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Ocean Currents

News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy



Are We Building Plastic Beaches?

Posted On August 14, 2012 by

Credit: Sustainable Coastlines flickr stream

13 billion. That’s the number of tiny, pre-production plastic pellets—often referred to as “nurdles”—that remain afloat in the waters off Hong Kong. Six 40-foot containers filled with these plastic pellets were lost off a shipping vessel when it was caught by hurricane-force winds and heavy seas during last month’s Typhoon Vicente. Exactly how much plastic did these containers contain? Each container carried at least 25,000 kilograms of plastic pellets, meaning approximately 150 tons—or 300,000 lbs.—of plastic were sent overboard during the storm. Keeping in mind that plastic is an extremely lightweight material, this number is roughly equal to the weight of two Boeing-737 aircraft.

Since the spill, large quantities of the pellets and the bags have been appearing on beaches and coastlines all over Hong Kong. Ecovision, the International Coastal Cleanup Coordinator for Hong Kong, is taking a role by joining hands with a number of committed local conservation groups and government departments to initiate the Hong Kong Plastic Pellet Patrol. The Patrol divided Hong Kong into different Cleanup sectors and assigned participating NGOs areas of responsibility. Through their combined efforts, they have succeeded in removing an estimated 71 tons of the plastic from the sea and coastlines; but again, up to 13 billion pellets remain unaccounted for off the Hong Kong coast. Continue reading »

Even in the Ocean, Every Rose Has Its Thorn

Posted On June 8, 2012 by

Debris found during cleanup near Yokohama, Japan

Debris collected from Transect #1 at Sea Paradise Beach -- Nick Mallos

Mawar is the Malaysian word for rose, but Typhoon Mawar has been nothing but a thorn since we arrived in Yokohama, Japan. Like hurricanes, typhoons form when tropical depressions escalate into cyclones; in the Pacific, these cyclones are called typhoons, while in the Atlantic they are known as hurricanes.

This past weekend, Mawar delivered heavy rain and sustained winds of 110 mph to the Philippines, gusting up to 130 mph and taking the lives of eight Filipinos. We felt peripheral effects of Mawar in Japan as intensifying winds and strong gusts jostled boats and tested the strength of dock lines in the marina.

So far, Mawar has delayed our departure on the Algalita/5 Gyres Japan Tsunami Debris Expedition by almost one week. To say anticipation and angst on board has been high would be an understatement. However, we have not allowed our time on land to be wasted. Continue reading »

Follow Me on a Journey to the Center of the Ocean

Posted On May 29, 2012 by

Nick Mallos

Nick Mallos

I’ve been in Japan for a week now, witnessing firsthand the devastation caused by the tsunami 15 months ago and helping with ongoing cleanup efforts as much as I can. At the end of the week, I set sail on the Algalita/5 Gyres Japanese Tsunami Expedition that will take me out to the middle of the Pacific Ocean in search of tsunami debris that was washed out to sea.

National Geographic has asked me to share updates about the expedition on their News Watch blog, so I posted my first entry while still on dry land.

Here’s an excerpt: Continue reading »