Caribbean 2016

Caribbean 2016 was a two part eXXpedition mission aboard SV Sea Dragon. In February/March 2016, the Leg 1 Crew sailed from Trinidad to St Lucia via Barbados. The Leg 2 Crew sailed from St Lucia to Antigua, via Dominica.

eXXpedition All-female research expeditions to investigate the causes of and solutions to ocean plastic pollution

Leg 1: Trinidad to St Lucia, via Barbados

Meet the Team: Leg 1

Mission Leader

Emily Penn

Emily Penn

United Kingdom

Director and Co-Founder

As co-founder of eXXpedition EMILY has seen first hand how much plastic ends up in our ocean. She has spent the last decade exploring the high seas from the tropics to the Arctic – enabling scientists, filmmakers and interested individuals to gain access to the most remote parts of our planet.

She has organised the largest ever community-led waste cleanup from a tiny Tongan island, trawled for micro-plastics on a voyage through the Arctic Northwest Passage, rounded the planet on the record-breaking biofuelled boat Earthrace, and worked on a sailing cargo ship trading western supplies for coconuts.

Emily splits her time between running eXXpedition and developing upstream solutions to the ocean plastic issue with corporate partners, scientists and government bodies. An experienced public speaker, Emily gives talks around the world at conferences, universities and global companies about her adventures and issues relating to our oceans, human mindset and future society.

You can find more information on Emily’s projects at www.emilypenn.co.uk.

Emily is sponsored by:

Learn more about Emily's journey here:

Read more

Guest Crew

Sigrid Skjerdal

Sigrid Skjerdal

Norway

Manager for music festival Vinjerock and Journalist

Trying to make the festival business cleaner and greener! Compost is her new favourite word.

A fresh-out-of-school journalist, working with climate and weather until eXXpedition Carribean departs from Trinidad. I grew up in a mountain farm in Norway, and have spent a whole lot more time in the mountains than in the ocean.

Finding litter and waste in the nature pisses me off. The past year I have learned that there is a whole lot more of this under water, where we cant see it. Attending eXXpedition I want to learn more about how the way we live our lives impacts not only the climate on the globe above surface, but also under it. And most importantly – I want to help telling the stories of how our plastic pollution affects life in the oceans.

I will be documenting the journey and the results of the research through blogging, articles, photos and video. After the journey I will use the information and stories we collect through the eXXpedition to, hopefully, open an eye or two to what is going on.

I hope to understand how people on the other side of the globe are experiencing plastic pollution in their day to day life. Our lives may seem different, but we all have the oceans in common, right?

I am excited to work with experienced scientists, artists, filmakers and other inspiring women from all over the world, and learn how we together can find solutions on the problem of marine pollution.

Hopefully I can use my profession help open other peoples’ eyes and minds. I have a degree in journalism, and a passion for outdoor life. That will not help me do the scientific research, but I can do my best to convey the information we collect!

Megan Evans

Megan Evans

United Kingdom

Educator

I am a Learning Manager at Earthwatch Europe, I work to connect educators with scientific research, empowering and inspiring the next generation to take action for the planet.

MEGAN was born and raised in Wales, UK and was on the water from a young age. The marine and coastal environment has played a huge part in her life learning to sail at age 7 she took that onto compete internationally representing Wales and Great Britain. Megan is a qualified sailing instructor having worked at home and in the UAE and spends most free time surfing, wake boarding and windsurfing. Recently graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Geography and Environmental Management from the University of the West of England Megan is now keen to take this onto a career in marine research and conservation to help protect the environment she is most passionate about to ensure irreversible damage is not done.

