Algalita Marine Research Blog

More Plastic, Yoga & The Green Flash

Posted by: Katie Allen

Just a week ago, we’d come to the hasty conclusion that the South Pacific Gyre was relatively free from plastic pollution. We’ve now changed our tune – the last 3-4 days of trawls filled with plastic particles, microfilament line, and bits of plastic packaging suggest otherwise.

We woke a few days ago to glassy, slick seas – perfect for spotting macro debris. No sooner did we begin scanning the horizon than we spotted the first 2 pieces – a foam float and a huge plastic barrel. Both have now joined our growing collection of barnacle-encrusted trash, which our Captain Clive will be none to sorry to see leave the boat.

With conditions like these – warm, windless, and calm, Clive decided on a “pool day”. We’d drop the sails and spend the afternoon swimming, underwater filming, and taking the dingy out for some shots of the trawl in action from afar. Swimming in the open ocean is a wild, exhilarating sensation – looking down to see your feet engulfed in an endless blue abyss opening up for miles beneath you. It’s unnerving and indescribably wonderful. Marcus climbs into the barrel we spotted earlier. A small tangled mass of synthetic line floats by – we nab it just in time. As clean and pristine as the water appears, we see a different story – a sea surface peppered with plastic debris.

After several hours of sun and salt, we raise the sails to continue on, and gather on deck for our afternoon workout – a tradition we’ll keep as long as the weather holds. We’re developing a new branch of one handed “cockpit yoga” – with one hand clutching the nearest sheet, winch, or rope for balance.

As we finally sit together for ravioli and chocolate cake, the sun drops the horizon, for the first time completely unobstructed by clouds.

“Ideal conditions for spotting the green flash!” yells Charlie, and scampers up to the bow to gaze at the horizon. I look at Marcus, to see him roll his eyes yet again. For years, we’ve been hearing about the infamous “green flash” that people claim to see just as the sun disappears over the horizon. We’ve watched countless sunsets across 4 oceans now, and never seen a glimpse of it. Marcus is sure it doesn’t exist. I want to believe its true, but have yet to see it.

We all stare out to sea, sun burned faces bathed in orange light, and watch the sun’s blazing orb melt into the Pacific. Going, going….gone. And then -

“OH MY!!!!!!!” we all shout in unison.

An unmistakable green light flashes on the horizon. Not a subtle light you could miss, a bona fide GREEN FLASH!!! Marcus is stunned. We all yell again. I can’t believe we’ve finally seen it! This leaves no doubt in our minds that green flash is not urban legend, but a real phenomenon.
Just 2 days to go until we hit Easter Island. Already the winds have picked up, from flat calm, to 25 knots. We’re flying, heaving, rocking and rolling. Eager to touch land again, and particularly eager to see what the coastlines of Rapa Nui hold in store for us….

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Date Posted: April 8, 2011 @ 9:20 pm Comments (0) | Comment Shortcut


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