Arrived on the famous Easter Island (Chile) on May 20th, the Race for Water Odissey scientific teams have proceeded onto the first scientific surveys in the South Pacific Garbage Patch on the coasts of the island devastated by plastic waste.
At the same time, they have also continued with different sociological studies undertaken until now with local populations.
The trash vortex in the South Pacific is lesser known than other vortexes, particularly because of its great distance from the coast. Consequently, we only have little scientific data about it. However, its extent seems to be very significant, according to estimations.
It was therefore crucial that the R4WO sails there in order to proceed onto assessing the situation. Afflicted, the scientific teams discovered beaches covered with debris. After a painstaking collection work on the beaches of Ovahe and Anakena, the R4WO had indeed been able to sample an impressive number of meso-debris and macro-debris, as Frédéric Sciacca, Scientific Advisor of the expedition, outlines:
“It is desperate to see as much plastic waste on the beaches of this paradise island. The samplings have been particularly strenuous on this stopover, the constitution of quadrats and analysing them has been long and extremely laborious, as the quantities of waste there were significant. We have been especially shocked during our visit to the famous Tongariki site (NDLR: famous site where 15 statues are erected: the Moais): at the feet of the 15 majestic statues was a beach littered with macro-debris!”
At the same time, the overview of the affected beaches by the eBee drone has allowed interactive high-definition maps to be developed which should enable the reported results to be cross-checked. Its use has also allowed the exploration of beaches which were until now inaccessible to men as they are too steep. In addition to these different analysis and sampling works, the Race for Water Odissey has also seized the opportunity during this stopover to continue its sociological study.
Meetings with authorities, fishing associations and local populations, visit of a recycling factory, raising awareness activities and discussions with young people on the island, the onshore team has left nothing to chance to leave the island with a maximum amount of useful information and items for its expedition. Everything organised with the precious support of the Swiss Embassy in Chile, as well as the one of Kakaka Here Henua, a local organisation which fights for cleaner beaches.
Next stopovers: Palmyra and Hawaii. Arrived on the island in the meantime to lend a strong hand to the different ongoing actions, the MOD70 Race for Water trimaran and the crew are today setting off for Hawaii, the next big stopover on the trip. A promising stopover particularly because of the scheduled meetings with the scientific community and the American island’s authorities which have an unparalleled expertise in the field of Marine pollution, as the archipelago suffers from it for many years. En route for Honolulu, the Race for Water Odissey will stop in Palmyra, the second scientific stopover of the South Pacific gyre.