Pacific Trash Vortex! Wow! I had no idea it was this bad!

Discussion in 'Hawai'i' started by Shaka Doug, Jan 14, 2009.

  1. Shaka Doug

    Shaka Doug Surface Interval Member

    # of Dives:
    Location: Kihei, Maui, Hawaii 96753, middle of the 808!
    1,422
    130
    0
    WARNING!, some of the images in this post are not pretty!

    Hi Ohana,

    I was talking with one of my dive instructor friends (Pete S.) yesterday and he told me about a project he's involved with that is having a fund raiser concert to help bring attention to the problem of plastics floating in the North Pacific Gyre, a gigantic portion of ocean just north east of us here in Hawaii.

    [​IMG]

    The Sea of Trash is estimated to be bigger then the state of Texas and extends up to 10 meters in depth.

    Here's a You Tube video about the situation:

    Read this account of a sailor travelling through this region for the first time

    I had heard of this Trash Vortex before but had never really seen much information documenting it. Well, Pete's talk opened my eyes a bit and I did some Google searching on my own and I recommend you do too. This is a huge problem and the only way anything is going to get done is to bring a lot of attention to it and pump some money into it.

    The Gyre Cleanup Project will be having a benefit concert here on Maui on Saturday, January 31 at the Iao Theater in Wailuku. There will be a bunch of bands, a formal presentation on the 'Trash Island' and an art auction which will feature local artwork. The cost is a suggested $20-$25 donation. The show starts at 7:30 and will go to about 11:00.

    For info about this check this website: www.gyrecleanup.org

    [​IMG]

    So what do you guys know about this problem? Does anyone have any ideas on how to fix it? I do but it's no easy task and would be a project that would go on for ten to twenty years or more, possibly forever. I'd like to help out and that's why I'm bringing it up here. We're closer to it than any other people on the planet yet most of the trash came from the elsewhere on the planet. I can get flyers from Pete if you would like to promote the event let me know. It's only a couple weeks away!

    Here's some powerful images of some of the stuff we're talking about. It's horrible!

    [​IMG]
    Bottle caps and other plastic objects are visible inside the decomposed carcass of this Laysan albatross on Kure Atoll, which lies in a remote and virtually uninhabited region of the North Pacific. The bird probably mistook the plastics for food and ingested them while foraging for prey.

    [​IMG]

    The Independent today has a piece on the Pacific trash vortex, a vast area of the North Pacific which (thanks to a current system called the North Pacific gyre) has become a floating trash dump. But not just any trash - most stuff that ends up in the oceans biodegrades or sinks long before it makes its way to the gyre. Instead, this area is full of our longest-lasting waste: plastic. An estimated 100 million tons of it, forming a soup that stretches from Hawaii to Japan.

    Here's a You Tube video about the problem:
    [yt]tnUjTHB1lvM[/yt]
     
  2. KrisB

    KrisB Scuba Instructor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    3,507
    14
    0
    Nasty stuff!

    Unfortunately, I'm off-island that weekend, though I would like to hear more. Please advise of any other fundraisers / informational events.
     
  3. drbill

    drbill The Lorax for the Kelp Forest

    # of Dives:
    Location: Santa Catalina Island, CA
    20,713
    3,290
    113
    I didn't realize there was a second trash vortex to the east of Japan. I have never experienced this region directly, but have seen video footage of it in various documentaries. More news outlets need to carry this story to get it in front of the public. Unfortunately, being in international waters means it will take a great deal of international cooperation to effect a solution. Even once the debris is removed, they'll keep making more if it isn't stopped at the source.
     
  4. scubadrewvideo

    scubadrewvideo Scuba Instructor

    # of Dives:
    Location: Kahuku, Oahu, Hawaii
    482
    2
    0
    I am SO glad this continues to get exposure. I was fortunate enough to be a crew and videographer on Capt Moore's 2nd voyage in 2002 to the Gyre. In fact the Basket Ball and Jellyfish shots are mine. I can tell you first hand that it is DISGUSTING out there...1000 miles from land and trash as far as the eye can see. If I didn't need to pay a mortgage, I would volunteer every year!
    Thanks for posting this here!!
     
  5. drbill

    drbill The Lorax for the Kelp Forest

    # of Dives:
    Location: Santa Catalina Island, CA
    20,713
    3,290
    113
    Actually I'm surprised this isn't receiving more comment from SB members. Is anyone aware of educational documentaries on TV or DVD that can be used to help educate the public about this? I'd like to insert a section into one of my future cable TV show episodes when I discuss various environmental issues like this.
     
