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Project Kaisei

plasticvortexAll along we have all heard rumors about vast areas of floating garbage in our oceans, particularly with problematic plastics in the area officially known as the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone. But, until you see the images of sea turtles tangled in plastic shopping bags and dolphins dodging discarded plastic toys and containers in the North Pacific Gyre, it is hard to grasp just how vast and complicated this issue has become.

Determining how best to manage the garbage that is continuing to collect in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch must begin by understanding the pervasiveness of the issue at hand, and when we are talking about an area that is thought to be twice the size of Texas, this is no simple task. Simply gathering the information needed to provide scientific assessments and data, and accumulating the images required to increase public awareness is a challenging task, but this is a task that the members of the Project Kaisei team enthusiastically undertook when we set out to sea to begin exploring the garbage patch, gathering data and establishing a foundation for developing a global plan of action.

Now that we have returned from this initial voyage of discovery, we are even more aware of the devastating effects of allowing plastics to end up in our oceans and the importance of raising public awareness around this issue. Both individual and global actions will be necessary to heal our oceans, but each of us can begin to work towards this goal right now by understanding that even a simple everyday decision, like choosing which type of shopping bag to use, can mean the difference between life and death for a marine animal and whether or not increased toxins enter the food chain.

It may be difficult to develop a deep concern for something that you do not see on a daily basis, but Project Kaisei’s first expedition has shown that we simply cannot afford to have an out of sight, out of mind attitude about the waste we produce.

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