The Ocean Cleanup | Gyre Expedition #3

The Ocean Cleanup | Gyre Expedition #3

Ocean Cleanup Crew

May 17 – May 24, 2014

Depart: Bermuda
Arrive: Bermuda
Length: 8 days
Focus: The Ocean Cleanup studying plastic pollution



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Following our two very successful expeditions in the past few months, we are pleased to announce another completed expedition to the North Atlantic Gyre. This was an 8-day voyage, on which the crew took 12 more vertical distribution measurements, necessary to determine the depth profile of plastic pollution. The trip left from and returned to Bermuda, taking the crew to the center of the so-called ‘North Atlantic Garbage Patch.’ Winston Godwin, our blogger for the trip, beautifully wrapped up some of the experiences in the North Atlantic Gyre:

May 24th, 2014 – The Final Stretch

It’s the last day of this amazing voyage. We enjoyed our last supper courtesy of Winston and Beatrice. We had CHICKEN and veggies! With all the vegetarian meals, the chicken was a very welcomed change of pace. A few of us also enjoyed what would be the last sunset of the trip. Like the majority of the trip, the water the skies were clear, making for a great sunset. As the skies turned to black, the wind and seas began to pick up a bit, making it a little rougher. Watch 2 made up of Eric, Winston, Kasey, Max and Beatrice were the last official watch team of the trip. We woke up at 12am for our four hour shift. At this point we were still quite a ways from Bermuda. It was dark allowing for great bioluminescent shows in the wake of the boat. We began to pick up signals and sounds of Bermuda Radio, which were the first signs of us nearing the island.

Later, Eric pointed out a very faint flicker of what he said was Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse. Next we began to see a low, faint, orange glow of the island and eventually as we got closer, the glow of the island tuned into individual lights. Now that we were close to the channel, it was time (4;30) for everyone to wake up, fill out immigration forms and take their positions in preparation to dock. Once we all cleared customs, we packed our bags and had to clean down the boat. The overall mood of the boat at this time was bittersweet. It was nice to be docked in the confines of the harbor and not moving. But it also meant we had to start the painful process of cleaning. Once cleaning was done we all decided to grab one last meal as a crew at Tavern by the Sea. Over lunch we took the time to reflect and enjoy each others company. A few of us (Kim) took the time to reconnect with the wireless world and let our loved ones know we were alive. We all made our way back to the boat and gave the final hugs and well wishes for the journeys home.

Reflection: The boat has been scrubbed down and everyone has sadly begun making their way back home to their respective countries with memories that will undoubtedly last a lifetime. And here I am sitting on the dock, watching the sunset and reflecting on what an amazing experience this last week was. The information garnered is something I plan on sharing with anyone that is willing to listen. Coming into this journey I had no idea the extent or magnitude of the plastics issue at hand. Large plastics, while their are obvious and fairly easy to extract are only part of the problem. The other 90% of the iceberg so to speak are the tiny bits of micro-plastics that have been broken down by the sun, ocean, and marine organisms. These tiny pieces cannot simply be picked out or filtered. They stay in the ocean column for long periods of time and are even ingested by various sea birds and marine animals. The hope is that our hard work over the past week will provide a better understanding of the issue as well as contribute to possible solutions to the problem at hand. Yesterday before we all parted ways, I asked everyone to reflect on their experience the last week and provide me with their most memorable moment or something that they learned over the course of the last week. Here’s what they said.

KaseyDon’t lie on your back on the deck in the sun. ALSO, puking over the side of the boat can be amusing for all involved.

KimSitting on the bow while the boat is traveling 8 knots in 5 foot swells is the equivalent to an amusement park ride!

MarioI’ll remember the overall experience the most. From the trawling, and the samples, the weather, and the people. I’m going to miss it all.

BeatriceI left expecting to see a big floating garbage patch, however that was far from the case. We can’t see most of the pieces as we sail along so it looks like there’s nothing there. This makes the problem even bigger and scarier because we can’t truly see how bad the issue is. The only positive thing is the potential of the plastic eating bacteria. I think tighter regulations surrounding plastics and making they types of plastics more standardized would making solutions more plausible.

JenniferThe night it was really rough and sitting outside with Kim as I was driving the boat. It was like we were floating in a sea of nothingness surrounded by stars.

MaxI think what I’ll remember most is the people and the connections we made.

