A crew of 12 people, led by the 5 Gyres Institute, set sail this month for the currently unexplored South Pacific Gyre. In search of plastic pollution impacts, the team will collect water samples and expect to find similar levels of plastic debris already discovered in the four other subtropical gyres of the North Pacific, North Atlantic, South Atlantic, and Indian Ocean.
The crew departed from Chile on March 24 and returns to Easter Island on April 9. From there, they continue on to Tahiti. With the completion of this research trip, which is expected to cover 2,000 miles of open ocean, 5 Gyres will have traveled over 20,000 miles to collect and study the impacts of marine plastic pollution in all five gyres. Blogs from crew members during the journey are available on bagmonster.com and 5gyres.org.
Plastic bags and other plastic products don’t biodegrade but instead break down into tiny particles not visible to the naked human eye. These particles attract surrounding toxins and contaminate soil and water quality. They can also be mistaken as plankton and, when ingested by marine wildlife, are moved up the food chain.