  6. Shaka Doug

    Shaka Doug Surface Interval Member

    # of Dives:
    Location: Kihei, Maui, Hawaii 96753, middle of the 808!
    1,422
    130
    0
    I'm as surprised as you are Dr. Bill. Looks like it's up to us to get the ball rolling!
     
  7. archman

    archman Divemaster

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: SE Florida
    4,955
    49
    0
    I think I'll show that video in my classes this semester.
     
  8. Tinytechie

    Tinytechie Scuba Instructor

    111
    0
    0
    wow thank you for posting this.. I honestly cant say i am the most up to date person in current events but I hadnt even really solidly heard about this until my dad brought it up recently and I was sure he was exaggerating as that is what he tends to do... I am suprised that as a dive instructor i hadnt heard about this much sooner.. Please keep updating about it I'd like to know more as more comes available to know..
     
  9. scubadrewvideo

    scubadrewvideo Scuba Instructor

    # of Dives:
    Location: Kahuku, Oahu, Hawaii
    482
    2
    0
  10. CheddarChick

    CheddarChick Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Wisconsin
    2,964
    51
    48
    Wow....In one respect at least it looks like it could be fixed if, BIG IF, all countries would contribute to the cost os scooping it up. Could it be possible, if it is at a depth of 10 meters, a big net could be used to scoop it up and haul it away? I know it seems monumental but it could it be done? Thanks for the post Doug....
     
  11. sea nmf

    sea nmf Single Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Honolulu, HI
    1,847
    0
    0
    Drew,

    What, other than documenting this, is being done? How is the money being spent?

    I'll keep looking, but it seems to me that fund raisers need a goal for getting trash ships out there and then a place to dispose of it. That is the first step. There needs to be some sort of realistic cost analysis in order to target fundraising and then meet the goal.

    Obviously, there also needs to be some sort of analysis on the trash itself so targeted education can be done.

    Just looking at videos and documenting the problem will not solve it. It does bring it to the public, hopefully with the intention to begin to move on a solution.
     
  12. scubadrewvideo

    scubadrewvideo Scuba Instructor

    # of Dives:
    Location: Kahuku, Oahu, Hawaii
    482
    2
    0
    Ok here is the scoop on clean up...pardon the pun!
    1. There really is no way to effectivly "scoop" the trash...and here is why.
    There is no way of discriminating what is picked up by any dragging net, so the act of net dragging could produce greater damage by removing everything that is supposed to be there. The palagic plankton and jellies are for the most part destroyed once pulled from their ocean world, so catch and release concepts don't work with plankton.

    2. the plastic varies in size and density so it ranges from visible particles and pieces on the surface to almost microscopic particles drifting as low as 100 ft down (depends on density and size of plastic).

    3. we would have to drag filter every inch of an area bigger than texas,and with no way of preventing plastic from drifting into an area already cleaned, it would take hundreds of passes to thoroughly clean even a football field area.

    There have been ideas tossed around about developing an enzime of sorts that "eats" petrolium based products (similar to oil spill clean up ideas) but that idea needs to be handled with care...fixing one problem by creating another seems to be the human way of doing things.

    The first and most effective thing to do is talk about this issue and tell everyone so that we stop adding to the problem. I can state that ever since the 2002 voyage, I have bent over backwards to prevent my plastic trash from ending up anywhere but the trash can. And I inform anyone I see to please clean up even the smallest of plastic they see laying on the ground. No matter where you are (with some exceptions), if its plastic and on the ground, then it will end up in the ocean eventually!

    International pressure needs to be applied to the countries and groups that don't enforce international trash dumping regulations.

    Thanks for keeping this issue alive!! It may seem daunting, but every little bit helps
     
  13. sea nmf

    sea nmf Single Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Honolulu, HI
    1,847
    0
    0
    Well, sure. Be sure to dispose of your plastic properly. Got it.

    But, Drew, was there any indication in what you saw of where this trash was coming from? Is there no way to target education to those countries that are the most responsible?

    And, are you saying we have to live with that giant trash heap in the ocean? Perhaps it does go deep. But are you saying we cannot do anything to clean it up?
     
