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Lost in the Deep

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Published on Jan 9, 2013

During a transit from San Francisco Bay to the Port of Los Angeles on 26 February 2004, the cargo ship M/V Med Taipei weathered a storm but lost fifteen 40-ft shipping containers in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS), and another nine south of the sanctuary. One of these containers was discovered by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) on June 9, 2004 at a depth of 1,281 meters, 17.5 nm NW of Point Pinos (near Monterey, CA).

This was not an isolated incident. Containerized maritime trade grew eight-fold from 1985 to 2007, and worldwide there are now approximately 5 to 6 million containers in transit at any given moment. An estimated 10,000 shipping containers are lost at sea every year, often due to the nexus of rough seas and inadequate or faulty securing mechanisms. Many containers are not weighed prior to loading, resulting in extreme forces being placed on container stacks when bad weather strikes. Depending on the cargo, containers may float at the surface for several days or weeks prior to sinking. Unfortunately, it is not mandatory to report container losses to all relevant management agencies.

From March 8-11, 2011, a science team led by Dr. Andrew DeVogelaere (MBNMS) and Dr. James Barry (Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, MBARI) conducted a research expedition aboard MBARI's R/V Western Flyer.

The remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Doc Ricketts was deployed to address the following goals:
• Assess the container's current condition by gathering high-resolution imagery
• Describe sea life on the container and at different distances from it
• Bring public attention to this deep-sea phenomenon that has been increasing with economic globalization and increased shipping

For more information, please visit http://sanctuarysimon.org/projects/pr...

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