As the Arctic travel season approaches, and we are close to filling the last few spots on our 5 Gyres Northwest Passage research expedition, we have been thinking about travel with a purpose and how we can better serve our clients and non-profit partners. We are inspired by the idea that individuals can directly be part of the scientific mission that contributes to improving the quality and health of our oceans. Since our inception, ExploringCircle’s mission has been to connect others to the world while paying it forward and funding non-profits working on solving some of the problems our world faces.
With our focus on ocean health, we partnered with 5 Gyres, inspired by their successful initiatives to collect data on plastics in the ocean and create and support citizen science projects that have both small and large scale effects on plastics in the ocean. The team at 5 Gyres has led 16 expeditions across the world, with the mission to collect cutting-edge plastic research that “empowers legislation, designs change and fosters education.” Past expeditions gathered new statistics about plastic pollution, created international awareness of ocean plastic pollution and restored habitat with international beach clean ups.
This Arctic cruise will embrace all the adventure, discovery and ‘bucket-list’ travel WOW moments that are the hallmarks of expedition cruising and will follow in the footsteps of the early explorers Franklin, Amundsen and Larsen. Via the waterways of the iconic Northwest Passage from the islands and fjords of Greenland and Baffin Island to the Canadian Arctic, participants will have chance to spot polar bear, musk ox, caribou and walrus amidst stunning "top of the world" landscapes with shore visits and hikes, Zodiac explorations, kayaking, whale watching, presentations and photo workshops.
As part of ExploringCircle and 5 Gyres’ Special Science Expedition, our group members will also actively take part in data collection, science observation and special presentations on plastic accumulation and research techniques. As an actual science mission, 5 Gyres stated goals for the expedition are as follows:
-Update the global plastic accumulation estimate, which will be in a future 5 Gyres publication.
-Collect 15-20 manta trawl samples. The manta trawl is a surface neuston net with a .335mm mesh, to be towed behind Zodiacs during daily excursions. Samples will be used to update our global model.
-Collect Citizen Science data on plastics on the ocean surface and coastlines.
-Employ 3 different protocols used to survey plastic marine pollution in the environment: Plastic Ocean, Plastic Beach and Plastic Observe. Plastic Ocean is simplified surface trawling protocol. Plastic Beach is our beach survey and Plastic Observe is a visual tool to keep track of larger plastics seen but not captured in the net.
-Host a webinar in May 2016 to train and update all crew on the voyage, what the research entails, and what they will be doing on the expedition.
-Build a stronger relationship with IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)
-Produce three 90-second videos after the voyage is over, which will be shown on our social media and live permanently on the 5 Gyres Website.
In the past, citizen scientists have returned from 5 Gyres expeditions with a renewed sense of purpose in their professional and their personal lives. Genevieve Abedon who now works for Californian’s Against Waste and is a 5 Gyres Ambassador, participated in the Viking Gyre Expedition in 2014 and credits it with creating a lasting impact for her:
“I really wanted to be part of the solution and research... it was the experience of a lifetime. I learned the methods for sampling plastic with a trawl and at a beach, along with learning to sail. I made lasting connections - lifetime connections. Ultimately, I attribute my involvement with 5 Gyres to where I am now, working in the field of plastic pollution.”
The special research expedition will be led by 5 Gyres' Director of Research Marcus Eriksen and Environmental Program Director Carolynn Box. Originally designed for 10 participants, spaces quickly filled so 5 Gyres has increased the crew size in order to raise capacity to 20 participants. There are currently only a few spots left. Charter air is currently 50% off. ExploringCircle donates up to 5% of proceeds from each booking directly to 5 Gyres, plus the $500 Expedition Fee.
If you are interested in joining this special expedition, Kristy at ExploringCircle will help you get started.
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