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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: SEAPLEX: Scripps Expedition to the "Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch"

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SEAPLEX is the Scripps Environmental Accumulation of Plastic Expedition,

which is a cruise written and designed and executed

all by Scripps graduate students which is made

possible by a

really cool program that we have here at Scripps called the UC Ship Funds

where people early in their career are able to apply to this fund

competitively with their own proposals

to get their own Ship time which is very unusual

and we were really lucky to have it.

On the SEAPLEX cruise

we're going to be trying to figure out the worst case scenario

of the amount of plastic in the North Pacific gyres so

well we don't have time to actually sample the entire North Pacific from

Japan to California,

so which is where the gyre is and so we're going to be targeting

some areas of high plastic accumulation out northeast of Hawaii

about 1500 miles from shore.

So we will be looking for

where the plastic is, where is it in the water column

in about the first 100 meters of water

and we'll be looking at what animals are found in proximity to the plastic

and what we are mostly focusing on the little things are the base of the food chain

so we will be looking at looking at phytoplankton, the little plants,

zooplankton, small fish

and communities which are the animals that go directly attached to the

plastic like barnacles.

So our goal is again to figure out what the

baseline for this problem might be, just to start studying it

in a rigorous way. Well, what's known is that there's definitely

plastic out there.

The Algalita Marine Research Foundation were the first people to

research this problem. They have been going out there for about 10 years

and showing that there is plastic out there and that there is

some data that suggest that might be increasing.

So there's that we definitely know there's

stuff out there but we really don't know what the extent is,

what the size is, it's thought that eighty percent of the particles are really

really small so you can't see them with your eyes.

They are probably less than a couple millimeters

so maybe like the size of your pinky nail or smaller.

But we don't know if there's even smaller particles that hasn't yet been tested.

And we just don't know what effect it might be having on the animals that live there.

Well the only way to get out to this really isolated location

is by ship and it's really in the middle of nowhere.

Between Hawaii and the United States there's just a big swat of ocean

with nothing in it but it's actually a really cool ecosystem very old

and very

unique and interesting animals that live there.

But to be able to get out there we have this research vessel which gives us

capability to

take careful measurement of the physical oceanography,

temperature of the water

and the physical characteristics of how it's moving

as well as actually looking at

the plastic and the animals themselves.

Well while we don't think we can sample the entire

ocean in one single three week cruise

we are just hoping to just basically

continue further this scientific effort and to set the stage for future

scientific efforts because the North Pacific gyre, there is gyres in all the

oceans, that's just a term for

the big slow whirlpools driven by

the major trade winds and the westerlies of the world so

there is a South Pacific gyre and the North Atlantic gyre

and we think there might be debris accumulating in all of them

so we're just trying to look at one corner of the problem and we're hoping to


set the stage for future research. What we know is that

and this is based

on their research from the Algalita Marine Research Foundation who are the people

who have been going out there the most

we know there's probably no giant island like and there's nothing that you can


most of the pieces are really small

and are smaller than you can easily see as you're traveling around on a boat

but the main point that I want to make is that we're not going to be able to like

walk on the trash, not going probably be able to see the trash, so we might not

see anything with their eyes and that's why the kinds of sampling we will be doing mostly

involve pulling various kinds of

equipment and nets through the ocean so it will gather these particles that we

couldn't otherwise easily see.

Part of what we're trying to

to do on this cruise is contribute to

the area that's not, what's not known or we are trying to fill in some of those


There's a lot that isn't known

we really don't know the size we really don't know this or if you like the scope

and scale of the problem

I think one of the most important things that we

hope to get a handle on

this cruise and probably over the next few years is

what the sources are and

it's clearly certain many sources

but that's really

if we can figure that out then

we start to get a handle on some ways we might be able to mitigate the problem.

So I'll be the faculty advisor

but it's really it's important to emphasize that this is a

steam crews some from

conception the idea to execution all the way to

loading equipment and driving the equipment back from Oregon.

It's a really nice opportunity for a couple of reasons, one

a group of students coalesced around this issue

a couple years ago

based on a seminar that was given here really

made clear the extent to which there's a

scientific gap for it would be useful to get new scientific information

and the the group

really self-organized then through the vehicle

of the UC Ship funds application

put in an application with advisement

for advising but really

motivated and bringing in because its a group

it's a sort of a core group of eight graduate students and then some

associates as well

bringing in their own interests, their own expertise is

and designing individual projects that can all be carried out.

The Description of SEAPLEX: Scripps Expedition to the "Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch"