Looking For FADs In The South Pacific...

This week I am in the South Pacific looking for fish aggregating devices, or FADs.

These are artificial constructs designed to create mini-eco systems for fish in the wide open ocean. Fishermen use them to gather their prey into one place, making them an easy target. FADs can be made from a variety of materials, and like this one, they are quite often they are made out of a bamboo poles, fishing buoys and fishing nets. This FAD looks abandoned, judging by the amount of gooseneck barnacles which have attached themselves to it.

Sometimes FADs are made from empty oil drums or even uprooted trees. Like an oasis in the desert, fish and sharks are drawn to FADs, as there really is nothing else around for hundreds of miles.

And here is part of an old fishing float which has unwittingly transformed itself into a 'mini-FAD'.

The foamy plastic object has also become encrusted in gooseneck barnacles, even picking up a crab and a wormy thing or two along the way. The main problem seen here is a process known as bio-accumulation. This is the process whereby floating plastic debris in the oceans absorb harmful chemicals like pesticides, runoff, and fuel that come from our rivers and ships. Those harmful chemicals are then ingested by marine creatures such as the gooseneck barnacle, which in turn are then eaten by fish, which are eaten by bigger fish, and eventually get eaten by us human beings. The long term health consequences of bio-accumulation entering the food chain are currently being studied by Scripps Institute of Oceanography.

Fifty or so years after the invention of plastics, the threat plastics may be posing to our health is becoming clearer. For example, here is a link to a BBC article published on their website yesterday which outlines the potential dangers that plastics could be posing to an unborn child's hormone balance.

All of these photos were taken at sea in French Polynesian waters. I am currently on the high seas somewhere near Kiribati, approaching the equator.


All images and text © Alex Hofford / Image Solutions Ltd. 2011 | Web design in Hong Kong by Ugli © 2011