As the frosts form on window panes and I can see my breath curling in the air, maybe now I can finally reflect and form some kind of response to the eXXpedition journey so far. A debrief as it were…..
For those of you who have asked, thank you for your patience. Hopefully I am able to articulate clearly now some answers to your questions. Now, for those of you wondering what the hell I am talking about I will endeavor to clarify…...
On the 26th November last year I set off to join the rest of the eXXpedition Amazon crew in Recife, Brazil, in order to embark on a journey to “make the unseen seen” a phrase that has become something of a tag-line for the project. So, EXXpedition is a project co-founded by two amazing women; environmentalist and mariner Emily Penn, and toxicologist Dr Lucy Gillam, which aims to highlight the unseen effects of plastic pollution both on our planet and ourselves. The project encompasses all aspects of this issue, from exposing the physical impact of plastic debris on marine life to raising awareness of the implications of the toxics that are found in these plastics on our health, in particular, the health of women.
To this point there have been three eXXpedition “voyages”, two transatlantic passages and one journey up the coast of South America and across the mouth of the Amazon. This third of these legs is the part to which I may lay claim, and as I stood on the hot streets of Bartica in line to clear Guyanese customs and looked around at the girls that I had spent the last 19 days at sea with I realised something. I would never be able to “unsee” the sights or “unhear” the words from the last month, and that life would never really be the same again. Don’t get me wrong, these are all ideas, thoughts and questions that have been swimming around in my brain for, well, forever really. Some of them are basic, daily living thoughts, like “what is really in these chemicals that I am cleaning my skin, hair, home with?” Or “where does my rubbish and recycling actually go? But some of them are bigger, darker thoughts, these take more time and research to process. Questions like what will happen to us in the future, how will our lives need to change in order to continue to survive on this planet once we have used up its natural resources. Because we sure as hell aren’t going to be able to keep going the way we are….. Maybe my tag line at this point should be eXXpedition “you can’t un-see the seen".
At this point I would like to add, that you can read the blog posts which were sent from Sea Dragon throughout our voyage here I am not going to try to condense 19 days of sailing into one piece right now. Plus the daily musings of a variety of ladies whilst actually at sea are far more entertaining than any rose tinted memories that I have of sailing in the glorious tropical heat with a bunch of super badass ecologically minded adventurers.
My official role onboard Sea Dragon was as “artist in residnece”, although I’m pretty sure my (fair few) sea miles gave me slightly more leverage in the selection process than my recent creative productivity (very little, have mostly been sailing) However, my goals for this role, were at least to me very concrete from the beginning. To find new and interesting ways of engaging people with the issue of plastic waste and its impact on our planet and personal health. The role of eXXpedition is fairly unique in the world of scientific research and data in that we are not tied to a specific institute or governing body. The aim of the data that we were collecting (manta trawl samples, microbe and pathogen samples, POP testing) is contributing to open source of data available to all and cannot be bought by other institutions. Where this is a massive change in the way that research like this has been conducted in the past, there are however, a few gaps in the actual representation of this data to “non-science folk”. People who yes care about the environment and the future and would like to help to make a change but have no place in their hearts for pie charts and spreadsheets. So for those of you who, like me, need something a little more tactile, I will endeavour to translate. Watch this space……………..