Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Getting "Lost" in the South Atlantic: Day 22

Blog 10-- Tuesday, November 30, 2010

We reached the center of the South Atlantic high yesterday and we are not here in vain.  Silently, I had hoped it wouldn't be a repeat of what I witnessed in the North Pacific Garbage Patch.  Like cancer that starts in one part of the body and spreads to another, so does plastic in our oceans.

It started with a blue hardhat that we spied moments into our 6am watch.  Soon, everyone was on deck busy plucking plastic.  Everyone but me.  My back continues to keep me up all night and flexibility is limited, so I journal entry all the stuff we are seeing and collecting.  Between the perfectly calm seas, feathery clouds to minimize glare, we were all yelling out sightings of plastic.  I wrote them down.  Most of the debris doesn't present itself until we are right on top of it.  Much of it swivels and swirls inches below the surface. Only bottles and buoys set up higher in the water-- things that contain air.  Just to name a few of the items that we plucked:  Plastic sheeting with mega bite marks in them, bottles, buoys, very fragile and degraded laundry baskets, large fragments bigger than my hand, crates, and the hardhat that had smaller items twisted in it like a corner of a candy-like wrapper!!

I also did several "Timed Observations" yesterday with bionic-eyes Rich, who confessed having something like 20-15 vision.  In three hours and from just one portion of the ship (because you cannot get an aerial view), we counted 63 items larger than 3 inches and as big as 3 feet.  Unlike the fragments we find in our trawls these fragments were huge.

We stopped the boat long enough for an underwater photo shoot.  My GoPro went in with Stiv as he videoed Anna in her Roxy sponsored wet suit.  We filmed the debris we had just collected from where we found it but with the water hovering around 60 degrees, they got out and we went on our way.

Now onto our evening activities...

I haven't mentioned it, but there has been an addiction formed on this journey instigated by the pro-surfers and it isn't just the chocolate bars that Anna rations out nearly every night after dinner.  It's a fitting title to what we are doing and where we are.  Many people get lost at sea, much of our plastic gets lost at sea, and many of us aboard Sea Dragon are in  a "LOST" marathon.

For years, my son has been trying to get me to watch the weekly series "LOST."  I have not watched a TV show consistently since I left Cortland, NY.  Back then the addiction was "Friends."  My good friend, Pam Sullivan, and I would meet at a litter bar appropriately named Friends.  So we would meet to watch "Friends" at Friends with friends.  Now Mary Maxwell and I usually meet at the "saloon table" on our night shifts to watch hours of "LOST."  Last night when it was our turn to be out on deck, we had to tear ourselves away from the 2nd to the last episode in the first season.  We watched Shannon put a gun up to Locke, pull the trigger and then.... we had to hit the stop button, climb into our foul weather gear, complicated lifejackets, clip-in lines and then head up the stairs into a dome of darkness.  The ocean gently lapped against our boat reminding me of Pleasant Lake in Syracuse, NY.  Slowly our rods and cones went to work poking holes in the blackness and the sky began to lighten taking our minds off of "LOST."  Well, for an hour anyway.

"Be right back," I assured Mary.  I popped through the companion-way within seconds.  Mary's whites eclipsed the stars.  And there we were happy as clams, hunched together in the glow of my Mac screen under the star lit canopy lost in "LOST."

More later,

Bonnie Over the Sea

Also, be sure to check into 5 gyres blog.  Stiv Wilson wrote an amazing blog post:  Convenience Can Break the Entire Ocean  What Bonnie and I (Danielle) did going plastic-free with our food choices for one week (and beyond for me and my family) is one way that we can break this cycle.  To learn about living with less plastic, visit Fake Plastic Fish's Plastic-Free Living Guide

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