Graduate to talk about being out in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

News News & events

09 Oct 2018

UPDATE - This talk has been postponed. The new date is not yet available.

Plastic is everywhere it seems – in the oceans, on the beaches, in the stomachs of marine animals and on the pages of our newspapers. How bad is the situation? How urgently do we need to act? Amidst the growing alarm about plastic in our oceans, one Ara graduate has been out investigating the problem up close, out on the ocean.

Raquelle De Vine has covered 16,000 nautical miles into the North and South Pacific Gyres aboard the Oceanographic Research Vessel (ORV) Alguita South Pacific. She will share her experiences at Environment Canterbury in Christchurch on 16 October at 7.30pm.

Growing up by the sea is a typical kiwi upbringing, but De Vines’ journey has been anything but ordinary. After completing the Bachelor of Sustainability and Outdoor Education at Ara, De Vine secured a place on the ORV Alguita to help research and monitor the extent of the plastic problem in the Pacific Ocean.

Travelling with none other than the discoverer of "The Great Pacific Garbage Patch" Captain Charles Moore, De Vine shared the project via social media to increase awareness about the research and the findings.

During 2016 – 2017 De Vine was aboard as First Mate as ORV Alguita completed an expedition to investigate plastic pollution off the coasts of Chile and Easter Island and within the South Pacific Gyre. The gyre is one of five rotating currents of water on the planet that trap plastic and waste, and this one is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. At 1.6 million square kilometres, it is three times the size of France.

Expedition reveals scale of problem

Setting sail from Long Beach, California, ORV Alguita travelled down the coast of Mexico, Chile and Easter Island, developing a network of researchers at ports along the way. What the team found was very concerning.

“As more scientific data surfaces, more experts are concluding that plastic pollution could pose an even greater threat to the environment and public health than climate change,” the Algalita website states.  

As well as witnessing the problem first hand, the Algalita team is also developing the Plastic Ocean Index to provide an effective ongoing surveillance tool for plastic pollution researchers, including citizen scientists, to manage data geographically.

De Vine is inspired to make change. She is the founder and Education & Research director of Algalita South Pacific, a recently established South Pacific Chapter of Algalita Marine Research & Education. She is also an engaging speaker about her experiences - and what the plastic problem means for New Zealand and the world.

The Perils of Oceanic Plastic Pollution, by Raquelle De Vine, is at Environment Canterbury (ECan), 200 Tuam St Christchurch (parking off St Asaph St), on 16 October at 7.30pm, jointly hosted by NZ Association for Environmental Education and Sustainable Otautahi.

For more information about De Vine’s talk contact or phone 027 222 0395.