A thousand miles off California, the North Pacific Ocean Gyre contains one of the largest ecosystems on Earth – but it may be in danger from a deluge of accumulated plastic trash. Dubbed the "Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch," the debris at the center of the North Pacific Ocean has the potential to damage marine life and alter the biological environment.
From August 2-21, 2009, a group of doctoral students and research volunteers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego embarked on an expedition aboard the Scripps research vessel New Horizon exploring the problem of plastic in the North Pacific Gyre. The Scripps Environmental Accumulation of Plastic Expedition (SEAPLEX) focused on a suite of critical scientific questions. How much plastic is accumulating, how is it distributed, and how is it affecting ocean life?
SEAPLEX was supported by UC Ship Funds, Project Kaisei, and the National Science Foundation.
Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, is one of the oldest, largest, and most important centers for global science research and education in the world. Now in its second century of discovery, the scientific scope of the institution has grown to include biological, physical, chemical, geological, geophysical, and atmospheric studies of the earth as a system. Hundreds of research programs covering a wide range of scientific areas are under way today on every continent and in every ocean. The institution has a staff of more than 1,400 and annual expenditures of approximately $195 million from federal, state, and private sources. Scripps operates oceanographic research vessels recognized worldwide for their outstanding capabilities. Equipped with innovative instruments for ocean exploration, these ships constitute mobile laboratories and observatories that serve students and researchers from institutions throughout the world. Birch Aquarium at Scripps serves as the interpretive center of the institution and showcases Scripps research and a diverse array of marine life through exhibits and programming for more than 430,000 visitors each year. Learn more at scripps.ucsd.edu and follow us at Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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