Back in February 2020, the eXXpedition crew cleaned up a beach during their time in the Galapagos. Galapagos resident and Leg 6 crew member, Daniela, recently revisited this same beach for World Clean Up Day in September.


The same beach that eXXpedition cleaned up in February. Photo credit: Daniela Alarcon Ruales


Plastic pollution is affecting oceanic islands around the globe, with huge impacts on their ecosystems and on the individual that live there. Understanding these effects on local environments is key in order to act and generate solutions.

Small actions are needed it to solve all the small actions that generate this problem. The main goal has to evolve from having to clean up these places, by shifting focus to ending the problem at the source – with less consumption and less wasting of plastic.

Washed-up plastic debris. Photo credit: Daniela Alarcon Ruales


Using beach clean-ups is a powerful tool in understanding the patterns of plastic debris, providing robust information that can be used for not only cleaning activities, but for making decisions and guiding future legislation and management.

So, for this reason, as part of the citizen science of the research project understanding the impacts of marine debris in Galapagos; with a standardised methodology we go back to the same place to do clean ups and collect data each time, so that we might compare data, and see where the debris is coming from.


Sorting the plastic debris collected on the beach. Photo credit: Daniela Alarcon Ruales


We were here earlier this year with the eXXpedition crew, to clean the entire area in February 2020. Six months later, when we returned to the same site, we found plastic washed up to shore, plus the impact of local people.


Branding on the bottles helps to identify the source of the plastic pollution. Photo credit: Daniela Alarcon Ruales


We found items mainly coming from the fishing sector and industry, including Ecuadorian, Panamanian, Peruvian and Asian brands with a clear impact of how these fishing fleets are not only putting huge pressure on resources by fishing, but also, are responsible for plastic debris accumulating on the nearby [Galapagos] islands.