Basics On Microplastics In Oceans

Whenever I have read up on the topic of waste in oceans recently, I usually found a reference to microplastics in oceans as well. I kind of knew what it was all about. At the same time, I always felt I had no idea. Here are answers to some basic question regarding microplastics in oceans.

plastic pollution Kathmandu c Dieter Schütz at pixelio.de
plastic pollution Kathmandu c Dieter Schütz at pixelio.de

Have you ever wondered what microplastics really are? Where they can be found? And why we should worry about them? Have a look at the questions and answers below. And if you have more information and additional resources, please let me know.

More plastic than fish in oceans – a shocking thought

A report issued in January 2016 by the World Economic Forum contains the startling claim that, by 2050, the world’s oceans will contain more plastic than fish. The possible effects on food chains and ecosystems mean this is a problem for everyone. And not just for those who value and enjoy the ocean for the leisure pursuits, or relaxation.

“Plastic” does not only include the larger pieces that can easily be identified. Microplastics seem to be the more dangerous ones. But what really are they? Continue reading “Basics On Microplastics In Oceans”

Kids Research Microplastics In Mussels

Is it true that microplastics in mussels will harm humans? To answer this and a few other question, a small team of very young researchers entered a nationwide contest. Their topic won them a five day research trip on ALDEBARAN, a professional research sailing yacht.

In summer 2017, my eldest daughter will move from primary school to grammar school. She very well knows which grammar school she wants to attend (and, luckily, we agree). I was quite surprised to find out that some kids from her school-to-be took part in a contest organised by “Deutsche Meeresstiftung” (German Sea Foundation). Their topic: research the concentration of microplastics in the North Sea. In addition, do microplastics in mussels change the mussels’ ability to filter sea water? And how many pieces of microplastics can actually be found in mussels? Continue reading “Kids Research Microplastics In Mussels”

Seehamster Started It All For OEOO

It does not always have to be the cleaning of plastic in oceans that gets attention from the public. Seehamster (Sea Hamster) has made some swimmers in Southern Bavaria really happy (and Bavaria is a long way from the sea).

Seehamster on a lake (c One Earth One Ocean)
Seehamster on a lake (c One Earth One Ocean)

One Earth – One Ocean (OEOO), an association aiming to free the oceans from plastic waste, has built some very interesting clean-up boats. I have already posted some lines on their catamaran Seekuh, starting its clean-up mission in Hong Kong beginning of 2017.

The one having started it all for OEOO, however, is a tiny boat called Seehamster. Its looks might be, well, “harmless”. But it is efficient in getting quite a lot of unnecessary stuff out of the water. Continue reading “Seehamster Started It All For OEOO”

Seekuh Ready For Cleanup Mission

Ok, it’s ugly. Compared to beautiful sailing boats the catamaran ‘Seekuh’ (Sea Cow) is a no go. It has, however, been built not for beauty but to get pollution in oceans out of the way. And that is what it will be doing soon, starting in Hong Kong harbour.

Seekuh in harbour (c One Earth - One Ocean)
Seekuh in harbour (c One Earth – One Ocean)

Back in March 2016 I have published some lines about the prototype being built (with a very colourful picture to go with it). Now construction of Seekuh has been completed.

It looks a bit strange indeed, or let’s say unusual. However, as soon as it is in action on the water I am sure it will find many friends.

The ship’s christening has taken place end of September 2016, and Seekuh is now ready to tackle its first challenge: Hong Kong harbour. The current plan is to get Seekuh to Hong Kong and into operating mode by January 2017. Continue reading “Seekuh Ready For Cleanup Mission”

Waste At The Bottom Of The Arctic Ocean

Waste at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean is about to become a real problem. Is that my personal opinion only? No. One brief paragraph of a recent study by the AWI has left me absolutely speechless: “In comparison, even the lowest values from the Arctic seafloor are ten times higher (than the waste concentration in the so-called garbage patches)”. They must be joking, I thought. No, they’re not!

First of all, how cool is that: You are on a ship, and every 30 seconds you get a new picture from the ocean ground beneath you. The OFOS (Ocean Floor Observation System) is the technology behind this. It drifts a metre and a half above the ocean floor and delivering still and moving pictures.

