Oceanic Trash Vortex? You don’t have to imagine it because it already exists: a large area of ocean with bits of plastic, chemical sludge, and other slow-to-biodegrade debris in suspension. The Great Pacific garbage patch is a gyre, or large system of circulating ocean currents, made up of plastic debris accumulated over the past few decades. Frustratingly so, it is not visible in satellite photography or to anyone swimming directly in it because the patch covers a large expense of ocean and the debris is very low density.

A lot of scientific and media attention has been focused on the North Pacific Gyre, but there isn’t sufficient data to confirm the presence of floating plastic debris in the Southern Hemisphere’s gyres. That’s where Algalita comes in! Starting in November 2016, Algalita will embark on an expedition to the Southern Hemisphere to investigate the pollution within the South Pacific Gyre.

Interested students and teachers can interact with the researchers through Algalita’s Ship2Shore Blog. The program also includes weekly updates from the crew, interaction with other classrooms around the world, and access to additional classroom resources. For more information about Algalita, click here.

Concerned about the amount of waste you create? Learn about your trash through a Waste Audit or cut out disposables with Trash Free Lunches. Learn more about the environment by taking on Eco Lessons, such as the Ocean Pollution Solution lesson. If you haven’t already, register here to gain access to all the step by step implementation instructions and resources Grades of Green has to offer.