Atlantic Gyre Expedition

In the summer of 2013, Ocean Research Project undertook its first ocean research voyage. We conducted a plastic debris survey beginning on the eastern edge of the North Atlantic Gyre using standardized methods to generate a dataset to add to the global understanding of how much marine plastic is on the ocean's surface and to explore further just how plastic threatens marine life and human health. This project was run in collaboration with the 5 Gyres Institute. Samples have been found to contain persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as PCB’s, pesticides, and fire retarndents by University of Tokyo’s International Pellet Watch Program while the type and function of bacteria living amongst the debris is being explored by the Baltimore Underground Science Space. Visit Ocean Research Project.

Plastic debrisThe vessel acted as a mobile observing platform reporting 4 times a day over 80 days worth of atmospheric and oceanic observations to NOAA as a voluntary observing ship to feed international atmospheric and oceanic modeling databases that depict global weather forecasts, climate studies and in effect support mariner’s safety at sea. Observations were accepted by NOAA’s Voluntary Observing Ship, Ship of Opportunity Program and the Atlantic Oceanic and Meteorological Laboratory. Ten climate observing drifters were deployed en route and are capable of reporting more than 400 days of data.

Plastic pollution survey data will be compiled, compared and reviewed by peers and jointly published in 2014/2015. An educational documentary will highlight our experience meeting our objectives and also serve as adventure entertainment revealing unpredicted encounters during our North Atlantic Gyre Project.

Expedition Crew

Matt Rutherford and former NOAA scientist, Nicole Trenholm.