What are we doing here ?
It’s not always clear. I mean, I know what we’re doing. We are sailing in the north east pacific ocean, moving slowly. Stopping frequently. Sometimes drifting, sometimes going back where we just left.
Helping Ben swim all day while documenting him in the water and his interaction with whatever is there. We also collect samples for different scientists- we count pieces of plastic we find, we filter ocean water for micro fibers, we collect and document different objects that float by.
So what are we doing ? Or actually- what are we doing this for?
Are we trying to let the world know the ocean is full of broken down fragments from our comfortable modern life? It’s hard to imagine it’s a big secret
Are we trying to tell people it’s their fault and they should do something about it? I’m not sure it’s true or that it will do any good. Blaming or preaching isn’t very effective in my experience.
So maybe I’ll try first to figure out what am I doing here.
When I first Joined this Project it was about a swim. Some crazy guy trying to cross an ocean swimming and he needed crew. I joined for the adventure. I love boats, love the ocean and always searching for some new experience. I also like science, I did after all spent 3 years studying marine science. Had a great time, made good friends and learnt a lot, but my path led me to less academic destinations. So I joined as a sailor and eventually skippered the boat through The Swim expedition that ended after more than 100 days in Hawaii.
Okay, so that was an adventure. What’s this new thing we’re doing ?
Well, I think we’re in a new type of adventure, and I love it. I love it because we’re doing two things that sometimes in today’s world seem like a fantasy. We are discovering, going to places, even a dot or many dots on the surface of the ocean is a place, that are hardly visited and so little is known about and we’re exploring, taking samples that have actual scientific significance, documenting and providing researchers access to raw data unavailable to them back in their lab where they will process it and provide us and everyone else better understanding of our world. Who thought you can still go out and find data that a computer or a satellite can’t provide?
This chance to be in the front of practical research really excites me. A big part thanks to Drew, our scientist onboard, or “Captain science” and his super devotion and enthusiasm to take our cooperation with the different researchers to a new level and his relentless efforts to do more and to do it right.
The other thing we’re here for is probably the answer to what I asked up there at the top of the page and it goes hand in hand with a lot of what I think of education. I don’t like to command or to preach. I think we should pull others forward, rather than pushing them. It may be a cliche’, like most truths, but leading by example, or at least doing your own best is the only way to influence people, even if it means it takes longer, exhausts you or seem to be pointless. You’re never sure if you got it right, maybe you provoked the opposite feeling and passed the wrong message, but I think you can’t tell anyone to do anything you won’t do.
People can only make a change for the good if they care and that will come when they see someone caring enough and makes the effort to be better. It all seem very dramatic and cheesy but I think that’s what we’re doing. We show people that we care. Care enough to go on this long, tiring trip, on a rugged sailing boat, leaving Hawaii, a foolish act already, and instead of sailing to Tahiti or Fiji, We make no stops, but sail from one eddy to another, zigzagging in a vortex of human made trash, swimming through a soup of plastic, and trying to learn more about the problem, so solutions may be found.
But the solution is not so easy and definitely not immediate, and first, enough people need to care.
It’s not easy to convey that message. Half of our crew are trying to do that with pictures. Josh and Corbin, “The Dolphin twins”, are brilliant underwater photographers and free divers, they film Ben and the sea life and floating debris he encounters while swimming.
Adam, our adventure medic, is a pretty talented photographer and never stops documenting bits of our life on board and our daily routine.
With all those images they and other crew members capture it’s still not easy to pass that feeling we have when sailing through this never ending blue and always seeing what we’ve done to it. it’s everywhere, but it’s to small to see. It’s like a man made virus on a global scale.
So Hannah, when not counting micro plastic, cooking or cleaning, and David when not watching over the dinghy and taking photos juggle with messages, emails and posts, always thinking of ways to try and pass that elusive message. Ty struggles to arrange this into a story worth telling and Heather, between laughs, burps and dolphin sounds writes her thoughts about our life. Together with Ben, who never stops swimming we are doing what we can to make this matter. Hopefully having some fun in the process, after all, this an adventure.
31º24 N / 141º38 W
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Photo credits @sea.marshall, @osleston