Gratis verzending vanaf €50,-
Gratis verzending vanaf €50,-
By the Ocean we Unite
By the Ocean we Unite is a Dutch foundation with charitable status (ANBI) that contributes to preventing more plastics from ending up in our oceans. Through the organization of a variety of activities – sailing expeditions, lectures, documentaries & more (see below) – we conduct research, create awareness, educate and activate people, organizations and governments to make much needed changes. By joining forces with partners worldwide we increase our outreach and positive impact. Join us on our journey and help protecting our oceans, the animals and ourselves from plastic pollution.
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Our founder, Thomas van Thiel, has been a passionate sailor and lover of our oceans almost his entire life. In 2014 he fulfilled a lifelong dream: crossing the” The Pond” (Atlantic Ocean) on a sailing ship. When the crew was ten days out, with another ten ahead before they would reach land again, Thomas saw a plastic bottle floating by. This hit him hard, something man-made, that far from civilization. His eyes were opened and from that moment on he started to see plastic pollution everywhere. His beloved oceans were sick, and he wanted to do something about it: in the beginning of 2016 his foundation” By the Ocean we Unite” was born.
We organize adventurous and unique sailing expeditions into the heart of nature! Together with filmmakers, scientists and impact makers from around the globe we conduct scientific research, increase global awareness and activate people, organizations and governments to work on solutions for our global plastic problem. We actively approach the media and work together with national and international organizations to maximize our outreach.
- Reaching as many people as possible national and international
- Motivate businesses to stop draining their plastic (gigantic stream of plastic ending up in the ocean every second)
- Delivery of ‘Ocean Ambassadors”
- Expansion of the international dataset (scientific research)
Plastic pollution background
As plastics flow around the oceans, they are mistaken for food items by many marine animals ranging from tiny krill to the largest whales. It was recently found that this is in part due to the algae growing on the plastics which release a sulphurous smell as they break down. Since these algae form the basis of all life in the oceans, animals have learned to link this smell to food as it attracts small shrimps like krill which attract small fish , which attract larger fish etc. Currently more than 200 animal species have been documented as consuming plastic pollution with for example many turtle and seabird species as dramatic examples. It is of course important to remember that there is a research bias towards species that are interesting to us. There is a severe lack of data on the multitude of fish species as well as the vast array of invertebrates which form the majority of marine life. The consumption of plastics can lead to a blockage of the digestive system leading to starvation as has been found in many seabirds, but it may also lead to the leaching of toxic chemicals from the plastics into the animals since plastic particles take up vast amounts of other chemicals which can then be released as the animal attempts to digest the plastic particles.
An integral part of every By the Ocean we unite expedition is sampling the waters for plastic fragments. This allows us to show the expedition members on board that small plastic fragments are pretty much everywhere while they are almost invisible from above the surface, illustrating how the problem is much larger than just the bigger bottles and bags floating around. Additionally, such measurements can be shared with scientists, giving them baseline values of plastic densities which they can use to focus their research. Scientific expeditions are very expensive and not having to use resources for such baseline measurements can give plastic research a real head start.
Throughout 2017, expedition teams have been sampling the North Sea and Wadden Sea, and even Loch Ness. Almost all samples contained plastics larger than one millimeter, the few exceptions being one sample from the Wadden Sea and both samples from Loch Ness (Scotland). Especially the Loch Ness samples were interesting because it showed that such relatively isolated bodies of water can still be relatively unpolluted. Two other samples were also very interesting. One sample from the North Sea north of Cherbourg, France, and one from the Wadden Sea. Remarkably, both contained 248 fragments, our largest catches so far. The Cherbourg sample came from an area where currents seemed to bring floating debris together. Dense floating seaweed made it necessary to abort the sampling after thirty minutes and caused the sample processing to last deep into the night. The Wadden Sea sample was collected just before low tide when a current draining the mudflat concentrated the debris from a wide area into the shipping channel where it ran into the perpendicular channel current. This interaction caused a vortex which trapped the floating debris in very high densities. Both these samples show how plastic litter is very much affected by local current regimes, something to look into in the future.
Samples from the 2017 expeditions have been added to those from the 2016 Norway expedition, giving us more than forty samples from around the North Sea area. The next step was to bring all this information together to create an overview of plastic densities throughout the North Sea. Check out this map our researcher Roos Swart created.