Earlier this year Marlow supported the all-female crew ‘eXXpedition’ in their sailing mission to investigate the causes of and solutions to ocean plastic pollution by providing them with our eco-concious Blue Ocean Dockline – made from 100% recycled plastic bottles. 

The eXXpedition Round the World voyage, set sail from Plymouth, UK on October 8th 2019, and will sail through some of the most important and diverse marine environments on the planet. This includes crossing four of the five oceanic gyres, where ocean plastic is known to accumulate, and the Arctic on board 73ft sailing vessel S.V. TravelEdge. 

Under the directorship of award winning ocean advocate Emily Penn, 300 women will join the research vessel as crew over 30 voyage legs to journey more than 38,000 nautical miles, studying microplastics and toxics in our ocean. Beyond contributing to cutting-edge scientific research, the mission aims to celebrate women in STEM, exploration and sailing while creating a powerful global network of Ambassadors. They then use their experience at-sea when back on dry land as leaders in their respective fields, helping to end the flow of plastics into our ocean. 

Since plans for the mission were announced last December, almost 10,000 women from around the world have applied to take part in the voyage. Participants are aged between 18 and 57, and represent over 30 nationalities. Their diverse backgrounds include scientists, community leaders, academics, artists, filmmakers, business women, psychologists, doctors, actors, ocean activists and sustainability professionals, and novice as well as experienced sailors. Bursary places are available and designed to increase diversity on board and maximise eXXpedition’s collective impact. 

Mission Director Emily Penn, co-founder of eXXpedition, said: “We are starting our Round the World voyage with an amazing crew of inspirational women and some fantastic partners who help to make the dream of such an ambitious project a reality. Many great organisations are supporting our journey and share our vision of tackling ocean plastic through scientific research and empowering changemakers. Special thanks goes to our Gold Level sponsors, TOMRA, a global resources productivity company, Travel Edge, a leading luxury travel agency and the Red Ensign Group, a group of British Shipping Registers. We’re looking forward to furthering the science and visibility of ocean plastic and toxics, and contributing to much needed solutions back on land by inspiring our passionate crew to collaborate and take lessons back to their communities.”

The eXXpedition Round the World science programme is being led by Dr. Winnie Courtene-Jones, eXXpedition Science Lead, University of Plymouth. It has been developed with ocean plastic experts  Professor Richard Thompson OBE, Head of the International Marine Litter Research Unit at the University of Plymouth, and Professor Jenna Jambeck, Associate Professor in the College of Engineering at the University of Georgia, and is supported by the eXXpedition Science Advisory Board which includes a mix of leading academics and industry representatives, including Dr Daniel Schwaab, TOMRA Senior Vice-President for Circular Economy Strategy.

The science programme will carry out research at sea and on land. Researchers will look at the global distribution of (micro)plastics, from their sources on land to their dispersal and accumulation within the worlds’ ocean. The programme is expected to provide novel insights into the extent and characteristics of plastics not only in surface waters, but within the upper water column and in subtidal sediments of more than 35 countries. 

Research conducted during the mission has been designed to advance a better understanding of the plastics issue as a whole and to work with industry to pinpoint solutions and policy at a global level by addressing knowledge-gaps and delivering evidence to inform effective solutions. 


photo credits: eXXpedition, Sophie Dingwall