What’s the Problem?

 

The world has Incredible funding and resources to protect terrestrial habitats, animals, and marine animals. However there is little funding for the regulation of waters that marine animals live in. For example, the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) protects our marine  mammals. Wildlife Reserves are set up all around the globe to protect certain areas for just animals. Neither of these two acts done to benefit the environment regulate the medium for which they live in. As humans our medium of life is in the air column. As a result we have regulations to the things we can put into it. We have started to enforce this in the marine environment in the recent years with only one large problem facing it. That being that Humans do not have the same ability to police regulations in the ocean because of non-point pollution and the “tragedy of the commons”.

Adopt A Gyre (pronounced Jire) is one of the few organizations, along with the Ocean Defenders Alliance,          5 Gyres, Plastic Ocean Project, and the Algalita foundation that is actively making an effort to bring awareness to our trash cluttered oceans (If I left anyone out, please forgive me). Adopt A Gyre is also a leading innovator on creating new inventions to clean up the medium for which our friendly marine critters live in. Adopt a Gyre was started in 2011 when its first invention was created to help drive ocean plastic removal. Our only wish is to spread the knowledge of these current ocean problems to the world while cleaning up the mess we have made. Lets create a difference together, because saving the world start with you and I. “If we can Go to the moon, We can clean up the ocean” ~Bonnie Monteleone

Top: Symbol for MDC which sparked our journey.

The SCIENCE behind the problem:

Our environments we live in and around are all driven by a series of cycles that allow life to thrive as is does so evidently on this planet. Arguably the most important cycle is the water cycle since plants and animals need it to survive.

           If you observe the picture above, you will notice that a large percentage of terrestrial water flows into the ocean. This cycle has also allowed us to make dire mistakes. Plastics being more buoyant than water are prone to flow towards and eventually to the ocean using headwaters and rivers. As the plastics make their way to the ocean they begin to breakdown physically, not biologically mind you. I say breakdown instead of decompose because plastic itself does not decompose fast enough to measure in the open environment. In this breakdown of plastic matter through any number of ways from physical breakdown by wave action, chemical breakdown through photo-degradation, and biological breakdown through ingestion by bacterial organisms. This breakdown process forms bits and pieces called Micro Plastics.

  Micro plastics are all to often confused to be planktonic organisms by fish and birds. It is not uncommon to find Micro plastic in the ocean. It is typical to see densities as high as 1 part plastic per 10 parts zooplankton in the center of pacific gyres. http://5gyres.org/. Being that their is very little scientific publication and record of surveys on this subject means that we still know so little about it. However it is evident that plastic is global terrestrially so we might expect to see similar results other oceanic gyres.

  If this is in fact the case, then we can expect that plastic is breaking down similarly around the globe. The direct ingestion of plastic by fish is our main concern. This is because fishing industries around the globe gather large amounts of wealth for peoples survival. The link between these two ideas is that plastics leech harmful chemicals that can be integrated into the fish’s muscular and epidermal tissues. Integration of these harmful chemicals can in turn come back around to haunt us.  Eventually these fish land on our plates and we Ingest them. In the assumption that some of these leeched chemicals can be carcinogenic to the humans, and other animals, that ingest them; the best course of action would be to reduce the amount of possible sources of leeching (plastics). Which eventually brings us to what we do here at Adopt A Gyre.

Right: Biomagnification for those who are unknowing of the term, describes the increasing concentrating of materials as they move up the food chain. A pelicans one meal might be two fish, which in turn have been enriched with thousands of zooplankton before they were ever eaten by the pelican. Now Imagine what that would be like if we were talking about Plastic Chemicals concentrating up the food chain. Well that makes eating a nice salmon dinner that much less appetizing.

        For the sake of cleaning the oceans, we are determined to find a way to clean up the mess efficiently and effectively. So in likes of the gyrating motion of the ocean currents, the symbol below has been chosen to represent the action of floating materials.

Right: All materials flow on one very general pathway, spiraling into the central area of which no movement towards the outside can be achieved. At Adopt A Gyre we want to remove the particles from the middle so they can be reused or recycled to make other more biodegradable materials (once technology can match this idea).