Sailing with a cause

By now, we all know that OUR world’s oceans are full of OUR plastic waste. A tiny fraction of all this plastic waste gets washed ashore on our beaches while the remaining part stays in the sea. Where all the plastic debris is going, nobody really knows. Larger pieces of plastic break down into smaller ones known as microplastics that float in the surface waters until they collect organic material and sediment to the seafloor. An approximated 10 % of all plastics produced end up in the sea and with plastics production accelerating in recent years we need to know where in the oceans it is accumulating.

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Microplastics found on the beach “Playa de Barlovento” in Fuerteventura during our coastal hikes.

The Orion of Aberdeen is a sailing boat crewed by Edwin and Marjo who dedicate their lives to sailing worldwide and offering both their boat and their knowledge for research and education to protect marine life. They bring awareness into action by collaborating and doing projects with organizations like Oceanswatch, 5gyres, and Adventurers and Scientists in order to achieve their goals. Recently they have started a cooperation with the University of Massachusetts and 5gyres collecting water and microplastic samples wherever they sail on the seas. This is where we come into the picture.

The research vessel Orion of Aberdeen, a koopman ketch

The research vessel Orion of Aberdeen, a koopman ketch.

On our way to South America we will join the crew of the Orion and sail with them to the Cape Verde Islands where they are going to collaborate with SOS Tartarugas by giving environmental education for local people. We will help collecting samples and monitoring cetaceans throughout our journey and once we get there we will hopefully volunteer in the ongoing projects concerning sea turtles conservation.

So the Orion is more than ‘just’ a sailing boat, it is a research vessel. It needs to be better equipped than the sailing boat in order to be able to sail the world and work in remote areas for the sake of conserving the oceans. For this reason the Orion needs to get a water purifier which will give the boat a self-sufficient supply of freshwater, since it desalinizes seawater. This will be especially important while sailing the open sea or by dry coastlands where freshwater is scarce. Furthermore, since underwater exploration and research is a core activity, more freshwater is needed in order to clean all the necessary diving and research equipment. This being the larger investment of the preparation, other investments include spare parts, maintenance and fuel.

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Ocean Coinservation crew and Alianza de Tiburones Canarias.

They have launched a funding campaign to cover these expenses. This is where you come into the picture: you can help the oceans by helping the Orion. More information can be found on their website. They are now in Las Palmas (Gran Canaria), in the final stages of preparing the Orion to be able to do its job for the coming years.

And remember…many little streams make a vast ocean.
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