PRESS RELEASE - 2012 Japan Tsunami Debris Voyage


Media Contact: Zan Dubin Scott


Crew Space Still Available on Research Voyage Through Waters Littered by Japan Tsunami

Long Beach, Calif., January 26, 2012- Limited crew space is still available on a unique research expedition through the North Pacific Ocean region littered by the March 2011 Japan tsunami. This expedition will advance research into marine plastic pollution and give crewmembers the chance to contribute to the understanding of how the Japan Tsunami Debris Field will affect coastal communities as it makes landfall. The expedition team is working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and several international government agencies so that affected areas can be best prepared.

Voyage organizers—the 5 Gyres Institute, Algalita Marine Research Institute (Algalita), and Pangaea Exploration—are offering this unprecedented opportunity to concerned citizens, scientists, journalists and researchers alike interested in learning the fate of marine-born plastics from the tsunami. Rarely is such a monumental amount of material simultaneously thrust into the sea from a single location. Crew will sail aboard Pangaea’s flagship sailing vessel, Sea Dragon.


“Part of our mission is to conduct research and collaborative studies on the distribution, abundance and fate of marine plastic pollution. We also want to learn the potential harmful effects of plastics in the marine environment, including THE POSSIBLE transference of toxins and their impact on human health,” said Algalita Executive Director, Marieta Francis. “We are excited to have commitments from crew from Australia, Great Britain, Brazil, Hong Kong, Switzerland and the United States on board, and look forward to even more participation from the international community.”


Two voyage segments are planned: Leg One, May 1 – 23, sails from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands through the Western Pacific Gyre. There, scientists will quantify the amount and location of plastic pollution in the region, where little published information currently exists. Leg Two, June 1-30, will travel from Japan to Hawaii through the area of the North Pacific where researchers expect to find a significant amount of debris caused by Japan’s tsunami.

Participants will travel with professionally accredited captains, take part in sailing the vessel as crew, and conduct research and experiments side-by-side with scientists. Crew seats are $9,500 each for Leg One and $15,500 each for Leg Two.

This is the second expedition open to the public conducted by Algalita. Its first voyage, in July 2011, traveled to the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. 5 Gyres has conducted seven successful research expeditions across the five subtropical gyres including the first expeditions to the three southern hemisphere gyres.

Algalita and 5 Gyres are leaders in pioneering research and increasing global awareness of plastic marine pollution. Algalita’s founder, Captain Charles Moore, author of “Plastic Ocean, How a Sea Captain’s Chance Discovery Launched a Determined Quest to Save the Ocean,” is credited with discovering the “Eastern Garbage Patch” in the North Pacific Gyre. 5 Gyres continues to monitor plastic marine pollution in the “garbage patches” found in all five subtropical gyres.

For all participation requirements, sponsorship opportunities, and to register, contact Jeanne Gallagher: (562) -598-4889; or email –

About 5 Gyres Institute: 5 Gyres Institute, based in Los Angeles, is a nonprofit organization committed to meaningful change through research, education and community action. 5 Gyres disseminates its findings through lectures, publications and traveling exhibits, and raises awareness about plastic marine pollution through sailing expeditions across the world’s oceans. For information on upcoming expeditions and exhibitions around the globe, contact 323-395-1843; or

About Algalita Marine Research Institute: The Algalita Marine Research Institute, a nonprofit organization based in Long Beach, CA, is dedicated to the protection of the marine environment and its watersheds through research, education, and restoration. Algalita conducts research and collaborative studies on the distribution, abundance and fate of marine plastic pollution and the potential harmful effects of plastics in the marine environment, including transference of toxins and their impact on human health; provides authoritative, educational findings to scientists, the general public, governmental agencies, and the private sector; collaborates with organizations working toward restoring the aquatic environment and ultimately eliminating plastic pollution. More information: (562) 598-4889;

About Pangaea Exploration: Pangaea Exploration provides operational support for critical marine environment work through exploration, education and conservation. Our mission is to inspire and develop a new generation of leaders in conservation science, communication, education, art and policy leadership. More information: