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Southern Surveyor finds plastic debris for first time off SW Tasmania

Day 2 on the Southern Surveyor and time for UWA’s Julia Reisser, also known as ‘The Trash Girl’, to log in from the high seas.

Sunday, 14 August 2011, 12:55hrs

Ok! So let’s bring some news of our second day on the RV Southern Surveyor.

The sun was shining (again), the food was amazing (as usual) and the  work started in a beautiful calm sea! Our first mission was to conduct  3 neuston trawls in coastal waters off southwest Tasmania.

Neuston net being deployed off South West Tasmania

Neuston  nets  are used to sample the interface air-water where floating  pieces of plastic tends to concentrate. So, do you think there was marine debris in this remote region?

The answer is yes. Some small fragments were collected for the first  time in this part of the ocean.

A seal checks out a Neuston net.

During the neuston trawls, a cute seal came close to the ship. Happy to see this nice animal and relieved that it didn’t bite the net! It came so close to check it out!

I also did 2 hours of visual observation in the bridge, looking for big floating garbage. I found two ~20cm fragments of white plastic (Styrofoam), lots of seaweeds, birds, and a BIG fish swimming close to  the surface (definitely a shark).

We did a CTD station to collect oceanographic data (temperature, salinity, oxygen profiles from surface till 800 meters). We also took some water samples (@ 800, 600, 400 m and surface) for metal analysis (Jason ‘Ironman’ Reynolds stuff). It was cool to see how this operation works at Southern Surveyor. The system is great! The CTD deployment is pretty easy, from the side of the ship.

After that, we had an XBT release with some nice teaching time (Prof. Mark Sherlock). These small torpedos give us temperature profiles till about 800 meters. It is a very easy way to get this important info when time is short, such as in Transit Voyages like this one.

At night we had more 3 neuston trawls in coastal waters of northwest Tasmania and there were just a few pieces of plastic – much less than in the trawls we made in southwest Tasmania.

I finished work at  22:30 when I went for some Brazilian tea time with Luana, who is from Rio de Janeiro, and then to my new room. It is a really nice one!

About UWS Field Expeditions

The University of Western Sydney has 40,000 students and 5,000 staff at six campus across Greater Western Sydney. From time to time UWS academic staff and students take their studies out into the field on expeditions of learning and discovery. Join them here...


One thought on “Southern Surveyor finds plastic debris for first time off SW Tasmania

  1. The sea is actually of the sailors. You are the owners of the biggest earth surface.
    Reading these moments of happiness and scientific activities in the letters of my baby sailor (children are always our babies), I can feel the greatness of this work as feel the taste of the adventure of being on the bridge of observation, as did the pirates and whalers of the movies of my past.
    Today I can see in the adventures of my new generation, the beauty to be the owner of the greatest treasure of humanity, our ocean.
    Congratulations Southern Surveyor team.

    Carlos (Julia`s father)

    Posted by carlos reisser junior | August 31, 2011, 3:02 am

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