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PRESS RELEASE: Crew Seats Available on Gyres Research Vessel

Crew Seats Available on Research Voyage to Investigate

Plastic Pollution and Debris from 2011 Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

 LOS ANGELES, Calif., Oct. 5, 2011—Scientists, educators and eco-adventurers are being offered the unprecedented opportunity to join a research expedition through the North Pacific Ocean littered with debris generated by the Japan tsunami of March 11, 2011. Rarely is such a monumental amount of material—tens of thousands of tons including cars, entire homes and boats—simultaneously thrust into the sea from a single location.

The 5 Gyres Institute and the Algalita Marine Research Foundation (Algalita) have organized this expedition in collaboration with Pangaea Explorations to offer a 7,000-mile, high-seas voyage aboard the “Sea Dragon” sailing vessel from May 1 through July 1, 2012.

The Sea Dragon, a 72' Steel Hull sailing research vessel

The Sea Dragon, a 72' steel-hull sailing research vessel

The expedition’s first leg will sail from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands through the area of the North Pacific Gyre commonly referred to as the “Western Garbage Patch” where little research has been conducted on plastic pollution.  The trip’s second leg will travel due east from Japan to Hawaii through the gyre, a vast vortex of ocean currents where plastic debris accumulates, to cross the “Japan Tsunami Debris Field.” Of great interest to the researchers is how fast the plastic trash is traveling across the gyre, how quickly or slowly it is decomposing, how rapidly marine life is colonizing on it, and whether it is transporting invasive species.

“We’ll be riding the same currents that are transporting cigarette lighters, bottle caps, children’s toys and all manner of other plastic pollution generated by the tsunami,” said expedition leader Marcus Eriksen, Executive Director and co-founder of the 5 Gyres Institute.

The 2012 voyage is open to anyone 18-years and older, regardless of sailing experience. Participants will travel with four professional crewmembers and will be expected to earn their sea legs and rough hands by hauling in lines and hoisting sails. They also will conduct research side-by-side with scientists, whether operating a trawl or collecting and cataloging plastic marine pollution and sea life.

Nine crew seats are available at a cost of $13,500 each for Leg 1 and $15,500 each for Leg 2.  A portion of the fare is tax deductible and net proceeds will support Algalita and 5 Gyres’ cooperative research and educational outreach.

This is the second eco-adventure conducted by Algalita. Its July 2011 voyage across the eastern North Pacific Gyre sold out.  5 Gyres has conducted seven research voyages across the five subtropical gyres, including the first expeditions to the three southern hemisphere gyres. Crewmembers included scientists, artists, journalists and environmentalists from around the world, such as Tim Silverwood of New South Wales.

Image of a gyre sample, the plastics found floating out in the middle of the N. Pacific Garbage Patch (gyre)

This gyre sample was taken during a July 2011 voyage across the North Pacific Gyre (Garbage Patch) by Algalita Marine Research Foundation. The sample includes micro-plastic bits as well as a toothbrush, two pen caps, a spray-bottle nozzle, and a small toy gorilla.

“After first hearing of the devastating state of the North Pacific Gyre, I immediately had a desire to witness it for my

self and tell the world about it,” Silverwood said. “Participating in leading scientific research with people from all over the world, all motivated to bring this issue to the mainstream, was incredible. The voyage has provided me so many opportunities to talk with media in the community and to schools about the issue and what we need to do to counter this problem.”

“Our vision is a global environment that is healthy, sustainable, and productive for all living creatures, free from plastic pollution,” says Algalita Executive Director, Marieta Francis.  “Understanding the impact of the Japan tsunami resultant debris will provide once-in-a-lifetime information to help us move closer to that vision.”

Algalita and 5 Gyres, both nonprofit organizations, have been leaders in pioneering research and increasing global awareness of plastic marine pollution. Algalita’s founder, Captain Charles Moore, brought attention to the “Eastern Garbage Patch” in the North Pacific Gyre in 1999.  5 Gyres continues to monitor plastic marine pollution in the “garbage patches” found in all five subtropical gyres.  Most of the plastic debris studied has been adrift for years, much of it broken down by the sun’s rays and ocean currents into small plastic particles.

For all participation requirements, sponsorship opportunities and to register, contact Jeanne Gallagher: (562) 598-4889;

5 Gyres logoAbout 5 Gyres Institute5 Gyres Institute is a nonprofit organization committed to meaningful change through research, education and community action. 5 Gyres disseminates its findings through lectures, publications and traveling exhibits, and raises awareness about plastic marine pollution through sailing expeditions across the world’s oceans.  For information on upcoming expeditions and exhibitions around the globe: (323)


Algalita Marine Research logoAbout Algalita Marine Research FoundationThe Algalita Marine Research Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Long Beach, CA, is dedicated to the protection of the marine environment and its watersheds through research, education, and restoration. Algalita conducts research and collaborative studies on the distribution, abundance and fate of marine plastic pollution and the potential harmful effects of plastics in the marine environment, including transference of toxins and their impact on human health; provides authoritative, educational findings to scientists, the general public, governmental agencies, and the private sector; collaborates with organizations working toward restoring the aquatic environment and ultimately eliminating plastic pollution. More information: (562) 598-4889;


Pangaea Exploration LogoAbout Pangaea Explorations:  Pangaea Explorations offers adventure sailing to actively strengthen the health of marine life through exploration, conservation and education work. Our mission is to inspire and develop a new generation of leaders in conservation science, communication, education, art and policy leadership. More information:


BPA: Worldwide Threat To ALL Species from Plastic!

