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The Blog Aquatic

News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy

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 »

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Don’t Ditch Plastic, Just Eat It

Posted On May 18, 2012 by

Could your hot chocolate soon include drinkable plastic? Photo credit: Stephbond flickr stream.

During our 2011 International Coastal Cleanup, volunteers found nearly 1 million pieces of food packaging on the world’s beaches — enough for one person to get takeout for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day for the next 858 years. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the food packaging waste that’s out there.

We can all do our part to help reduce plastic waste by choosing products and takeout that use less or more sustainable packaging. But personal choice will only go so far.

Meaningful change has come from the top — from the companies wrapping our to-go sandwiches, packaging our frozen dinners and making the plastic that keeps it all fresh and ready to grab off the shelves. Continue reading »

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We need a “Mythbusters” for Marine Debris

Posted On May 4, 2012 by

Plastic doesn't just disappear; it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces. Scientists are just starting to understand the impacts fragmented plastics have on our ocean. Photo credit: NOAA

A “gigantic floating island of trash.” The media has been full of stories about an ocean drowning in plastic for years. It’s great that public awareness about ocean trash has skyrocketed, but awareness built on fundamental misconceptions won’t lead to durable, long term solutions—particularly with respect to plastics. What we need now is rigorous scientific analysis of both the scope of the problem and the best ways to solve it.

I’ve been to—and sailed through—the North Pacific Gyre and the reality is that there is no huge, floating island of trash twice the size of Texas – instead, large areas of the Pacific are a sort of trash soup containing lots of small bits of plastic. And I mean LOTS. Of course to most, the size or viscosity of the trash in the ocean misses the point. Trash shouldn’t be in the ocean; it’s a problem we can and should collectively solve.

But as a scientist, I know that compared to other areas of ocean research, the science of marine debris is still in its infancy and evolving quickly. Continue reading »