Swirls of microplastics are undulating through five major ocean gyres — and the ‘Race For Water‘ plans to sail its MOD70 through each one of these.
These aren’t huge islands of trash. You don’t see bottles, fishing nets, and six-pack rings all bunched up and going for a ride around the Pacific. There’s not a big patch that turns up on satellite images, and you’re not likely to run into a lone mound of discarded tupperware on your Atlantic crossing, according to NOAA.
But there certainly are clumps of microplastics — tiny particles that are the breakdown product, through UV light and other environmental processes, of larger plastics — that get caught up in the inner circle of major ocean currents.
“Regardless of the exact size, mass, and location of these areas of concentration, man-made litter and debris do not belong in our oceans or waterways,” according to NOAA.
Race for Water says it will attempt to survey the island beaches caught up in the middle of these bands of pollution. These islands include Bermuda, Easter Island, Hawaii, and Tristan de Cunha — along with other remote islands that aren’t caught up in the trash-laden currents.
Drones are the main means of data collection. The images of island beaches they yield will be handed over to researchers at Duke University and Oregon State University for analysis.
There should also be plenty of observational data, too, as the six-member crew — all of them sailors, not scientists — will sail the 70-foot trimaran through the five major gyres on a year-long journey from Bordeaux and back.
Here are some photos of their New York stopover. The vessel is currently docked at Liberty Landing Marina in Jersey City.