Nearly a year of preparation went into planning Project One. Initially we had proposed to travel to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Midway Atoll, and surrounding islands to investigate the impact of plastic pollution in, quite literally, the middle of the Pacific Ocean where the currents of the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone concentrate marine debris. The idea that a haphazard byproduct of human consumption could be visited as a place while low lying atolls will forfeit their place hood to rising ocean levels in the near future, coupled with the extreme geographical isolation of the site, provoked questions about human impact on remote ecologies. However, after contacting an array of governmental and educational agencies, we were unsuccessful in securing access to Midway or anywhere in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. It did not take long to conclude that getting to this place we had chosen was not realistic within our timeframe or budget. This was the first in a series of evolvements that shaped the scope of our research.
The location had to change, yet we were still determined to focus on plastic debris in oceanic environments and to work with researchers in other disciplines. The next months were spent reaching out to domestic and international marine research organizations. We connected with scientists working on a broad range of topics. Eventually, Algalita Marine Research and Education Foundation invited us to participate in their South Pacific Expedition, studying micro plastics in the South Pacific Gyre, in March 2017.
Everything fell into place.
We were to operate as guest researchers and crew aboard the research vessel, Alguita for the twenty-one day voyage from Arica, Chile to Easter Island.