Saturday, September 19, 2009

Day 12
Noon Coordinates 32o14.203N 159o24.097W

Yesterday I left you hanging with a picture of all of us, but Jeff, (sorry Jeff) holding up a flag as the seaplane went by. It was a pretty amazing feat to get the picture, but we did it. The flag is an interesting piece to our voyage and I really want to do it justice. It is from the Explorers Club and Captain Moore earned the honor of having it with us on this voyage. The plan was to sit him down and get an interview both about the significance of the flag and how he came to being honored with one. Well, as it happens out here 700 miles from Hawaii and even further from any continent, nothing is planned and everything is subject to change. And do to the happenstance of today I’ll have to get back to you about the flag.

It all started just after my watch and the sun had a few inches above the horizon when I noticed a large piece of debris float by. Within minutes, there was yet another. And then I noticed the Captain pulling in the largest buoys we’ve seen this far. I went to the bow with my net to see if I could catch some of the plastic particulates that were floating by. After catching a few, I could see a stream of plastic particulates much larger than I had been seeing from the bow before off the port side of the ship. Here are just a few of the items: a milk jug ring, a piece of a black plastic bag, a yellow rope, large round chunk of Styrofoam, a buoy, a white plastic rim to something much larger, and a gray tube that I actually caught, but it was to big for my net and fell out along with all the pieces I had collected. All my collection went back into the ocean. I was so bummed, I decided to go back to bed.

What I was seeing is called a windrow and with the sea state being a one, the wind and current created convergent and divergent zones. The plastic would come in waves literally. Where there was a convergence zone, there would be a row of plastics. Where there was a divergence zone, there would not be any. This explains why I was seeing these rows of plastics. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t like a conveyor belt of mass quantities of plastics, but it was visibly noticeable where these windrows were because of the rows of plastics that were floating past the bow.

So while I was napping, the crew was out on the deck having a field day with all the stuff they were collecting. I could hear them outside my hatch window every other minute yelling, “Look over here. . . .here’s one . . . hand me the net.” About an hour past when they all came running in to get their bathing suits on. Lindsey came in to tell me Jeff spotted one of the largest ghost nets the Captain had ever seen. We dove in and there were literally hundreds of fish swimming in it, around it, and under it. It was beautiful seeing them dashing around.

Two gray chubs came right up to me like Walmart greeters as I swam toward the ghostnet. One was flashing his tail in my mask and the other started nibbling on my mask. I tried to swim away but they followed me where ever I went. I felt like Ursula with her two eels swimming at her side. The feisty one nibbled on my neck. I had to pop my head out of the water to get him to back off.

The fun ended after about an hour when we pulled it out of the water and the captain started chopping it up so we could find a place to store it. We could really see just how huge it was on the deck. The captain guessed it to weight between 150-200 lbs. Now that’s the catch of the day.

More later.


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