Environmentalist sets sail to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to research plastic pollution and raise awareness of marine debris. On July 7, 2011, Newcastle environmentalist Tim Silverwood will embark on a voyage sailing across the Pacific Ocean from Honolulu to Vancouver to undertake important research into floating plastics in the North Pacific Gyre, otherwise known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Twice the size of France and growing exponentially, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch has been compared to a floating island of trash and is threatening to become one of the great ecological disasters of our time. It's here where ocean currents from Asia, North America and many Pacific nations converge, bringing with them tonnes of debris and creating a swirling vortex of plastic rubbish that is rumoured to double in size every ten years.
Tim will join researchers from around the world on a three-week expedition to the heart of the gyre. Throughout the voyage the team of researchers will undertake a range of studies to assess the burgeoning size of the ecological disaster and its impact on marine life.
The research voyage is being conducted by Algalita Marine Research Foundation, a California-based organisation founded by Charles Moore, the man credited with discovering the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 1997. Algalita recently published results showing 35 percent of lanternfish caught in the North Pacific Ocean contain plastic and, more alarmingly, that in some samples tiny plastic particles outnumber naturally occurring zooplankton forty-eight times to one.
Having co-founded 'Take 3 – A Clean Beach initiative' in 2010, a grassroots program that encourages Australians to pick up three pieces of rubbish each time they visit coastal areas, Tim recognised there was much more to do.