Torn Between Research Goals and Dangerous Weather – 30.34N,166,23E

130-160 knot gusts do not sound like a place we want our boat to be.  As the Expedition reaches the halfway point in our journey, we have a decision to make. Do we race northeast deeper into the debris field, or do we continue sailing in the safety of latitude 30N. Safety of the crew wins over all other decisions, and the sea has the last vote. So each day we get new weather from land-support and judge how much time we have in the debris field. You can see from the map that we’re in the Southwest corner of it, and we’re finding debris.

A piece of Tatami mat and a car tire are the objects we believe to be from the tsunami event. We are taking marine life off of these objects, as well as slivers of plastic or rubber to analyze for absorbed pollutants. We’re also collecting seawater from the region to see if isotopes of Cesium are present. Scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute have asked us to collect them to see if fallout from the Fukushima reactor are present in seawater. For SCRIPPS we’re collecting halobates, the only insect walking on the ocean surface, which are flourishing due to floating objects to lay their eggs on. And finally, for colleagues in Chile, we’re collecting a predatory nudibranch called “Fiona” to compare to S. Pacific populations. For now we do what we can in the time we’re given, and with two weeks remaining, we’re right on target.