Affilated Organizations

And like minded groups

The 5 Gyres North Atlantic Viking Gyre Expedition, 2014

Join Our Expedition!


Hello 5 Gyres Community!

We’re very pleased to announce our 2014 North Atlantic Viking Expedition to the world! On June 7th, 2014 we’ll be setting sail from Bermuda charting a course for the heart of The North Atlantic Gyre aboard our partner vessel, the mighty Sea Dragon, ending three weeks later in Iceland. We have a total of 7 berths available for the public to join our crew. We can’t guarantee perfect weather, but we can guarantee a life changing experience.

DSC_0064_3Dates, Route and Pricing:

June 7th-29th, Bermuda-Iceland
$8500 per berth.

As per the 5 Gyres model to engage citizens in a global movement working to end the flow of plastics into our shared oceans, the 5 Gyres team will take our crew to witness firsthand how plastics are impacting the marine environment. The compliment that comprises the crew will be from various backgrounds including: science, art, education, industry, policy, film, adventure, and photographic. It’s our belief to that for a global problem in search of a global solution, we need to empower people from all over the world with firsthand knowledge. Crew will participate in every aspect of the research, but also refine their sailing skills, help cook meals, and keep the ship tidy. 5 Gyres staff leads the expedition, but we also serve as equals amongst the crew.

In addition to research, each crewmember will also participate in a nightly educational program in the areas of science, community engagement, and policy. 5 Gyres has completed 12 expeditions employing this model and has garnered international critical acclaim for our work in the oceans boldly going where no one has gone before to study plastic pollution.

Key Expedition Components:



• Manta Trawling – The traditional manta trawl will be deployed at sunrise and sunset on each of the sailing days in international waters. This will provide an expected 50-75 sea surface samples, further contributing critical data to science, and enhancing 5 Gyres unprecedented data set for the global distribution of micro-plastic pollution in the world’s oceans.

• Visual Observations – While the manta trawl is deployed, our crew will be on deck to record all observations of macro-debris.

• Vertical Distribution –We’ve discovered that as the waves get bigger, microplastics leave the sea surface, but how much and how deep? Our vertical trawl will collect samples down to 5 meters to find out.

• Persistent Organic Pollutants – Working with colleagues in the field of toxicology, we will collect samples of plastic and fish to analyze the presence of pollutants, and better understand the potential human health impacts of plastic pollution.

• iGyre – Using data from all 50-75 expedition trawls, we will recalibrate our current global model to determine a new estimate of the total weight and particle count of plastic pollution in the North Atlantic. Coupled with our findings from recent expeditions, these data will provide a new global estimate to be displayed in an interactive map on the 5 Gyres website.

• Beach Surveys – At each port along our sailing route 5 Gyres staff, crew and local volunteers will survey beaches for micro and macro plastics in order to assess the impact of gyre plastic on local communities.


• Lecture Series – 5 Gyres staff and crew will report on the initial findings at each destination along the route in several shore-based events ranging from school visits to formal ‘black-tie’ events.. We encourage crew to participate in these events, commenting on what they learned while at sea.

• Exhibitions – In each of the islands, we will create a temporary exhibit with debris found on local shores, featuring actual samples from the voyage.

• Ambassador Program – All crew will be empowered to share their experiences and findings on land, acting as ambassadors for the issue. Prior to departure, all crew will receive a 5 Gyres Education Kit, with materials from our past voyages, media assets, curriculum and sample educational presentations, providing them with resources to present the issue to anyone. We will provide training both at sea and through follow up outreach, to ensure crew are engaging their communities in positive change.


• Social Media – Social media will include daily blogs/photos/tweets from the boat.

• Traditional Media – We will secure tradition media through press releases and direct contact with journalists with prior interest in plastics, as well as media venues located in our departure/arrival locations. Journalists may also write about the expedition and have access to all crew for interviews.

• Short Films – Series of short films from the gyre produced by 5 Gyres Creative Partner.

• Documentary Film –5 Gyres will work with our guest crew to produce a high production short form documentary on the expedition focusing on solutions to plastic pollution.


For starters, this isn’t a pleasure cruise. This is a research expedition facilitated by 5 Gyres staff. At sea, we run on a 24-hour schedule and crew will be divided into watch teams responsible for all the ships operations and research while on duty. Typical watch schedules operate on a 4 hour on, 8 hour off fashion giving our crew plenty of time to rest and work on projects while aboard. For any individual working to complete a specific project, 5 Gyres staff will be available to help facilitate your goals. There will be two professional crew on duty to ensure the crew’s safety as well as keep the expedition on schedule. Delicious, healthy meals will be crafted everyday. Hey, when it rains, a warm chocolate chip cookie goes a long way. Each crew member will be assigned a dry bunk and storage space for clothing and equipment. We’ve scheduled the voyage during the ideal sailing time in the North Atlantic but weather is unpredictable so be prepared for hot sun and cold rain. Waterproof, heavy-duty foul weather gear will be provided to all crew. Seasickness is common and can hit even the best sailor. In the vast majority of cases, symptoms of seasickness will dissipate after 24-36 hours at sea. Crew will be able to take short, fresh water showers and good hygiene practices will keep you and your crewmates happy.