Whitney Sanford

Whitney Sanford

United States of America

Writer

Professor Emerita at the University of Florida and kayak/paddle/board/sailing devotee

WHITNEY spent her childhood summers playing in the tidal areas of Tybee Island near Savannah, Georgia. When she moved to Florida, it was like coming home to an ecosystem she loved and missed. Florida’s rivers, barriers islands, springs, and ocean waters are their wilderness, and she and her husband Kevin spend as much time as possible exploring the waters by SUP, kayak, and sailboat. Whitney has kayak camped in the Keys and the 10,000 Islands, surfed her kayak in the Atlantic, and has recently learned to SUP surf. Whitney and Kevin and are longtime volunteers with Paddle Florida. Even though Florida is blessed with what looks like an abundance of water, its rivers, springs, and aquifer are threatened by pollution and over-consumption, among other things. So while she enjoys playing and surfing, she also works protect Florida’s waters.

When Whitney am not paddling, surfing, or sailing, she is a faculty member in the Religion Department at the University of Florida. She teaches and conducts research in UF’s Religion and Nature program, a unit that both asks how religious traditions understand the natural world and how religious traditions are responding to environmental crises such as pollution and climate change. Her classes, including Religion and Sustainability and Women and Religion, help students understand the various dimensions of human relationships to the natural world and our obligations to it and each other. Her work lies at the intersection of religion, environment, and social justice.

She recently completed a book entitled Being the Change: What I Learned from Intentional Community (Forthcoming, University of Kentucky Press, 2017) that explores how communities come together to live sustainably and harmoniously. She is just beginning a project on the ecoheritage of the St. Johns River in Florida which explores why communities, past and present, have come to love and protect the river and her springs. Whitney plans to start ethnographic and historical research on this project in spring 2016.

Whitney is interested in how environmental degradation affects people differentially, and women often bear the brunt of pollution, for example, especially in developing countries. She hopes to learn more about these issues in a transnational context and is eager to work with a diverse team on the issue of women and water. In Florida, the Caribbean, and beyond, we face enormous problems around water, and some refer to these as “wicked problems”, meaning that they are difficult to solve and require multiple solutions and approaches. Working with others and learning new viewpoints will help her own work, and Whitney will bring what she has learned to her research and to her students at the University of Florida.

Jennifer Pate

Jennifer Pate

Canada

Filmmaker

Jen is a geographer and filmmaker fascinated by human-environment interaction. She has a BA in Geography (2:1) and an MSc in Environment, Science & Society (Distinction) from the University College of London. Her academic research explored environmental management and experience, film as an emancipatory tool for environmental education, as well as geographies of health and biological identity. She has been involved in several research, filmmaking and sport expeditions in a diverse range of roles. In 2009, she led a UCL-funded research expedition to British Columbia and in 2010 was a member of the Lost World Project documentary-making expedition to Venezuela’s Mount Roraima.

Following this expedition, Jen set up her film company, Your Frontier (www.yourfrontier.co.uk) to raise awareness of worldwide expeditions as well as social and environmental responsibility projects. She has since been Marketing Manager and Head of Media for several world-first expeditions including Row Zambezi (2011) and the Yangtze Adventure (2013). For the past year she has worked at the UK Energy Research Centre at the Oxford University Centre for the Environment, bringing together academic, industrial and political groups/individuals to bridge gaps in understanding and action around UK energy issues and climate change. She is also a Relationships Manager for Ibex Earth’s ‘Our World: Our Choice’ initiative, which aims to raise awareness of the importance of preserving global biodiversity and find ways to offer support to environmental and conservation charities including the Galapagos Conservation Trust, the World Land Trust and ZSL’s EDGE of Existence Programme.

She is passionate about health, well-being and outdoor fitness. She is a keen runner and paddleboarder, certified as a SUP and PaddleFit Instructor. She is also Co-owner/Operator of an environmentally sustainable outdoor recreation park in Canada called Windmill Lake (www.windmill-lake.ca) which she hopes will be a springboard for community health initiatives in South-Western Ontario. The mission and aims of the Atlantic eXXpedition hold personal significance for Jen due to the diagnosis, care and loss of several family members and close friends to cancer. She is very excited to be a part of this incredible project that will allow her to explore her own health, behaviour and relationship with the environment while encouraging others to do the same. She is passionate about producing a wide range of high impact film-based outputs from this expedition and showcasing them internationally through different forums. This is a unique opportunity to have a tangible impact on the communication and understanding of human/environmental health and she can’t wait to get onboard!

