This research voyage will explore plastic pollution across the South Pacific Ocean from Valdivia, Chile to Easter Island. The voyage will take place aboard the sailing vessel Sea Dragon and will last for just under 3 weeks.
About the Research
During this voyage the research crew will collect samples from the surface of the ocean using a manta trawl. They will label the samples so we know just where they collected each, as well as how much ocean water they sampled. Back in the lab we will sort through these samples to determine how much plastic they found, as well as what sizes and types of plastic. The research crew will also collect fish that we will examine to see if they are eating plastic pollution in the South Pacific.
About the Sailing Vessel Sea Dragon
Sea Dragon is a 72 ft (22m), 90,000lb displacement, steel hulled sailing vessel. She was built in the UK in 2000 for the Global Challenge Race, a 32,000 km circumnavigation which requires one of the longest most demanding ocean voyages. With wind and solar power this sailing vessel can go a long way and has a small environmental footprint. The on board lab space and ability to pull surface trawls makes the Sea Dragon perfect for research on extended voyages like this.
Meet the Crew!
Anna Cummins has worked in marine conservation, coastal watershed management, sustainabilty education, and high school ecology instruction. Anna received her undergraduate degree in History from Stanford University, and her master’s degree in International Environmental Policy from the Monterey Institute for International Studies.
In 2004 Anna joined ORV Alguita’s research voyage to Guadalupe Island, to collect evidence of plastic ingestion by Laysan Albatross. In 2007 she joined the Algalita Marine Research Foundation as education adviser, conducting school outreach and giving public presentations on the plastics issue. With Algalita, Anna completed a month long, 4,000 mile research expedition studying plastic debris in the North Pacific Gyre as well as extended research voyages in the North Atlantic, and Indian Oceans. She also completed a 2,000 mile cycling journey from Vancouver to Mexico, to give dozens of presentations on plastic pollution in the marine environment.
Marcus Eriksen, Ph.D.
Marcus Eriksen received his Ph.D. in Science Education from University of Southern California, and his M.A. and B.S. from the University of New Orleans. During this academic career Marcus worked as Research Assistant in University of New Orleans Vertebrate Paleontology Lab to Educator, as well as Exhibit Supervisor at the Los Angeles Zoo, Los Angeles Museum of Natural History, and New Orleans Audubon Park and Zoological Gardens. He teaches and conducts research in earth science, lectures at schools and museums and supervises an annual field course in paleontology in Wyoming. In 2006, he won the H. David Nahai Water Quality Award in Education, presented by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board. Currently he is AMRF’s Director of Project Development. Previously AMRF’s Director of Research, Marcus has served as a research crew member on numerous voyages in the North Pacific, North Atlantic, and Indian Oceans.
Clive holds a very important possition as skipper aboard the Sea Dragon.Clive has extensive experience traveling the worlds oceans. He is a RYA Yachmaster Oceans with Commercial endorsement and has worked as project manager, skipper and consultant to a number of racing and expedition sailing projects. Clive led a team competing in the world’s toughest yacht race, the 2004 Global Challenge, and won the Trans-Atlantic leg! He has also taught leadership skills in classrooms from South America to Asia.
Jeff Ernst worked with us aboard ORV Alguita starting in 2007 and functioned as first mate throughout the 2008 and research year, in the span of that time racking up close to ten thousand miles at sea. A graduate of the University of Hawaii Hilo with a BA in natural sciences, and a marine science minor, he started working with the Alguita as a student volunteer in conjunction with a special topic seminar on Marine Debris during his last semester. He has also served as ships photographer capturing images of the research and issue which have been seen in countless US and global articles, tv segments, and periodicals including Discover and WEND. Jeff has also worked in the lab as a member of the research team helping to analyze samples collected during the winter 08 crossing.
Dale is the Expedition Leader and a permanent resident aboard Sailing Vessel Sea Dragon. He has 30 years of offshore sailing experience with multiple ocean crossings. He is also a Dive Master, surfer, ocean swimmer and mountain biker. His goals for the voyage are to keep everything running smoothly and to keep the crew happy- a big job across so many miles of remote ocean wilderness!
Garen is a marine biology professor interested in various environmental issues. He received my doctorate from UCLA, and his research has primarily focused on study of the effect of global warming and ocean acidification on coral reefs. The research he hopes to conduct will consider the effect of plastic micropollutants on phytoplankton and the base of the open ocean food chain.
