Saturday, November 28, 2009
Rubbish...I can´t pretend it´s not true anymore.
The North Pacific Gyre.
Gyre = In oceanic terms, its a current that´s wind driven on a large scale and you don´t get any bigger than the Pacific (direction of Coriolis force in the North Pacific is clockwise by the way).
So when I stumbled upon the term this morning, I guessed I´d be learning about swell patterns and how this was going to affect me getting some north swell in the holidays.......it didn´t turn out that way.
The North Pacific Gyre is home to the worlds largest rubbish dump. Due to the oceanic current, there is in effect a gathering of flotsam in the area, a collection point if you like. Somewhere in the region of 400 000 to 500 000 Km squared in fact. That´s knocking on for twice the size of the United Kingdom or Texas. A big waste dump in the big beautiful sea was always going to upset me. Surfing in English winters in absolute crap waves has tested my love sometimes, its being away from man´s world and being surrounded by forces, geology and water that were around before us and will be here after us that keeps me in love. Surely we can´t destroy the ocean, its just so big.
I jumped to find photographs of this "New Rubbish World" knowing why no great explorer or adventurer wanted to put their name to this.....no Columbus kudos here.
There aren´t any...not good ones. Scientist hype!?!? Nope, its not so visible, because plastic rubbish "Photogrades", its like everything I learnt about photosynthesis gone wrong. The sun breaks plastic down into smaller more toxic parts (plastic polymers).
In these troubled waters Plankton are outnumbered 6 to 1 by plastic. That´s another pretty ugly statistic (that´s 3.3 million pieces of plastic a square kilometre). Now I have to qualify that a little. This stretch of the Pacific is extremely deep. Deep ocean doesn´t sustain life like shallow seas and coastal areas. There is little in the way of stirring up of nutrients and therefore lack of nutrient cycle and food chain. So the life that exists in deep ocean like the North Pacific Gyre is based on Photosynthesis......which is screwed because the plastic is there. Low biomass getting much lower much too quickly. I don´t think humans will ever have a "Save the Plankton" campaign, they don´t make cool noises, they aren´t graceful and you can´t even see úm, but I feel something is array. Sailors apparently aren´t to keen on the area because of the vista and lack of wind (a compounding factor in terms of collection) and fisherman don´t go as there is a low density of large fish. Doesn´t stop Sea Turtles, Black footed Albatross and Jelly fish to name but a few dying in scores. Nor does it stop humans eating the Jelly fish which pass on lovely hormone´s riddled with toxic chemicals.
But it´s more than that. We just can´t behave in this way. It´s out of sight, it was out of my mind and now its not. Rubbish...I can´t pretend it´s not true anymore.
Further reading and viewing:
Posted by Edward Lockyer at 5:39 AM