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Marika Dubé

Marika Dubé

Canada

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MARIKA has 5 years of experience in public affairs, working for a communications consulting firm as well as in both Quebec provincial politics and Canadian federal politics.

In the past year, Marika has become very interested in environmental issues and has taken steps to gain more knowledge and insight into them. A few months ago, she went diving for the first time (not the last!) in Thailand and it absolutely changed her whole world view forever. She gained a sense of how beautiful and important our underwater ecosystems are, and now feels a responsibility to do something to protect them. She’s had the chance since then to attend a conference by Sylvia Earle and her inspirational message has convinced her further that making conservation a central part of her life is something she needs to do.

Right now, Marika works for a public relations consulting firm in Montreal as a Project Manager and takes biology classes at University to deepen her understanding of conservation, ethical and animal welfare issues. She loves helping people tell their stories and aspires to one day be able to do just that for the causes she cares about the most.

Upon her return, Marika would love to offer professional public relations services pro bono for conservation and animal welfare organizations. She’d also like to spread the message in Quebec about “making the unseen, seen” through different communication methods: blog, web series, as well as government and community relations.

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Natalie Small

Natalie Small

United States of America

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Surfing, sailing, diving, open ocean swimming, kayaking, and even living aboard her 28 ft sailboat Mi Corazon docked in San Diego…. NATALIE sees water as an integral part of her life and thus spurs her passion about its conservation and helping others fall head over heals in love with it like she is! With a love for womping in the waves comes a passion to keep the waves womp-able; thus Natalie founded 1Bag1World this past year with the mission to restore beauty to women and waves through plastic upcycling handicraft projects with women survivors of trafficking and abuse around the world, empowering them to be leaders in the wave of change to plastic free living in their own communities.

Natalie has a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy, licensed in California, and First Aid Arts training in the use of expressive arts for trauma recovery. As the San Diego branch Coordinator of the Wahine Project, she provides therapeutically minded surf clubs for girls struggling with poverty, family stressors, physical abuse, trauma, and trafficking in San Diego, Peru, Philippines, and Baja. She is looking forward to leading a team of Wahine women on a surf expedition to Cuba in February to bring the gift of surfing to the girls there as well. “I see fostering empowered relationships with the ocean as an opportunity for therapeutic healing for the individual. the community, and our water”.

Natalie hopes to bring the 1Bag1World creativity with plastic upcycling aboard the eXXpedition to find unique ways to eliminate the plastic waste of crew and locals we encounter. Through her travels she has learned that many small island communities don’t have the infrastructure to properly recycle so, she looks forward to getting creative with them about how they can reduce, reuse, and up-cycle their plastic waste to keep their oceans and bodies healthy and happy! Her time with the eXXpedition crew will be book ended with Wahine Project surf clubs in Cuba and sail-hopping her way back to San Diego brining the 1Bag1World message to coastal communities along the way. …..and of course if waves are found she’ll be the first to grab some boards to teach the crew and locals the art of surfing!

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Jannica Haldin

Jannica Haldin

Finland

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As a child my father would take me and my brother treasure hunting. Waking up, in a tent on a beach, in the bunk of a sailboat or in the old fisherman’s cabin on our tiny island, we would get in the boat, lunchpacks, towels and all, and go for an Adventure. With a capital A.

We’d steer for one of the hundreds of wild islands and skerries in the outer belt, and the Hunt would begin. The prize: flotsam. Odd looking pieces of wood, twisted, saltsoaked boards, and the biggest prize of all: fishing floats or the occasional plastic bottle with foreign lettering. The latter two would be brought home with pride, rarities to be treasured.

I’m now 31 years old , a sailor, a marine biologist and a scientific diver. Six weeks before writing this I gave birth to my first child, a daughter. She will never get to play this game. The rocky beaches where we went hunting 25 years ago are now littered with plastic, in all its shapes and forms. I know, I went back to see for myself.

