Saturday 22nd November 2014: Sea Dragon

25 53.53 N
28 25.52 W

780 miles down!
After the storms of the past six days we had a beautiful Sunday morning with relatively calm seas, we got busy cleaning the boat, our laundry and ourselves.

Lucy made pancakes – a special treat for those on watch – they were so tasty to eat with maple syrup, papaya, lemon and sugar while watching the pink sunrise. We are all hoping that every morning can be as sweet a pancake morning, in the ocean, as this one.

Finally after days of rain, storm and strong winds we made our first trawl. The trawl was an ‘all hands on deck’ task, we put out the trawl in calm seas travelling at 2 – 3 knots. All the path was recorded in detail with the marine debris tracker, as were the conditions like wind speed and direction.


Shanley checking the manta trawl.

Everyone watched the trawl with curiosity as is it sliced through the water, resembling an animal gobbling plankton on the surface.

The ocean looked pristine and deep blue, but the trawl told a different story.

Upon removal we found plastic in the net, clear pieces of film and fragments – the trawl captures plastic fragments that are 333 micrometers and larger – along with fish larvae and fish eggs, two baby squids, and lots of tiny crustaceans.

Our onboard aquatic toxicologist, Diana, examined the marine life and smallest bits of plastics under the microscope. The total of plastic fragments we found from this first trawl was 38. We will repeat the trawls every day we sail.

Click on the video below to hear Diana talking about the work she plans to undertake while at sea.

Dinner was an amazing Mediterranean vegetable pasta with pine nuts and goats cheese crafted by Lucy and enjoyed by the whole crew on deck. Dinner also included a special celebration… Anne Baker of the crew graduated from the University of Plymouth today. We held a surprise ceremony for her, as she was missing the official ceremony in Truro, with a handmade mortar board hat with a tassel made from the frayed sail lines, and an official scroll conferring her degree handmade by resident artist, Maria.

We also started the daily routine of each crew member speaking about their life passions. Jenna went first and spoke about how she knew she wanted to be a scientist since she was very young and has always been an advocate for the ocean. She thought that studying marine debris would be just a small part of her career, but it is now one of her major missions.

Jenna moments before we sailed, talking about her hopes and aspirations for the voyage:

She ended the talk recalling how she met her husband working at the landfill (so romantic!) and showing photos of her adorable boys.

The eXXpedition Team