Having left Easter Island, the expedition arrived in Honolulu after more than 3 weeks at sea. After finding a dire situation on the famous Chilean island, as well as on the various uninhabited islands it visited along the way, the Race for Water Odyssey crew is preparing itself for an intense stay in Hawaii. The American archipelago has been suffering enormously from marine pollution for several years and has therefore developed valuable experience in this area.
There are two objectives for this stop. On the one hand, the team will continue the collection of data that started three months ago now, in the Azores. Using a protocol that is partly based on that of the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), as well as the eBee drones by the Swiss company senseFly, the R4WO scientific team is getting ready to create a corpus that would allow a better understanding of marine pollution. Duke University and Oregon State University, partners of the expedition, are analyzing the images collected by the drone. The goal is, in the long term, to test an unprecedented method for detecting macro-waste, as Dr. Dave Johnston of Duke University explains:
“We are increasingly excited about partnering with the Race for Water Odyssey to use unmanned aerial systems to survey macro debris on the remote shorelines of the world. This technology is allowing us to obtain views of these polluted shoreline as never before, and the combined use of RGB and red edge imagery is showing great promise for identifying macro plastics from drone flights. In addition to providing new approaches to assess marine debris, the data returned from the drones is providing a wonderful context for the traditional beach surveys for plastics that are being conducted. The imagery and 3D maps provide people with a compelling overview of the survey sites, letting them travel along with the Odyssey for a time.”
On the other hand, the teams will be in the perfect position to have the fullest possible exchanges with the active protagonists in the field of marine pollution. Since the start of the expedition, the members of the team have been preparing to meet parties involved with this issue in order to better understand the stakes at hand and eventually find concrete solutions. The goal is also to create a collaborative network including all the people they meet along the way in order to encourage discussions about the best ways to stop marine pollution. Marco Simeoni, president of the foundation, explains:
“Marine litter is a real scourge, and it is crucial that we act quickly and on a grand scale. This odyssey aims to create a corpus of scientific data, as well as a network of people who are active in this field. Understanding the sources, the volumes as well the ways litter is managed locally is also essential in order to be able to put to use enough information and tools to be able to propose concrete solutions.”
Based on this initial evaluation of the scientific and sociological factors, the foundation is in fact planning to organize a second expedition with the Planet Solar ship, the largest solar-powered catamaran ever built and to turn it into a mobile showroom to collect and analyze plastic debris and fight against plastic pollution in the oceans.
About the Race for Water Odyssey (R4WO)
Initiated by the Race for Water foundation, the “Race for Water Odyssey” is a unique expedition that aims to draw up the first global assessment of plastic pollution in the ocean by visiting island beaches situated in the 5 trash vortexes. In less than 300 days, over 40,000 nautical miles will be traveled, punctuated by 11 scientific stopovers and 9 outreach stopovers, involving a total of 13 countries. The Race for Water Odyssey benefits from the support of ISAF, Duke University, Oregon State University, senseFly, Swisscom and Swissnex.
About the Race for Water Foundation
Founded in Lausanne in 2010, the “Race for Water” Foundation’s mission is to preserve our planet’s most valuable resource: water. The foundation is an officially recognized non-profit organization seeking to implement concrete and sustainable actions, focusing on two main themes: protecting oceans and freshwater. “Race for Water” initiates projects aimed at raising awareness and taking concrete action on the ground. These actions are directed at four target audiences: economic players, political bodies, the scientific community, and the general public—with particular emphasis on future generations. “Race for Water” collaborates with organizations such as UNESCO, UNEP, IUCN, WWF, and WBCSD.