WINGS 2011 Sea Award winner, Anna Cummins, is heading back out to sea for the final leg of the 5Gyres Institute's study of ocean plastic pollution on the 5 subtropical gyres. The expedition, scheduled to launch in four days on March 19th, will conclude the most extensive study of plastic pollution ever undertaken.
The crew, lead by Dr. Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins of Santa Monica, CA will sail over 2,000 miles from Valdivia, Chile, zig-zagging through the South Pacific Gyre to arrive at Easter Island on April 7. Little data on plastic in this region exists. The researchers however expect to find the same kind of plastic pollution - known to harm marine life, fisheries, and possibly threaten human health - that they appear to have have found in every sample they've taken while sailing through 20,000 miles in the North Pacific, North Atlantic, South Atlantic, and Indian Ocean Gyres. No other such researchers have sailed through all of the world's five subtropical gyres.