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The racing ship charting ocean microplastic

With awareness of plastic in our oceans rising, more and more people are working to discover exactly how much is polluting our seas and where it’s located. One unusual but brilliant way to do this AND raise awareness of the problem is the racing yacht Turn the Tide on Plastic which took place in the Volvo Ocean Race.

The Volvo Ocean Race

This event is one of the most challenging adventure races in the world: a round-the-world yacht race which takes place every 3 years, and sees sailing yachts compete for the fastest time to circumnavigate the globe riding through all kinds of weather conditions. The first event was held in 1973, with each of the yachts takeing place sponsored by a different company or organisation.

Turn the Tide on Plastic


The racing yacht Turn the Tide on Plastic via YouTube

This yachat lists the United Nations as it’s home country: this is a problem that concerns us all, so it’s an issue we should all be aware of. Led by incredible British Yachtswoman Dee Caffari, as skipper, its crew had members from around the world including Ireland, Switzerland, Sweden and Australia. The team of 14 sailed 24 hours a day, piloting the yacht over 10 race stages. They departed Alicante in Spain on the 14th October 2017 and finished months later in The Hague, Netherlands on the 30th June 2018.

Microplastics – tiny particles of plastic that have broken down into minute pieces – were found in all but 3 of the 75 particles collected

The yacht was one of a number of amazing projects including The Long Swim by Lewis Pugh run as part of a United Nations effort to investigate and raise awareness of ocean microplastics. Along the way, the crew are also taking samples of sea water to be analysed for micro plastic content. Since they’ll be sailing through the middle of so many huge areas of ocean and sea, it’s a perfect opportunity to discover what’s out there and how bad the problem is. The route involved sailing for 45,000 nautical miles passed six continents over the duration of the 8-month race.

Global microplastics – the results

Some of the results of the samples taken by the yacht during its epic race

The crew collected 75 samples of water during the race. Only 3 did not contain ocean plastic. Those highest concentrations of ocean plastic were found in the South China Sea, with 349 particles per cubic metre. The second highest were from the Strait of Gibralter were the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet, with 307 particles per cubic metre. “Even close to Point Nemo, the furthest place from land on Earth, where the nearest humans are on the International Space Station, between nine and 26 particles of microplastic per cubic metre were recorded,” the report states. Sad news indeed. The crew didn’t just record ocean plastic levels: they also took measurements of ocean temperature, dissolved CO2 levels, salinity and algae content.

The mission of the yacht was also to raise awareness of Clean Seas – and encourage more people to pledge to reduce their plastic use

Take the pledge

The Clean Seas website is encouraging more people to sign a pledge to reduce, reuse, recycle and refuse plastic. The less we use, the less there is to end up in our seas and oceans.

This is also open to organisations and companies so why not sighn your whole school up!

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