The Longest Swim

This is copied directly from

The Plastisphere

Question: How does the Great Pacific Garbage Patch affect life in the ocean and on land?

Research by Dr. Erik Zettler (Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research), Dr. Kara Lavender Law
(Sea Education Association), Dr. Linda Amaral Zettler (Marine Biological Laboratory), and Dr. Tracy Mincer (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute)

Plastic debris is found throughout the world’s oceans, reaching concentrations of more than 1 million microplastic pieces per square kilometer in some regions, like the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”. Using a neuston net together with water samples, the crew will make daily collections of the marine microplastic they encounter between Tokyo and San Francisco. By examining the physical and chemical characteristics of these particles, researchers will learn more about how long they’ve been in the ocean and the weathering processes that created these millimeter-sized particles from larger consumer items. This debris is also colonized by a diverse microbial community. Scientists would like to know how this community contributes to global nutrient cycling, toxic chemical transport, food web interactions, plastic degradation, and the spread of organisms that may cause disease in marine life or humans as the particles migrate across the ocean. This is the first time that samples like these will be collected and analyzed from many of the locations our team will visit.