18 January 2011

No place for plastics in the sea

Sally Shaw
Relaxing on the deck is a perk of the job.

The Sea Dragon crew is well on its way across the Atlantic, carrying out research into plastic pollution in the southern Atlantic Ocean.

The 5 Gyres team left Cape Town on January 3 to trawl for plastic, analyse fish and try to understand the effect of plastics on the ocean’s ecosystem. A group of environmental scientists and professionals, 5 Gyres aims to find constructive ways of limiting the amount of plastic entering the world’s oceans.

Latest word from the deck was that they were 320 nautical miles off the coast of Africa. Winds were light and seas calm, although they’d have loved another 10 knots or so to help move things along.
The researchers have started testing water and gathering samples on their way to St. Helena. They plan to survey the beaches on the remote island, documenting the level of plastic waste washed up. They are also interested in learning about how the island society disposes of its own garbage.

For the study on the southern Atlantic, Sea Dragon first sailed from Rio de Janeiro to Cape Town. While in the Mother City, 5 Gyres was hosted by Two Oceans Aquarium, where their constructive approach fit with the Aquarium’s Plastikos exhibition. Created by artist Simon MAX Bannister, the exhibition is a unique way of highlighting the effect of plastics on the oceans and marine life. Bannister has created a poignant message using waste he collected along South Africa’s coastline. 

It’s up to the rest of us to put our heads together and work out how to prevent future waste from ending up in the same place.

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