Marcus Eriksen – Research Expedition Leader
Marcus Eriksen received his Ph.D. in Science Education from University of Southern California in 2003, months before embarking on a 2000-mile, 5-month journey down the Mississippi River on a homemade raft. His experience on the river led to a career studying the ecological impacts of plastic marine pollution, which has included expeditions sailing 25,000 miles through all 5 subtropical gyres to discover new garbage patches of plastic pollution in the Southern Hemisphere. Though still rafting, his most recent adventure sent him and a colleague across the Pacific Ocean from California to Hawaii on JUNK, a homemade raft floating on 15,000 plastic bottles and a Cessina airplane fuselage as a cabin (junkraft.com). The journey, 2,600 miles in 88 days, brought attention to the work of the 5 Gyres Institute, the organization he co-founded with his wife Anna Cummins. Together, they co-direct 5 Gyres, which is committed to marine conservation through continued research, education and adventure, studying and lecturing about the plague of plastic waste in our watersheds and in the sea. Formerly Director of Project Development for Algalita, he has served as Research Expedition Leader for investigation of the plastic marine pollution issue in all five major gyres of the world over the past couple of years, most recently, last summer on the Algalita 2011 Expedition from Honolulu to Vancouver, B.C.His first book, titled “My River Home” (Beacon Press, 2007) chronicled his Mississippi River experience paralleled with his tour as a Marine in the 1991 Gulf War. In 2007 he joined board of the Mehadi Foundation and contributes his time to help the foundation assist US veterans and provide clean water to schools in Iraq. He also hosts “Commando Weather,” a series of public service announcements about the science of weather and survival, for the Weather Channel. When not rafting, he enjoys time with Anna and is awaiting the birth of their daughter.
Rodrigo Olson – Skipper
Born in Mexico, Rodrigo has spent his life sailing the oceans of the world in search of some of the planet’s most elusive whale species. He has a degree in Oceanography and was Captain of the famous research vessel ‘Odyssey’ which spent five years studying marine mammals around the globe. He has covered almost 300,000 nautical miles on sailing boats. A highly experienced diver, his ability to free-dive to great depths has resulted in some fantastic footage of his interaction with many species.
Jessie Horton – First Mate
Jesse is an artist, videographer, boat captain and submarine pilot, hailing from Colorado to Costa Rica. He specializes in documenting “hard to reach issues,” like pollution at the bottom of the ocean and wildlife in inaccessible areas. He’s recently documented shark finning in Asia and Central America and worked to help reduce plastic consumption in the South Pacific islands. He’s filmed Great Whites without a cage in South Africa; chased poachers from marine parks in Central America; regularly holds his breath for up to five minutes while making free dives; and has survived a brain tumor. In his “downtime”, he competes in 24-hour endurance/adventure races with a best finish in “only” 4th place.
Stiv Wilson – Communications and Media Coordinator
Stiv is a freelance environmental journalist/photojournalist and the Communications Director for The 5 Gyres Institute. He is also an ambassador for The Surfrider Foundation and an advisor to The United Nations Safe Planet campaign on hazardous chemicals in the environment. He spends about half his time at sea with The 5 Gyres team, and when not at sea he lectures on plastic pollution around the country. He resides (or at least does laundry in between trips) at his home in Portland, Oregon.
Living in Leeds with a family of 4, Mandy has been committed to raising awareness about plastic marine debris. Her interests revolve around nature, walking and exploring the outdoors. She is a graphic designer and photographer with hopes to raise awareness of plastic pollution through her art.
Lindsey is a freelance environmental journalist based in Boston. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, the Boston Globe and Scientific American among others. She maintains a blog on the Forbes network and is currently working on a story about fog-harvesting in Morocco. Her interests include running, bocce and competitive pasta-eating.
Laura is a 20-year old student from Switzerland. She has been passionate about nature from early childhood on. Most of her free time she has spent hiking through the woods on horseback. Her passion for horses, natural horsemanship and the classical art of riding is a very important ingredient of her life and a never-ending resource of joy and peace. Even though it might appear so, she doesn’t want to become a vet, but has taken up courses at the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland to follow her dream of becoming an environmental engineer. During her gap year she participated at the Talent Forum of Swiss Youth in Science as well as at the World Resources Forum. She was invited to intern at the World Resources Forum Association where she had the opportunity to work with Bas de Leeuw, former UNEP. It was a very interesting time to connect with industry, research and politicians. Besides horsemanship, she also loves to go rock climbing, skiing, diving, hiking and other outdoors activities. She’s looking forward to learning from the experiences of other crewmembers and spending a great time on board Sea Dragon.
