Going on eXXpedition for Ocean Plastic Research
I am excited to share the news that I will be part of the http://www.eXXpedition.com Amazon research trip this year doing research on plastics in the ocean.
“eXXpedition” is a series of voyages to “make the unseen seen”, from the toxins in our bodies to the toxins in the seas. The overall mission is to explore the issue of chemicals, endocrine disrupters and carcinogens in our personal and global environment that can cause disease, in particular raising awareness of those linked to the rise in breast cancer rates.
The initiative is to engage women in scientific narratives relating to the consumer choices they make, and their long term health impacts on themselves and our environment.
During this eXXpedition voyage, the key is to collect environmental samples to assess plastic and pollutants, feeding in these samples to wider studies investigating the impacts of toxins and plastics pollutants and linking this sampling to narratives of ecosystem health, personal health, and the products we consume.
The eXXpedition crew, including myself, will participate in biomonitoring with the UN founded initiative ‘Safe Planet‘ to assess personal exposure to known toxic substances. Through personal exploration of our internal environment the focus is to better understand the levels of toxic exposure in women to work on ways to reduce such exposure.
Each eXXpedition voyage includes specific scientific research that will be conducted at sea as part of the over-all mission. My research focus will be studying plastic chemical absorption and plastic accumulation in the ocean and nearby solid waste facility infrastructure as it relates to such accumulation. I will also be working on developing curriculum for formal and informal educators to use in regards to marine debris prevention and best management practices for removal.
The plastic research includes studying the solid waste and recycling infrastructure of Recife, Brazil and Guyana, which will include waste audits and other data collection methods at solid waste facilities. As part of the actual at sea expedition there will be a heavy focus on plastic collection in the ocean during the 15 day journey sailing from Brazil to Guyana, which will be conducted in collaboration with the University of Georgia.
Manta trawl sampling will be conducted along the way in order to collect plastics that are larger than 333 microns. GPS locations of the trawls as well as locations of specific types of debris found will be tracked using the Marine Debris Tracker App.
Bucket sampling will be done on a daily basis to sample microplastics at several different levels. Floating debris will also be collected and tracked using the marine debris tracker. You can even keep up-to-date with news of our journey through different blog sites and track our plastic data collection information as well as GPS through the marine debris tracker app website.
I also plan to study any plastic or other debris accumulation on the bottom of the ocean in specific areas that are within recreational diving depth if the weather conditions are conducive.
This research is all part of a 15 day journey in the month of December 2015 sailing from Recife, Brazil to Guyana, but the research being done here will be far reaching and will serve to provide useful information on reducing plastic accumulation and pollutants around the world and for future generations to come.
As an eastern North Carolina native, I am extremely proud to represent the US and North Carolina on this crew that includes female researchers from all over the world. I am also very excited to be able to share the experience with all of my friends and supporters back home during the creation of eXXpedition’s inspiring narrative of female leadership, personal and environmental exploration, and cultural conversation space aboard Sea Dragon, a 72 foot scientific exploration vessel.
More to come…
Blue Skies and Calm Seas,