A Scientific Mission, a Dream, and a Sailing Ship

Sara Golling
By Sara Golling
June 10th, 2015

Former Rossland  resident Agathe Bernard has a dream and hopes to realize it this year:  she wants to be part of an all-female research team sampling the waters of the Atlantic Ocean to discover what humankind has done to them, and to the creatures who live in those waters.  She hopes to document the team’s work and findings on film, and eventually to be able to show the film in Rossland — and many other places.

Agathe says,   “I will be joining a team of 14 women to cross the Atlantic Ocean from the Ivory Coast in Western Africa to Brazil on November 2nd, 2015. The purpose of our crossing is to gather scientific data about the concentration of plastics in that area and promote practices that can lead to healthier oceans. The end goal of this study is to make people aware of how plastic enters the food chain through fish, which understandably mistake our garbage for something to be consumed — given that there is ten times more plastic in the Atlantic Ocean than there is actual food. Not only are plastic micro beads void of any actual nutrients the fish need to survive, they attract other toxins and are, therefore, highly poisonous to animal organisms like fish and human beings. We will conduct research in order to shed light on some of the ways in which we see plastics negatively impacting our environment and our health, and we will use our findings to seek change in the politics and policies governing the way we use plastics in our daily lives.

“Everybody on the crew has a specific role from skipper or scientist to filmmaker, but we will all share tasks. My role will be mainly to produce a documentary film of the expedition, in addition to taking water samples for study and research. I’m honoured and excited to be part of this incredible team of women and, more importantly, to chronicle the journey and to create something that can be shared with the world. Education is critical, and my hope is to spread the vital word through film. “

The ship the crew plans to use sounds well up to the challenges and well-suited to the tasks.  Here’s information on the vessel, from the “Pangaea Exploration” website:

“Sea Dragon is a 72ft (22m), 90,000lb displacement steel hulled sailing vessel built in the UK in 2000. Formerly known as CB 37, she is one of 11 second generation yachts built for the Global Challenge Race – one of the longest, most demanding ocean voyages ever made with an upwind, west-about 32,000km circumnavigation.  In her new role, the boat provides a superb platform of rugged capability, capacity and efficiency with a naturally low environmental footprint – perfect for the type of remote sailing expeditions we do.  The British Maritime and Coastal Agency rate Sea Dragon to the highest standard of Category 0 All Oceans.  Designed to thrive in the Southern Ocean and safely handle the worlds 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.  With a  crew capacity of 14, and a cruising speed of 10 knots she is a genuine ocean explorer.”

The vessel is also well-equipped for research work.  

To help with funding for the expedition, Agathe has started a “Kickstarter”  campaign and hopes to raise the necessary amount in time to ensure success. 

Categories: Education

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