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Calling all ocean sailors: maybe YOU can help

By Sue Richards last modified May 04, 2009 03:51 PM

Published: 2009-05-04 15:51:56
Topics: Environment

Posted Sun, 26 Apr 2009
On Sail-World.com

Calling all sailors: If you plan to sail the Atlantic, Pacific, or Indian Oceans, consider setting your course through any of five garbage patches in the world's oceans.

Sailors are needed by researchers to report back on what they see and hence help in a small way to solve the enormous problems caused by garbage dumping throughout the world.

Mankind generates large amounts of debris that end up in the ocean: plastics thrown carelessly overboard, torn fishing nets, cargo ship losses, and all the junk carried by rivers into the ocean.

Such debris is a hazard to shipping and to marine life. As more and more of the stuff accumulates, tracking and even removing it becomes necessary. But the oceans are vast and the debris is hard to track over the huge distances.

Coastline surveys and air-borne monitoring systems are costly efforts. Nikolai Maximenko of the International Pacific Research Centre (IPRC) has been heading a team that has developed a computer model to chart the likely paths of floating marine debris and where it may end up in the World oceans.

What they are asking is that sailors who travel through these areas or who can veer to chart a course through the areas will report back on what they see - particularly the three patches in the Southern Hemisphere for which observations are scarce. If you plan on visiting a garbage patch, please let Nikolai know so that you can discuss details.

Phone: +1 (808) 956-2584
Fax: +1 (808) 956-9425
Email: maximenk@hawaii.edu

Sail-World has previously reported on these garbage patches, some of which are, almost unbelievably, the size of France or Texas.

Nickolai Maximenko and Peter Niiler (Scripps Institution of Oceanography) have analyzed the tracks of nearly 12,000 drifting buoys to calculate the locations of five garbage patches. The amazing result is shown at the beginning of this article.

For more information, google “IPRC Ocean Debris,” which takes you to the following address: http://iprc.soest.hawaii.edu/publications/newsletters/newsletter_sections/iprc_climate_vol8_2/tracking_ocean_debris.pdf

by Nancy Knudsen

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