Gyre to Gaia II | Azores to Canaries
Depart: Horta, Azores
Arrive: Lanzarote, Canaries
Length: 10 days, 9 nights
Focus: Plastic pollution in the North Atlantic Gyre
‘There is no more urgent intellectual task facing the human species… than thoroughly to re-imagine its relationship with nature’ Robert Macfarlane
Would you care to join us for:
- An ocean voyage adventure aboard 72ft yacht ‘Sea Dragon’
- Sailing through the North Atlantic Gyre, northern Europe’s oceanic dump
- Supporting key scientific research on plankton and microplastics
- Exploring little known seas, human/nature relations, and pressing marine environmental issues
- Debating effective, original solutions for ocean plastic pollution
- With a unique and lovely group of people?
Building on the success of two expeditions in 2014, Gyre to Gaia II aims to further our scientific knowledge of the relationship between plankton and microplastics; understand this issue in the wider context of human impacts on marine ecosystems; explore our relationship with nature in general and the sea in particular; and debate much needed solutions for one of the most challenging ecological issues of our time – ocean plastic pollution.
Gyre to Gaia II, originally convened by the Ocean Friendly Design Forum, is calling for an inter-disciplinary crew to sail from the Azores to the Canaries, across the edge of the North Atlantic Gyre. As well as sailing Sea Dragon, we will take part in daily scientific trawls in support of the plastics/plankton research; and facilitated discussions about ocean plastic pollution and its wider context, including other marine issues and human/nature relationships. Why do modern societies persist in treating the oceans as an infinite source of resources (like fish) and an infinite sump for waste: and what can be done to change this story and our treatment of the seas?
- Adam Porter marine plastics scientist from the University of Exeter will turn the yacht into a laboratory and ask, are plankton ingesting microplastics?
- Inspire a connection to the significance of the seas and their awe-inspiring biodiversity
- To take ourselves physically to the heart of the issue of plastic marine pollution and other marine issues and challenges
- Create new stories, narratives and creative ways of expressing our interdependence with the ocean
- Develop practical solutions for tackling the issue of ocean plastic, from design standards to changes in behaviour, values and world views
- Provide a creative space away from ‘land noise’ with a lovely bunch of people
Exeter Microplastics Research Info:
The microplastics research team at the University of Exeter, led by Professor Tamara Galloway and Dr Ceri Lewis, are investigating the uptake and biological effects of microplastics by a number of important marine animals.
Microplastic debris is made up of tiny plastic beads, granules, fibres and fragments less than 5mm in diameter. Work in the laboratory by the Exeter scientists has shown that these smaller pieces of plastic can be mistaken for food by a range of important marine animals, including zooplankton – the small animals at the bottom of the marine food chain. This has so far only been shown in laboratory experiments, and the aim of the Exeter scientist on the Gyre to Gaia II expedition will be to look to see if this occurs in the real ocean. Do microplastics occur in the same parts of the ocean as the plankton and, if so, can we find ‘real world’ evidence that plankton accidentally eat microplastics? What consequences, globally and locally, would
follow from this?
Whilst on board, scientist Adam Porter will be assessing the plastic problem first-hand. By taking sea-surface water samples, he will look at the different sizes and types of plastic littering our seas and consider its impact on the co-existing zooplankton that he finds. This work will form part of larger research projects across Europe and around UK coastal waters to better understand where microplastics occur and whether they impact marine zooplankton.
Use crowdfunding to get on board!
Several people have successfully raised money through crowdfunding to join previous expeditions on board Sea Dragon. The possibilities for this are endless, but we have resources and a few examples available here.
(Image credit: Maarten Vanden Eynde)
Adam Porter – Lead Scientist
Dai Rice – Skipper
Background & Expertise
I escaped from my main occupation a couple of years ago and am now a professional skipper. With over 50,000 miles of ocean sailing in both racing and cruising boats (and rowing boats!) I have first hand experience of the impact that pollution is having on our oceans and global well being.
My job as skipper is to ensure that Sea Dragon and her crew travel safely and happily across the oceans. It’s important to me that each member of the crew achieves their own personal goals, be they scientific, artistic, adventurous, philosophical or educational. And of course I’m always on hand to help teach saling, seamanship skills and bread making!
Andy Jeffrey – First Mate
To support the aims of the expedition by contributing to the safe operation of Sea Dragon. I would also like to learn more about the way in which we interact both as an ‘intelligent’ species and with our natural environment.
Lizzy Fitzsimmons – Deckhand
Marine Biologist turned professional sailor. After completing my masters in marine biology at Southampton I worked as a research diver in Hong Kong before moving to London to work as an environmental consultant. After 3 years behind a desk I broke free and, after completing the Clipper round the world yacht race have taken to a live on the ocean waves.
I am looking forward to doing some great expedition sailing whilst going back to be scientific roots and joining in great discussions on the oceans, its future and how we can start to make a difference through exploration, research and education.
I’m a communication- and productdesigner from Luxembourg (living in Germany), but first of all I’m a passionate outdoor nerd, backpacker and amateur surfer. I love to spend my free time as much as I can on the seaside, especially with my camera. Since I was child, I’m was always fascinated by marine science documentaries. During my studies, I began to work as “voluntary graphic designer” for a young group of marine scientists (Odyssea). This collaboration was so inspiring that I decided to combine my skills in the creative field with my passion for the sea and the outdoors, and so I founded the Start-Up outdoor label „Heroes of Nowhere“ this year. The label focus on fighting plastic pollution in our oceans : that means all the products will be mainly produced from recycled plastics recovered from the ocean and from beaches. One of the first products is backpack, which is already nominated for several design awards. But the mission of “Heroes of Nowhere” is not only to develop ocean-friendly products, but especially to make people aware of the plastic pollution in our oceans. This is why I started my own research project in order to showcase the consequences of our “plastic age” and especially to find people who dedicate their life to find solutions and raise awareness for this ecological issue. No matter if they are sailing the oceans, collecting plastics in the middle of nowhere, cleaning up beaches, creating whole new ways of living and trying to live plastic-free – they are for me the real heroes of our time!
|Jul 30th||Crew meet at noon in Horta, Azores. Afternoon/evening getting to know each other, relaxing ashore. Introduction session. This night will be at anchor.|
|Jul 31st||Safety briefing and then depart. Learn the basics of sailing.|
|Aug 1st-6th||Sailing, science and facilitated discussions|
|Aug 7th||Arrive in port|
|Aug 8th||Final discussion session. Crew depart at midday.|
*Itinerary subject to change based on weather and willingness to ‘say yes more’ to spontaneous possibilities 😉
Crew will require a passport from their home country that will allow them to travel to Portugal and Spain.
- 9 nights accommodation on board Sea Dragon
- All meals, snacks and drinks on board
- Sailing instruction
- Safety equipment and foul weather gear
Payment does not include:
- Transportation to Azores and home from Lanzarote
- Transportation to and from the dock
- Personal expenses while in port
Please see our Travel Kit List. This trip is considered tropical but do please bring at least one warm layer too.