S.V. Blue Moon and crew are excited to be collaborating with Dr. Rebecca Helm, from the University of North Carolina, on our research in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch this year. Dr. Helm has asked us to assist in her research of neustons. Neustons are marine life that float on the surface of the water. There is strikingly little research on these incredible species. Some types, like “By-the-wind-sailors” are relatives of jellyfish and have a specialized sail to move through the water, with large groups forming together to make expansive flotillas on the surface. Other types, like the Blue sea dragon, have ONLY been seen in the North Pacific Subtropical gyre. Neustonic ecosystems are dense and richly habited, similar to a rainforest.
There is currently no way to predict when and where these species will be found, though research indicates that large populations exist within the Great Pacific Garbage Patch gyre. There is also very little information about the impact of plastics to these species, including the cleanup of plastics and its impacts to the greater oceanic ecosystem. Dr. Helm wrote an article about this issues, published by The Atlantic, and viewable by this link: https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/01/ocean-cleanup-project-could-destroy-neuston/580693/
Stay tuned to our blog for updates on the neustons and our ongoing research in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch!