ocean gyre

7 Underwater Facts for World Oceans Day

Today is World Oceans Day, a global day of ocean celebration and collaboration for a better future. A healthy world ocean is critical to our survival. Together, let’s honor, help protect, and conserve the world’s oceans!

1. While the Earth’s oceans are known as five separate entities, there is really only one ocean.

2. The ocean contains upwards of 99% of the world’s biosphere, that is, the spaces and places where life exists.

Both above GIFs are from the TED-Ed Lesson How big is the ocean? - Scott Gass

Animation by 20 steps

3. Jellyfish are soft because they are 95% water and are mostly made of a translucent gel-like substance called mesoglea. With such delicate bodies, jellyfish rely on thousands of venom-containing stinging cells called cnidocytes for protection and prey capture.

From the TED-Ed Lesson How does a jellyfish sting? - Neosha S Kashef

Animation by Cinematic

4. Plastics & litter that make their way into our oceans are swiftly carried by currents, ultimately winding up in huge circulating ocean systems called gyres. The earth has five gyres that act as gathering points, but the largest of all is known as the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ and has grown so immense that the oceanic garbage patch can shift from around the size of Texas, to something the size of the United States. 

From the TED-Ed Lesson The nurdles’ quest for ocean domination - Kim Preshoff

Animation by Reflective Films

5. The 200 or so species of octopuses are mollusks belonging to the order Cephalopoda, Greek for ‘head-feet’. Those heads contain impressively large brains, with a brain to body ratio similar to that of other intelligent animals, and a complex nervous system with about as many neurons as that of a dog.

From the TED-Ed Lesson Why the octopus brain is so extraordinary - Cláudio L. Guerra

Animation by Cinematic

6. Some lucky animals are naturally endowed with bioluminescence, or the ability to create light. The firefly, the anglerfish, and a few more surprising creatures use this ability in many ways, including survival, hunting, and mating.

From the TED-Ed Lesson The brilliance of bioluminescence - Leslie Kenna

Animation by Cinematic

7. Sea turtles ultimately grow from the size of a dinner plate to that of a dinner table. In the case of the leatherback sea turtle, this can take up to a decade. Happy World Turtle Day!

From the TED-Ed Lesson The survival of the sea turtle - Scott Gass

Animation by Cinematic Sweden

“In 1992 a shipping container filled with rubber ducks was lost at sea. Over 28,000 rubber duckies fell overboard on their way from Japan to the United States. Imagine thousands of rubber ducks floating on the ocean. Many of them have since washed up on the shores of Hawaii, Alaska, South America, Australia and the Pacific Northwest. Others have been found frozen in Arctic ice and made their way to Newfoundland and Scotland.”


Sea Soup: Mandy Barker’s Photo Collages of Ocean Trash

Scientists have informally dubbed the discarded human waste accumulating in our oceans with a number of names: “soup,” “trash vortex,” and most nobly, the “Great Pacific garbage patch.” The last term makes particular reference to the exceptionally high relative concentrations of pelagic plastics, chemical sludge and other debris that have been trapped by the currents of the North Pacific Gyre, one of the five major oceanic gyres on the planet. Gyres, large systems of rotating ocean currents, are the largest ecosystems in the world and, more recently, ground zero for massive accretions of plastic trash. In researching this phenomenon, UK photographer Mandy Barker developed a series of images entitled ‘Soup’ which depicts these plastics and discarded items salvaged from beaches around the world. Presented in beautifully precise, color-coded arrangements, the collected objects appear as a taxonomy of unique species in a toxic “ecosystem.” The images also underscore the longevity of even the tiniest pieces of trash: though haphazardly discarded and forgotten, they form an ever-growing environmental issue. Barker’s project, by bringing a seemingly remote subject into clear view, compels us to address this elephant in the room.

How nurdles are invading our oceans

In our last post, we covered what exactly a nurdle is, and warned that - much to our dismay - nurdles are far more pervasive than most people realize. The thing is, they often escape during the production process, carried by run-off to the coast, or during shipping when they’re mistakenly tipped into the waves.

