Content and images courtesy of 5 Gyres
We love our oceans! Unfortunately, modern times have led to negative repercussions on the health of our oceans, in part due to an overabundance of trash that has found its way into waterways. Did you know that – in fact – in the world’s oceans, there are massive currents carrying floating debris in what are called the five (5) subtropical gyres: North Pacific, South Pacific, North Atlantic, South Atlantic, and Indian Ocean Gyre.
And while we can all agree that it’s a major issue, little is known about ocean pollution – specifically what role plastic pollution plays. One organization leading the charge to change this is the team at 5 Gyres, an institute whose mission is to conduct research and communicate about the global impact of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans and employ strategies to eliminate the accumulation of plastic pollution in the 5 subtropical gyres.
5 Gyres conducts the majority of their research via ocean trawls in which a data-collection device called a Manta Trawl is lowered into the water and towed behind their vessel to skim the surface. The goal is to collect samples of the ocean’s surface to quantify and research the mass, size, color and type of pollution floating in these massive gyres. Fish caught during the expedition are examined for plastic ingestion. Stomach contents are sorted and weighed with tissue samples being preserved for future analysis of persistent organic pollutants. This research provides valuable data for scientists and others desperate to know the impact plastic pollution has on our environment.
Recently, Adventure Aquarium and our Fins for the Future Committee had the privilege of supporting the team at 5 Gyres during their Viking Gyre Expedition, a 2,500 nautical mile journey from Bermuda to Iceland. We sponsored Trawl #17 that was taken more than 500 miles east of Nova Scotia, with whales and sargassum seaweed nearby. An hour after the trawl was dropped into the water, the 5 Gyres team pulled out a sample containing multiple fragments of plastic pollution typical of ocean samples around the world. Each sample is then taken back to the US to be analyzed for plastic particle count and weight per square kilometer.
Check out this exclusive video from the trawl:
We’re honored to be part of the effort to increase research about and spread awareness of plastic pollution! Learn more about the expedition, and what you can do by visiting www.5gyres.org.