Pisphenol-A (BPA) may be the single greatest threat to life on this planet since the atom bomb.  Found in cosmetics, plastics (including drinking containers, food containers, etc.), medical devices, toys — literally nearly everything all around us, this chemical is lowering sperm count, interfering with the development of male fetuses, etc.  ALL species seem to be affected, including reptiles.  Be sure to watch the eye-opening and frightening documentaries on the subject.  Take the threat seriously.  Tell your family and friends.  Read on for further proof:

Human males are now far more likely to be autistic, to develop ADHD, Tourette’s Syndrom, cerebral palsy, dyxlexia…   Both doctors and researchers now suspect that this hormone-mimicking, endocrine-disrupting chemical is behind the problem.  Originally developed in Russia 1891, by condensing acetone, by the 1930’s it was being used as a form of synthetic estrogen.  As manufacturing progressed, the chemical began finding other uses.  In 1957, it began its role in plastics.  Now it’s found in nearly all products in our lives.  Over 8 BILLION pounds of BPA are used every year!  We have unwittingly tipped the lid on Pandora’s Box.

The original expose video of “The Disappearing Male” has been conveniently blocked to residents of the U.S., supposedly by the Canadian Broadcasting Network.  Gratefully, Natural News TV has provided it for us via this link: The Disappearing Male – Bishenol-A (BPA).

Between the way we use chemicals with BPA in it, and the sheer volume of plastics in the ocean’s gyres, BPA may very well be the single largest threat to life on this planet.

Do you use a microwave?  The microwaves might not be a hazard, but warming foods in plastic containers is another matter altogether.  A prominent biologist talks about the real world risks that the FDA is happily whitewashing in this video: BPA Contaminating Our Food.

Pisphenol-A (BPA) is in baby bottles.  It’s in infant pacifiers.  It’s in canned food liners.  It’s in CDs, DVDs, dental and medical implements and supplies… the list is nearly endless.  Most importantly, it’s in us, in our bodies.  In 2008, a U.S. government study consisting of  2,517 people (age 6 and older) found that 93 percent had BPA in their urine. Children had higher levels than adults.  Unfortunately, it would seem no one bothered to find out what is different about those 7 percent who didn’t have any in their urine.  Other studies have found BPA in the blood inside newborn’s umbilical cords as well.  BPA is everywhere and, as the documentary, “The Disappearing Male” shows, it’s doing widespread damage across the planet.  A study done by researchers in France have shown that inner ear deformities and other abnormalities occurred in fish embryos in the presence of BPA.  Xenopus tadpoles also showed a marked increase in abnormalities in direct correlation to the increase in levels of BPA in their environment.  It’s not just us humans or even mammals being affected.

Unless and until we take steps to force it (and its similar compositions) out of use, it is likely that both human and other life forms on this planet will continue to decline.  As of this date , NO countries have banned BPA altogether.  Canada declared it a toxic substance in 2010, and the EU and Canada have banned its use in baby bottles… but that’s still just the tip of the iceberg.

How and why does it matter than BPA is an endocrine disruptor?  Many types of cells of many types of animals have receptors for estrogen.  BPA binds to those receptors.  Dr. R. Thomas Zoeller, a biology professor at the University of Massachusetts’ Amherst campus, said BPA also binds to receptors for male hormone and thyroid hormone.  “I don’t know of a single other molecule that does this,” Dr. Zoeller said.  Moreover, fetuses exposed to chemicals in the womb (including, but not limited to, BPA) can experience effects later in life, and pass those abnormalities to future generations.

Some manufacturers are cashing in on it, charging highly unlikely amounts for BPA-free drinking containers.  Sure, it’s better than the risks, but is that gouging necessary?  Certainly and obviously not.  Plastics CAN be made without BPA.  But even without BPA, plastics still leach out other dangerous chemicals.  It’s up to us to take the matter into our own hands.  Switch to clay, ceramic, stainless steel, aluminum, and good old  glass containers.  They don’t cost any more than current gouging rates for BPA-free plastics.  Moreover, they’re readily recycled, made from natural earth,  and don’t have any of the risks of plastics at all!

The Bay vs. The Bag

Join Save The Bay in standing up to the plastics industry and reducing plastic bag pollution to protect our waters and marine animals!

Learn more at the Save the Bay Website