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Geography in the News: Swirling Ocean Garbage Dumps

By Neal Lineback and Mandy Lineback Gritzner, Geography in the NewsTM The Great Swirling Pacific Garbage Patch Ocean pollution is growing at an astonishing rate. On June 1, 2008, two scientists and a photographer/blogger sailed from Long Beach, California, and headed westward across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii. The two men and a woman were…

Filmmakers Document the “Weirdness” of Marine Garbage on the Gyre Expedition

On June 6 through 13, a team of scientists, artists, and filmmakers explored remote beaches of Alaska, to assess the impact of debris washing out of the great gyres, or currents, in the Pacific Ocean. Called the Gyre Expedition, the project was launched by the Alaska SeaLife Center and the Anchorage Museum. The multidisciplinary team…

GYRE Expedition – Day 5- Bearing Witness; Witnessing Bears. Act 2 (Wednesday, June 12)

A mile down the beach and a mile out on the flat more-or-less, another mother trails three cubs from clam-hole to clam-hole. When she spots a big dark male headed her way from half a mile away, she moves off, in a hurry and a worry, frequently glancing over her shoulder and occasionally breaking into…

GYRE Expedition – Day 5- Bearing Witness; Witnessing Bears. Act 1 (Wednesday, June 12)

 In the “morning” of the never-ending daylight, as the sun has swung round to the east and climbs the sky once more, we awaken in our windowless cabins. We’ve spent the short night at anchor in Hallo Bay. We head shoreward, trying to beat a dropping tide. We partially succeed. Enough of the half-mile mudflat…

GYRE Expedition, Day 4 – Landing in Hallo Bay (Tuesday, June 11)

We spent several morning hours steaming west across Shelikof Strait to Hallo Bay in Katmai National Park, and landed the skiff on a rocky ledge at one end of a long bite of black beach backed spectacularly by the snow-peaked Alaska Range and Hallo Glacier. The highest peaks, piled in snows, leap from sea level…

GYRE Expedition, Day 3- Late Afternoon (Monday, June 10)

ODILE’s Magic Desktop Lab – Odile Madden has brought two amazing pieces of equipment from the Smithsonian. One looks like a microscope stand without the microscope. The other looks like a little hand-held vacuum cleaner. Both fit on a desktop, and they’re incredible. The first shoots laser beams and the second generates x-rays. What you…

GYRE Expedition, Day 3 (Monday, June 10)

In late morning we head toward Wonder Bay on Shuyak Island. On the way we run across a huge, nearly blond Brown Bear foraging on the beach. The world’s largest Brown (Grizzly) Bears live in this area and nearby Kodiak. As we approach, it gets concerned enough to amble away, easily hopping over some heavy…

GYRE Expedition, Day 2 – afternoon (Sunday, June 9)

  A lost shipment of fly swatters has recently made an appearance on various beaches. We found one yesterday and today Kate has found three more fly swatters. She adds them to her pack. After lunch we go ashore at a place named Red Buoy Beach. Guess why it’s called that. There’s sparse trash here,…

GYRE Expedition, Day 2 – morning (Sunday, June 9)

 I wake to find us motoring off the Kenai Peninsula. We have passed the Chugash Islands, passed the Barren Islands. We are headed south toward Shuyak, which looms large far ahead. Islands are so high here that some are visible from distances of up to 100 miles. Afognak rises behind Shuyak (it hides the next…

GYRE Expedition Day One – Afternoon (Saturday, June 8)

  A discussion: Why bother to clean beaches never visited by people? If it’s just an ugly mess, why not just leave it? Answers vary, even among our group. “Seeing this offends my dignity,” says one colleague. “I am embarrassed as a human to see how much trash is here.” “We just don’t like it;…

GYRE Expedition Day One – Morning (Saturday, June 8)

Morning we wake in Tonsina Bay, one of many coves ringed by near-vertical forested slopes. The beauty takes my breath away. So do a half-dozen mountain goats, each with a small baby, above the treeline, above a grass slope, on a rocky precipice. How do mountain goats survive their lives? They choose the absolutely most…

GYRE Expedition – Departure (Friday, June 7)

 From Seward, we left Resurrection Bay, past Rugged Island, and felt the full roll of an ocean swell addressing us broadside from the southeast, rolling us as we plowed forward. Around us, some of the world’s most spectacular coast. Sheer shores spired by eagle-topped spruces rising to snowy peaks that gleamed in the afternoon. In…

GYRE Expedition All Aboard!

All Aboard- Our expedition is called Gyre. Our route is from Seward, Alaska west toward Kodiak, stopping at several places along the way, bearing witness, perhaps witnessing bears, and talking trash. It’s a uniquely creative approach to the issue of plastic garbage washing up on the world’s remotest beaches. We carry scientists and artists. The…