Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sea Beautiful People

I had the privilege of being at sea with extraordinarily beautiful people.  Some of them have made direct positive impacts on "Sea Change" while others have their sleeves rolled up.

Professional Surfer  Mary Osborne is now a member of the United Nations Environmental Program after our voyage across the S. Atlantic where she witnessed firsthand plastics accumulating thousands of miles away from land. She will also be getting her blood tested for chemicals associated with plastics.

 James Pribram, is a professional surfer and host of "Eco Warrior."  He's been instrumental in ocean projects in various parts of the world.  From helping to prevent developers from altering shore waters, legalizing surfing in Lake Michigan, to bringing awareness to water quality issues and protecting precious reefs. James is now committed to educating the masses on yet another issue, plastic pollution.

StivWilson, Pangaea Explorations and 5 Gyres Communications Director, was formally the editor-in-chief of Wend Magazine. He quit his day job after voyaging across the N. Atlantic earlier this year and seeing the mass of plastic 1000s of miles away from land.  Stiv also played a major role in getting plastic bags banned in Portland, Oregon.



Founder of the Environmental Clean-up Coalition,  Rich Sundance Owen, has been working with companies creating technology for cleaning up plastic in the marine environment.  His resolve - to clean up the North Pacific Garbage Patch.  What we all learned from this voyage was that beach sweeps ARE gyre clean-ups.  Cleaning waterways that lead to the ocean are far more productive than traveling 1000s of miles out into the middle of the sea to commence clean-up.  Rich has been educating the masses on the problems with plastic pollution through his coalition.

Mary Maxwell seen here repairing the mainsail. We were on nearly every watch together.  Through our many hours on watch, I learned about her ideas for bringing awareness to this issue.  She works in the hotel industry and this voyage has helped her see the magnitude of this problem firsthand.  I have a feeling she is going to be a powerhouse in greening up high-end hotels.  A much needed and very difficult proposition.  She also has a huge vision - can anyone say Alcatrash?  Go for it Mary.

The most informative person to explain the significance of plastic pollution and Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) - Chelsea Rochman.  She's a PhD student through a combined program at both University of California, Davis and San Diego State University studying toxicity of Marine Plastic Debris.  Here she is using a water sampling device looking for contaminates that we might also find on our plastic samples.  Many of the chemicals found in our water at minuscule levels can reach toxic doses when adsorbed onto plastic.  Chelsea also collected fish to sample their tissue as well as necropsy their digestive track looking for plastic ingestion.  This area of research is relatively new and she is a promising scientist in this field   questioning, "If fish are eating our plastic and we are eating the fish, what is the chemical burden from the human consumption of fish?"

A special thank you to Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummings for spear heading the S. Atlantic voyage. To Clive Cosby and Dale  Selvam for a safe journey over 4100 nms from Brazil to Cape Town Africa.  And to filmmakers Michael Lutman and Jody Lemmon for capturing it all raw.

Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummings
Michael Lutman

Jody Lemmon
In a recent interview, James explained how arduous it is both physically and emotionally to be at sea so long.  You are forced to face obstacles of physical harm and look hard down the barrel of your tender psyche.  In the end, some of us became more polished.  I saw several transform. I'd like to believe my experience in the S. Atlantic transformed me as well.  I now have been in 3 of the 5 gyres and feel I can speak as an ocean ambassador on the severe extent of plastic pollution.  This voyage making us the VERY first research crew to cross the S. Atlantic surveying for plastic.  When asked why is it important to go to such an extent, the answer is simple.  Once we understand the global magnitude of this problem, we can no longer point fingers at someone else.  And with the research information and these personal experiences, we can start transforming the world to reduce their plastic use.

More later,

Bonnie Over the Ocean







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