However, most people don’t. Get to see for themselves that is. And as the saying goes: out of sight, out of mind. Whether it’s previously pristine beaches or out in the world’s oceans, in the seafood we eat, in the water we swim in, if you can’t see it, it is of small importance. Except, in this case, it isn’t.
The contaminants in the fish on your dinner table, a plastic bottle on the beach or an accumulation the size of a country in one of the oceanic gyres, are all symptoms of the same problem. And the first step in fixing a problem is acknowledging that it exists. I hope that by being part of eXXpedition I can be part of bringing to people’s attention the magnitude of this problem, both the visible and the invisible, and show that it affects all of our lives.

“People protect what they love”. It’s as true now as when Jacques Cousteau first coined it. For the last 10 years I have been working for the marine environment and its conservation. Mapping underwater ecosystems around the same islands where I used to play. Coordinating international work on assessing the threat to marine species. Assisting multinational research groups when taking on questions on the sustainable use of the marine environment.
All of this I have done for myself, because the sea is what I love. But now, now I do it for my daughter. Because everyone deserves treasure hunts in their life. And because women are adventurers. With a capital A.”

Alice de Castro

Alice de Castro

Portugal

The story goes that on my first trip to the beach, still a toddler, I sneakily crawled straight into the water, ‘encouraging’ my dad to take an unforeseen rescue dip into the rough and cold North Atlantic! Since then, my relationship with the Ocean has evolved from attraction to love, boldness to humbleness and admiration to awe.

Originally from Porto in Portugal, I pursued this early curiosity with the natural world, and particularly a fascination with sea turtles, by studying Biology at University of Madeira. I then returned to Porto in 1999 to study Pharmaceutical Sciences and worked there as a qualified pharmacist. I loved the contact with the community and how I could make a difference in people’s lives. However, my love for science led me to the UK in 2006, and back to the lab, to pursue a Masters and then a PhD in the biology of ageing. I earned a doctorate from the University of London where my research focused on finding specific biomarkers for a particular pathway of senescence in skin cells. Then, I worked on developing cell culture models in which to study mechanisms of chemical carcinogenesis; in particular how Nickel causes cells to bypass senescence towards cancer.

Alongside the love for science, a passion for sports and physical expression has always been a constant in my life. After being introduced to gymnastics at an early age, I spent my fun time as a teen playing water polo and surfing. Whilst at university I competed in martial arts, against both men and women, and was National and Iberian champion in the Brazilian art of Capoeira for 3 years in a row. In 2006, I became the first Portuguese woman in my group to receive the belt to teach. Over the following decade I found my way from injury into Yoga and now, at 37 years old, I am a yoga teacher dedicated to generating a positive impact in my students lives.

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Katie Hardyment

Katie Hardyment

United Kingdom

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The thing I love more than anything is understanding the world and the people in it – why things are the way they are, and how people think and why they do what they do.

My career so far has given me the chance to work on fascinating projects in this area with inspiring people and organisations. I currently work at BBC News, helping create strategies to get news and current affairs to more people in more places.

Before the BBC, I worked for almost six years as a sustainability consultant for organisations like Disney, Kellogg’s and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, helping them create strategies for social and environmental impact – from sustainable farming programmes to behaviour change campaigns around women’s health.

My background is as a geographer – keen on human geography (I specialised in international development and my first job was with an NGO) and the intersection with physical geography, especially where it helps us understand why things are how they are e.g. climate influences on migration.

Through these experiences, I’ve built skills in strategy, research and communications, and I can’t wait to put them into action for eXXpedition.

I’m joining the expedition in the hope of having a memorable experience with a bunch of interesting women who are equally interested in issues, solutions and creating change.

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Caroline van Wijngaarden

Caroline van Wijngaarden

Netherlands

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CAROLINE is a bon vivant, privateer, creative person, adventurer and sailor. She is 42 years old and trying to give her life a different turn to go. She wants as much as possible doing sailing voyages, preferably combined to a good cause. That is why she now is going with eXXpedition to see if she wants to go there more in the future and to draw attention to the great project in Netherlands.

