Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Day 21 - Marine Debris

[I just found this blog post in my drafts folder...I wrote it on May 28, our
21st day at sea which seems like ages ago. It's now out of order, but here
it is anyway.]

All across the South Pacific, we've been pleasantly surprised that we
haven't noticed any floating garbage at sea. Of course, the beaches are full
of flip flops, plastic bottles, and lost fishing gear, but we rarely see
anything while on a passage.

This passage has been very different. We've been seeing marine debris
constantly, or at least, whenever we hang out for a few minutes outside.
With the cooler temperatures, we're not spending as much time in the
cockpit, but whenever we're out there for even a few minutes, we are
guaranteed to see some type of debris. Is this because we're at the
confluence of weather systems? Are we getting closer to the famed Pacific
Gyre? Or just that the seas are calm, and thus we CAN see what is in the

Whatever the reason, we're recording our sightings for a study by the Seven
Seas Cruising Association, and for submissions to NOAA's Marine Debris
Program. That suits me just fine. It fills my often-obsessive need to file,
record, organize and list. I have a beautiful spreadsheet where I record the
date, time, position, type of debris, sea conditions, and so on. I'm even
providing photographic evidence. It makes me happy.

We've received so many emails from friends and family warning us to be on
the lookout for Tsunami debris. Houses? Ships? Concrete docks? Really? While
all this is interesting, it does make me wonder. If we (and presumably
others) are recording sightings and sending them to NOAA, what are they
doing with this information? Surely, the significant debris could be
tracked, or at least, with an estimated course and speed, a rough position
could be determined. Wouldn't it be useful if that information was then
communicated back to vessels in the name of safety at sea?? I should think
so. And I wish we had internet so I could look it up. If there are houses,
ships, containers adrift out here, shouldn't there be a good system of
letting me know?? Weird.

If you find out, let me know.

[June 13 follow up: We have not noticed floating debris since the beginning
of June...even on the calm days.]


Diane, Evan and Maia said...

Fascinating--I would have thought you would be still seeing it--but perhaps you've moved through the tsunami debris...

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