When we spot large or concentrated areas of debris, we will stop the boat and allow crew to get into the ocean to observe and document the interaction between sea life and plastics (weather permitting-safety first).

Also, please make your travel plans to and from embarking/disembarking points to include a few days for island exploring, and the unlikely possibility that we arrive a little late. 5 Gyres staff will help our crew pick the best travel plans. As stated before, this will be a life-changing experience but also expect to test your limits mentally and physically.


All crew must possess the ability to swim at least 200 meters without issue, have working proficiency in the English language, be in good health (medical history forms will be required from all participants which will be held in strict confidence), demonstrate a positive and team oriented disposition (there is NO room for tension or conflict onboard), and a willingness to learn and share knowledge. No prior sailing experience is necessary.


Crew spots are secured on a first come, first serve basis. A deposit of $4,000 secures your seat on the boat. The 4k payment is 100% refundable until March 31st. April 1st and beyond, all deposits are only 50% refundable. On May 15th the remaining balance of $4500 is due. After June 1st only 50% of the $8500 is refundable. All payments will be made to 5 Gyres directly via our online payment system or by check, sent to 5 Gyres Headquarters.

Welcome Aboard!

Click Here For An Application And Instructions on How To Contact Us to reserve your spot.

Previous Expeditions

Tsunami Debris indian ocean South Atlantic Gyre 2011 Last Straw North Atlantic Gyre 2010 Mississippi River 2003 South Pacific Gyre 2011 JUNK Raft 2008 North Pacific Gyre 2008, 2011 JUNK Ride 2009

  • 2013 North Atlantic Gyre Expedition

    In June of 2013 a group of diverse people lead by The 5 Gyres Institute embarked on an expedition to The North Atlantic Gyre sampling areas of the Atlantic never before studied. Onboard were journalists, industry leaders, filmmakers, activists, and artists all looking for an authentic vantage to better understand how oceanic plastic pollution manifest in the the ocean. Please see our film that was produced by Catalyst Creations about the journey.

    5 Gyres North Atlantic Gyre Expedition from Jeneene Chatowsky on Vimeo.

  • 2012 Japan Tsunami Debris Field

    The Route

    On June 10, 2012 the Sea Dragon found its weather window to depart Yokohama, Japan to begin a four-week expedition across the North Pacific Gyre, nearly 3800 miles to Maui, Hawaii. Our target area was between 30°-35°N and 165°E to 170°W. This is based on the location of the Japanese Tsunami Debris Field predicted by Nikolai Maximenko from the International Pacific Research Center. This region represents the Spring 2012 distribution of tsunami debris based on IPRC’s current modeling, and was used to define our route. route

    The Crew

    There were 12 crew on the expedition. Skipper Rodrigo Olson and First Mate Jesse Horton sailed the Sea Dragon safely from port to port. Marcus Eriksen, PhD led the expedition, collecting sea samples and oceanographic data for the 5 Gyres Institute, Algalita Marine Research Foundation and several other colleagues from other organizations, including NOAA, SCRIPPS, IPRC and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. Crew included Mandy Barker, Kelvin Lee, Dani Lerario, Lindsey Hoshaw, Shannon Waters, Tracey Read, Laura Iten, Paul Sharp founder of the Two Hands Project, and Stiv Wilson from 5 Gyres. crew_2012_japanese_tsunami On June 1st, Typhoon Mawar, with sustained winds over 100 knots, delayed our departure by 10 days. The early arrival of typhoon season would prove to be a continuous obstacle to our mission to reach the center of the tsunami debris field. Other typhoons would follow, making our expedition a true adventure.

    The Vessel

    seadragon The Sea Dragon (originally CB 37) and her sister-ships were built for the 2000/ 04 Global Challenge race- a “wrong way”, upwind circumnavigation. She was designed to thrive in the Southern Ocean and safely handle the world’s worst sailing conditions. The boats were also specifically set up for volunteer crew with limited sailing experience. Today, those same qualities make her an exceptional platform for long-distance, remote expedition sailing. At 72’ (22m) and 90,000 lbs displacement she will carry up to 14 crewmembers for extended journeys. Her cruising speed of 12kts and capability make her true to the British MCA rating – she is “all oceans.” The vessel has a combination of sea berths, double bunks, comfortable galley and dining area, large amounts of fresh water, and fully heated cabins in bright spacious interior spaces. Iridium satellite phones, HF radio and multiple electronics keep the crew safe and close-to-home, despite being well offshore.

