Sailing research cruise through the path of the Japanese tsunami to examine the resulting garbage patch

Travelina sez, "It's not your typical glamour cruise, but it's not cheap either. You travel aboard a 72-foot sailing yacht from the Marshall Islands through the great ocean vortex called the Western Pacific Gyre to Tokyo, and then from Tokyo you follow the path of the Japan tsunami debris with the purpose of sampling it, ending up in Hawaii 32 days later."

The samples they collect during several transects of the field will be used to determine and refine existing models of how fast the material is moving, how quickly it is decomposing, and the nature of the material's colonization by marine animals. Past trips to study marine debris with these organizations have attracted everyone from independent scientists to film crews and artists.

Findings gleaned from the tsunami debris are particularly significant because, unlike concentrated marine pollution elsewhere, the tsunami material's "launch" date and place of origin are known. With this information, researchers can better understand how land-based materials like plastics behave in the ocean.

One of the participants, Valerie Lecoeur, 41 of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, said she hopes to see where plastic accumulates in the ocean firsthand.

"For me it's interesting to see that there is debris from the ocean coming from events like tsunami—things that you can't control—and things that you can control as well."

Japan Tsunami-Debris Cruise Attracts Travelers to Ocean Garbage Patch (Thanks, Travelina!)



  1. Either the ABC or CBS evening news reported Thursday the approaching debris field and speculated that even cars might be floating up on the West Coast, which I find very hard to believe. It did remind me of the old National Lampoon spoof VW ad though, “If Ted Kennedy drove a Volkswagen, he’d be president today.”

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