By Emily Wolfe
Imagine rowing from California to Hawaii. That's 2,900 miles. Now imagine how you'd feel on Day 55. Tired? Seasick? That was the day French cousins Clement Heliot , 25, and Christophe Papillon, 27, collected samples for the ASC Microplastics Project during the 75 total days they spent on the Pacific this summer in the inaugural Great Pacific Race.
In this video clip, Christophe rows as if he's one with the boat, his body shifting with waves that make you seasick just watching. Clemente, who completes the sampling, speaks slowly to the camera as he explains the process. Their life at sea moves at the metered pace of their oar strokes. Watch the video here:
The cousins spent two years renovating their vessel, La Cigogne, ("The Stork") before the race and named it for the street where their grandmother lived. The only all-plywood boat in the field, it was the oldest and the heaviest.
Story and Photos by Trent Banks
As an adventurer and explorer of wild places, I live for the mystical moments when our connection to Earth—and indeed life itself—becomes more tangible. Encounters with the elements and beasts that are wilderness can take you unaware, strip you down to your instinctual self, call all your faculties and judgment into play, and force you to explore elements of yourself previously unearthed.
There are moments of transcendence I search out, and then there are moments that seem to find me. The American Prairie Reserve is full of both.
I set my alarm to wake with enough time to make coffee and get to the ranch house porch for sunrise, Helios unfurling from over the Larb Hills in a day-glow array that celebrates a new day. A fluttering of wings passes through my periphery, and I turn my gaze to see four barn owls flying overhead. The spirit of the morning is bold on the prairie.
By Elisabeth Shapiro
First impressions of a barren land space can distract one from the reality of the plains.
While the open landscape can feel quite transparent, much is hidden away in coulees and stream banks, or just out of sight over the nearest hill. This subtle opacity keeps us forever conscious of our surroundings: Reaching the top of a ridge not only affords one a new vista, but can also result in close encounters with wandering ungulates.
This duality runs deep. The openness leads us to haphazardly estimate distances, and hills that loom like mountains on the horizon become mere molehills when ascended. While all the species in this ecosystem are inherently connected, the ways in which they occupy and utilize space are on entirely different scales.
Bison trod across the entire Sun Prairie parcel. The herds surprise us each morning, seeming to undertake a migration under the cover of darkness. Groups of deer and pronghorn briefly appear on top of a nearby hill before disappearing into gullies just out of sight.
By Teddy, Helen and Basil Horangic
Our names are Teddy (14), Helen (12) and Basil (8), and our family is taking a yearlong sabbatical to sail a semi-circumnavigation of the Earth, starting in the Black Sea and then continuing through the Mediterranean, across the Atlantic, and finally up the East Coast of the United States and Canada.
We recently learned about the ASC Microplastics Project through Marjo and Edwin, of Orion of Aberdeen for Ocean Conservation, during the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers gathering on Grand Canary Island. Having caught wind of the project after it was set up among the other ARC boats, we're conducting our experiments apart from the ARC, and continuing our sampling efforts throughout the Caribbean and the North Atlantic.
We have been on the boat for seven months already, and will try to fit as many sampling tests as possible in the remaining time we have sailing. We have already taken multiple samples during our trans-Atlantic crossing, and we're really interested in seeing the results!
Several members of the November Landmark crew are staying on in December, and are joined by three new teammates, Zach, Elisabeth and Emma. Get to know the new folks here:
Emma Vautour is a 2014 graduate of Messiah College, where she studied environmental science and adventure education.
Emma’s primary interest lies in restoration ecology and design, as well as conservation. She has spent the last two summers working with native plants in both Michigan and Pennsylvania, but during her time at school studied everything from bromeliad frogs in Panama to outdoor education on a National Outdoor Leadership School course in Wyoming.
Emma enjoys traveling, backpacking, rock climbing and yoga. She’s looking forward to experiencing winter life on the prairie in all its challenges and rewards.
Hailing from the Canadian prairies, Elisabeth Shapiro completed her bachelor degree in Environmental Science at the University of Guelph in Ontario.
Throughout her undergrad, she worked as a research assistant on projects pertaining to climate change in the northern Ontario boreal forest, the Ontario Cosmetic Pesticide Ban and for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture. Elisabeth spent this past summer completing an internship with the Sea Turtle Association of Japan and hiking around southern Australia.
Having explored mountains, lava fields, deserts, forests and coastal areas around the world, Elisabeth looks forward to spending time in winter on the American Prairie Reserve.
Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Zach McKeown's two favorite things are soccer and the camaraderie formed during backpacking trips.
After graduating college with a degree in Biology, Zach went directly into the Peace Corps. He was evacuated out of Liberia two months after arrival due to the Ebola outbreak. The abrupt change in his plans left him perplexed about what to do, but excited to get a variety of interesting work experiences under his belt.
Zach aims to learn useful biology skills during his time on APR, and apply it to future Peace Corps service.
By Emily Wolfe
What a coup! Our partners Marjo Boertien and Edwin Butter at Ocean Conservation have pulled off an incredible feat, enlisting crew members from 100 sailboats to collect 600 samples as they cross the Atlantic Ocean.
Yes, that's right, 600 samples.
The boats are part of the 2014 Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, which sails from Grand Canary Island to St. Lucia. This map shows where all the boats are currently. You can also click on the photo to visit the an up-to-date version on the ARC website.
Read the Landmark Notes blog: