile. While we stargazed and reminisced on our voyage, I took some time to help Anna take her last water sample – a night sample at 3 a.m.! Our head lamps came in handy as we threw her bucket overboard and carefully filled her water sampling jars.

She has promised to report back on all of her findings as soon as she gets back to Sweden. I’m curious to see what she’ll discover. It’s been quite the learning experience, being in this completely pristine environment, while all the time trying to remember that our plastic addiction and environmental carelessness reaches even places like this where so few humans have been.

As Clive — our skipper — told me yesterday when I interviewed him, “we all think our oceans are infinite,” but their vastness doesn’t make them immune to our destruction. Their currents carry our thoughtless disposal of waste into their every nook and cranny. The, “not in my back yard” point of view just doesn’t work with this problem. The ocean is forever circulating, the whole thing is all of our back yards.

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1 Comment

  1. lazyreader March 23, 2011 at 7:54 am

    Everyone wants to go to the Pacific and see the Gyre. Why not charge fees and turn it into a tourist attraction. And the money could go for cleaning up the site. Volunteer labor and money can clean the entire site. After all it was some of their trash that ended up there anyway.

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