Paula Alvarado is a journalist based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, specialized in sustainable design, environmental issues and trends related to the green world in Latin America. She has witnessed firsthand and taken part in the development of the green scene in Argentina and Latin America and followed the region’s evolution around environmental subject. She now also writes for Discovery Latin America’s Descubre el verde and organizes Green Drinks in Buenos Aires, a series of local meetings for green entrepreneurs from the city. Paula has been interviewed and featured by several national and international media. She’s a vegetarian, bike-geek and amateur urban farmer. Paula hopes to use her writing to bring a broad perspective on the causes and consequences of plastic pollution in the oceans to thousands of people in North and Latin America. She hopes to create awareness about the cultural changes that are necessary to face this problem and the way people can get involved and contribute with the work of organizations that are tackling the issue. This will be her first time at open sea and she is excited about this opportunity and eager to learn.
Sara writes “The Daily Ocean”, a blog chronicling her 365 non-consecutive day beach cleanup project. So far she has completed 203 days, taken off over 760 pounds of trash off of my local beach, and have learned a tremendous amount about the work that needs to be done to clean up the ocean. Her goals are to help her husband Garen Baghdasarian with his research and to document the trip.
Joining us from the UK, Charlie is a yachtmaster, has covered 12,000 miles of ocean on a variety of boats and has extensive experience aboard sailboats. He is also a photographer, hopes to record all the events of the voyage and claims to play the bagpipes really well.
President and founder of ChicoBag Company, Andy Keller has a gift for developing simple product solutions to large environmental issues. Andy invented ChicoBag™ brand reusable bags in 2004 as a response to an overwhelming encounter with loose plastic bags at the landfill. Andy Keller has been a catalyst for change in the reusable bag movement and other environmental initiatives. In addition to appearing before governments to testify in favor of eliminating single-use bag waste through legislation, he also offers his time and expertise to communities looking to enact change.
Friedemann is a filmmaker, writer, cameraman from Germany. He will be shooting footage of the expedition for a documentary film on plastic debris in the ocean.
Holly Gray received her Bachelors degree from UC Santa Cruz in Environmental Studies and Biology, and completed UCSC’s graduate program in Scientific Communication. She is currently conducting research for her Master of Science degree in Biology through the University of Nebraska working with the Algalita Marine Research Foundation. The focus of her study is plastic ingestion in albatrosses. She has also worked with the Algalita Marine Research Foundation for three years as the Research Vessel Support Coordinator and as the Ship-2-Shore Education Program Coordinator.
Christiana received her undergraduate degree from the University of Hawaii, Hilo in Marine Science and her Master of Science degree from California State University, Northridge in Biology. Her research experience has focused mainly on fish, specifically nearshore California game species from California. Recently she has been working on a study of plastic ingestion in fish collected from previous gyre voyages. She has also served as a research crew member aboard ORV Alguita during our 2009 extended voyage to study plastic pollution in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. She loves fishing, studying fish and being in the water. She has her advanced, rescue and master diver certifications.
Gwen Lattin received her BS in Marine Biology and Masters in Biology from California State University, Long Beach. She has worked in biological research over 25 years, which includes field studies and laboratory research in Marine Biology, Inland Fisheries and Environmental Fields. Gwen has been an important member of the Algalita research team for several years bringing her expertise, enthusiasm, and tireless dedication to the foundation’s study of plastic marine debris. She has also served as a research crewmember aboard ORV Alguita during our 2009 extended voyage to study plastic pollution in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre.
Ann Zellers received a BS in Fisheries Management from the University of Michigan. She began her career in the field of marine biology as a lecturer and then Laboratory Manager for Marineland of the Pacific. At Marineland Ann specialized in fish diseases and water quality. She also worked with the University of Southern California where she gave lectures to students on the Research Vessel Seawatch and did water quality studies in Marina del Rey. Additionally she spent several years as the Manager and Associate Manager of two aquaculture research facility’s. Then she was a research technician (urban stormwater studies) with the Southern California Water Research Project. Ann also served as Treasurer and Vice President for the professional society American Institute of Fishery Research Biologists. At her current position with Algalita Marine Research Foundation (AMRF) Ann manages a lab in Redondo Beach. In this capacity she has been responsible for overseeing the processing of samples and data analysis for all of AMRF’s sampling projects. The samples have been taken in a wide range of environments including urban, beach, river, and oceanic sites; from California to throughout the world. She has also been responsible for overseeing the processing of samples and the data analysis of Albatross boluses from the Midway Atoll and Guadalupe Island projects. Ann also works with the Surfrider Foundation’s high school program to teach students about water quality.