    The 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 and;
      •spatial distribution of debris along the entire voyage transect

    The Research

    We trawled the sea surface 29 times using two types of trawls. Every sample contained microplastic particles. We also conducted timed observations of debris by pairing crew to look on either side of the boat for 60 minutes and record floating debris within 60ft of the boat. On average, in over 41 hrs. of observation, one piece of debris was observed every 3.6 minutes. The full report can be read here. manta

    Blogs From Sea

      H-Bomb Over the Pacific (Garbage Patch) 66 Years Later The New Reef: First Sighting of a Ghost Net Grapefruit in the Trawl? And other Pranks at Sea Another Ghost Net Spotted and Preparing to Land in Tokyo Visiting Fukushima - A neighborhood Washed to Sea Chasing a Tsunami, Following a Typhoon, It's On Baby. Message in a Bottle, and a Brutal Bash East Rolling On 33 Stirring the SOUP and a Microcosm Movement in the Middle of Nowhere This Could Have Been Someone's Home Critical Decisions on the High Seas Typhoon Guchol, Plastic Every 1.5 Minutes and Anemone of the People Fish Eggs...or Plastic? How Plastic Enters the Food Chain A Lost Skiff 1500 Miles off the Coast of Japan Feeling Low 1005, a Gale, and the Synthetic Spectre on Deck Groundhog Day: Crossing the International Date Line Midway Atoll, Midnight Philosophy, and a Plastic Buffet for Albatrosses

    The Results

    finding_plastic_graph 13 manta trawls and 16 hi-speed trawls were conducted along the 3800 mile sailing route between Tokyo, Japan and Hawaii. Due to weather, we began trawling 200 nautical miles northwest of Bikini Atoll. We arrived at Waypoint 1 at 20°N, 155°E and turned north. We maintained this heading for 300 miles to Waypoint 2 at 25°N, 155°E, then turned northwest toward Tokyo. The first trawl, using the hi-speed trawl, was deployed at 12°28N,163°27E. Immediately we began to encounter microplastic particles. Every trawl afterward produced plastic. Read the full results here. debris3 There were three sightings of high-likelihood tsunami debris recovered on this voyage. A piece of tatami mat was sighted at 31.03N, 155.56E on June 16th, followed by a truck tire at 30.29N, 164.07E on June 19th, and the bow of a small fishing boat at 29.11N, 170.35E on June 22. Each of these items were brought onto the boat and will be transported to the US. Pieces of the tire and boat were sent to Dr. Takada in Tokyo for POPs analysis.

    The Journey's End

    The Sea Dragon safely carried 12 crew 3,800 nm from Majuro to Tokyo in 26 sailing days in June 2012. Our research goals were met, despite unusually early typhoon season. We arrived in Maui after a true adventure, where we were forced to adapt to ever-changing weather and time constraints. Crewmembers walked away with tools they can use to become ambassadors for ocean conservation, specifically on the plastic pollution issue. albi

    Expedition Links and Resources

    5 Gyres Full Report Expedition FAQ About Sea Dragon Pangaea Exploration Algalita Marine Research Institute

    In The News

    Los Angeles Times Gadling - Interview with crew member Cynthia Matzke Fox News Huffington Post Hermosa Beach Patch Maritime Executive National Geographic Sierra Club Deep Sea News New York Times Discovery Channel News Agence France Presse

  • South Pacific Gyre 2011

    Finishing our first, and not last, worldwide survey of plastic marine pollution in the 5 subtropical gyres, the crew reunited in Valdivia, Chile for the 5,000 mile voyage to Tahiti. The journey took us through the predicted garbage patch in the South Pacific Gyre. We stopped on 4 islands during the voyage. We collected 48 samples of the sea surface along a 3000-mile transect, with Easter Island in the middle. We discovered a new garbage patch in the South Pacific Gyre, and confirmed that islands, like Easter Island, are the natural nets that capture some of the plastic marine pollution swirling in the gyres.   BagMonsteronEasterIsland EasterIslandPlasticPollution SouthPacificGyreCrew2011 SPacificGyresample  

    Cost: $ 7000.00

  • South Atlantic Gyre 2011

    Five Gyres Institute conducted three expeditions aboard the Sea Dragon, a 72ft. sailboat owned and operated by Pangaea Explorations to study plastic marine pollution in an unexplored region of the world. Using a computer model of drifter buoy data developed by Nikolai Maximenko from the University of Hawaii to predict where debris drifts, we ventured to investigate the presence of garbage patches in the South Atlantic Gyre. The three legs were; Leg 1 – Rio de Janeiro to Ascension Island, Leg 2 – Rio de Janeiro to Cape Town, South Africa, Leg 3 – Namibia to Uruguay, all three legs totaling over 11,000 miles. We found two garbage patches AscensionIslandplasticpollution CrewofLeg3intheSAtlanticGyre SAtlanticGyre3expeditions SouthAtlanticGyreSample  

