Friday, July 19, 2024
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Monday, May 8, 2023
Flip-Flop: Suddenly Pacific Garbage Patch is 'gathering place for life'
By Selected News Articles @ 2:16 PM :: 2084 Views :: Environment

jellyfish

Blue button jellies float on the surface. (Photo credit: Denis Riek)

Pacific Garbage Patch gathering place for life thanks to currents

UH News, May 4, 2023

The North Pacific “Garbage Patch” aggregates an abundance of floating sea creatures, as well as the plastic waste it has become infamous for, according to a study published in PLOS Biology and co-authored by oceanographers in the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST).

Marine surface-dwelling organisms, such as jellies, snails, barnacles and crustaceans, are a critical ecological link between diverse ecosystems, the study authors wrote, but very little is known about where these organisms are found. Plastic pollution provides a clue: the oceanographic forces that concentrate buoyant man-made waste and pollutants in “garbage patches,” may also aggregate floating life.

jellyfish

Velella (blue jellies) known as by-the-wind sailors, drift with the wind. (Photo credit: Denis Riek)

There are five main oceanic gyres—vortexes of water where multiple ocean currents meet—of which the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre is the largest. It is also known as the North Pacific “Garbage Patch,” because converging ocean currents have concentrated large amounts of plastic waste there.

The researchers leveraged an 80-day, long-distance swim by Benoît Lecomte through the gyre in 2019, dubbed The Vortex Swim. To investigate these floating lifeforms, the sailing crew accompanying the expedition collected samples of surface sea creatures and plastic waste. The expedition’s route was planned using computer simulations developed by SOEST oceanographers, Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner, which simulate ocean surface currents to predict areas with high concentrations of marine debris.

“Surface currents are the most complex part of ocean dynamics,” said Maximenko, who is a senior researcher in the International Pacific Research Center at SOEST. “The model, which had been successfully used previously to simulate trans-Pacific drift of debris generated by the 2011 tsunami in Japan, now helps us to understand the role that ocean currents play in sustaining the pelagic ecosystem.”

The expedition team collected daily samples of floating life and waste in the eastern part of the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, and the researchers found that sea creatures were more abundant inside the gyre than on the periphery. The occurrence of plastic waste was positively correlated with the abundance of three groups of floating sea creatures: by-the-wind sailors (Velella sp), blue buttons (Porpita sp) and violet snails (Janthina sp).

The same ocean currents that concentrate plastic waste in oceanic gyres may be vital to the life cycles of floating marine organisms, by bringing them together to feed and mate, the authors say. However, human activities could negatively impact these high sea meeting grounds and the wildlife that depends on them.

“The ‘garbage patch’ is more than just a garbage patch,” said Rebecca Helm, assistant professor at the Earth Commons Institute at Georgetown University and lead author of the study. “It is an ecosystem, not because of the plastic, but in spite of it.”

---30---

Meanwhile Funding is Going Here: https://theoceancleanup.com/ 

Links

TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote

2aHawaii

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

AntiPlanner

Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii

FIRE

Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Habele.org

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii Military History

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Together

HiFiCo

Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

July 4 in Hawaii

Land and Power in Hawaii

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

MentalIllnessPolicy.org

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

Natatorium.org

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Obookiah

OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

Practical Policy Institute of Hawaii

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii

RailRipoff.com

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

School Choice in Hawaii

SenatorFong.com

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

Waagey.org

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii