An all-female crew is embarking on a pioneering global sailing voyage investigating the global prevalence of plastic pollution and possible ways to address it.
The eXXpedition Round the World voyage set sail from the University of Plymouth Marine Station on October 8, and will journey through some of the most important and diverse marine environments on the planet.
This includes crossing four of the five oceanic gyres, where ocean plastic is known to accumulate, and the Arctic on board the 73ft sailing vessel S.V. TravelEdge.
Over 30 legs covering 38,000 nautical miles, the crew will undertake a range of research projects developed by Dr Winnie Courtene-Jones, eXXpedition Science Lead at the University, in conjunction with Professor Richard Thompson OBE, Head of the International Marine Litter Research Unit.
The researchers will look at the global distribution of plastics and microplastics, from their sources on land to their dispersal and accumulation within the worlds’ oceans.
The science programme is expected to provide novel insights into the extent and characteristics of plastics not only in surface waters, but within the upper water column and in subtidal sediments of more than 35 countries.
Mission Director Emily Penn, an award winning ocean advocate and co-founder of eXXpedition, said:
“The plastic pollution challenge our ocean faces is a global one and it will take an inspired army of passionate, skilled and experienced people to tackle it. Our eXXpedition Round the World mission is a unique opportunity to build a comprehensive picture of the state of our seas, while conducting much needed research that will inform practical and effective solutions to ocean pollution.”
Professor Thompson added:
“In recent years, tackling the plastics in our oceans has become one of our most high-profile environmental challenges. It is crucial that we use innovative and informed means to develop a greater understanding of the issue’s global scale, and to identify ways to address it. This collaboration will undoubtedly help achieve that, and we are delighted to be working with eXXpedition to generate new knowledge and interest in this important area.”