Rebecca R Helm Profile picture
May 5 21 tweets 8 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
OMG it literally took someone SWIMMING FROM HAWAII TO CALIFORNIA to discover this, but wow did we find something shocking in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch... [a thread 🧵]…
New study:
It started when this guy name Ben Lecomte started swimming. He'd already freestyle'd his way from Japan to Hawaii, and now he was going to California. SWIMMING. And luckily for us… Image
The mission was clear: to swim to and through the HEART of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. To see what is ACTUALLY out there. One stroke at a time, for months. And while he swam… Image
The crew of his support vessel took samples, and our team monitored the location of the patch, guiding Ben right to it. At first, before they entered the patch, those net samples, emptied onto sieves like this one, were pretty empty. But then… Image
BAM. They reached the boundary of the patch and there they were. Plastic yes, but also LIFE. Life living out there totally SEPARATE from plastic! Blue floating life, called 'neuston,' that’s been in the pacific for millions of years. This is…
An ecosystem hardly anyone studies. Let me introduce you. There are blue button jellies. Flower-shaped jellies that float on the surface and shimmer and pulse, like stars...
By-the-wind sailor jellies, going where the wind will take them, literal living sailboats.... ImageImageImage
Violet snails, who cannot swim and keep from drowning by making a life raft of snail slime. They also eat the man-o-war. And, as cannibals, each other…
All of these animals were more common in the Patch than anywhere Ben swam outside of it. On his swim Ben also encountered the infamous man-o-war...
And their predators, the blue sea dragons, who eat man-o-war and steal their stinging cells. Covering their bodies in armor made from the weapons of their vanquished prey…
There were fish, jellies, even insects! All living on the surface, all DESPITE plastic, totally unknown before. Like a meadow filled with plastic bags. It may look like a dump, but the meadow underneath persists... I mean...
Look at this! All that blue, THAT IS LIFE! Buckets full of it! And… ImageImage
Suddenly, it starts making sense. These animals float just like plastic. Their lives are moved around by the currents and wind, just like plastic. If you look at the amount of plastic and the amount of life, they line up! More plastic, more life. And the birds and turtles... Image
All the animals that eat plastic... guess what! They are trying to eat  FLOATING LIFE… Image
But what does this all mean? There's one other Garbage Patch with lots of known floating life. The Sargasso Sea in the North Atlantic. The Garbage Patches are more than just plastic. They're ecosystems and have been for millions of years. And...
📸@SargassoSeaCmsn ImageImage
there are FIVE major Garbage Patches. What other strange life may be hiding within them? This is why... Image
We must stop plastic BEFORE it enters the ocean. Indescriminent cleanup in the middle of the ocean may sound like a good idea, but it could be like bulldozing a meadow. There is life out there, and we know almost NOTHING about it...
When Ben left the Garbage Patch, that thick meadow of life thinned, and by the time he reached California, the surface was largely empty again. What Ben did is remarkable, not only for his unbelievable power and courage but for what he helped discover...
We need people like this. Be it swimmers or sailors, kayakers or yacht owners, to go into the open ocean and tell us what they see. This is what community science looks like. And you can be a part of it...
Join us from shore, through our global community science program
This much I know for sure: those "Garbage Patches"...they're more than we thought they were. It's time to explore. [End of Thread]

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Rebecca R Helm

Rebecca R Helm Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @RebeccaRHelm

May 3
What's wrong with...

High-seas plastic cleanup
Deep-sea mining
Mesopelagic fishing
High-seas geoengineering?

In our new paper, we discovered a HUGE issue at the heart of these industries. And ignoring it is a risk to all of us... [a thread 🧵]
Study: ImageImage
@DivaAmon @ashadevos @4kgjerde @HighSeasPolicy @DrCraigMc In 2019 my colleagues and I met in Liverpool to ask a simple question: for otherworldly ecosystems, like those on the high seas, where we know almost nothing, can we estimate the risks of human activities? It seemed so simple...
(📽️surface-dwelling blue button jellies)
We focused on the most accessible high seas ecosystem, the surface, and the largest novel activity impacting it: The Ocean Cleanup. We gathered everything known and used mathematical models to fill in the gaps. We discovered...
(📽️surface-dwelling blue sea dragon)
Read 15 tweets
Apr 20
Scientists discovered that comb jellies, like this one, don't have brains with individual nerve cells. Instead, their nervous system wraps around their body & is made of ONE GIANT FUSED CELL! ...🧵
Comb jellies come in so many shapes and sizes, but what they all have in common is being VERY STRANGE animals. When the animal tree first started growing, comb jellies branched off before anyone else, which means they're as different as a creature can be & still be an animal.... Image
This means that they don't do things the way most other animals do. Including, apparently, the way they think. Comb jellies can see and respond to the world, just like other animals, but they are apparently doing it using a never-seen-before 'fused' nervous system...
Read 8 tweets
Feb 9

This is an open ocean sea slug called Phylliroe. Phyliroe swims like a fish, hunts like a fish, and eats like a fish. This is an example of "convergent evolution," when animals do similar things nature selects similar body types.
...To be more precise, the sea slug Phylliroe is a type of sea slug known as a nudibranch, and is about the size and shape of a goldfish...
... Phylliroe’s ancestors long ago left the sheltered seafloor, evolving into open ocean hunters out for blood, or, if we’re being scientifically accurate, out for jelly.

Yep, this fish-shaped nudibranch eat jellyfish, like this one...
Read 7 tweets
Jan 6
A heartfelt note from a Japanese scientist at the end of WWII, asking the arriving Allied Forces at Tokyo's marine station to spare the science lab form destruction. A US captain alerted the Naval base in Woods Hole, and the marine lab was spared.
@MBLScience @WHOI
The note was written by Dr. Katsuma Dan, who had studied in many of the marine labs mentioned. The text reads: This is a marine biological station with her history of over sixty years. If you are from the East Coast, some of you might know Woods Hole or Mt. Desert or Tortugas...
If you are from the West Coast, you may know Pacific Prove or Puget Sound Biological Station. This place is a place like one of these. Take care of this place and protect the possibility for the continuation of our peaceful research. You can destroy the weapons...
Read 5 tweets
Jan 5
Tonight I am thinking about Moon. A humpback whose back was broke by a ship strike. Who swam 4000 miles using only her pectoral fins. Who now resides in the waters around Hawaii, where she will likely die.
More info:… Image
The thing about science that I love and hate is that it never lets you rest. You want to believe in the savagery of nature but it won't let you rest there because then you see the beauty. And so you take shelter in the beauty only to meet the brutality again...
When I first started science I thought it was all about finding answers, but that's not true. It's about living in a twilight, where you can almost see but never fully. About learning to walk softly in the dark. Moon's story breaks my heart. And I also know...
Read 7 tweets
Dec 15, 2022
Come work with me on open ocean bio!I’ve got research ideas (🧵below), but I’m also interested in how I can support yours! Sponsors are required to apply, so get in touch! Deadline fast approaching!
If you’re interested in community science and science for the public good: we have funding from NASA to build a community science program to study and map life on the ocean’s surface. You can gain skills in scicomm, community development, and decentralized scientific methods…
If you’re interested in marine spatial ecology we’ve building connectivity networks for oceans surface life, and how this life may or may not interact with plastic. You can read more here:…:
Read 5 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Don't want to be a Premium member but still want to support us?

Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal

Or Donate anonymously using crypto!


0xfe58350B80634f60Fa6Dc149a72b4DFbc17D341E copy


3ATGMxNzCUFzxpMCHL5sWSt4DVtS8UqXpi copy

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!