Greenpeace flagship to study Sargasso Sea
The flagship of environmental charity Greenpeace has docked in Bermuda before it heads out to sea for an expedition to the Sargasso Sea.
The MV Esperanza, on a pole-to-pole mission to highlight threats to the ocean environment, is scheduled to survey the impact of plastic waste on the giant floating mass of seaweed that makes up the Sargasso Sea, home to many sea creatures.
Along with 32 Greenpeace staffers, the ship will be home to Shane Antonition, a Bermudian researcher, and two scientists from the University of Florida.
The ship is expected to stay in the Sargasso for the next 2½ weeks, conducting research as part of the Greenpeace's Protect the Oceans campaign.
Esperanza crew from Spain and the United States carried out a clean-up at Whalebone Bay, St George's, after they docked on Saturday.
The crew members teamed up with Bermuda groups Keep Bermuda Beautiful, GreenTeam Bermuda, and the Bermuda Marine Debris Task Force.
The combined volunteers collected an estimated 450 pounds of debris in about three hours, mainly plastic items either left as litter or washed ashore.
Arlo Hemphill, senior oceans campaigner at Greenpeace USA, said: “The purpose of our campaign here is partially to document the importance of the Sargasso Sea through science and visual media, but also to show the world how this unique place is being threatened by ocean plastics.
“As guests in Bermuda, we thought it was especially important to give something back locally and to work with locals who are already concerned about the problem.
“They're already doing great work here and we found it integral to our time here to learn from them and understand issues from their perspective.”
Mr Hemphill added that conversations with local environmentalists, such as Anne Hyde, executive director of KBB, helped to highlight the extent of the plastic problem in Bermuda, such as the distance that items travel to reach Bermuda's shores.
Ms Hyde said: “I think it's great to have Greenpeace here. Everyone knows who Greenpeace are.
“They are well known as environmental warriors internationally.
“This visit is a good boost to what we have been working to do, particularly in Bermuda when it comes to plastics and single-use plastics.”
Esperanza has been based in Penno's Wharf, St George, since the weekend, and is due to depart today.
The ship is a former Soviet Navy firefighting vessel, built in 1984. It was recommissioned after a refit, as the Greenpeace flagship in 2002.