In the past, the scientists from AWI have observed the ocean bottom for sponges, sea cucumbers, fish or any other living creature down below. In recent years, however, their attention has also been grabbed by waste at the bottom of the ocean, directly on the seafloor. Once they started having a look also at that waste in oceans, they produced some worrying numbers. Between 2002 and 2011 the waste at the bottom of the ocean in one square kilometre more than doubled (2.500 metres beneath sea surface). Continue reading “Waste At The Bottom Of The Arctic Ocean”

Some More Facts About Marine Debris

When looking at the career pages of the AWI (Alfred-Wegener-Institut, based in Bremerhaven, Germany), the requirements for getting a job with them seem to be quite challenging. PhDs, Science Officer, Master Students, and a doc for their Antarctic station. There is a good reason for that. They are experts and extremely good at what they are doing. One of the items they keep looking at is marine debris and its origin, distribution and impact.

The text below answers a couple of fundamental questions on marine debris. This is rather similar to a previous post here on Active Outside (basic Q&A on waste in oceans), yet it does give more details and background information on various topics. All of the below (plus lots more) can also be found on the website of AWI. Some of their answers I have shortened a bit. Also, the reason for including it here as full text instead of including a link is quite simple. I would like to keep the content, even if AWI decides to (re)move their page.

Their researchers and scientists are doing a more than fabulous job. Their realistic view on this matter is something I value highly (e.g. their comment on estimated numbers of marine debris floating on the surface of the oceans).

Continue reading “Some More Facts About Marine Debris”

Catamaran ‘Seekuh’ Collecting Garbage In Water

How to get rid of all that garbage floating around in our waters? One of the ideas having caught my attention is the prototype of a catamaran called Seekuh (sea cow). It is currently being built and ready for its mission in summer 2016.

catamaran Seekuh (Sea Cow) (c One Earth - One Ocean)Plastic garbage in shallow waters, seas and oceans is omnipresent. Tons of plastic bags, fishing nets, bottles, cosmetic product waste and the like pollute our water. Three quarters of all the garbage in oceans consists of plastics. And those need a couple of centuries to decompose.

All that waste in water is a major danger to wildlife and, ultimately, humans. If you are rather new to this topic, check out these Basic Q&A regarding waste in oceans.

A catamaran called Seekuh (Sea Cow)

Worldwide, awareness to actually do something about all that waste in oceans has increased dramatically in recent years. Lots of projects and initiatives have been started. A pretty cool one I found to be a catamaran called Sea Cow (Seekuh). What is this supposed to be, or mean?

Continue reading “Catamaran ‘Seekuh’ Collecting Garbage In Water”

Lacking Vitamin Sea

beauty of the Baltic Sea
beauty of the Baltic Sea

My “Vitamin Sea” level is down to zero. Not good. Something is not going the way it is supposed to, at least when listening to the prioritisation list of my heart. Just winter blues? Or a really bad case of not enough vitamin sea?

As usual in the first quarter, the kids are down frequently with all sorts of virus and God knows what infections. The sun is blocked by clouds, most of the times at least. And it is either raining, freezing cold or, on a good day, just not nice enough to spend a lot of time outside. Continue reading “Lacking Vitamin Sea”

Zero Emission Sailing Around The World

What a trip! Sailing around the world is one thing, nothing unusual for a couple of young chaps. The more than amazing element is that their sailing boat has not used a single drop of fuel. They were running on zero emission. Including cruising the 40 nautical miles along the Panama Canal. How did they do it?

The four guys from the Eco Sailing Project first had an idea, which turned into a plan, which turned into pretty cool reality. Wanting to tour the world they decided to go for the very sporty option: sailing around the world. And not just that. The boat should be self-sufficient in power and energy supply, surviving on re-usable energy only. Brilliant.

zero emission sailing yacht (c ecosailingproject)
zero emission sailing yacht (c ecosailingproject)

Once they had bought a 1978 built yacht, the old motor had to go, same as the exhaust system and the diesel tanks. Old stuff out and gone, lots of new equipment came on board. LED lights, solar power, wind turbine, e-motor. One of the items I found simply great is the propeller turning to hydro generator while sailing – how cool is that? An overview of their energy supply you can find in the little picture here. I love it.

