Aquapower Expedition: A Successful Mission
After a stretch of 72 days and more than 5,000 nautical miles, Florian Jung and his team of environmental activists are back on land after a successful eight-stage adventure with a purpose. As we told you back in early May, the Aquapower Expedition set out on a mission to educate the world on the dangers of marine pollution, hopeful to inspire a major change. Looking back, the crew can most definitely call their voyage both fruitful and empowering.
Starting the project on the shores of Guadeloupe, Jung connected with ‘Ecole de la Mer’, an ocean school located at the Aquarium of Guadeloupe, to organize a beach clean-up. With the help of 30 students, the group removed litter while teaching the children about the impacts of pollution on the ecosystem. In the Virgin Islands, the team met on the shores of Tortola to talk with experts about ways to protect the many coral reefs in the area. Considered the ‘Pearls of the Caribbean Sea’, coral are the ’nurseries’ of the oceans and help feed about one billion people, creating jobs for close to 100 million through the fishing and tourism industries. Lastly, not to be forgotten among the scientific highlights, the group was welcomed to the green, volcanic island of Flores, where they heard from a marine biologist at the University of Azores about one of the most pressing threats aside from marine debris: climate change.
“At first glance, all is well,” Jung told Pulse, a German news and entertainment website, shortly after his journey was complete. “Sailing through blue water, every now and then you may see a plastic bag. But in the water, plankton samples that we have taken out of specific networks are all covered with millimeter-sized pieces of plastic.”
No place was this pollution more apparent than the area of water known as the ‘Atlantic Garbage Patch’, a stretch of water in the North Atlantic where debris accumulates by oceanic currents. Only two weeks before crossing this hazardous zone, Jung had been swimming with majestic and tranquil humpback whales. Sadly, after using a tactic known as plankton trawling, Jung and his team were floored by the realization of just what those very creatures are forced to digest.
Using a very fine, mesh net, the crew caught tiny fibers of degenerated PVC, micro plastics which potentially derive from plastic foil or polyester clothing.
“If you don’t see it, it doesn’t mean it is not there,” Jung said in a blog post describing his findings in those waters. "You do not see them, but they are there and pollute everything. They are not only in water, but also in the animals that live there. They take over the water."
The trip also had its fair share of obstacles outside from the valuable research too. In the Dominican Republic, the shipmates encountered a kitchen fire below deck and off the coast of Bermuda, the main sail suffered a sizable tear courtesy of 45 knots of heavy headwind before the captain was able to design a temporary fix. Not to mention the everyday struggles each person faced on how to juggle boat responsibilities while managing to keep a balanced mind aboard a vessel that spanned just 50 feet.
Alas, closing in on a bay located in Marseille, greeted by family and sponsors, Jung’s team was overwhelmed by a wave of emotion. On one hand, each member felt that the project as a whole was a success and, hopefully, helped to plant the seed of oceanic preservation into the minds of many. On the other hand though, there will always be work left to do.
“Alone, we are not able to change much,” he finished. “But together, we can help the ocean regenerate."
To see Jung’s complete expedition, filmed with Garmin VIRB, visit aquapower-expedition.com and for more Garmin coverage from the open waters, follow @garminmarine.
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