Hi, it's Yanika!
After 2274 nautical miles, 30+ scientific experiments, 17 sunrises and many many packets of biscuits, I stand here and proudly say that I sailed across the Atlantic in order to carry out ocean plastic research. It was a tough, fun and eye-opening experience – most definitely the adventure of a lifetime.
One of the main objectives of our journey was to pass through the North Atlantic Garbage gyre, one of five rubbish hotspots in our oceans where plastic accumulates due to oceanic currents. I would never have guessed we were in the middle of a gyre. Where I had been led to expect islands of plastic, I found the clearest deep blue sea.
But then, we started our experiments and our findings told a different story. Our samples of the ocean’s surface were full of tiny, anonymous microplastic pieces. This makes the problem we are facing even more urgent. First of all, how do you prevent these microplastics from getting into the food chain? In several of our experiments, we found more microplastics than zooplankton. You have to wonder, if fish are exposed to more microplastics than larvae, what do they end up eating?
Secondly, if you had an island of plastic, we would be faced with a simpler problem. As it stands, we have a 3D massive body (the ocean!) with lots of tiny microplastics scattered about. How are we going to clean up our ocean?