The 2012 Asia Pacific Expedition


2012 Voyage Skiff

2012 Leg 1 CrewYes, the voyage of many successes in spite of the odds against it. The 2012 Algalita/5 Gyres Asia Pacific Expedition, although hampered by severe weather and all manner of obstacles on Leg 2, met most of its goals and objectives.  Conducting our research under normal conditions presents its challenges, but the early typhoon season magnified them, hindering normal trawling practices. Dr. Eriksen’s comprehensive reports on Leg 1 and Leg 2 give us detailed information, photos and a video on the findings and Expedition talking points.

Beginning in the Marshall Islands on May 1, Leg 1 investigated the little studied Western Pacific Garbage Patch, arriving in Tokyo three weeks later. During their scheduled layover and crew change, an International Scientific Symposium was held with Captain Charles Moore as one of the speakers. With Typhoon Mawar’s arrival, Leg 2 departed Tokyo 10 days past schedule on June 10.

Through it all, the Crew performed with the highest degree of team effort, engaging in the science and on-board duties. During the process, new and lasting friendships were bonded and the crew found new meaning in some of the comforts of home we all take for granted.  We ended the Expedition with the most important things of all……a safe and sound crew and vessel in port.

Originally scheduled to terminate at Ma’alaea Harbor on Maui June 30, Sea Dragon would not be able to reach Maui and made port instead in Honolulu. However, the Panel Discussion and Expedition Debriefing session was held July 8. It was well attended and extremely well received, as evidenced in Trisha Smith’s blog and her Maui Weekly article.

Algalita, in partnership with the Maui Ocean CenterMaui County Environmental Program; Sustainable Living Institute of Maui; Trilogy Excursions and their Blue A’ina Campaign and many, many other marine debris organizations and individuals, worked tirelessly to create an arrival welcoming for the vessel crew in anticipation of hearing about the Expedition. There are so many people to thank whoeither offered their services; worked on and/or planned to be part of the Maui Ocean Center segment of the welcoming and the Panel Event. I’d like to share their names with you. While all involved were disappointed at not being able to escort Sea Dragon into the Harbor to bring the crew ceremonially on shore, they all expressed their gratitude for the Team undertaking this mission and sent their congratulations on a safe landing at mooring in Honolulu.

On a personal note,  “...if you want to give God a good laugh, tell him your plans….”   his companion, Mother Nature, gave the “Dragon” and her crew a “real go” on Leg 2.   But, as we all know, if we don’t make plans, we can never strive for achievement. All things tallied, what we bring back to the waiting world… the experiences, data and visual accounting of the journey, will only enhance what is already known, not only about pre-tsunami plastic marine pollution, but also about the impact of the 2011 disaster, as much as we were able to discover on this weather plagued voyage.

Panel Discussion 2012The Expedition Debriefing,  moderated by Rob Parsons, Environmental Coordinator for the County of Maui, began with an intro from two Chilean TV folks screening a 1.5 minute video greeting from the cultural Kahu on Easter Island to the people of Maui.  Also screened was “Changing Tides”, a 2012 Maui Film Festival award winner. During the program, by a stroke of luck, our panel consisting of Cynthia Matzke and Hank Carson, both Leg 1 “vets”, was joined by four of the Leg 2 crew who flew over from Honolulu.

With regard to Maui, developing relationships for future collaboration are well underway. And, as I always will, I refer to “dot connection” as a basic outreach equals action concept.  All the work with the afore-mentioned organizations have been the foundation blocks for the lighthouse in the core of the Hawaiian Islands to connect their beams with a lighthouse on the mainland, guiding the way for all of us to work together to preserve our ocean’s integrity and safety from human carelessness……..the path is there for the ball to keep rolling………

Sustainably yours,

Jeanne Gallagher

Expedition Crew and Maui Event Coordinator

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