A team comprised of 14 female researchers hop on a yacht and sail to the Caribbean. When they first made the announcement, there were many chuckles. Some people believed they wouldn’t be able to last long without pulling out each other’s hair. Traditionally women have been seen as being competitive and petty. However, these women prove their naysayers wrong.
Most of the women meet for the first time aboard Sea Dragon, a 72 feet long vessel that was specifically designed to sail upwind. The women represent many different countries, USA, Canada, Germany, UK, Norway, and Portugal. Their individual academic backgrounds and collective experience are impressive.
These scientists were out to figure out a way to save the Earth’s oceans and the amazing creatures and plants that live there. They believe that if people become more knowledgeable about what’s at risk, they would be able to make wiser choices.
Plastic accounts for over 90% of all the trash that finds it way into the ocean. There is no organized sorting of waste in the majority of coastal countries and islands. The sea has become a toxic plastic soup in some areas because so much plastic is dumped directly into the water. What most people fail to realize is that this plastic ends up in the stomach of marine animals and then eventually finds it way on to our plates.
Emily Penn, founder of Expedition and Director of Global Organization Pangaea Exploration explains that most of the ocean is covered in a fine layer of microplastics.
These are tiny particles that can be found at the very surface of the water, and are harmful to the ocean and marine life. And so the first thing they do is set out to gather samples. The shocking thing is that no matter where they sail, they always get plastic in the water samples even if they have not seen land for over a week.
As they gather the samples they come across Styrofoam food containers, plastic bags, disposable cups, bottle caps, and more. The more time they spend at sea, the clearer it becomes that the solution needs to start on land.
They disembark in St. Lucia, and Eastern Caribbean Island, and are overwhelmed by the amount of plastic containers that are floating near the coast like some type of deathly blanket. As the mess drifts into the ocean it breaks down quickly into small fragments, which fish can easily eat or swallow.
At Dominica, they visit a school and try to get students involved in fun activities that highlight the importance of recycling.
Each scientist brings along many valid reasons for joining the expedition, but at the foundation is a deep love for nature and the desire to see humans leave a more positive and worthwhile legacy for future generations.