WRITTEN BY GUEST CREW ON BOARD
ON LEG ONE FROM PLYMOUTH TO AZORES WITH ROTHY’S
Greetings from the SV Travel Edge! This is Nat and today marks our second to last day at sea! I’m starting to contemplate all I have learnt whilst onboard eXXpedition and I’m especially looking forward to jumping straight into the North Atlantic to catch some waves back in my homeland of Portugal.
As a surfer I’ve been immersed in some sort of swell for the last 16 years of my life, finding solace in the oceanic blues and greens (and greys if you’re from the UK), as the kinetic energy from the sun and moon disperses on the earth providing critical seconds of free flowing, joyful (and sometimes terrifying) sensations.
It was what propelled me to join the expedition – not the surfing aspect, but the discovery of artificial remains of human consumption washing up amongst the right hand point breaks of the Moroccan coastline back in 2009. Surfing has been my primary motivation ever since my environmental awakening back in Morocco, and the eXXpedition is no exception. It’s the journey behind the saying: you protect what you love.
Surfers spend most of their time on the surface of the ocean – not standing up poised on a wave as you might assume, but sitting, bobbing, patiently waiting for the next lump of fun. And this has been the most significant unearthing for me. Using the manta trawl, we have completed surface samples that have contained nearly 100 pieces of micro plastics. How could we have missed this? Are we so oblivious, purely immersed in our ego and quest for waves that this pollution passed us by or is it that these fragments are just too tiny to see. What’s more crucial; is what we can do to stop these plastics ending up in our oceans; now we know the extent of the contamination?
Putting together our findings, our personal development as highlighted by our “superpowers” – my own superpower I see as being a surfer – and our hopes for the next stage of this journey has been on the agenda today. It’s an important aspect of gathering our experiences and skills thus far, and beginning to chart how we can share what we’ve learnt with our communities back home, whilst paving the way for more opportunities.
As surfing heads to the Olympics in Japan, 2020, and artificial wave parks being commissioned every month its no denying its popularity and accessibility is on the increase; I hope to ignite surfers to think and act on a deeper level for the oceans. My focus will continue to be informing the global surf community of the devastating effects micro plastics have on our coastal ecosystems. As surface dwellers, we are exposed to this contamination first hand – we do not have to take a sailboat into the middle of the Atlantic, we can just paddle for a wave at our local break and feel the plastic filtering through our fingers. And with our eXXpedition data, we can no longer deny the realities of the micro plastic situation, however, we’ve found incredible strength and solace in the challenge Mother Nature has provided for us. The solutions we have touched upon have been as diverse and multi facetted as the eXXpedition all female crew.
Aboard eXXpedition we agree what makes a difference is the habits and lifestyles we lead on land – first and foremost avoiding plastics, as well as contributing to changing the bigger systems at work that have been ingrained in our evolution.