Caroline last year crossed the Pacific from the Galapagos Islands to the Marquesas Islands, Tuamotu archipel and Tahiti. She has been on Svalbard (Spitsbergen) also and the Barentszsea crossed over to Norway.

As a photographer and film maker (short videos for social media) she comes in worlds where they otherwise would not come. In addition, she has a company in wood and leather processing. Especially with recycled materials she designs beautiful products. A number of days in week she is a teacher. If she can follow her dreams fully one day, she will.

Check out her website and Facebook to see her work!

eXXpedition All-female research expeditions to investigate the causes of and solutions to ocean plastic pollution

Leg 2: St Lucia to Antigua, via Dominica

Meet the Team: Leg 2

Mission Leader

Emily Penn

Emily Penn

United Kingdom

Director and Co-Founder

As co-founder of eXXpedition EMILY has seen first hand how much plastic ends up in our ocean. She has spent the last decade exploring the high seas from the tropics to the Arctic – enabling scientists, filmmakers and interested individuals to gain access to the most remote parts of our planet.

She has organised the largest ever community-led waste cleanup from a tiny Tongan island, trawled for micro-plastics on a voyage through the Arctic Northwest Passage, rounded the planet on the record-breaking biofuelled boat Earthrace, and worked on a sailing cargo ship trading western supplies for coconuts.

Emily splits her time between running eXXpedition and developing upstream solutions to the ocean plastic issue with corporate partners, scientists and government bodies. An experienced public speaker, Emily gives talks around the world at conferences, universities and global companies about her adventures and issues relating to our oceans, human mindset and future society.

You can find more information on Emily’s projects at www.emilypenn.co.uk.

Emily is sponsored by:

Learn more about Emily's journey here:

Read more

Guest Crew

Megan Evans

Megan Evans

United Kingdom

Educator

I am a Learning Manager at Earthwatch Europe, I work to connect educators with scientific research, empowering and inspiring the next generation to take action for the planet.

MEGAN was born and raised in Wales, UK and was on the water from a young age. The marine and coastal environment has played a huge part in her life learning to sail at age 7 she took that onto compete internationally representing Wales and Great Britain. Megan is a qualified sailing instructor having worked at home and in the UAE and spends most free time surfing, wake boarding and windsurfing. Recently graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Geography and Environmental Management from the University of the West of England Megan is now keen to take this onto a career in marine research and conservation to help protect the environment she is most passionate about to ensure irreversible damage is not done.

Ina Weidmann

Ina Weidmann

Germany

Environmentalist and Artisan

Through her travels and studies Ina learned about the pressing environmental challenges and became passionate about giving back by speaking up and taking action for nature and the ocean, raising awareness and inspiring the people she meets on her path to join the movement for a healthy planet and future.

Ina is a passionate traveler and loves the ocean. Hence most of her journeys are directed to where there is endless water and horizon. Being outdoors and especially at the ocean with all its beauty and hidden marine wildlife, inspires her to put a different view on (everyday) life. It struck her that despite all enchanting beauty, there was barely a place she traveled to, that is not threatened by (longterm) impacts from man-made pollution or exploitation. Be it the Andes, the Amazon, the Okavango Delta, the Andaman Sea or the Galapagos Islands to name but a few. So Ina changed from a casual visitor to an involved protectionist. She took a course on Antarctic and Marine Science and learned about life circles, pollution, acidification, climate change and other impacts on the ocean. Now she wants to get involved further and raise awareness so people will notice that their own footprint matters, but also that there is always something one can do to minimize the impact.

Ina is a Master of Environmental Science candidate, following a BSc in Human Geography and Business Administration. She was born and lived most of her life in Berlin, Germany before she moved to Switzerland where she works as an analyst and researcher in aviation.

