The 7th leg of eXXpedition Round the World voyage is Galapagos to Easter Island with PerkinElmer. We are really excited about our partnership with PerkinElmer, Inc. as they provide us with crucial scientific instrumentation to use onboard the boat namely the Spectrum Two™ FT-IR spectrometer with its incredibly easy-to-use analysis software and Universal Diamond ATR accessory which can analyse the most awkwardly shaped plastics we uncover.  .

“Plastic ocean pollution is one of the most visible environmental challenges we face. The accompanying and less noticeable issue is when items like plastic bottles or nets break down into microplastics to then be ingested by sea creatures and eventually by us at the dinner table,” said Suneet Chadha VP/GM of Applied Markets, PerkinElmer, Inc.  “Studying microplastics to accelerate scientific understanding and drive answers is paramount.  We’re proud to be part of the eXXpedition voyage and believe their research will generate interesting findings to help drive future responses.”


Leg 7 destination: Easter Island (Photo credit: Thomas Griggs)

During this leg, our crew will be spending just over two weeks at sea, sailing into tough winds on our way to Easter Island. We will be sailing into the South Pacific Gyre, an area of ocean currents that lead to it being a plastic accumulation zone, which should provide some interesting results for our scientific research. After sailing 2000 nautical miles we will reach the Chilean island which is the southeasternmost point in the Polynesian Triangle in Oceania and situated in the middle of the South Pacific Gyre. Easter Island is said to be one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world and its remote location has led to the evolution of unique and abundant marine wildlife.  In recent years this has been recognised by the Chilean Government, that has created Rapa Nui Marine Park, one of the world’s largest marine parks. When we reach its shores, we will work with a local community organisation to raise awareness of plastic pollution and share our findings.

FT-IR spectrometer in use during leg 1 (Photo credit: Emily Penn)

Through our collaboration, our team (including members from Plymouth University in the U.K.) is leveraging PerkinElmer’s portable Spectrum Two to identify and document the chemical classification of plastics found during our voyages. PerkinElmer is also providing instrument and SpectrumTM 10 software training and support throughout our research expedition.

“We’re excited to have PerkinElmer’s innovative technology on board. It allows us to do real time analysis to identify polymer types and will help us explore potential solutions as research continues on dry land.” Emily Penn, ocean advocate, skipper and co-founder of eXXpedition

So far the crew have analysed over 300 microplastic fragments onboard the boat, and the vast majority of which have been found to be HDPE (High density Polyethylene) based. This is not surprising, as it is very commonly used packaging material, usually found in rigid bottles or containers for food, drink or personal care products. Read more about the crew’s experience with the FTIR on our blog here.

Photo credit: Louise Tremewan

Photo credit: Erica Cirino

Photo credit: Sophie Dingwall

PerkinElmer: Innovating for a Healthier World PerkinElmer, Inc. is a global leader committed to innovating for a healthier world. Their dedicated team of about 13,000 employees worldwide is passionate about providing customers with an unmatched experience as they help solve critical issues especially impacting the diagnostics and discovery and analytical solutions markets. Their innovative detection, imaging, informatics, and service capabilities, combined with deep market knowledge and expertise, help customers gain earlier and more accurate insights to improve lives and the world around us. Find more information on PerkinElmer’s microplastics solutions here.

“Innovating for a healthier world isn’t just PerkinElmer’s mission. It’s ingrained in all that we do – helping people, the environment and the global food chain, microplastic ocean pollution is just one important issue touching all of these areas.  We applaud the exciting work the eXXpedition team is doing during their two-year voyage and are proud to be a partner supporting their discoveries.” Prahlad Singh, president and chief executive officer of PerkinElmer, Inc.

Thank you to PerkinElmer for facilitating our scientific analysis at sea and making this voyage leg possible!