Earn Your Octopus Badge
We've learned about our own watersheds and the living things in our backyards, followed the water and trash downstream to an estuary, and seen how we are all connected to the ocean no matter where we live. Let's earn the octopus badge by heading out into the open ocean to see what happens out there and how trash is carried around the earth by ocean currents.
Large circular currents, called gyres, can trap trash in their centers. There are 5 major gyres: North Atlantic, South Atlantic, Indian, North Pacific, and South Pacific. The five gyres have become home to large areas of pollution known as Garbage Patches. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is one such region - made up of a soupy plastic accumulation of pollution. Imagine the trash as noodles and the ocean as the broth. That's one disgusting soup.
How do ocean currents work?
The water in the ocean is always moving, like a large ocean conveyor belt, transporting nutrients and animals around the world. On the surface we see it move in the form of waves. Below the surface, the water moves due to changes in temperature, salt, and even the spinning of the earth! Ocean currents are important because they sustain countless marine habitats full of wildlife and they regulate Earth's Climate.
But that's not all currents carry...
Currents, whether they're on the surface or deep below, also carry trash. They're like pollution highways! Since animals, nutrients, and trash are all traveling on this highway, what do you think happens when one of the animals gets hungry on their journey along a current? See if you can find out which aquatic animals like to travel along the currents and what they like to eat. Remember to use your knowledge of food chains to help you see who is eating what in an ocean current!
In 1992 a cargo ship carrying 29,000 rubber ducks along with other toys spilled into the northern Pacific Ocean. The ducks have been drifting ashore for 20 years, carried around the world by the ocean currents. The duckies have been named "Friendly Floatees" by the people who track them. The rubber duckies have helped raise awareness of how plastic pollution endures for a very long time and travels around the world, making it a global issue. Check out the path the ducks took along various currents!
DID YOU KNOW?
LET'S FIND OUT...
What does plastic traveling along an ocean current look like? Watch this video to find out. See if you can spot the ocean animals among the plastic. What do they eat? Who eats them? Do you think the animals looking for a meal along this ocean highway might mistake the trash for food?
Now that you know more about ocean currents let's record some data. Which plastic items can you identify in the video above? Make a list of these items in your scientist notebook. Sea turtles often travel along the currents, snacking on jellyfish along the way. They often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish. Draw a picture of a sea turtle, a jellyfish, and a plastic bag in your notebook. Draw an 'X' over the plastic bag.
Record these words and their definitions in your scientist notebook
Books to Explore
YOU DID IT!
You successfully completed level nine by learning how ocean currents work! Don't forget to add your newly earned badge to your achievement chart before getting started on the next level.
Now that you know what an ocean current is, let's dive a bit deeper and earn your next badge.