An all-female crew is preparing to embark on a two-year round the world sailing mission to raise awareness of plastic pollution in oceans.
The eXXpedition Round the World voyage, sets sail from Plymouth, Devon, tomorrow (Tues) and will sail through some of the most important and diverse marine environments on the planet.
This includes crossing four of the five oceanic gyres, where ocean plastic is known to accumulate, and the Arctic on board 73ft sailing vessel S.V. TravelEdge.
Under the directorship of award winning ocean advocate Emily Penn, 300 women will join the research vessel as crew over 30 voyage legs to journey more than 38,000 nautical miles.
They will be studying microplastics and toxics in our ocean and beyond contributing to cutting-edge scientific research, the mission also aims to celebrate women in STEM, exploration and sailing while creating a powerful global network of Ambassadors.
They then use their experience at-sea when back on dry land as leaders in their respective fields, helping to end the flow of plastics into our ocean.
Since plans for the mission were announced last December, almost 10,000 women from around the world have applied to take part.
Half of the 300 places have since been allocated. Participants are aged between 18 and 57, and represent over 30 nationalities.
Their diverse backgrounds include scientists, community leaders, academics, artists, filmmakers, business women, psychologists, doctors, actors, ocean activists and sustainability professionals, and novice as well as experienced sailors.
Bursary places are available and designed to increase diversity on board and maximise eXXpedition’s collective impact.
Mission Director Emily Penn, co-founder of eXXpedition, said: “The plastic pollution challenge our ocean faces is a global one and it will take an inspired army of passionate, skilled and experienced people to tackle it.
“Our eXXpedition Round the World mission is a unique opportunity to build a comprehensive picture of the state of our seas, while conducting much needed research that will inform practical and effective solutions to ocean pollution.”
The science programme will carry out research at sea and on land. Researchers will look at the global distribution of (micro)plastics, from their sources on land to their dispersal and accumulation within the worlds’ ocean.
The programme is expected to provide novel insights into the extent and characteristics of plastics not only in surface waters, but within the upper water column and in subtidal sediments of more than 35 countries.
Research conducted during the mission has been designed to advance a better understanding of the plastics issue as a whole and to work with industry to pinpoint solutions and policy at a global level by addressing knowledge-gaps and delivering evidence to inform effective solutions.
The first leg from Plymouth to Azores features women representing eight nationalities including the UK, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, USA, Canada, Croatia and Germany.
The first leg is due to arrive in the Azores on October 19.