BeckyI think what will stick with me the most was the day we did 4 trawls in a row. The first 2 trawls were great. However as the day went one we all began to tire. Even though we were exhausted we all managed to work together as a team towards a common goal. While deploying and recovering that 4th trawl wasn’t the smoothest, we sucked it up and got it done.

JuliaSAMPLES! And good work with great friends!

ShanleyThe crew was definitely memorable but I think I’ll definitely remember Sir Bigglesworth and Theodore.

Eric – Sweet Trawling

KateI cannot believe 13 people were in such a small boat for a week and all of us got along perfectly fine!


Boyan Slat’s Feasibility Report!

Boyan Slat Plastic

Page Updated by Kasey Bolyard


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Julia Reisser – Chief Scientist and Mission Leader

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Julia Reisser is an oceanographer, PhD candidate at the University of Western Australia’s Oceans Institute. Julia’s research focuses on understanding the links between ocean currents and the spatial distribution of sea turtles and plastic pollution. She has been part of many oceanographic cruises and field expeditions in Brazil, Australia, and Antarctica.

Eric Loss – Skipper

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A native of California, Eric has been on the water since an early age. He has sailed more than 55,000 offshore miles, and has sailed everything from windsurfers to 115′ schooners, and recently he completed a single-handed circumnavigation by way of the great capes. He enjoys teaching all aspects of sailing, from boat handling and dinghy racing to navigation and seamanship. He is always eager to share his knowledge of celestial navigation. Eric has been involved in sail training for most of his life, and is an US Sailing instructor. He holds an IYT Master of Yachts Ocean with commercial endorsement and a USCG 100 ton master’s license. Eric is also an experienced diver and PADI Divemaster.

Shanley Mcentee – First Mate

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Shanley was born and raised in San Diego, CA and graduated with a BA in Environmental Policy and a minor in Environmental Science from Western Washington University. Having grown up by the sea, she holds a deep passion for Mother Ocean and our ever-growing need for protection and awareness of the problems our environment is facing. She enjoys anything having to do with the sea, from surfing to scuba diving to sailing, and loves offshore passages. She is PADI Rescue Diver certified and holds an IYT Master of Yachts Offshore with commercial endorsement.

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Katherine (Kate) du Plessis – Mission Leader and Deckhand

A dedicated environmentalist, who values social and economic sustainability, Kate has been employed in multiple facets of conservation for well over 8 years.

As part of the Pangaea Team, it is Kate’s goal to ensure the company runs efficiently with minimal environmental impacts and to innovate new ways of promoting sustainability and protecting the environment.


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Becky Esterle

Background & Expertise
I’m an engineer with a passion for the ocean, who has been racing sailboats since 2006.

Expedition Goals
For this expedition, I want to learn first hand by seeing what I have read so much about. My goal is to contribute as much as possible during the expedition, learn fully, and bring that knowledge home so that I can continue to contribute more and promote awareness.


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Mario Merkus

Background & Expertise
I live in the Netherlands and have worked in the casino industry for many years, which is something completely different. I have no expertise on the matter of plastic pollution in our oceans but live close to the beach and have always loved spending time there. I have travelled to many beautiful beaches in the world and have always loved water sports.

When I heard about the Ocean Cleanup Project it immediately got my interest and decided to join the expedition to see if I could help finding an answer to this enormous problem.

Expedition Goals
Increasing my own knowledge, spreading more awareness and getting a lot of people seriously involved. Besides that I hope that this crew will become a passionate team that will not only work together during this expedition, but also when we return. I truly believe that everything is possible as long as you believe in yourself, want It bad enough and that together we can make a difference! Let`s change the world!


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Jennifer Gelin

Background & Expertise
Having worked as a freelance Production Manager, Producer and 2AD in Film production in Stockholm, my hometown, I have moved to London for inspiration and self-development. In 2009, I spent a year in Bali, where I shot a documentary movie for The Green School – an American school made out of bamboo in the middle of the jungle – with a set goal to be the most environmentally friendly school on the planet. I am currently enrolled in Central Saint Martin as an Applied Imagination student, and here to find my path of creating a conscious form of art, which aims for something bigger. Exploring the universe of the oceans is one of my greatest passions, through sailing, snorkeling, surfing & diving.

Expedition Goals
The question that I intend to investigate is: How do we create a sustainable awareness around mankind’s unsustainable life style – an awareness that really makes a difference, not only for us, but for all future generations?

The North Atlantic Garbage Patch is the story about one of humanity’s most astonishing embarrassments.