  14. scubadrewvideo

    scubadrewvideo Scuba Instructor

    # of Dives:
    Location: Kahuku, Oahu, Hawaii
    482
    2
    0
    Also convincing the free market that there is no need for a plastic shopping bag or food packaging that lasts longer than the food does.
    It will take MAJOR sacrifices by everyone to fix this issue.
    As long as we have profit and money as the driving force of our existance, then it will be a very UPHILL battle!
     
  15. scubadrewvideo

    scubadrewvideo Scuba Instructor

    # of Dives:
    Location: Kahuku, Oahu, Hawaii
    482
    2
    0
    Most of the trash we found that we could identify any markings came from asia/russia.

    I honestly think that if we combine efforts from:
    1. World wide exposure and education.
    2. Cleaning up large pieces (drag nets would work for this as long as they don't harm palagic invertibrates),
    3. Reduce the production of unneccessary plastics (convinience items)
    4. Reduce/eliminate improper disposal of existing plastic.

    If we can do this then we are off to a good start.

    Thank again for the interest...I admit I was gung ho when I got off the boat in 2002, but it felt like pushing a string from the back...I wasn't getting anywhere.
     
  16. scubadrewvideo

    scubadrewvideo Scuba Instructor

    # of Dives:
    Location: Kahuku, Oahu, Hawaii
    482
    2
    0
    I am going to try and set up a Facebook network for those interested. thats a good start for the education process
     
  17. Peter_C

    Peter_C Orca

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Santa Rosa, CA
    5,889
    732
    0
    I didn't see it posted but this is also known as "Plastic Island".

    On another board I just did a post regarding this issue with a video posted and the photograph of the dying 50 year old turtle. My success in that post made at least more people aware, but more importantly I got at least 6 known people to start using reusable grocery bags.

    I also coined my new phrase, "Humans are like a runaway train, that will not stop until the tracks run out". Figure it out for yourself.

    Top Facts - Consumption

    # Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. That comes out to over one million per minute. Billions end up as litter each year.

    # According to the EPA, over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are consumed in the U.S. each year.

    # According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. (Estimated cost to retailers is $4 billion)

    # According to the industry publication Modern Plastics, Taiwan consumes 20 billion bags a year - 900 per person.

    # According to Australia's Department of Environment, Australians consume 6.9 billion plastic bags each year - 326 per person. An estimated 0.7% or 49,600,000 end up as litter each year.

    Top Facts - Environmental Impact

    # Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales and other marine mammals die every year from eating discarded plastic bags mistaken for food.

    # Plastic bags don't biodegrade, they photodegrade - breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil and waterways and entering the food web when animals accidentally ingest.

    # As part of Clean Up Australia Day, in one day nearly 500,000 plastic bags were collected.

    # Windblown plastic bags are so prevalent in Africa that a cottage industry has sprung up harvesting bags and using them to weave hats, and even bags. According to the BBC, one group harvests 30,000 per month.

    # According to David Barnes, a marine scientist with the British Antarctic Survey, plastic bags have gone "from being rare in the late 80s and early 90s to being almost everywhere from Spitsbergen 78 degrees North [latitude] to Falklands 51 degrees South [latitude]."

    # Plastic bags are among the 12 items of debris most often found in coastal cleanups, according to the nonprofit Center for Marine Conservation.

    Top Facts - Solutions

    # WOW! In 2001, Ireland consumed 1.2 billion plastic bags, or 316 per person. An extremely successful plastic bag consumption tax, or PlasTax, introduced in 2002 reduced consumption by 90%. Approximately 18,000,000 liters of oil have been saved due to this reduced production. Governments around the world are considering implementing similar measures.
     
  18. sea nmf

    sea nmf Single Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Honolulu, HI
    1,847
    0
    0
    There ya go! Tax the plastic bags. But we might need them to clean up the mess created when the conservatives heads explode.
     
  19. scubadrewvideo

    scubadrewvideo Scuba Instructor

    # of Dives:
    Location: Kahuku, Oahu, Hawaii
    482
    2
    0
    Now your hittin the nail on the head...This is always going to raise debate, but it is the direct result of untaxed, unregulated, free market capitalism.

    When the profit margin becomes more important than the potential hazzardous effects then we all suffer!!!

    Thanks guys you have re-energized me on this!!!
     
  20. scubadrewvideo

    scubadrewvideo Scuba Instructor

    # of Dives:
    Location: Kahuku, Oahu, Hawaii
    482
    2
    0
    Peter_C, what is the other forum you mentioned? I would like to see what is being said.
     

Share This Page