The Sea Dragon will be departing from Tokyo on May 30th and sailing east towards Hawaii arriving on the stunning island of Maui on July 1st.
The Sea Dragon team will arc northeast to the Japanese Tsunami Debris Field. Estimates of tens of thousands of tons of debris washed away from the coastline of Japan on March 11th, 2011 after an earthquake occurred offshore, resulting in the worst tsunami on record in that country. The material infrastructure in a developed country was carried out to sea, including cars, boats, homes and also many victims. One year later we will expect to find the field of floating debris to be half-way across the North Pacific Ocean. Knowing the precise origin and date of the disaster, will enable studies on how materials degrade, persist and transport invasive organisms in the marine environment.
We will be searching for large debris from the tsunami, but also skimming the ocean surface to better understand the quantity and distribution of plastic pollution throughout the North Pacific Gyre
The goals of the expedition are to study the effects of plastic pollution and marine debris relative to:
- providing habitat for marine life and its ability to transport invasive species from one continent to another;
- rates of decomposition of debris;
- colonization of marine life on, and into, different materials;
- educating students through the Algalita Ship-2-Shore blog; and
- spatial distribution of debris along the entire voyage transect
Four organizations; 5 Gyres Institute, Pangaea Explorations, Algalita Marine Research Foundation and the University of Hawaii, will collaborate to travel over 7,000 miles to study the impacts of plastic pollution and tsunami debris in the marine environment.