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Senior Honors Researcher Takes to Sea to Study Garbage Patch

A DalyThe Pacific Garbage Patch has attracted the attention of a Loyola Marymount undergraduate researcher.  The floating mass of garbage that is estimated at twice the size of Texas – perhaps larger – is composed mostly of plastic waste and floats in the North Pacific Gyre. Annie Daly, a senior at Loyola Marymount University, was given an Honors Summer Research Grant to study the Garbage Patch.

Daly will be at sea for a month working with Project Kaisei to study the Garbage Patch and its environmental effects. Project Kaisei, a nonprofit organization that studies ocean debris, its effects on marine life and possible cleanup solutions, is making its second expedition the North Pacific Gyre.

A ship captain discovered the Garbage Patch in the mid-1990s in an area of the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and Los Angeles. About 80% of the garbage floating on and below the ocean surface is land-based.

Daly created her own major, environmental studies, within Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts, because she wanted to approach the subject from political science and social science perspectives. Daly said that Brian Treanor, her adviser and associate professor of philosophy, was supportive as she created the course of study. Treanor helped inaugurate the university’s environmental studies minor in 2009.

Daly’s philosophy-based introductory course in environmental studies, examined questions such as: “Does the environment have rights?”

After her research trip, Daly plans to create a mixed-media art exhibit inspired by her experience. “This summer, I’m expecting to be a sponge and learn a lot from [the researchers],” Daly said.

Posted June 21, 2010