Monday, December 6, 2010

Plankton and Micro-plastics in the South Atlantic: Day 26

Blog 12-- Saturday, December 4, 2010

Stiv says he's been on this boat so long he's starting to have a crush on the lady pictured on the Fire Blanket box in the kitchen.  It's a drawing that shows how to put an extinguishing blanket over a stove fire.  Rough.  Though we all got excited when we saw the whales surface 30 yards out, starboard side, last evening.  They were running with us for about five minutes then gone like phantom submarines.  We had seen whale spouts off in the far distance days ago, but that was all we could see.  This was the first clear sighting and it may have something to do with the amount of plankton we are pulling up in our trawls.  Many whales live on a plankton rich diet-- the plankton being a draw for the whales moving in the area.  Not surprising the plankton we pull up in our trawls also contains plastic.  We will separate the plastic from the plankton, but there is no way for the whales to filter out the micro-plastics that accompany the plankton.

So far we have traveled over 4,026 miles.  By the time we arrive in Cape Town, we will have traveled twice the diameter of the moon (2,159.6 miles).  We're hoping to land in three days.  Clive has a flight back to the UK on the 9th and is looking forward to getting home to his young family.  But with fuel running low and random winds, "We'll get there when we get there."  Right now we're welcoming a tailwind pushing us forward at 8 knots while we heel portside after weeks of heeling starboard side.  Nice to give the other muscles a chance to perpetually flex, though it is tearing my right side that I injured a week ago.  Hopefully the movement will help assuage the lumpy mass out.

In all of our travels, we were only in the high-pressure system for three days.  Remarkable the amount of trash we were seeing there and now that we are out of the high, plastic items are more widely spread out.  That doesn't mean that we don't continue to find and pluck plastic debris from the sea.  As far as my research goes, the record continues after three open-ocean gyres voyages-- every sample contains fragments of plastic.  We will continue to trawl every 60 nautical miles until we get to Cape Town.

The jumping continues as well.  Jennifer has jumped 5000 times while I mend and I have been able to do 3,400.  My count is not great considering how much time I've had to do them.  Bummer that the days the boat has been a level plane was when I was crippled the worst.  I'll get them done evein if I'm jumping at the airport during mega-layovers on my way home-- 21,350 to go-- no problem.  Thanks to all of you who have sponsored my trip.  I'll have plenty of photos and videos to share once I get to port.

More later.


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