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.