Dani is a 28 year-old biologist from Sao Paulo, Brazil. She was born and raised in a huge city but has always been enthusiastic about nature and is always up for a new adventure. She has been working in the environmental field for 6 years with a recent post graduation on waste management.
Nick earned an Honors B.S. in Biology and Marine Science from Dickinson College. His research investigated migration and residency patterns of juvenile lemon sharks (Negaprion brevirostris) in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Nick earned his Master’s Degree from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, concentrating on Coastal Environmental Management. His thesis examined the efficacy of volunteers in resource management and invoking citizen science in marine conservation. Nick collaborated with Duke’s Marine Mammal Lab on a research expedition to the Northwest Hawaiian Islands in 2010, to examine marine debris impacts on marine organisms inhabiting Midway Atoll and the surrounding reef ecosystem.
Shortly after joining Ocean Conservancy in August 2010, Nick joined Project Kaisei on its voyage to the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre to investigate the accumulation of debris at-sea. Nick manages a diverse range of marine debris projects at Ocean Conservancy including International Coastal Cleanup data analyses, at-sea research, and an inter-disciplinary working group on marine debris. He is also actively engaged in public education regarding ocean trash and the importance of waste minimization through social media and outreach. He strives to work at the crossroads of science, education, industry, and policy; establishing a dialogue with these entities devoted to reducing one-time use disposable goods.
Although originally from Australia, Tracey has been living in Hong Kong for the last 7 years. Through the environmental group DB Green she organizes monthly community cleanups on a number of local beaches and is a volunteer speaker in several HK schools, raising awareness about the plastic in our oceans. Previously working as a Registered Nurse she now owns an online retail store selling eco party supplies for children www.missgreenpartyqueen.com and is married with two children – 7 & 4.
Paul is a photographer, environmentalist and wildlife rescuer from Perth, Western Australia. Growing up on Western Australia’s amazing coastline and being involved with marine animal and seabird rescue from a young age gave him a strong appreciation for the ocean and highlighted the increasing threats to our seas. By joining the Algalita Marine Research Institute and 5 Gyres expedition, Paul hopes to not only help in increasing understanding of plastic in our oceans, he sees this as an opportunity to build relationships with fellow plastic pollution activists and environmentalists from around the globe.
In 2010 Paul founded the Two Hands Project in response to the growing plastic pollution he saw on Australian coastlines and waterways. See http://www.facebook.com/twohandsproject
Shannon currently serves as the Volunteer Coordinator in the Public Education Program at the California Coastal Commission. In this role she leads communication with program partners in the coordination of the annual Coastal Cleanup Day Program and manages the year-round Adopt-A-Beach Program, which together engage over 100,000 volunteers annually in beach, shoreline, and creek-side cleanups. Shannon interacts daily with members of the public and regularly represents the Coastal Commission’s Public Education Program at public events, and leads the development of communications via the Public Education Program’s quarterly e-newsletter, Coast 4U Quarterly.
In 2009, she gained certification as a Coastal Program Analyst (CPA), scoring within the 94 the percentile. Prior to her work at the California Coastal Commission, Shannon served as the Education Coordinator for the non-profit I Love A Clean San Diego, providing and developing environmental education to thousands of San Diego’s youth, and developing an after-school program centered on watershed education and storm water pollution prevention.
During a ten-month period teaching English in Madrid, Spain, she was awarded teacher of the month for May 2008. She received her BA from the University of California at Santa Barbara in Political Science and International Relations in 2006, where she served as the Publicity Chair of the campus-wide Environmental Affairs Board.
Shannon is active in her local Surfrider chapter in San Francisco as a member of both the Rise Above Plastics and Earth Day 2012 subcommittees. As an ocean enthusiast, she enjoys any activity spent in the water, especially swimming, and recently became a certified SCUBA diver.