Worldwide scientific study touches down on Guam - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Worldwide scientific study touches down on Guam

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It's the first scientific expedition of its kind, spanning over 40,000 nautical miles and touching roughly thirteen different countries around the globe. The Race for Water Odyssey Expedition arrived in Guam Monday, and completed the first beach study on the island this morning.
 
The expedition is made up of a group of scientists sailing across the globe to learn more about the ocean's five trash gyres. Peter Charaf said, "The study's goal from a scientific point of view is to better understand the currents of the gyres, the five gyres that we have in the oceans, and the kinds of plastic. It's not only about where they come from, but what kind of plastic, and what kind of pollutants we have. Basically it's going around the world within 300 days with a racing trimeran to reach remote islands where we do the beach samplings."
 
The expedition set sail this past March, and aims to create the first global assessment of plastic pollution in the oceans. While it initially planned to stop in Guam, recent typhoons forced the trimeran to change course. "Unfortunately weather conditions, that's part of sailing - but we are still here to implement the scientific protocol," Charaf added.
 
Scientist Kim Van Arkel was one of four crewmembers who flew to Guam instead and conducted the first scientific study at Ipan Beach this morning. She said, "First we use a 100 meter area to do our study analysis, and so from the end to the beginning we survey with a drone to analyzes the microplastic - or particles more than 2.5 centimeters. We collect all the sand, sieve it, and with tweezers collect all the microplastic to do samples for a marine lab in Switzerland. We do also a lot of raising awareness with children, and with each trip we try to organize meetings to speak with scientists, NGO's and local associations to exchange with the locals."
 
Both say understanding pollution in the world’s oceans has more implications than the average person might realize. “Nowadays, and it’s really a problem that we have now, most of the fish have plastic in their bodies and almost half of the population of this world is eating fish. So we can say for sure because we have some studies, with people from Easter island, that do eat fish a lot, and they have some samples of some plastic pollutants in their blood. And it’s probably the case with most people to a certain degree, and it’s going to get worse and worse so we have to act now. The longer we wait the bigger the problem will be," Charaf said.
Van Arkel says understanding the trash gyres will help scientists to develop a solution to address this growing issue of plastic pollution.
 
The crew will conduct two more beach studies in Guam before leaving July 19 to their next destination in Tokyo. 
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