What an amazing experience it was planning, organizing and then going on the 5 Gyres Northwest Passage Expedition. Having traveled extensively in the Canadian Arctic in my youth, it was a powerful experience returning as part of a citizen science crew with the 5 Gyres team to study plastic pollution.
Planning remote expeditions to places like Antarctica, the Arctic and the Amazon is a unique and challenging occupation, but doing so for a smart and inspiring group of citizen-scientists and change-makers is “a calling.” Traveling with such a diverse and inspiring group of people, each wanting to do their part to help solve complex problems, gave me hope. It also made me realize that I need to step up my own "change game."
For me, my magic trip moments were not as much about seeing polar bears, narwals and meeting Inuit youth (all of which we did!) as they were in seeing the way our young crew (some as young as 11 years old) took charge and led the way in scientific exploration and idea generation. These are the leaders of our future, and I felt better when I saw first-hand just how serious they were about tackling these complicated problems. Our group was diverse, driven and motivated to do their part to learn about and stop plastic pollution.
The trip changed me. It made me realize that I am the person that I’ve been waiting for to make a difference. And, that it is time to stop waiting.
I was shocked and saddened beyond description to see, or more correctly, to not see ANY sea ice. Climate change has changed the Arctic region so much, that it was not recognizable to me.
For me, my take away was simple, but not easy, “Be the change you want to see in the world." Ghandi may not have actually said that, but it is an essential distillation of the important message of how our nature and our actions affect the world we live in, and the one which our children and future generations will inhabit.
About the 5 Gyres / Northwest Passage Special Science Expedtion
The August 2016 Arctic Expedition traveled 1687 miles through Greenland and the Canadian Arctic onboard the Akademik Vavilov to collect large and small microplastics to better understand the global distribution of the smog of plastic that plagues our seas. There were 22 crewmembers from three countries, representing filmmakers and educators, scientists and CEOs, activists and artists, and one doctor in a kayak.
View the 5 Gyres detailed trip report.
Arctic Expedition Key Points
- The Arctic Expedition collected 18 surface samples using two methods: Manta Trawl & 20 Micron Pump. These data sets will be shared with the Vancouver Aquarium in order to pool data for a better understanding of microplastics in the Arctic.
- All crewmembers participated in science and solution discussions during the voyage.
- Communities like Pond Inlet, showed us that even the most remote regions on the planet are consuming single-use throw away plastics, and rely on incineration as a solution. 5 Gyres is further committed to solving the plastic problem in more efficient means on islands and remote communities.