Darcy Taniguchi first visited the Aquarium at the age of 4, and was hooked! Says Darcy, "Starring, completely absorbed, at the striking exhibits of the Monterey Bay Aquarium and wetting my feet and hands in the tide pools of Asilomar Beach, instilled in me a lasting curiosity about the ocean."
Now a PhD student at Scripps, Darcy is going beyond inspiration to action. She's taking part in a voyage known as the Scripps Environmental Accumulation of Plastic Expedition or SEAPLEX. A journey to the middle of the Pacific Ocean to an area increasingly known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. More correctly known as the North Pacific Gyre. The gyre's infamy comes from its ability to collect up all our trash, especially plastics, and hold them in a long, slow dance until the end of time. Plastics, like diamonds, are forever.
"Twice the size of Texas", some scientists claim. "Six times more plastic than plankton", say others. SEAPLEX seeks to find answers to these questions and more. The biggest one being, how do we clean this up, and then, how can we stop it from happening again?
Of course, we all have a hand in the answer to the second question, and that's a story we share with our visitors each day, as they meet our resident Laysan albatross, Makana.
But Makana's kin are not the only big birds in danger from eating our trash. Somewhat closer to home, a young condor chick was recently found dead in the Big Sur wilderness. Biologists from Ventana Wildlife Society found the cause of death was a belly full of litter. This is the first time this has occured in our region, and let's hope the last, but other young chicks are still in the nest and time is of the essence. If you are local you can help by volunteering in a litter cleanup over the next two weekends.
And you can check out our website to learn more about how plastic litter affects seabirds and other marine life, and what you can do to help in your everyday lives. Every day we can do something that helps our planet's wildlife. Now that's inspirational!