Outdoor Philosophy

Harnessing the power of adventure to inspire environmental action

Category: Gyre2Gaia

Gyre to Gaia – Ocean Plastic Sailing Voyage

From the UK to the Azores to the Canary Islands in 2014, Gyre to Gaia was a unique journey on board Pangaea Exploration’s yacht Sea Dragon. With a mixed crew of scientists, artists and activists our aims were to explore a range of questions about the impacts of plastic pollution on the marine environment in general and on zooplankton in particular – do plankton ingest microplastics? And if so, what are the consequences – as well as to use the voyage to raise awareness and inspire action. While the scientists trawled the waves for plastic and plankton, artists Studio Swine built their stunning, solar-powered ‘Golden Machine’ transforming waste plastic into things of use and beauty.

We all debated possible underlying deep roots of our multiple environmental challenges in good Outdoor Philosophy fashion.  Why do we consume so much plastic in the first place? What understanding of humans’ relationship to nature encourages us to treat the oceans as a dump? And of course, we talked solutions. From awareness raising to redesign to legislation to local activism such as Plastic Free July – now in 69 countries – we need interventions at all level of the plastic system. Research on microplastics is ongoing at the University of Exeter, Biosciences Department. Further info and tales from the high seas in the blogs below…


Lanzarote, on the horizon for hours as a question mark – cloud or land? – came into focus as an extended sprawl of volcanic hills. A fantastically arid landscape, all…

Ocean friendly design

Yesterday, after the daily trawl for plankton and plastic, we sat in hot sunshine brainstorming. We’ve been heading steadily south east, back into summer, and by late afternoon, the deck…

Plankton Poo

Yesterday, Stephanie Wright, Sea Dragon’s resident leg 1 scientist, gave a great talk at the University of the Azores’ Oceanography Department, a gracious white building on the hillside above Horta….


Saturday morning we stepped off Sea Dragon and onto a solid jetty, the first land underfoot for well over a week. It swayed alarmingly – despite being made of concrete….


I’ve never experienced such contrasting ones! During several humbling days of sea-sickness, my horizons shrank to perhaps the narrowest ever; the uniquely vile sensation of overwhelming nausea and the proximity…


Am hunched over laptop in brilliant sunshine on the aft deck of the Sea Dragon. The plastic/plankton trawls for the scientific work have been lowered into the choppy sea and…


Brilliant. That’s the word in mind today. The combination of people, skills, professions, interests and passions on board – marine scientists, photographers, film-makers, plastic pollution activists and campaigners, commercial project…