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Sailing the Atlantic Searching for Oceanic Plastic

Mystic 5 gyre scientific expedition

5 Gyres team gathering data on oceanic plastic.

Guest post from a family friend whose experience detailed below was part of the inspiration for Plaine Product’s creation!

Growing up in The Bahamas I have always had a deep love of the outdoors and especially of the ocean. In my lifetime, plastic on beaches has always been a typical part of the landscape. Even though I always knew plastic waste was harmful, I never thought too much about it. Then I was chosen to go on a sailing trip through the Sargasso Sea with the mission of collecting data on oceanic plastic.

During the start of the trip, I truly did not recognize the depth of the problem. It was the same scenic, beautiful, blue ocean and looked spotless from the surface. I had been expecting a “great garbage patch”, especially after hearing folklore of sprawling islands of plastic. However, after a few days of being hosted on board by the 5 Gyres team, whose mission it is to empower action against the plastic pollution crisis, I began to see this extreme problem in a new light.

Oceanic plastic debris found in the Atlantic

Plastic recovered on trawls in the Atlantic Ocean. Plastic is everywhere.

Collecting Oceanic Plastic

To collect data we would deploy trawls off of our sailboat, a contraption with a small filter to sweep up any particles it passed through. Each time we pulled the trawl back into our boat, we found tiny particles of oceanic plastic – some hardly big enough to identify if it were plastic or a fish egg.

What we really found was “plastic smog” – all consuming and everywhere. Not a simple solution that requires a clean up crew, but a solution that requires a full societal shift. And this “smog” is not just in the Atlantic Ocean, but according to 5 Gyres research is in each of the 5 oceanic gyres of the world, also meaning impacting all fish and marine life in each ocean.

As serious as our findings were, being on the research trip also gave me so much hope. Each person on board was committed to finding their own solutions to fighting plastic pollution. And even more encouraging is that innovative businesses are emerging with the purpose of fighting single use plastics, like Plaine Products. It brings me such hope to know that there is a solution and that we are getting closer and closer to reaching the societal shift needed to combat plastic pollution.

by Aly Boyce


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