Our earlier post on the massive, swirling accumulation of junk out in the Pacific Ocean generated a good deal of interest from you readers. So here is a chance for you to follow the activities of a research vessel setting out specifically to investigate the garbage patch. The New Horizon, a Scripps Oceanographic vessel, is heading for the becalmed spot at the center of the North Pacific Gyre. The map shown here illustrates the ship’s planned route. The vessel is aiming for the windless “doldrums” at the gyre’s center (seen as a white spot on the image below, showing the wind strength out over the Pacific). The project, called SEAPLEX, seeks to apply rigorous science to the garbage patch, about which surprisingly little is really known. In particular, the researchers want to investigate the effects of plastic debris on organisms lower in the food chain like plankton and small fish or invertebrates. You can follow the expedition via their blog at http://seaplexscience.com. Very cool stuff, so check it out!
Research Expedition to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch6 08 2009