Shailene Woodley Discusses Bermuda Visit

September 8, 2019 | 0 Comments

Emmy nominated actress Shailene Woodley has posted an essay at the on-line edition of Time magazine chronicling her recent voyage of environmental discovery into the Sargasso Sea from Bermuda.

In her capacity as the Greenpeace Oceans Ambassador, Ms Woodley joined the international environmental organisation’s research vessel Esperanza on its recent expedition to study the effects of microplastics and other pollutants on the Sargasso Sea.

Bermuda sits near the westernmost boundary of the Sargasso Sea, an area of ocean distinguished from the rest of the North Atlantic by its namesake seaweed and often calm blue waters.

Actress Shailene Woodley aboard the Greenpeace vessel Esperanza as it departs Bermuda for its research voyage into the Sargasso Sea. Photo courtesy of Greenpeace.

Shailene Woodley on MY Esperanza in Bermuda

The co-star of HBO’s Big Little Lies series said she had no idea of the scale of the microplastics problem until she came face to face with it.

Carrying scientists, researchers and students from 17 countries, including J.P. Rouja from the local Nonsuch Expeditions project, the Esperanza embarked from Bermuda in early August to spend part of the month in the Sargasso.

“The Sargasso Sea houses one of the most diverse ecosystems of any ocean, thanks to its abundant population of Sargassum seaweed,” says Ms Woodley in her essay. “We were told that due to the natural currents surrounding the Sargasso, it could potentially be a vortex for discarded waste to collect, similarly to the infamous Pacific Ocean garbage patch.

“We packed our bags, flew to Bermuda, boarded the Esperanza, and as we watched land drift away into the horizon, we knew something was about to profoundly impact our lives. We just couldn’t have known how much.”

She says watching a researcher in the ship’s laboratory go through a single day’s trawl was sufficient to hammer home the enormity of microplastic pollution to her.

“In order for a microplastic to be considered micro, it must be under five millimetres in size,” says the longtime environmental advocate. “Lined up along graph sheets, he had found over a thousand pieces that first day. A thousand pieces of pin-dot sized remnants of toothpaste tubes, dishwasher detergent bottles, sandwich bags, yoga pant fibers, iPhone cases, coffee cup lids … a thousand pieces that could have come from one bag of my own trash alone. A thousand pieces that were collected in less than an hour, skimming roughly only two feet in diameter of ocean surface.

“A thousand pieces that will live on to haunt the stomachs of my future children when they ingest wild fish. A thousand pieces that will never decompose. A thousand pieces that rattled a hopelessness into me. A guilt so profound, I’m still struggling with it today.”

You can read her full essay here.

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