Cover image for Tracking trash : flotsam, jetsam, and the science of ocean motion
Title:
Tracking trash : flotsam, jetsam, and the science of ocean motion
ISBN:
9780618581313
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2007.
Physical Description:
56 p. : ill. (chiefly col.), col. maps ; 24 x 29 cm.
Reading Level:
1200 L Lexile
Summary:
Aided by an army of beachcombers, oceanographer Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer tracks trash in the name of science. From sneakers to hockey gloves, Curt monitors the watery fate of human-made cargo that has spilled into the ocean. The information he collects is much more than casual news; it is important scientific data. And with careful analysis, Curt, along with a community of scientists, friends, and beachcombers alike, is using his data to understand and protect our ocean--Publisher.
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Summary

Summary

Aided by an army of beachcombers, oceanographer Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer tracks trash in the name of science. From sneakers to hockey gloves, Curt monitors the watery fate of human-made cargo that has spilled into the ocean. The information he collects is much more than casual news; it is important scientific data. And with careful analysis, Curt, along with a community of scientists, friends, and beachcombers alike, is using his data to understand and protect our ocean.

In engaging text and unforgettable images, readers meet the woman who started it all (Curt's mother!), the computer program that makes sense of his data (nicknamed OSCURS), and several scientists, both on land and on the sea, who are using Curt's discoveries to preserve delicate marine habitats and protect the creatures who live in them. A Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book for Nonfiction.


Author Notes

Loree Griffin Burns, Ph.D., did her doctoral work far from the Pacific Ocean, at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. While writing this book, however, she made several trips to the Pacific coast. Ms. Burns lives in Massachusetts with her husband and children.


Reviews 5

Horn Book Review

(Intermediate, Middle School) When the first Nike sneaker washed up on the coast of Washington, no one thought much about it. But when hundreds more followed, scientist Curt Ebbesmeyer discovered that the shoes came from a cargo spill in the Pacific Ocean. With that knowledge, he began building a hypothesis about the ocean currents in the Pacific. Other spills followed, most notably one of plastic tub toys, and beachcombers and other scientists gathered drift information that expanded our knowledge of the ocean's patterns. Burns's first three chapters cover these events, conveying solid scientific explanations and clarifying such principles as charting, latitude and longitude, currents, waves, tides, and gyres. Photographs and detailed discussions of related subjects, such as cargo containers and windage, contribute much background information. The remaining two chapters, also buoyed with scientific explanations, discuss tracking fishing-net debris and the effect of ocean trash on the environment. Scientific information builds from chapter to chapter, creating a natural detective story. Appended with a glossary; further reading suggestions, including both books and websites; a discussion of sources; and an index. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

In 1990, five containers packed with Nike sneakers were swept off a cargo ship during a storm at sea. In 1992, 28,800 floating bathtub toys spilled into the Pacific in a similar mishap. The book profiles two oceanographers who devised experiments using computer-modeling programs of ocean surface current movement to predict the landfall of these drifting objects. They also gathered data from the beachcombing community to test their hypotheses. The last third of the book describes the mounting problem of plastic trash in the oceans and shows how this debris is destructive to marine life. Back matter includes a glossary, bibliographic notes, and short annotated lists of books and Web sites. Spacious layout, exceptionally fine color photos, and handsome maps give this book an inviting look, though its higher reading level indicates an older audience than some earlier titles in the Scientists in the Field series. A unique and often fascinating book on ocean currents, drifting trash, and the scientists who study them. --Carolyn Phelan Copyright 2007 Booklist


