Hi, I'm Yanika - one of Sustainable Merton's Community Champions.
In October (in two weeks’ time – Argh! Yippee! Eek! Yesss!), I’m joining eXXpedition, an all female crew sailing the ocean to collect data on micro-plastics and work with local communities to help create change-makers. I will be sailing with the team from the Azores to Antigua, via the North Atlantic Gyre, in what is sure to be the adventure of a lifetime.
In this blog, I will post some reflections in the prep for this journey. Remember, if you would like to support me, you can do so here.
One of the things which makes eXXpedition so special to me is the science and the vast quantity of data which we will collect. The same experiments will be carried out across the globe over the span of two years. Anyone who's ever worked with data (and suffered the angst) will appreciate the magnitude and significance of having such a large, consistent and robust data set.
We will take samples on a daily basis from the surface and at different depths of the ocean. Closer to land, we'll also take samples from the sediment. On the boat, we will then analyse these samples using simple methods such as counting the # of particles (I told you it was simple!), as well as using FTIR spectroscopy (that's a fancy method that is used to analyse what kind of plastic there is. This is done through checking how the molecules vibrate and this gives us clues on the type of plastic). We want to answer questions such as:
What DENSITY and TYPE of plastic is found at different depths of the ocean?
Where are these plastics coming from?
Where are they heading to?
What toxins and organisms are found attached to these plastic? This is especially important because if these micro-plastics and, by proxy, toxins and potentially harmful organisms are getting into the food system, guess where they may end up? That's right, your belly and my belly.
The data we collect is going to feed into many many different studies. Have a look at eXXpedition's site for the long list of institutions (7 and counting) which will benefit from our data. You can read a bit more about the science on the official site: exxpedition.com
The aftermath – Sharing my Experience
After my eXXpedition trip, I would love to share my experience - about the plastic, the science, the boat, life on board. Indeed, as part of eXXpedition and as someone who has been so privileged to have had this opportunity, I want to help raise awareness about the plastic pollution epidemic we're facing and more importantly, WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT. If you know someone who'd be interested in having me speak at their school, club, place of work, anywhere, do get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, here's a photo of me looking super excited at last weekend's eXXpedition festival in London.