Continue reading “Zero Emission Sailing Around The World”

The Magic Of A Sunset

sunset on SyltSunsets are magical (at least for me, that is). No matter where I manage to see them they are always fantastic to watch. Although it could be said that it is the same stuff every night I find each sunset to be a unique experience.

In the mountains, on the beach, in a city park with the skyline in the background, on a yacht while anchoring, in front of a tent camping in the middle of nowhere – sunsets are everywhere. My photographic skills do not really allow me (yet) to capture each one the same or even similar to what my eyes are actually seeing, but I am getting there (I hope). Continue reading “The Magic Of A Sunset”

Restarting “baltic sea. pure energy. 2.”

Beginning of 2015 I was all fired up to get my project “baltic sea. pure energy. 2.” to the starting (and finish) line in 2016, maybe 2017 latest. After a quick start with lots of information, research, ideas and talks my enthusiasm had cooled down quite a bit.

The main reason for losing motivation and drive was the not so successful handling of my sponsorship ideas. In other words: Getting sponsors on board was a disaster. Last week I got re-inspired by a very interesting article on Herb Benavent’s website about his comparison of e-motor vs diesel engine. This was the igniting spark to finish my extended summer break for bspe2 and get back to some “doing” again. Continue reading “Restarting “baltic sea. pure energy. 2.””

Quote Challenge Day 3

sailing on the Baltic Sea - hard to beatToday’s quote, my final one for this brief challenge, brings me back to sailing, water and oceans. It is, however, not about the beauty of the oceans or the joys of sailing. I keep this in mind when thinking of (or doing something about) pollution, waste in oceans and environmental difficulties.

The quote refers to lots and lots of different scenarios. Meaning: for each and every time when we feel that what we are doing is nothing but a drop of water on a hot stone. Or, as Mother Teresa has put it, a drop in an ocean. However, every little action helps, every step, move and smile results in something positive. Andnd that’s why ‘doing something’ is much better than thinking “it won’t matter anyway”. Here we go:

We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.     (Mother Teresa)

Continue reading “Quote Challenge Day 3”

Quote Challenge Day 1

sunset in SchleimuendeThe inspiring and admirable estelea has nominated me for a quote challenge. How does it work? Post three quotes on three consecutive days, and each time nominate three bloggers to do the same. Sounds like a pretty cool way to keep the data flowing all around the world… I’ll happily go along and post my thoughts here.

Here we go, my quote for Day One:

If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favourable.    (Seneca)

To start with, this seems to be an obvious one for a sailor. For me, however, this is not only related to sailing but rather about life in general. Continue reading “Quote Challenge Day 1”

Being Seasick Is… Yuck!

Have you ever been seasick? I mean, really really seasick? It happened to me once, and I can assure you I do not need a second round of that. Here is some background and advice on seasickness, how to avoid it and how to deal with it.

Hubert being seasickIt was the second night of our 230 nm nonstop sailing trip from Flensburg to Gothenburg on a 44ft yacht. My watch ended at 22:00h, next one to start at 04:00h. When I went to bed the wind had stabilised at something like 20 knots. The forecast for the next 24 hours showed slightly increasing wind speeds first, then dropping down to 12-15 knots.

Very bumpy and shaky it was when I woke up at 03:40h, and I was wondering a lot why a fellow sailor needed to sort the dishes by size. Then by colour. Then by size again. And that in the middle of the night. A lot later it became clear that this was the distraction he needed from feeling extremely unwell. Continue reading “Being Seasick Is… Yuck!”

Some More Thoughts On “Waste In Oceans”

The title of this article, Waste In Oceans, brings up something like 120 million hits in Google (as of October 2015). Looks like this topic is being talked about. Is there also something being done about it?

marine debris on Hawaiian coast (Wikipedia)
marine debris on Hawaiian coast (Wikipedia)

For some strange reason, my article about the problem of plastic pollution in oceans has been clicked quite regularly in the past weeks, referred to from search engines. Awareness for this topic seems to have increased – which is good news indeed. My follow-up article on potential solutions for all that waste in oceans has not been so popular by lenghts.

So, do we all love to hear about the problems, talk about it, shake our heads and go to bed? Is looking at the problem more interesting than finding or working on a solution for it? Especially for such a major topic?

Probably yes. What do you think, any scientific reason for that, and what is your view on it? Continue reading “Some More Thoughts On “Waste In Oceans””