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May 1 – May 23, 2012
Depart: Majuro, Marshall Islands
Arrive: Tokyo, Japan
Length: 22 Days
Focus: Plastic Pollution
We will depart from Majuro, a unique location in the world. From here we will sail into the poorly understood Western Garbage Patch of the North Pacific Gyre, which is the opposite side of the North Pacific from the well-known Eastern Garbage Patch. After collecting sufficient data from the Western Garbage Patch, we will complete this phase in Japan.
Four organizations; 5 Gyres Institute, Pangaea Explorations, Algalita Marine Research Foundation and the University of Hawaii, will collaborate to travel over 7,000 miles to study the impacts of plastic pollution and tsunami debris in the marine environment. These expedition aboard the Sea Dragon will give participants a direct role in advancing research into one of our time’s most pressing environmental concerns.
The expedition is open to anyone, regardless of sailing experience. A total of 13 people will be on board the ship, Sea Dragon, including four professional crewmembers. On this voyage, new crewmembers will earn their sea legs and rough hands hauling in lines and hoisting sails, but they will also be doing research side-by-side with scientists, taking part in all aspects of the expedition, from operating a trawl to collecting micro-plastic bits to hauling aboard larger items from the tsunami.
In the end we will better answer some vital questions about marine pollution. We’ll better understand the fate of debris washed out to sea, rates of colonization by marine life, and the ability of plastic to transport invasive organisms from one continent to another. We’ll study microplastics in particular to understand the spatial distribution across the North Pacific, as well as the pollutants that absorb into plastic particles.
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