New York Review of Books Review

THERE'S no use avoiding it: our kids need to know about the global environmental crisis - climate change, deforestation, species extinction. And as long as we're teaching them about all that, we may as well teach them some science at the same time. Learning about evaporation can be as boring as watching a pot boil, but if it's part of a habitat-destroying, polar-bear-killing, actually-somewhat-interesting environmental disaster, maybe that's something kids could enjoy reading. Here are two new books that don't shy away from the complexity of the science or the gravity of our environmental situation, but which also don't forget their audience. Never before have so many serious ecological ideas been mixed so heavily with flatulence jokes and sad pictures of cute animals. The details of global warming boggle some of the world's finest minds, but Laurie David and Cambria Gordon's "Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming" actually makes it easy to understand. The first third of the book is dedicated to the science behind climate change. And while nitpickers may find the lack of references and occasional simplifications annoying, I've never seen a more comprehensive explanation of the phenomenon in so few words. The authors may reach a bit when they try to sound less square, likening the buying of compact fluorescent light bulbs to "an upgrade on your iTunes software." But they make the science relevant and enjoyable with abundant visuals and conclude with some meaty ways for kids to make a difference. The old standbys are all there (switch light bulbs, recycle, use canvas bags at the grocery store). But I smiled on noticing something new: the authors suggest some "sustainable careers" kids can consider, like meteorologist and "glacial geologist." Global warming may be the biggest and most complex environmental problem we're facing, but it's not the only one. Loree Griffin Burns's "Tracking Trash" takes on the problem of waste in the world's oceans. Her story begins in 1990, when thousands of mysterious sneakers washed up on beaches in New England. Curtis Ebbesmeyer, an oceanographer, set out to track their origin. Burns tells his story, along with those of other scientists and citizens who track trash, and shares their genuinely fascinating and important discoveries about oceanic currents. It's a science text, but there's a bit of detective novel thrown in as well. Of course, the publishers embrace the environmental theme: the cover of the book features both a litter-strewn beach and a net-strangled seal. But most of the book is about scientists doing science. Useful sidebars in every chapter serve to teach concepts like latitude and longitude, and the importance of plankton. The book hits its climax with some frightening bits about trash and discarded fishing nets floating through the ocean, destroying reefs and killing birds, turtles, sharks and other creatures. But the work of our fearless scientists (which began with tracking those shoes, which fell off a cargo ship) leads to techniques for helping prevent further destruction of our ocean ecosystem. Is it foolish to be somewhat glad that a global environmental crisis is providing an exciting framework within which kids can learn science? Well, yes, of course it is. But these two books are a pretty fine silver lining to that looming storm cloud. Hank Green is the editor in chief of EcoGeek.org, an environmental technology blog.


School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-While the subtitle leads one to believe that the heart of this book is about the science of ocean currents, it's actually about why we need to protect our marine environment. Burns tells the tale of Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer, an oceanographer who started to track trash (flotsam) that washed up on the shore near his Seattle home. Through floating sneakers and bath toys that accidentally fell off container ships and a computer program named OSCURS, Ebbesmeyer tracked the currents of the ocean. These experiments led to a discussion of how debris is polluting our oceans and causing harm to marine life. Burns introduces the work of several scientists who are working to clean up ghost nets and other dangerous debris. The well-written narration will keep readers engaged, and it's excellent for reports. The science is clearly explained, and the vivid and lively photographs and well-labeled charts and diagrams help to create interest and build understanding. This title will get readers thinking and possibly acting on these problems.-Esther Keller, I.S. 278, Marine Park, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Kirkus Review

This entry in the exemplary Scientists in the Field series uses the work of Dr. Curt Ebbesmeyer and others tracking trash circulating through the Pacific Ocean to introduce readers to the science of ocean motion. Opening with an explanation of ocean currents and their role in distributing five containers of Nike sneakers that fell overboard in 1990, the author goes on to introduce Ebbesmeyer and his work. Interspersed are short sections explaining longitude and latitude; waves, tides, currents and gyres; and the plankton that share the surface currents. Maps and varied color photos support the text, printed on a background of appropriately patterned paper. Step by step, the reader of this engaging description of research involving familiar objects like tub toys and LEGO pieces comes to the profoundly depressing realization that the oceans of the world and the stomachs of marine animals are filled with indestructible bits of human trash, just in time for the section entitled, "What You Can Do." Endmatter includes an inviting list of books and websites to explore. (glossary, bibliographic notes, index) (Nonfiction. 11-16) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.