Ocean Plastic Expedition Arrives In Bermuda

June 14, 2015

[Updated with photos] More than 35 scientists, artists, and environmental leaders arrived in St. George’s harbour today on the Mystic, a 167 foot tall ship schooner, conducting vital research on the impacts of marine plastic pollution.

The SEA Change Expedition, organized by leading plastic pollution non-profit The 5 Gyres Institute, brings together celebrated ocean advocates including musician Jack Johnson, explorer Céline Cousteau, and the surfers Keith and Dan Malloy, as well as other experts and NGOs to research the edge of the North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre where plastic pollution collects in high concentrations.

5 Gyres Co-Founders Anna Cummins and Dr. Marcus Eriksen pose next to plastic beach art on John Smiths Bay during their initial visit to Bermuda in 2010.

5 Gyres beach art Anna Cummins Marcus Erikson John Smiths Bay 18Jan2010

The Expedition is divided into three legs – Miami to Bahama, Bahamas to Bermuda, and Bermuda to New York. The expedition marks 5 Gyres’ 16th expedition, having sailed around the world once already to document the global impact of plastic marine pollution. In December 2014, 5 Gyres published the first global estimate on plastic pollution, finding 270,000 metric tons from 2.5 trillion particles of plastic.

“What we know now is that plastic in the ocean quickly shreds into microplastics and joins the SMOG of plastic polluting our oceans,” said Dr. Marcus Eriksen, 5 Gyres Co-Founder and Director of Research. “This new research revelation is driving solution inland, to the top of the watershed where the problem starts. But we need to return to sea, to educate crews, understand more, and monitor our successes on land.”

While in Bermuda, the public is invited to a free discussion “Marine Plastic Pollution Solutions: Globally & Locally” with the 5 Gyres Team and SEA Change Expedition Crew on Tuesday evening, June 16 at BIOS from 7-9 pm in Hanson Hall.

“The following day, June 17, a BHS class will get the opportunity to do a beach cleanup with some of the visiting researchers. BHS students will also cycle through concurrent activities with KBB, Greenrock and BIOS as part of the school’s Ocean Health initiative. The impressive 167’ tall ship Mystic will be docked alongside Penno Wharf until the team departs on June 18 on their third and final leg to New York.”

5 Gyres Discussion at BIOS on June 16

“We are pleased to welcome back the 5 Gyres team for their fourth visit to Bermuda. After their initial visit in 2010, several local environmental organizations formed the Bermuda Marine Debris Taskforce [BMDT] to continue studying the density and categories of plastic debris in the waters around Bermuda and what is washing up on our beaches,” said Anne Hyde, spokesperson for BMDT.

“Bermuda’s geographical location is ideal for marine research because you can reach very deep water just a few miles off shore, and because of its position in the Sargasso Sea and North Atlantic Gyre. A gyre is a series of ocean currents that circle clockwise, and in our case these currents carry debris from the United States to the Azores to Africa to South America then up into the most well-known current, the Gulf Stream, and past Bermuda.

“We get high concentrations of plastic debris washing ashore on Bermuda’s beaches. Sunlight and wave action degrade the plastic into small pieces over time and much of what arrives on the beaches in Bermuda has been at sea for a long time and travelled from thousands of miles away. We are also seeing evidence of bite marks on the plastic from turtles and fish mistaking it for food.”

“The expedition team was in the Bahamas on June 5th participating in the SEA Change Youth Summit with students and educators gathering to explore solutions to plastic pollution. 5 Gyres, The Island School, and Jack Johnson’s All At Once initiative brought together more than 75 local Bahamian, US and International students to participate in hands-on activities ranging from beach clean-ups and research to advocacy training.

“The team also celebrated World Environment Day, a UN flagship event encouraging worldwide action for the environment, by attending a designation ceremony to name Jack Johnson as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme. Following the ceremony, the expedition team joined Youth Summit students to remove plastic debris from a local shoreline.”

Not-for-profits organizations aboard include Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation, Surfrider Foundation, Upstream Institute, Bahamas Plastic Movement and Plastic Soup Foundation. For profit organizations participating include Klean Kanteen, LUSH Cosmetics, Chico Bag and Patagonia Ambassadors: Keith and Dan Malloy and Kimi Werner.

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  1. Now …can this plastic be harvested ,reprocessed,utilised in a cost effective manner…say…on a processing ship…all that raw material…free …?

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