Algalita Marine Research Blog
The 5 Gyres Institute Sets Sail For First Ever Transatlantic Survey Of The Southern Atlantic Gyre For Plastic Pollution
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEMedia Contact:Â Zan Dubin Scott(310) firstname.lastname@example.org
Pioneering Researchers Launch Worldâs 1st South AtlanticÂ Ocean Plastic-Pollution StudyÂ
Pro Surfers Join Voyage to Advance Research on Impact of Floating Pollution on Human Health & Marine Life
SANTA MONICA, CA; OCT. 27--Researchers will embark on the worldâs first voyage of its kind on Nov. 8 to show that every ocean on the globe is polluted with plastic garbage harming marine wildlife and potentially threatening human health. TheÂ 5 Gyres Institute, collaborating withÂ Algalita Marine Research FoundationÂ (AMRF) andÂ Pangaea Explorations, is leading this expedition.
The 5 Gyres team, lead by co-founders Marcus Eriksen, PhD and Anna Cummins, will sail from Rio de Janeiro to Cape Town, South Africa on the first transatlantic Southern Hemisphere plastic-pollution research trip. The husband-and-wife team, overseeing a 13-member crew of researchers, journalists and others for the first global study of the problem, want the world to know that the scourge is not confined to a single mythical âTexas-size garbage patch.â
âYou canât cross an ocean today without finding plastic pollution,â says Cummins, co-founder of 5 Gyres Institute, a Santa Monica, CA-based nonprofit organization.
A gyre is a rotating system of ocean currents where floating debris accumulates. Eriksen and Cummins plan to produce the first comprehensive snapshot analysis of plastic pollution in each of the globeâs five gyres. Building on AMRFâs discovery of plastic pollution in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, the 5 Gyres crew has discovered garbage patches in the North Atlantic Gyre and the Indian Ocean Gyre. No other researchers have been to as many gyres.
Two renowned professional surfers,Â James PribramÂ andÂ Mary Osborne, will join the voyage to help raise awareness. âMy goal is to share my experience with the world in becoming a spokesperson against plastic waste,â says Pribram, a.k.a. the ECO-Warrior and OâNeill ambassador.
âWe want to show people wherever we sail that the problem contaminates their international waters,â Eriksen says. âThey cannot say, âWell, thatâs across the ocean, what does that have to do with my country?â â
5 Gyresâ Rio-to-Cape Town voyage will be aboard Pangaea Explorationsâs racing sloop, Sea Dragon.Â In addition to sailing through gyres, the team aims to advance its research into whether humans are being harmed by eating fish that have ingested plastic debris contaminated with persistent organic pollutants such as DDT and PCBs. PhD candidate Chelsea Rochman of UC Davis will lead this research. Cummins has already found trace elements of such toxins in her body. The crew will also analyze seawater for the same pollutants.
The Sea Dragon crew will be communicating via blogs with more than 1,850 Los Angeles school children through AMRFâs Ship-2-Shore Education program. Charles Moore, AMRFâs founder, first put the Great Pacific Garbage Patch on the map.Â
Eriksen and Cummins plan to sail across the South Pacific Gyreâthe fifth subtropical gyreâin March 2011.
5 Gyres is partnering with theÂ United Nations Environmental Programâs Safe PlanetÂ campaign and Eriksen and Cummins will be speaking at AMRFâs 2011Â Plastics Are ForeverÂ International Youth Summit and Training Program.
The Sea Dragonâs crew: Clive Cosby, skipper; Dale John Selvam, first mate; Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins, 5 Gyres Institute co-founders; Stiv Wilson, 5 Gyres communications director; Chelsea Rochman, PhD candidate; Bonnie Monteleone, marine scientist; James Pribram, pro surfer; Mary Osborne, pro surfer and Patagonia Ambassador; Michael Lutman, filmmaker; Jody Lemmon, filmmaker; Rich Sundance Owen, Environmental Cleanup Coalition; Mary Maxwell, interested citizen.
5 Gyresâs Rio-to-Cape Town sponsors include Chaco, Quiksilver and Ecousable.
About 5 Gyres Institute:Â 5 Gyres Institute is a nonprofit organization committed to meaningful change through research and education. 5 Gyres disseminates its message and findings through national lecture tours and raises awareness of ocean plastic pollution through voyages including that aboard JUNKraft, the boat built in 2008 of 15,000 plastic bottles. The organizationâs collaboration with Algalita Marine Research Foundation and Pangaea Explorations provide it with a marine laboratory and research vessel, respectively.Â After studying the five subtropical gyres, 5 Gyres will monitor these vortexes through Traveling Trawl Program voyages which loan research equipment to volunteer âcitizen scientists.â
PHOTOS FOR MEDIA: Please useÂ theseÂ photographs of Eriksen and Cummins on previous voyages, of plastic particles taken from a fishâs stomach, and of James Pribram and Mary Osborne. Media Contact: Zan Dubin Scott, (310) 383-0956;Â email@example.com.
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Zan Dubin Scott
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Posted by: Anna Cummins
What would happen if the Bottle Rocket floated out to sea? The Bottle Rocket, a raft fabricated from 232 2-liter bottles, rolled up to the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium for the second time. In 2003 I paddled here to take a break from rafting the Mississippi. I stayed for a week and talked with visitors about what it's like to raft the river. Now, 7 years later, it's the same conversation, but I've added what I've learned about plastic.
So would happen if my 2000-mile journey had not ended in the Gulf of Mexico? The Bottle Rocket would have drifted into the Loop Current, a mini-gyre in the Gulf. From there the Gulf Stream, a river of warm water that feeds the Atlantic Ocean, would have taken the Bottle Rocket around Florida, along the east coast of North America and into the North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre. It would sit there for years, while the metal oxidized and wood decomposed, leaving the remaining plastic to persist. In 2010 we crossed the North Atlantic to study plastic pollution. We possibly would have found the bottle caps from the Bottle Rocket still floating in the gyre.
You can see the Bottle Rocket and Algalita's exhibit on plastic pollution at the St. Louis Science Center during the weekend of Oct. 15-18.
Posted by: Anna Cummins