Algalita eco-tour will explore castoffs from 2001 Japanese tsunami
LONG BEACH — Scientists with the Long Beach-based Algalita Marine Research Foundation and the 5 Gyres have organized an “eco-adventure” expedition to pinpoint the North Pacific Ocean region littered by the Japan tsunami in March 2011.
The expedition, set to be launched in May, could advance research into marine plastic pollution and give researchers an understanding of how the Japan Tsunami Debris Field will affect coastal communities.
Researchers will study how fast the plastic trash is traveling, the rate of decomposition, how rapidly marine life is colonizing on it, and whether it is transporting invasive species, according to research spokeswoman Zan Dubin Scott.
Determining the rate of the pollution’s migration is an elusive target, due to the surface density of the pollution and the rate of the water’s circular motion, according to Stiv Wilson, communications director at 5 Gyres Institute.
“There are a lot of variables,” he added. “We know it will come across the ocean.”
The expedition team is working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and several international government agencies, organizers said.
Algalita and 5 Gyres — along with Pangaea Exploration — offer a 7,000-mile voyage from May 1 through July 1.
The expedition’s first leg will be from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands through the area of the North Pacific Gyre, known as the “Western Garbage Patch,” for research on plastic pollution, Scott said.
The trip’s second leg will move east from Japan to Hawaii through the gyre, to cross the “Japan Tsunami Debris Field.”
The voyage is open to anyone at least 18 years old, regardless of sailing experience. they also will be involved in research work.
Nine slots are available, costing $13,500 each for Leg 1 and $15,500 each for Leg 2. a portion of the fare is tax deductible and net proceeds help support Algalita and 5 Gyres’ cooperative research and educational outreach.
The Algalita’s first eco- adventure was last July, across the eastern North Pacific Gyre, according to Scott. 5 Gyres has conducted seven research voyages across the five subtropical gyres.
Most of the plastic debris studied has been adrift for years, broken down by sun rays and ocean currents into small plastic particles.
To register, call 562-598- 4889 or email .
5 Gyres Institute, based in Los Angeles, seeks to bring about change through research, education and community action. For details, call 323-395-1843 or go to .
The Algalita Marine Research Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Long Beach, is dedicated to the protection of the marine environment and its watersheds through research, education and restoration. For more information, call 562-598- 4889 or go to algalita.org.
Pangaea Explorations offers adventure sailing to actively strengthen the health of marine life through exploration, conservation and education work. more details: panexplore.com. firstname.lastname@example.org, 562-714-2167, twitter.com/JoeSeguraPT
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