Jennifer Pate

Jennifer Pate

Canada

Filmmaker

Jen is a geographer and filmmaker fascinated by human-environment interaction. She has a BA in Geography (2:1) and an MSc in Environment, Science & Society (Distinction) from the University College of London. Her academic research explored environmental management and experience, film as an emancipatory tool for environmental education, as well as geographies of health and biological identity. She has been involved in several research, filmmaking and sport expeditions in a diverse range of roles. In 2009, she led a UCL-funded research expedition to British Columbia and in 2010 was a member of the Lost World Project documentary-making expedition to Venezuela’s Mount Roraima.

Following this expedition, Jen set up her film company, Your Frontier (www.yourfrontier.co.uk) to raise awareness of worldwide expeditions as well as social and environmental responsibility projects. She has since been Marketing Manager and Head of Media for several world-first expeditions including Row Zambezi (2011) and the Yangtze Adventure (2013). For the past year she has worked at the UK Energy Research Centre at the Oxford University Centre for the Environment, bringing together academic, industrial and political groups/individuals to bridge gaps in understanding and action around UK energy issues and climate change. She is also a Relationships Manager for Ibex Earth’s ‘Our World: Our Choice’ initiative, which aims to raise awareness of the importance of preserving global biodiversity and find ways to offer support to environmental and conservation charities including the Galapagos Conservation Trust, the World Land Trust and ZSL’s EDGE of Existence Programme.

She is passionate about health, well-being and outdoor fitness. She is a keen runner and paddleboarder, certified as a SUP and PaddleFit Instructor. She is also Co-owner/Operator of an environmentally sustainable outdoor recreation park in Canada called Windmill Lake (www.windmill-lake.ca) which she hopes will be a springboard for community health initiatives in South-Western Ontario. The mission and aims of the Atlantic eXXpedition hold personal significance for Jen due to the diagnosis, care and loss of several family members and close friends to cancer. She is very excited to be a part of this incredible project that will allow her to explore her own health, behaviour and relationship with the environment while encouraging others to do the same. She is passionate about producing a wide range of high impact film-based outputs from this expedition and showcasing them internationally through different forums. This is a unique opportunity to have a tangible impact on the communication and understanding of human/environmental health and she can’t wait to get onboard!

Rigmor Reppen Solnes

Rigmor Reppen Solnes

Norway

Law Student

Law Student currently working for ELSA Norway and working on Law Students Without Borders Worldwide and Norway

RIGMOR has not got much sailing experience except from a whole lot of ferries in the western part of Norway, and occasional fishing trips with dinghys. Nevertheless, she’s raised along the Sognefjord in Norway, and have always loved the nature and especially the ocean. Living in Kristiansand near the ocean for several years has also made her deeply passionate about the ocean. A course in surfing in Hawaii sparked an interest of surfing.

In High School Rigmor studied Biology and Anatomy/Physiology, and went along with one year of Biology at the University of Agder. After a couple of years working in nursing, she changed career path to Law, and is currently a second year Law student at the University of Agder. In the summer of 2015, Rigmor studied ‘Introduction to English Law’ at the University of Exeter. Rigmor also took a course by ELSA in Copenhagen ‘Media Law in the 21th Century’.

Rigmor hope to make up for the lack of sailing experience by being reporting and writing about the eXXpedition trip on social media and in her online magazine iiinspiratus.com.

She hopes to bring awareness to this hidden and underdiscussed topic – pollution and the use of plastics and the consequences it has on the ocean and in us humans. Rigmor want to inspire others to reduce – reuse and recycle plastic, but also find alternatives to plastic, such as bamboo – by writing and discussing the topic in her lifestyle magazine iiinspiratus.com and in social media. Additionally, Rigmor want to bring awareness about microplastic that exist in a lot of cosmetic products.

Rigmor would like to combine the passion for the ocean and Law in the future, and advocating for a healthy ocean.

Sabrina Bellotti

Sabrina Bellotti

Italy

Technologist, researcher and photographer

Sabrina is a curious technologist who is passionate about leveraging innovation and collaboration to tackle the world’s difficult challenges.

