The Sea Dragon will be departing from Tokyo on May 30th and sailing east towards Hawaii arriving on the stunning island of Maui on July 1st.

The Sea Dragon team will arc northeast to the Japanese Tsunami Debris Field.  Estimates of tens of thousands of tons of debris washed away from the coastline of Japan on March 11th, 2011 after an earthquake occurred offshore, resulting in the worst tsunami on record in that country. The material infrastructure in a developed country was carried out to sea, including cars, boats, homes and also many victims. One year later we will expect to find the field of floating debris to be half-way across the North Pacific Ocean.   Knowing the precise origin and date of the disaster, will enable studies on how materials degrade, persist and transport invasive organisms in the marine environment.

We will be searching for large debris from the tsunami, but also skimming the ocean surface to better understand the quantity and distribution of plastic pollution throughout the North Pacific Gyre

The goals of the expedition are to study the effects of plastic pollution and marine debris relative to:

  • providing habitat for marine life and its ability to transport invasive species from one continent to another;
  • rates of decomposition of debris;
  • colonization of marine life on, and into, different materials;
  • educating students through the Algalita Ship-2-Shore blog; and
  • spatial distribution of debris along the entire voyage transect

Four organizations; 5 Gyres Institute, Pangaea Explorations, Algalita Marine Research Foundation and the University of Hawaii, will collaborate to travel over 7,000 miles to study the impacts of plastic pollution and tsunami debris in the marine environment.

 A total of 13 people will be on board the ship including four professional crewmembers.  There are participants from Australia, Great Britain, Brazil, Switzerland, the United States and of course Hong Kong.   I will earn my sea legs and rough hands hauling in lines and hoisting sails.  I will have the opportunity to be doing research side-by-side with scientists, taking part in all aspects of the expedition from operating a trawl to collect micro-plastic bits to hauling aboard larger items from the tsunami.  Oh and helping with the cooking & cleaning too!