Our Marine Plastic Debris / Tsunami Debris Projectin 2014 Drake High was named a NOAA Ocean Guardian SchoolWatch us at work.
These videos were submitted to the San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival's 3rd Annual Student Film Competition:
https://vimeo.com/84106275 (This one, by Aria Schwartz, took second place at the Ocean Film Festival, and then went on to take second place at the 2014 My Hero International Film Festival, High School Documentary category.)
Do you like beachcombing? Drake High does occasional patrols of Point Reyes Beach collecting, counting, weighing and photographing plastic debris and the species of marine organisms that stick to it. We categorize it according to type and origin (recreational, commercial fishing, from foreign ships, from Japan, etc.) and the marine life according to whether it is Japanese, open ocean or Californian. We can compare our results to data previously obtained on California Coastal Cleanup Day.
The Great Beach at Point Reyes is not like other beaches. This ten-mile stretch of sand faces northwest, directly into the prevailing westerlies and the California current. Rocky points bracket it at each end. Most of the items that wash up here are not local. Some are from thousands of miles away. Almost every object tells a story. We've barely begun, but here are some of the kinds of items we find:
Fishing and crabbing gear from Japan, China, Oregon and Northern California,
Beverage bottles and food containers labeled for domestic consumption in China, Japan, Korea, India (these are most likely tossed overboard by the crews of international ships),
Ball point pens and items with the names and logos of local businesses,
a political campaign sign,
large light bulbs from ships,
You can estimate how long an object has been floating by the size of the pelagic barnacles on it.
This project is also interesting because 2011 Japanese tsunami debris is still arriving in Oregon. Maximenko and Hafner's model (ocean current) suggests a 2014 arrival, but Ebbesmeyer and Ingraham's model (current + wind) indicates 2012 (See National Geographic January 2012.) It looks like Ebbesmeyer and Ingraham were off the mark.Focus Questions:
- How much of the debris on Point Reyes Beach comes from international shipping, local fishermen, beach goers, the tsunami, Oregon and Washington, etc?
- When will the Japanese tsunami debris finally start to arrive here?
- What categories of (high-floating?) tsunami debris objects will arrive first?
- What can we learn from the marine organisms (barnacles, etc.) that encrust the debris?
Debris collected on Point Reyes Beach November 2013 - April 2014 Sir Francis Drake High School Description Number of Items / bags Total Weight (pounds) Identifying numbers, marks, corporate brands, languages 5 gallon motor oil bucket; oil bottle 2 11 Chevron crab pot buoys + rope 45 117 large foam pieces 16 28 bags of foam pieces 9 13 bags of plastic water bottles 8 19 Crystal Geyser, Gatorade bags of misc. plastic 4 24 Lays, Cheetos, Kraft bags of aluminum cans 3 4.7 Coke, Coors bags of glass bottles 6 77 Budweiser, Seagrams bags of crab bait boxes 2 10 bag of cleaning bottles 1 1.6 Clorox, Dawn bags of shoes and hats 2 20 Stride Rite bags of wood, paper, misc. trash 4 22 large net floats 7 33 Chinese, Japanese automobile tires 2 55 bow of small boat/ boat parts 3 59 CF 2589 HW misc. plastic pieces 42 85 Rubbermaid tools, plastic buckets 6 2.9 Durabeam steel propane bottles/ scrap metal 3 4.5 Coleman political sign 1 0.2 Sally Lieber for Senate Plastic bottle caps hundreds 4 Coke, Minute Maid light bulbs 7 1.5 General Electric metal spray cans 4 2 mylar balloons 31 1 plastic toys 44 2.2 Mattel pens 16 0.1 Bic oyster farming spacers 45 1 chewing tobacco tins 14 0.5 Copenhagen shotgun shell casings 177 1 balls; mostly tennis balls 25 3 Penn spoons and forks 15 0.2 drinking straws 113 0.2 medicinal, dental, personal care 45 1.3 Cortizone tampon applicators 8 0.1 cigarette lighters 21 0.6 Bic small net floats 14 1.5 sport fishing gear 23 7.8 duck decoy 1 1 water bottles from Asia 26 2 China, Japan, India, Malaysia TOTAL WEIGHT (pounds) 617.9