    Cost: $ 7000.00

  • Indian Ocean Gyre 2010

    The Stad Amsterdam is a 270ft. Clipper ship modeled after the vessels that raced around the Cape of South Africa so the Dutch could trade with India. In 2010 5 Gyres Institute staff were invited to sail from Perth, Australia to Mauritius to collect the first sea surface samples of plastic marine pollution from the Indian Ocean Gyre. We discovered a new garbage patch in the Indian Ocean Gyre. During this voyage we also invented the Hi-Speed Trawl so that we could effectively collect samples of the sea surface at 10 knots, which is three times faster than the manta trawl tow speed. IndianOceanTrawlSample MarcusandJohaninventtheHiSpeedTrawl Stad-Amsterdam   twitter

  • North Atlantic Gyre 2010

    In January 2010 a crew of 12 sailors, scientist, educators and artists set sail from St. Thomas in the Caribbean for Bermuda to the north, and the Azores to the east. The first leg traveled 2,000 miles through the western region of the N. Atlantic Gyre, followed by the second leg, 3000 miles to the Azores through the undescribed eastern region. We found plastic marine pollution in every trawl. Crew-on-N LastTrawlinNAtlanticExpeditionnearAzores ShorelineontheAzores  


  • JUNK Ride 2009

    200_junk_ride One year after the JUNK raft, 5 Gyres staff embarked on a two-month cycling tour 2000 miles from Vancouver, Canada to Tijuana, Mexico, bringing attention to the rising tide of plastic in our oceans. We gave presentations in 40 cities, and put samples of plastic pollution from the North Pacific Gyre in the right hands, like the mayors of Edmonds, WA, Portland, OR, and San Jose, Santa Cruz and San Francisco in California. We gave dozens more to other legislators, educators, and organizations like Surfrider. In Sacramento, CA we organized a conference about plastic pollution in cooperation with the CA Dept. of Toxic Substance Control, including placement of the JUNK raft on the Capitol steps. AnnaandMarcusonJUNKride JUNK-raft-at-State-Capitol-meeting-cyclists SanFranciscoMayorwithGyreSample  


  • JUNK Raft 2008

    225_junk_raft JUNK raft drifted 2,600 miles in 88 long days from California to Hawaii to bring attention to the rapid increase of plastic marine pollution in the world’s oceans. The crew outran three hurricanes. Running out of food, they began fishing for sustenance. A thousand miles from land in all directions, they hooked a rainbow runner, only to find its stomach filled with toxin-laden plastic particles. Luckily, they met Roz Savage as she was rowing across the Pacific Ocean, trading water for what provisions she could spare. JUNK is made from junk, including 15,000 plastic bottles wrapped in fishing nets, 5000 plastic bags woven into rope, 30 used sailboat masts for a deck, and the fuselage of a Cessna 310 aircraft. Today the JUNK raft travels throughout the US raising awareness about solutions working around the world. JUNKraftarrvingWaikiki RainbowRunnerfishwithplasticpouringout  


  • North Pacific Gyre Expeditions 2008

    In 2008 the founders of 5 Gyres Institute joined Capt. Charles Moore, founder of Algalita, for a month at sea through the Eastern Garbage Patch of the North Pacific Gyre. They found plastic, and out of 671 Lantern Fish caught in the surface trawls, 35% had microplastic particles in their stomachs. In 2011 Marcus Eriksen led Algalita’s 9th expedition through the same region. CaptMooreaboardORVAlguitain2008 NorthPacificGyreSample2011 NPGyreSample2008withLanternFish  


  • Mississippi River 2003

    In 2003 Marcus Eriksen launched a plastic bottle raft in Lake Itasca, Minnesota, beginning a 2000-mile, 5 month float through 10 states, down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico. The “Bottle Rocket” was created with 232 2-liter plastic bottles, two old bicycles and a car seat from a junkyard. The Mississippi River is the greatest watershed in North America, washing the waste of a nation down streets, storm drains, streams and rivers to the sea. Two years later Hurricane Katrina devastated the river delta. Eriksen and his colleague, Mike Rowinski, surveyed plastic pollution in the waterways, bays and barrier islands in the Gulf of Mexico. Read "Post-Katrina Marine Pollution Survey" (pdf) BoatsdestroyedbyKatrina marcusonMississippiRiver Map-of-Mississippi-Study-Sites