Story and Photos by Jen Pate

On November 16, our all-female team, eXXpedition, will set sail across the Atlantic Ocean on a mission to explore the connections between ocean and human health—specifically plastics, toxics and cancer.

The Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation Marine Microplastics Project is a perfect fit with our expedition. We will take water samples on our crossing to help expand ASC’s global data set, where microplastics have been found in almost every liter of water analyzed. 


The eXXpedition team and boat, the Sea Dragon. Clockwise from top left: Lucy Gilliam, Emily Penn, Laura Coleman, Jennifer Pate, Constanca Belchior, Malin Jacob, Caterina Falleni, Anne Baker, Shanley McEntee, Elaine McKinnon, Maria Arceo, Diana Papoulias, Sue Weaver, Jenna Jambeck


Acting as sponges for toxins including BPA, DDT, pesticides and other nasties, the particles are often ingested by small forms of aquatic life and move up the food chain. They pose a range of environmental and human health risks, not least the proliferation of cancer. 

In addition to conducting scientific research on board, we will do what we call “MeSearch.” We’ve undergone Body Burden analysis to provide ourselves with a full breakdown of the toxins in our bodies, and plan to use personal stories and experiences to explore the issues at hand.

Following our adventure, we will produce a feature-length documentary and a comprehensive education package designed to raise awareness of the issues and give tangible steps forward to create a healthier future for all. Our sampling for ASC will be a key part of this message.

This is about educating, enabling and empowering people worldwide to act in the face of this challenge. We want to make the unseen seen, from unseen disease to unseen pollution and unseen women. We are excited to be contributing to microplastics research and are very grateful for ASC’s support in sharing our story of hope for the future health of humankind and the oceans. 

Plastic plays a central role in our everyday lives. The grocery bags you threw away? That plastic bottle? Even the annoying plastic toy your dog was given for Christmas that you snuck into the garbage? Much of our plastic waste ultimately ends up in the world’s oceans, where over time it breaks down into microplastics, or plastic particles smaller than 5 mm in size. 
Find out more about Jen and her team at

Learn more about this and other ASC projects on our website, the Field Notes blog, and by following us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Google+.