Once in the water, nurdles are swiftly carried by currents, ultimately winding up in huge circulating ocean systems called gyres, where they convene to plan their tactics. The earth has five gyres that act as gathering points, but the headquarters of Nurdle Ocean Domination are in the Pacific Ocean, where the comparative enormity of the gyre, and the resulting concentration of pollution, is so huge that it’s known as the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’.

Here, nurdles have good company. This gyre draws in all kinds of pollution. But because they don’t biodegrade, plastics dominate—and they come from other sources besides nurdles, too. You know those tiny beads you see in your face wash or your toothpaste? They’re often made of plastic, and after you’ve flushed them down the drain, some also end up in this giant garbage patch, much to the delight of the nurdles building up their plastic army there. And then there are the large pieces of unrecycled plastic litter—like bottles and carrier bags—transported by run-off from land to sea. Over time these plastic chunks turn into a kind of nurdle too—but one that’s been worn down by the elements, not made in a factory.

And as if they weren’t threatening enough, the rough, pitted surfaces of these microplastics—the name we give to all those collective plastic bits— waterborne chemicals “stick” or adhere to them, making them toxic. This gathering has grown so immense that the oceanic garbage patch can shift from around the size of Texas, to something the size of the United States.

But while this toxic tornado is circulating, the birds, fish, filter-feeders, whales, and crustaceans around it are just going about their daily business—which means they’re looking for food.

Unfortunately for them, tiny bits of floating plastic look a lot like fish eggs and other enticing bits of food. But once ingested, microplastics have a very different, and terrible, habit of sticking around. Inside an animal’s stomach, they not only damage its health with the cocktail of toxins they carry, but can also lead to starvation, because although nurdles may be ingested, they’re never digested, tricking an animal into feeling like it’s continually full, and leading to its eventual death. When one organism consumes another, microplastics and their toxins are then passed up through the food chain.

And that’s how, bit by bit, nurdles accomplish their goal, growing ever more pervasive as they wipe out marine life and reshape the ocean’s ecosystems.

So, how to break this cycle? The best solution would be to take plastics out of the equation altogether. That’ll take a lot of time, but requires only small, collective changes—like more recycling, replacing plastics with paper and glass, and ditching that toothpaste with the microbeads. If we accomplish these things, perhaps over time fewer and fewer nurdles will turn up at that giant garbage patch, their army of plastics will grow weaker, and they’ll surrender the ocean to its true keepers once more.

From the TED-Ed Lesson The nurdles’ quest for ocean domination - Kim Preshoff

Animation by Reflective Films

anonymous asked:

Are you pro cetacean-cap?

I’m going to apologize right here for commandeering this question - in no way is this entirely directed at you, anon, but I am using it as a chance to summarize my opinions on this entire subject in one place. 

Frankly, in a perfect world, I would be against it. In a perfect world, large marine mammals - all animals, in fact - would be free to live or die in the natural order of things. But this is not a perfect world, and, to be blunt, marine species are worse off than most endangered terrestrial animals. It’s not simply “part” of the oceans that humans have messed with - it’s the entire thing. There is nowhere for marine species to escape to, not when the same currents that carry food all over the world are also bringing in garbage and pollution.

I’m pro-cetacean captivity for the same reasons I mentioned earlier, but unlike earlier, I’m also against it for a similar number of reasons - most of them being that I feel that aquaria and marine parks can and need to do much better in terms of care, space, and enrichment for their animals. 

However, due to the recent Blackfish-fueled “free the whales” movement, I feel like I also need to weigh in on why I am absolutely against this particular movement.

Whaling is still practiced by many countries, and over a thousand whales are still killed annually. For species that are so long-lived and slow to reproduce, that is a completely unsustainable number. And that’s not even taking into account the “allowed” numbers hunted each year by aboriginal populations around the world - while I agree with this monitored practice in theory, it can and has been abused for tourism purposes, and on top of the previously mentioned commercial whaling means that, from a species perspective, it is only adding to the problem.