Originally from Italy, Sabrina is a technologist and experienced sailor now living in San Francisco. Her passion for the water started when she was born. She spent a lot of time on sailboats as a little girl. Her father sparked her interest in sailing from a very early age and since then she has always loved to be on sailboats crossing the whole mediterranean. She started racing on dinghies, cruising offshore and she worked as a sail instructor for few years before she moved to San Francisco. She is now sailing in the ocean and in the beautiful San Francisco Bay. Sabrina is an active and enthusiastic person, she feels at ease in the water and enjoys all water sports like swimming, scuba diving, surfing and kite-surfing.

“When I was a child the sea seemed to me infinite and rich. Today, the seas of my childhood no longer exist. Sailing long distances has given me a deep awareness of the negative impact that human behaviour has had on our seas. We need to protect what we love, the nature, our lives and our health”.

Sabrina is an engineer specialized in internet security and holds a MSc in Telecommunication Engineering from Politecnico di Milano in Italy. She also earned a MA in Development Economics from the University of San Francisco with a focus on social and environmental issues.

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Tilly Heathwood

Tilly Heathwood

United Kingdom

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Originally from East Sussex, I’ve always been close to the sea, my dad is a keen sailor and has passed on his passion down to me. My love for the ocean has always been a running theme in my life and in 2014 I started a degree in Marine and Natural History Photography. This degree has allowed me to expand my knowledge not only in the visual arts but has also ignited a love for science. I love how these subjects can be combined and complement each other, in raising awareness to the important environmental issues of the world. My area of expertise lies within the visual arts, I love documenting experiences and moments with photography and film. I feel its the best way to get vital messages across in the current, modern world.

My goals and aims for the expedition are to expand my own knowledge and understanding of the current state of our oceans. I aim to contribute to the best of my ability in all aspects of the trip, whilst documenting using film and photography to be able to educate and demonstrate to different communities. This investigation will allow me to grow as an independent person as well as taking a step onto the path towards my desired career.

 

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Sara Mirabilio

Sara Mirabilio

United States of America

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My passion for the ocean has existed since I first started forming solid memories. This passion carried through my childhood all the way to Long Island University’s Southampton College, where I majored in marine science, and on still further to William & Mary’s School of Marine Science at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, where I earned a master’s in marine science.

If you had asked me at age 12 what I wanted to be, it would’ve been dolphin trainer or sea turtle biologist. But as I grew and learned, it became apparent to me that the world ocean is in trouble. My career focus became how to strike the balance between economy and resource protection. My graduate research was directed towards the vitellogenic cycle of fish as a biomarker of environmental contamination and reproductive disruption.

In 2002, I tried my hand at Washington, D.C. policy-making as a National Sea Grant Office John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellow. But, salt water runs in my veins, and I soon turned in my business suits and high-heels for oilskins and flip-flops, joining North Carolina Sea Grant in August 2003 as a fisheries extension specialist in their Manteo Office.

My ongoing work includes cultivating cooperative research with the commercial and recreational fishing industries. Working together, fishermen and scientists can improve our understanding of the complex interactions between fishery resources and fishing practices. And of late, I have been trying to turn the tide on derelict fishing gear and other marine debris, which can smother and crush sensitive salt marsh habitat. Beginning in 2014, with support from NOAA’s Marine Debris Program and North Carolina Sea Grant, the North Carolina Coastal Federation began an annual sounds and shorelines cleanup. The effort is a public-private partnership between fishermen, N.C. Marine Patrol officers and the general public.

When I saw the expedition goals — making the unseen seen, from toxins in the ocean to toxins in our bodies, and raising the visibility and voices of women in science along the way, I knew I had to be a part of this endeavor.

As a female, marine scientist in what still is a male-dominated field, I am deeply devoted to empowering women in science (admittedly only one of the underrepresented minorities, but the one I have been most involved with).

