It’s hard to see an upside to all the plastic we’ve dumped into the world’s oceans, but there might be a sliver of silver glinting through the clouds: scientists have learned a lot about how ocean currents work by studying the way in which floating trash is transported. Recently I’ve come across two books that describe what scientists are learning.
Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion (Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 2007) is a wonderful children’s book on the subject. Written by Loree Griffin Burns, the book is interesting enough to engage ocean enthusiasts of any age and lavishly illustrated with photos, maps, charts, and diagrams. Several ocean scientists who have used washed up trash to better understand how ocean waters move discuss their work. There’s also plenty of information about how floating debris affects ocean animals, and what we can all do to help.
Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea by Donovan Hohn (Viking Adult, 2011) is a much longer treatment (416 pages) of the same subject explored in greater depth (pun intended) for an adult readership. I haven’t read it yet, but am impressed by the reviews linked below.