Being an ecological activist – with an activism rooted in my love of nature not through mere pointless assertions but by loud actions – with a hunger for the ocean and its flora, I will take on this journey to acquire knowledge of plastic pollution and research studies, shape a network of engaged people following a similar cause, document the expedition through still and moving pictures in order to raise awareness about our common, universal problem.

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Kimberly Noble

Background & Expertise
 Certified in advanced open water diving and  underwater photography

Expedition Goals
Learn seamanship and gain a great experience

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Kasey Bolyard

Background & Expertise
I graduated in 2013 with a B.S. in Environmental Science. My undergrad internship work in the Chesapeake Bay led me to my current position as a biologist in an ecotox lab, working mainly with marine and freshwater benthic invertebrates. I am hoping to pursue a master’s degree this fall, studying the organic pollutant tolerances of Chironomidae.

Expedition Goals
I can’t wait to experience first hand the impact of plastic pollution on our oceans, and to be part of a possible solution. The issue has captivated my attention since the beginning of my college career, especially the dynamics of the relationship between science and research, NGO’s, and policy. I am hoping to possibly make a little documentary of the trip. I’m also thrilled to meet so many interesting people who share an incredible passion.

More about Kasey

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Winston Godwin

Background & Expertise
I was born in Bermuda but completed a large amount of my education in Canada. The environment, marine specifically, is something I’ve always been passionate about. I’ve been fortunate enough to participate in a number of camps and programs in Bermuda such as Waterstart and the Marine Science Internships run out of BIOS and the Bermuda Turtle Project with the Bermuda Zoological Society. I enjoy learning about the ocean and doing my part to protect it. I attended the University of Guelph where I studied Geography with a Minor in Environmental Analysis and GIS. I recently graduated and have begun making the moves towards using my degree.

Expedition Goals
I saw this opportunity and jumped for it right away. I was selected as the grant recipient and therefore will be responsible for taking pictures and blogging, with that being said, I would like to take just as active as a role as the other crew members. I am definitely going to take the opportunity to learn as much as I possibly can about the gyre, it’s effect on the ocean and our effect on it. I look forward to bringing back what I’ve learned and sharing it with others and providing them with some insight on the impact this gyre has. Other than that, I try to enter such opportunities with an open mind and with no expectations. I typically see such chances as opportunities where you get out what you put in. And I believe this is no exception.


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Max Muller

Background & Expertise
I study mathematics at the universities of both Leiden and Delft. In addition, I am pursuing a minor degree in programming at the University of Amsterdam.

Expedition Goals
To extract valuable samples of plastic from the ocean, meet new people and help the Ocean Cleanup organisation.


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Beatrice Clyde Smith

Background & Expertise
Growing up on the island of Jersey in the Channel Islands Beatrice has spent a lot of time in the sea and on boats. Sailing from an early age her love of the sea grew and led her to study Marine Science at UHH. Research has long been her greatest area of interest. Deeply passionate about the environment and the plight of our planet, especially our oceans she is currently pursuing a degree at the OU. A certified PADI open water diver she enjoys all aspects of the ocean.

Expedition Goals
Research. Participate in feasibility study. Meet like minded people. Sail. See the rubbish in the ocean. Travel.


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Bart Sturm

Background & Expertise
22 year old student from Amsterdam, I’ve always been enthusiastic about nature and loved sailing.

Expedition Goals
I’m participating because I can’t imagine a better way to spend a week than by joining an exciting adventure that will help make the world a better place.



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Day 1: Crew arrives on board at 9AM, practices deploying the trawl in St. Georges Harbour.
Day 2: Sea Dragon departs Bermuda, gets underway for target waypoint. 2 trawls per day.
Day 3: Underway to target waypoint. 2 trawls per day.
Day 4: Sea Dragon reaches target waypoint. do 2 or 3 trawls, turn around.
Day 5: Underway to Bermuda. 2 trawls per day.
Day 6: Underway to Bermuda. 2 trawls per day.
Day 7: Underway to Bermuda. 2 trawls per day.
Day 8: Sea Dagon arrives Bermuda AM, crew can fly late PM.


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Travel documents:
Crew will require a passport from their home country that will allow them to travel to Bermuda. For specific visa information, contact the Bermuda Department of Immigration.

Contribution Includes:

  • 8 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 and from Bermuda
  • Transportation to and from the dock
  • Personal expenses while in port

Kit List
Please see our Travel Kit List.