The Haunting Nature of Plastics | Hakai Magazine

Microplastics from New Bedford Harbor, Mass. Credit: Miriam Ritchi, Semester in Environmental Science Student

MBL Fellow Linda Amaral-Zettler is featured in this story, originally published in Orion Magazine.

Early in 2004, a buoy was released into the waters off Argentina. Half of the buoy was dark and the other light, like a planet in relief. The buoy sailed east, accompanied by the vastness of the ocean and all the life it contains, the long-lived great humpback whales with their complex songs that carry for kilometers, and the short-lived Argentine shortfin squid. Along the way, many thousands of minuscule creatures were colonizing this new surface, which had appeared like a life raft in the open waters of the South Atlantic.

The researchers who’d dropped the buoy followed its movement in hopes of learning more about ocean currents than generations of science and sailing history had revealed. They watched the buoy float into the wide-open ocean between South America and Africa, those twin coastlines that struck me, as I gazed at them on the pull-down map in first grade, as two puzzle pieces that once linked. They surveilled its movements by GPS. Eighteen months later, the signal ceased. Silence from the satellites.

The buoy continued along the currents of the South Atlantic, free from surveillance, sheltered and shocked by sun and clouds and storms overhead. Read more of the article here...

Source: The Haunting Nature of Plastics | Hakai Magazine