Plastic pollution: Women on mission to 'clean up oceans'

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teamImage source, EXXpedition
Image caption,
The crew is sailing around the British Isles to raise awareness about marine litter

A crew of women is sailing around the British Isles on a mission to clean up the oceans.

The group of 14 scientists, artists, students and businesswomen is campaigning against marine litter.

They stopped off in Belfast to send home the message that plastics are never fantastic and one-use plastics are clogging up our oceans.

"We are working to make the unseen, seen," said Megan Ross, a marine biology student from Southampton.

"We are looking at micro plastics and taking samples for analysis by scientists.

Image source, EXXpedition
Image caption,
The kind of plastic debris littering the shoreline

"We want to minimise the damage caused by single use plastics."

The expedition has not all been plain sailing.

Image source, Agathe Bernard
Image caption,
The women want to raise awareness about the impact of throwaway plastics on the environment

"We've hit some very rough weather," she said.

"It put a lot of the crew out of action and, at one stage, only three out of the crew of 14 were able to get up and start walking."

The team set off from Plymouth on 8 August and arrived in Belfast on Tuesday.

The 30-day sail around the British Isles has been organised by eXXpedition which specialises in all-women trips with a focus on highlighting the impact of single-use plastic on the planet's oceans, eco-systems and human health.

Image source, EXXpedition
Image caption,
A team briefing as the 14-strong crew prepares for adventure

Lucy Gilliam, co-founder of eXXpedition, said the sail was about spreading awareness of plastic and toxic pollution and the potential impact on human health.

The crew took part in a beach clean-up at Larne Lough during their visit to Northern Ireland. What they found was no surprise - the usual plastic litter.

"What we found were loads of those blue plastic sticks from cotton ear buds, broken plastic chairs and tons of bottle tops," said Lucy.

"It's a similar story along the coastline. We want to challenge people over single use forks and knives and styrofoam containers. We need to put pressure on the industry to change this."

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The eXXpedition women are sailing the yacht, the Sea Dragon, and are heading for Arran on Thursday, followed by Stornoway, Edinburgh and back to Plymouth.