LIKE the rest of the world, I’ve been following this hunt for debris from the presumably wrecked Malaysian Airlines flight very closely.
It’s just so awful, but like many others, I often find myself wondering how a massive Boeing aircraft can vanish. More than 200 tonnes, just gone, apparently without trace.
When the search began concentrating on the Southern Indian Ocean, about 2000km from Perth, the thought occurred that there must be debris, but no one could find any.
Then they started finding debris. Boy did they start finding debris. Thousands of bits of it, but none of it, sadly, yet identified as being from that aircraft.
So, what’s going on?
I’d sort of expected this. The search area is in or near something called the Indian Ocean Gyre, or, more colloquially among oceanographers, the Great Indian Ocean Garbage Patch. It was discovered in 2010, one of five such areas on the planet.
It’s where ocean currents and movements create a concentration of rubbish, mainly plastics. Usually, the plastic has broken down into microscopic bits, but there are often chunkier bits of stuff. Off fishing boats and container ships. Washed out to sea by floods and tsunamis or dumped by thoughtless humans.
What’s going on now is that we’re trying to find certain bits of garbage in a massive garbage patch. It’s like looking for a certain plastic bag at the Eaglehawk landfill.
I know where another of these gyres is. It’s in my garden shed. There’s a Garbage Patch next to my Vegie Patch.
All the bits and pieces of my life which seem to have vanished eventually surface in the shed, from great drifts of dust and cobweb covered items. I can prove this because I voyaged into the shed at the weekend in search of a once very handy hole saw.
I know I have one of these because I used it. Back in 1993 when I was trying to make some wheels for a toy horse, and I would not have chucked it out.
Down, down, deeper down Mrs Whacked and I ventured into the Bushwhacked Gyre, and a long list of bits began to surface.
The green plastic bike pump I’d been looking for since 2007 and which is the only known way to pump up the wheelbarrow wheels. MORE transformers and chargers (vis a vis last week’s Bushwhacked). A motorcycle front drum brake. A bag of quite handy steel wool. A bucket of rose food so old it didn’t stink any more. An (allegedly) useful pair of safety goggles. The instructions for the brush-cutter which hasn’t worked well for years.
How did all this stuff – and more – gravitate to the shed? I believe it is a form of that ocean vortex, but instead of water movements nudging it into the middle, human movements do the same. We start edging stuff: first, out of the lounge and into the tool box, then out of the tool box into the shed cupboard, and from there it sort of blinks out of existence until the vortex is finally plumbed.
The Bushwhacked Shed Gyre continues to throw up answers to great mysteries. Such as why do we always have to buy new rolls of green garden tie wire? Where did the last 25 rolls go? Now we know.
Unfortunately, the hole saw must be in the deeper reaches of the gyre and couldn’t be found, sparking another trip to the hardware centre, which then led to a purchase of some probably handy rope, a bucket and some L-shaped brackets.
Still no sign of a Boeing, sadly.