Student researchers spend three weeks on a small ship investigating plastic residue and its effect on ocean water and marine life in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Straightforward organization introduces the students—Miriam Goldstein, Chelsea Rochman and Darcy Taniguchi—the problem, the 2009 Scripps Environmental Accumulation of Plastic Expedition, daily life on the research vessel and the scientific method: observe, develop hypotheses, design experiments. There are explanations of the North Pacific Central Gyre, the particular patch of the Pacific where plastic accumulates; the students’ individual research interests in rafting organisms, phytoplankton, and the chemistry of both plastics and surrounding water; and the scientific tools they used. Realistically, although Darcy comes home with observational data, her subsequent research follows another path. But the author describes some of Miriam’s and Chelsea’s continued experiments, seeking to answer questions their observations raised. Finally, the author suggests ways to reduce the use of plastics that might end up in ocean waters, oceangoing creatures and our bodies as well as on our beaches. Sidebars and text boxes add information. Photographs taken on the expedition help tell the story, and the book’s design is appealing and appropriate.
A sobering introduction and solid demonstration of science research in action. (source notes, glossary, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 10-15)