Voyage of the Sea Dragon: the Atlantic Garbage Patch

While here, the ship and crew are engaged in efforts to share our work with the community and to better understand how the island manages its own waste stream.

 

Voyage of the Sea Dragon: the Atlantic Garbage Patch

posted January 21st, 2010 by Leslie Moyer

Beach debris from fishing vessels washed up on Nonsuch Island

Beach debris from fishing vessels washed up on Nonsuch Island

Stiv Wilson, my crew-mate on the voyage of the Sea Dragon, a 72′, 45-ton research vessel on a sailing expedition across the Atlantic Ocean to research marine debris in the Sargasso Sea, has been temporarily called away from his post aboard the ship so I will be posting the details of our working layover in Bermuda for the next six days.

The Sea Dragon is in port at Bermuda until January 28 before setting off on the second leg of our expedition which will take us across the Atlantic Ocean to the Azores. While here, the ship and crew are engaged in efforts to share our work with the community and to better understand how the island manages its own waste stream.

After a happy evening of marina BBQ with Stiv’s deliciously grilled Speckled Hind grouper, polenta, and many beers shared with our gracious hosts, several of us took the Lorax (our trusty dingy) across the harbor to the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences to share several rounds with some of the researchers at their campus bar “The Passing Wind.” BIOS is a nonprofit marine research and education center with a faculty of oceanographers, biologists and environmental scientists, as well as graduate students researching all aspects of ocean health.

Early this morning we were picked up in a fishing boat up by members of the BIOS crew to talk to a group of kids onboard Spirit of Bermuda, a beautiful wooden schooner sail vessel. Outreach and environmental education is provided on the ship by the nonprofit organization Bermuda Sloop in week-long programs attended by every Bermudian 13-year old. We had lunch on the boat with the kids and accompanied them on a very cool snorkel trip to both a WWII shipwreck and the reef systems around Nonsuch Island (home to the almost-extinct Cahow bird, the cacophonous screeching of which frightened sailors at night and gave Bermuda the nickname “Devil Island”). The plastic debris we collected in the reef and on Nonsuch Island was an unexpected gotcha-moment for some of the kids – Anna and Marcus’ talk on our consumptive habits and the implications of our throwaway society became suddenly and surprisingly relevant.

Snorkeling with kids from Bermuda Sloop

Snorkeling with kids from Bermuda Sloop

Special thanks to the expedition’s sponsors and partners, including BlueTurtle, Pangaea Explorations, Surfrider, Keen, Aquapac, Patagonia, EcoUsable, Quicksilver, Proof Lab, EarthLust and BookBrowse.

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