2012 Asia Pacific Expedition

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Expedition Summary

Leg 1: Marshall Islands to Tokyo
May 1 - May 20 2012

Final Report

Leg 1 Blog Highlights
Meet the Crew >>

Fish On!! >>
Research is on Underway >>
In the Garbage Patch >>
The New Reef >>

Net Ball with Intertidal Species >>

Leg 2: Tokyo to Maui
June 9 - July 8 2012

Final Report

Leg 2 Blog Highlights
Meet the Crew >>
A Brutal Bash From the East >>
Shooting the SOUP >>
Entering the Tsunami Debris Field >>

Japanese Tire >>
The Greatest Migration on Earth >>

The Ghost Ship >>

Plastic Buffet for Albatrosses >>
The Last Trawl >>

The 2012 Algalita/5 Gyres Asia Pacific Expedition, though plagued by severe weather on Leg 2, met the goals and objectives it set out to achieve.

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. Leg 2 departed Tokyo 10 days past schedule on June 10. Delayed initially by a spate of mechanical difficulties, Mother Nature’s whirlwind side followed suit with Typhoon Mawar for a good number of days. The crew was not idle during this period as they made numerous field trips to the decimated coastal areas they probably wouldn’t have had an opportunity to visit otherwise. The early typhoon season would taunt the Sea Dragon for the entire trip.

Through it all, the Crew managed beautifully with the highest degree of team effort, engaging in the science and on-board duties. During the process, new and lasting friendships were bonded.

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.

The Expedition ended safely in Honolulu waters the evening of July 7. Originally scheduled to terminate at Ma’alaea Harbor on Maui June 30, to a waiting cultural Hawaiian welcoming and crew relatives, Sea Dragon would not be able to reach Maui within a reasonable time to conduct this important element of planned activities. However, several of the Leg 2 crew were able to join two of Leg 1 crew for the Panel Discussion and Expedition Debriefing session the evening of July 8, held at the Whale Sanctuary. Coordinated by Algalita, Maui Ocean Center and the Environmental Department of the Mayor’s Office, it was well attended and extremely well received, as evidenced by Trisha Smith’s blog and her article in the Maui Weekly.

Algalita, in partnership with the Maui Ocean Center; the County of Maui Environmental Department; Sustainable Living Institute of Maui; Trilogy Excursions Blue A’ina Campaign and many, many other marine debris organizations and individuals, worked tirelessly to create an event that would herald the arrival of the vessel crew in anticipation of hearing perspective news about their experiences. 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.

Expedition Goals

To study the effects of plastic pollution and marine debris relative to:

  • providing habitat for marine life and its ability to transport invasive species from one continent to another;
  • rates of decomposition of debris;
  • colonization of marine life on, and into, different materials;
  • educating students through the Algalita Ship-2-Shore blog; and
  • spatial distribution of debris along the entire voyage transect

Expedition in the News

New York TImes


ABC News

Maui Times

Los Angeles TImes

Gadling - Interview with crew member Cynthia Matzke


Huffington Post

Hermosa Beach Patch

Maritime Executive

National Geographic

Sierra Club

Deep Sea News

New York Times

Discovery Channel News

Agence France Presse

Expedition Links and Resources


About Sea Dragon

5 Gyres Institute

Pangaea Explorations