“When we got the chance to get some feedback, people following us were saying, ‘Oh, because of what you’re doing I changed my habits. Now I don’t use a straw anymore,’ or something like that,” he said.
“It was an amazing feeling to know we had made an impact,” he went on. “That’s what it takes — one person at a time to make a change. And I hope that what we are doing and what we have been doing is helping, making some of the right changes.”
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Tiny bits of plastic are turning up in the bodies of shellfish, seabirds, and terrestrial animals like earthworms — even human feces. They’re harming animals who eat them, and they raise concerns about human health, since harmful chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants such as dioxins and PCBs can bind to plastics. Experts say citizens can help tackle the problem by making sure their household materials are properly disposed of or recycled — or by using less of it in the first place.
The Swim crew also collected data on a variety of subjects for more than a dozen scientific institutions back on shore. They recorded sightings of giant phytoplankton, which cycle from shallow water to the depths to photosynthesize nutrients. They took readings of water temperatures, salinity, and pH, which is a bellwether of climate change, since the oceans are growing more acidic as they absorb more carbon dioxide from the air.
Seeker’s onboard medic Maks Romeijin kept tabs on Lecomte’s heart function, bone density, and vision as he spent much of each day in the water. Those records could help doctors at NASA learn more about the effects of long-term, low-gravity space missions on astronauts.