We are literally filling the oceans with garbage, and it is killing everything. You’ve all seen pictures of bird carcasses full of plastic, but it’s not only birds. Whales have washed ashore with stomachs full of plastic as well, not to mention those hundreds that are rescued from being tangled, injured or trapped by ocean debris. There is so much microscopic plastic trapped in an ocean gyre (at least the size of Texas) that it was given a name and now has a Wikipedia pageIs this not as horrifyingly surreal to everyone as it is to me?

Not only physical pollution, but noise pollution. All cetaceans use sonar to hunt, communicate, and exist, and humanity has filled the ocean with noise. Boats, drilling, our own sonar - just like songbirds in cities, cetaceans are being overwhelmed, drowned out, and disoriented enough to beach themselves on land in entire pods because of the racket.

This isn’t even going in to climate change, boat collisions, oil spills, and a thousand and one other things that we’re responsible for, but I’m sure you can see the point I’m trying to make.

What makes me so frustrated at this entire recent movement is that it is blatantly ignoring the real problem, and dragging attention that should rightly be focused on fixing the environment to something much less urgent. Same for any anti-captivity argument, really. I mean, I understand. I understand, because I know all the arguments against animals, especially emotional, intelligent cetaceans, in captivity. Trust me, I know. I know the physiological, ecological, behavioral, mental, and even theoretical reasons. I do. 

But if you release all the orcas and dolphins in the world, what then? It’s the same mentality as those who deny an unwillingly pregnant woman the right to abortion, but turn about and refuse to support her financially once she gives birth. All those animals you freed are going to die in droves the moment they’re released, because nothing has been done to fix the toxic dump we’ve turned their home into.

And I get it, because cleaning up the oceans is a daunting task, whereas freeing the captive whales is much more manageable. But if you really hate marine parks and aquaria and zoos so much, then take away the primary reason for them to exist. Fight to fix the environment, in whatever small increments you can. Once you have a place for them to go, then we can talk about freeing all the animals. 


Will a Marine Plastic Harvester Shrink the World’s Giant Floating Garbage Patches?

These gifs show the latest concept from a project called The Ocean Cleanup to retrieve some of the millions of tons of plastic waste choking the world’s oceans. 

The idea is to deploy long floating barriers at mid-ocean gyres that naturally collect garbage shed by land and ships. The booms would be set up so that the motion of ocean currents would do the work to corral plastics in concentrated areas, where a solar-powered collection platform would extract the waste for recycling.

The group, which is led by 20-year-old founder Boyan Slat and includes volunteer oceanography and engineering specialists, estimates it will cost a little less than $5 per kilogram to remove the garbage. They have already completed a proof-of-concept project demonstrating their design and conducted a feasibility study, in which they estimate that each garbage patch that has developed in the world’s five major gyres could be reduced by half within 10 years. The people behind The Ocean Cleanup hope to launch a coastal pilot study sometime in 2016 and to start full-scale operations in late 2019. Learn more and see a video below.

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The Origin Of Ocean Garbage Patches

by Patricia Waldron, Inside Science

If you toss a message in a bottle into the ocean, instead of washing up on a distant shore, it will probably end up in one of the world’s five major floating garbage patches – but which one?

By using models of ocean currents, researchers have calculated the boundaries of each section of the ocean, which can extend beyond the traditionally defined borders. In the process, they found that they can predict which garbage patch will receive a piece of plastic depending on where the litter is tossed. The research may one day pinpoint areas where wildlife interacts with the moving trash. It may also help identify the biggest plastic polluters, which contribute to garbage patches that some researchers estimate to be twice the size of Texas.

“We’ve redefined how one should draw the borders of the oceans,” said coauthor and mathematician Gary Froyland, at University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. “It’s more scientifically meaningful to draw the boundaries according to where the water moves as opposed to just the legal, geographical boundaries.”

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One-Shot(s) Man

7 PunchDelta (or a slow burn followed by a slow dance; continuation of Omega and Alpha)

Something shifted— something that was once certain, etched upon the black and white of what had been written between them. It quaked beneath the earth, crumbling and cresting the foundations under their feet as the tempo hastened like a heartbeat upon an incredible and cataclysmic revelation. Something had changed. But that wasn’t surprising.

What was surprising to Saitama was that it wasn’t so bad.

[Omega: I ]

[Alpha: II ]

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