Emily speaks to The Independent about what we've seen...

Extract from @missemilypenn @the.independent@josh_gabbatiss article: “”The most alarming thing is just the number of pieces that are moving past the boat every time you look out,” says Ms Penn, a sailor with a history of environmental activism. “You might get a bundle of fishing net, a washing basket, a chair; then you see bottle tops, toothbrushes, combs – people’s belongings basically. It doesn’t make any sense.” Just as appalling, she says, are the endless tiny shards of plastic that fill the apparently empty spaces between the larger objects. These “microplastics” have been found in the stomachs of fish and shellfish around the world. “That’s what we have been experiencing on a daily basis for the past 500 miles or so,” she says. At least 8 million tonnes of plastic is dumped in the ocean every year, and a large proportion ultimately ends up in one of the five major ocean gyres; drawn in by winds and ocean currents. The largest of these gyres, dubbed the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”, covers an area of 1.6 million square km. “How do you convey – when you wake up on day four and you’re still seeing this plastic pouring past the boat. The feeling just makes your stomach clench,” she says. The team is collecting samples and data that will then be sent to research institutions in the UK, Canada, Switzerland and the US. This information is valuable, because owing to their remote locations there is still a lot scientists do not know about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and other plastic accumulation zones. Horrific images of turtles tangled in fishing nets and whales with stomachs full of bags have shocked the world, but the eXXpedition crew wants to investigate the subtler effects of plastic pollution.

Their samples will be examined for traces of chemicals like pesticides and flame retardants that have the potential to leach into the bodies of animals and - ultimately - humans.” #oceanplastic #microplastics #expedition#science @exxpedition_

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