This voyage also will provide a chance to revisit my early career focus on environmental toxicology and participate in scientifically documenting the extent of marine pollution in the Caribbean. More rewarding will be educating others about the potentially harmful effects of various chemical, biological and physical agents on marine ecosystems.

But most personal of all is, I just celebrated my second year as a breast cancer survivor. At the mere age of 37, I was diagnosed with stage 2 hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. One will never know the cause of their cancer, but research strongly suggests that exogenous, man-made chemicals that mimic estrogen can alter the functions of the endocrine system and cause various health defects including cancer. My story has a happy ending, or at least I’m determined to make it so. I feel blessed to have detected my cancer early, and so my mission is, like that of eXXpedition, to stamp out late detection of breast cancer.

Candy Medusa

Candy Medusa

United Kingdom

Artist

Candy Medusa is an artist, illustrator, marine biologist and loudmouth, constantly confused as to why bios are supposed to be in the third person.

Specialising in mixed media and upcycling, she draws much of her inspiration from nature and is passionate about the environment. She mostly makes art between midnight and 4am when the kids are asleep.

Candy has exhibited locally, nationally and internationally, including with the Royal Society of Marine Artists at Mall Galleries in London, and with Creative Action Network in America and Bahrain. She was also resident artist aboard the Sea Dragon in the Caribbean.

Candy is the founder of the eXXhibition project, raising awareness of plastic pollution, organising beach cleans and workshops, and upcycling beach litter into art.

Learn more about Candy's journey here:

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Alyona Simikina

Alyona Simikina

Russia

ALYONA was born in Russia in 1982. Raised in Caucasus Mineral Waters’s area, specially preserved ecological zone in the South of Russia, in the town of Kislovodsk. From her early years was interested in ecology, researching of the ways to saving natural resources of planet.
In 1999 entered journalism faculty in Southern Federal University in the city of Rostov-on-Don. Worked as a reporter for news and other regional programs. After graduation in 2004 moved to Moscow. For the last 10 years have been working as a documentarist on Russian TV. On RTDocumentary from 2011 as a director of documentary.

Svenja Angenendt

Svenja Angenendt

Germany

Throughout my life I have been fascinated by the diversity of marine life and the power of the ocean. I became passionate about marine sciences very early in highschool and I soon recognized how quickly the marine environment is changing due to human impacts. In order to better understand the pocesses and the development of the earth system, I started a degree in geological sciences.

During my studies in Germany and California at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography I discovered my passion for marine research expeditions and participated in a number of cruises on research vessels off Namibia, off the Californian Coast and the Northern Sea. In particular I focused on climate change and biogeochemical cycles and the impact on our oceans and ecosystems. With the master’s degree and the motivation to communicate scientific knowldege about the importance of our oceans, I became the head of office of the German Ocean Foundation last year, fighting for the protection of the marine environment everyday. Besides my scientific career I am really enthusiastic about diving, surfing, climbing, travelling and exploring.

I think it is crucial to increase the public awareness about the importance of the health of the oceans for all of us and to pull together to protect the environment. Therefore I am very excited to join eXXpedition in the Carribean and to contribute to research and communication about the issue of plastic pollution and toxins.
In fact It wasn’t until I saw the vast destruction of our environment by plastics in Indonesia two years ago with my own eyes that I realized the impact of our consumption life style.

Furthermore I am really thrilled to improve my sailing skills on the beautiful Sea Dragon and to meet all the inspiring women from the fields of science, arts and more. I think that our combined skills can strenghten a change in our society and inspire people to change their personal life style. I hope I can take a part of the power and motivation back to Germany.

Snaps from Sea

Crew Pics + Videos

Voyage Blogs

Plastic-Free for the Sea

“Head Instructions: Please do not put anything down the toilet that has not been passed from one end of a human to the other…This means NO tampons, bad dogs, cardboard, kittens, plastic, dreams, maxi pads, cell phones, or souls.” – Sea Dragon While aboard the 72 foot sailing vessel, Sea Dragon, with 15 women for the […]

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