In Finding Nemo, Nemo’s Dad Marlin wakes up riding on the back of Crush the sea turtle. Crush is surfing the East Australian Current (EAC) that runs along the coast of Australia. Currents are moving ocean water. They are generated by the wind, temperature, the amount of salt in the water (salinity), by the gravitational pull of the Moon and the Sun, and by events like earthquakes. There are several currents in the earth’s oceans that constantly circulate the oceans’ water.
In some places out in the middle of the earth’s oceans, currents surround an area of ocean. These areas are called gyres. You can see the earth’s five gyres on this map. One of the gyres, located off the coast of California (it takes a week by boat to get there!) is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Why is it called that? Because it is full of TRASH, namely, plastic. Water bottles, action figures, legos, you name it. If people somewhere on earth decided they didn’t want it, it’s out there, floating in the ocean, brought to this spot by the ocean’s currents.
Plastic Ahoy! is the story of a research vessel called New Horizon that sailed to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to study the plastic there. The scientists wanted to answer important questions about how the plastic might be affecting the ocean and the creatures who live there. Questions like:
- How much plastic is actually out there?
- Are fish eating the plastic? Is it hurting them?
- Are the plastic chemicals poisoning the water?
The book follows three students, Darcy, Chelsea and Miriam, as they help gather samples and prepare experiments. As you can tell by the cover, the book is full of great photos of the ocean and all of the activities that take place on the boat, and not just the scientific ones. You also get to see how the scientists eat, sleep and keep fit while living for long periods of time on a small ship.
The book did three really important things for me.
- It made me want to learn more about the ocean.
- It made me worry about all that trash in the ocean.
- It made me want to do more to use plastic less.
The book also has extra interesting pieces of information that make you go, “Huh. Really?” Here are two things I thought were interesting:
1. What the number inside the recycling triangle means. When plastic is manufactured it is made into small pellets called nurdles. Nurdles are then formed into different shapes like milk jugs or patio chairs or legos. Different kinds of nurdles make different kinds of plastic. The number inside the recycling triangle that you see stamped on the bottom of things made from plastic, tells what type of nurdle was used. Knowing the number helps you know how to recycle the plastic. Interesting! When the recycle container shows which number can go in it – pay attention! It’s important!
2. What bioluminescence is and does. Bioluminescence is a chemical reaction inside organism that make them glow when they are scared. It is a defense to confuse predators. Sometimes, the movement of a ship on the water at night can scare bacteria in the water…the water is so full of bacteria that the water glows in the dark. I would love to see that!
- Amazon Look Inside: Plastic Ahoy!
- GoodReads: Plastic Ahoy!
- GoogleBooks: Plastic Ahoy!
- Official Website: Patricia Newan
- Official Website: Annie Crawley
- Plastics at SEA North Pacific Expedition
- Project Kaisei
- Youtube Channel: the SEAPLEX team aboard New Horizon
- TheFive Gyres Institute Learn about the plastic problem and possible solutions.
- National Ocean & Atmospheric Administration: Marine Debris
- Recycling Plastic #1-7 What Those Triangles Mean