On Plastic Research Expedition with Kristal Ambrose

Cape Eleuthera Institute’s Kristal Ambrose embarked on her epic journey to of plastic research, leaving on April 24th.. From Nassau, Bahamas to Texas, USA; from Tokyo, Japan to Guam; and finally, on to Majuro, Marshall Islands, the last two weeks have been a whirlwind of exploration, opportunity, and learning for Ambrose, CEI’s Aquaponics Intern and researcher dedicated to finding solutions to plastic pollution in the world’s oceans.

“Most of what we eat, drink or use in any way comes packaged in petroleum plastic—a material designed to last forever yet used for products that we use for as little as thirty seconds then throw away,” describes Ambrose on her blog. “Plastic creates toxic pollution at every stage of its existence: manufacture, use, and disposal. This is a material that the Earth cannot digest. Every bit of plastic that has ever been created still exists, including the small amount that has been incinerated and has become toxic particulate matter. In the environment, plastic breaks down into small particles that release toxic chemicals into the environment. These particles are ingested by wildlife on land and in the ocean, contaminating the food chain from the smallest plankton to the largest whale…This trip will serve as my formal training experience to tackle the plastic pollution and marine debris issue within my country.”

In Nassau during the days before departure, Ambrose was invited to tea at the home of His Excellency Sir Arthur Foulkes, Governor General of The Bahamas. They discussed issues of plastic pollution, so pressing to their island nation. His Excellency was impressed by her dedication to conservation in The Bahamas and excited about her expedition. He showed his support by bringing her story to the attention of important local media sources.

She has been personally detailing the steps of her voyage, from the benevolent support of the U.S. Embassy who helped her get her visa in just one day, to the sweet old Marshallese man who tried to betroth her to his grandson, to her first impressions on falling in love with the Pacific Ocean—plastic and all—on her blog. Ambrose describes each location and story along the way with charisma and spunk. Her personality and passion for her work shines through. She shows deep appreciation for this incredibly opportunity and even spent one whole blog entry, listing thanks to all involved in making this dream come true for her.

On May 1st, Ambrose and thirteen other crew members set sail aboard The Sea Dragon, a 72-foot sailing vessel. Equipped with minimal internet capacity, her blog updating may be less frequent during her time at sea. Still, the Sea Dragon’s progress across The Pacific can be followed through the Global Marine Network’s Vessel Tracking System and click here to find out more about the expedition and crew.

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