10 eager members of the public have set off on the first leg of an around the world journey to research and assess the extent of the plastic pollution in our oceans, and to explore creative solutions to clean it up. The team hope to build knowledge to inform scientists, legislators and the public alike on how the problem can be tackled for generations to come.
The all-female and multidisciplinary crew departed from Plymouth, UK – the same port that 18th century explorer Captain Cook set sail from on his round the world journey – and will sail for a planned 11 days to the Azores before their first stop. The Azores are a group of 9 islands, which are volcanic in origin and a famed north-east Atlantic deep-sea coral hotspot.
Each of the 13 legs around the world will see a new set of women set sail for the cause, and in total over 300 women will participate in the project which is expected to take 2 years to complete.
Mission Director Emily Penn’s motivations don’t stop there – eXXpedition also hopes to raise awareness of a lack of female participation in STEM professions, to research female-specific diseases caused by plastic and chemical pollution in greater depth, and to encourage female participation and positive coverage in all-female sailing and the wider sporting community.
The UK registered Community Interest Company have been sailing for these causes since 2014, though this is their first journey of such scale. The team are supported by multiple sponsors from environment companies to firms in the technology and legal sector. Many of the ladies on board are also sponsored personally by smaller community groups and businesses local to their homes.
Each stop along the voyage will not only involve research, but also talks, panel discussions, community clean-ups and send-off parties in hope of bringing together passionate individuals who are all working towards solving the plastic pollution crisis.
You can follow the progress of the boat, S.V. TravelEdge, and all of the fantastic ladies on their regular blog which they are completing at sea, no matter how perilous the conditions!
All images courtesy of eXXpedition
By Sofi Pickering
Easter Islanders are the latest indigenous group to demand the return cultural relics pillaged by Western countries from their homeland.
The British Museum’s Easter Island Moai
A delegation from Rapa Nui, as the island is now known, are asking the British Museum to return a giant statue known as Moai taken by the crew of a British naval vessel, HMS Topaze, in 1868.
The Moai is known as Hoa Hakananai’a and the islanders say it’s the living embodiment of their ancestors “whose role is to protect us”.
It was presented to Queen Victoria who gifted it to the British Museum, where it’s been for almost 150 years.
The museum has been the target of numerous claims for return of cultural relics including the Elgin Marbles to Greece and tribal artefacts taken from Australian Aborigines.
Moai from Easter Island are also held by museums in the United States, France and New Zealand.
Want to learn more? Watch our episode Globe Guides: Mysterious Places and follow our presenters as they uncover the strangest mysteries on the planet, from the relics of Easter Island to England’s Stonehenge.
Rising out of jungle across the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico are the ruins of dozens of Mayan cities. Most of these ruins are at least 1,200 years old, dating back to the glory days of the Maya around 700 AD.
Discovered though largely ignored by Spanish conquistadors during their Aztec conquest in the 16th century, it was 300 years later, in the 19th century, when European explorers ‘discovered’, and subsequently took the time to investigate and learn the ways to unlock the wonders of this fascinating pre Hispanic civilization.
A great Mayan structure
Today the sites of Chichenitza, Tulum, Palenque and Uxmal are internationally famous but scores of other sites remain little known and visited.
One such site, Coba, about two hours drive south of Cancun, and one hour west of Tulum, is home to the largest Mayan pyramid in Mexico, which visitors can still climb.
Coba was an important Mayan city, evidenced by the many raised stone roads linking its buildings which stretch out across a 120 square kilometre site. Here you can see two Mayan ball courts where the Mayans played their ingenious ball game, pelota. Then bicycle or walk along enchanting paths encased by the jungle canopy to visit the imposing Nohoch Mul, at 138 feet the highest Mayan structure in the Yucatan.
Sak Ch’een, lord of Motul de San José c.8th century, dressed as a ball player with a large yoke, painted deerskin hip guards, and elaborate headdress. He is dropping onto his knee to strike the ball, which is probably exaggerated to huge proportions. Photograph by Madman2001
For how long tourists will be allowed to clamber up the steps of this awesome structure remains to be seen as the Mexican authorities step up their efforts to preserve the wonders of this magnificent pre Hispanic civilization.
Learn more Mayan culture in our epsiode, La Ruta Maya