• 16 beach cleanups, 3 mangrove cleanups removing over 900 pounds of trash.

  • 42 microplastic samples collected at 14 different locations. Microplastic concentrations ranged from 0 to just over 120,000 pieces of plastic per square kilometer of surface ocean water.

  • Top types of plastic found on the beaches included bottles, single-use drink cups (Indonesian school children are given five cups of water each week because of lack of potable water), food packaging, microplastics and flip flops. Over 141 flip flops were removed from a 1/8-mile stretch of beach.  

  • Microplastic sampling conducted on three beaches, showed plastic pollution levels over 350 pieces of plastic per square meter.

  • Access to coastal mangrove areas throughout leg 2 of our expedition, enabled us to, for the first time, collect and characterize different types of plastic pollution - which identified the need for further studies to address plastic waste characterization according to different coastal types (beach, mangrove, rocky shorelines, etc).

#5GyresExpedition2018 traveled over 700 nautical miles between Flores Island and Lombok, Indonesia July through August 2018 on a 37.5-meter Phinisi Buginese Schooner called the KLM Sea Safari VII. An international group of 52 passengers joined 5 Gyres staff to carry out a number of citizen science activities, explore the region, and raise awareness about plastic pollution, locally and to our global community.

Citizen Science Activities

One of the main goals of the #5GyresExpedition2018 was to determine plastic pollution concentrations in surface waters and on beaches in the region, along with identifying the type and brands of the trash that were collected during cleanups. All participants were trained in citizen science protocols, allowing them to assist in data collection and also bring new skills and tools back to their own community.

This data will be incorporated into our global dataset of microplastics, used to update 5 Gyres’ Global Estimate of Marine Plastic Pollution study. In keeping with our “science to solutions” model, a better understanding of the global scope and trends related to ocean plastic pollution will help us monitor the efficacy of upstream solutions over time.

Leg 1 Crew

Leg 2 Crew

#5GyresExpedition2018 took place during the dry weather months along the leeward side of the islands, possibly explaining why the surface water microplastic samples had low concentrations of microplastics (a good thing!). The results may have been different if we sampled during monsoon season and on the south side of the islands. Our cleanups showed beaches with overwhelming amounts of trash, most of it plastic pollution. During many of the beach cleanups, we identified brands through Brand Audits as well as type of trash to understand if it was from one industry over another. Our results indicate that plastic bottles and plastic food packaging are the top plastic contributors.

Thanks to our sponsors!


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belize EXPEDITION (2017)

5 Gyres joined the Hello Ocean Expedition to research environmental threats to the Belize Barrier Reef, the second-largest barrier reef in the world. The crew included scientists, artists and filmmakers, who assisted in marine mammal and plastic pollution research. For the first time, 5 Gyres was able to collect microplastic samples alongside scientists researching toxins, genetics, and animal behavior in dolphins and manatees. We are excited to better connect the issue of plastic pollution to marine mammal health! Data will contribute to our Global Estimate of Plastic Pollution, which was the first to assess the quantities of surface plastic pollution in the ocean, finding 5.25 trillion particles weighing in at 270,000 tons of “plastic smog” worldwide.


Our 17th Expedition gathered a group of 22 citizen scientists for two weeks on the Arctic exploration vessel Akademik Sergey Vavilov. The expedition primarily focused on micro- and nanoplastic research. It was managed by ExploringCircle, which donates a percentage of proceeds to non-profit organizations like 5 Gyres, and was the first  to share real-time data and photo updates with our community.


As documented in the "Smog of the Sea" film directed by Ian Cheney, our 2015 SEA Change Expedition traveled over 3000 nautical throughout the North Atlantic Gyre with a crew of 64 citizen scientists. Along with the Schooner Mystic crew of 14 sailors, the voyage also transported representatives from other nonprofit organizations and research facilities, as well as notable watermen and women, such as musician and activist Jack Johnson and ocean conservation activist Celine Cousteau.


5 Gyres' Expedition from Bermuda to Iceland was designed with the intention to better understand the distribution of plastic pollution in the North Atlantic Subpolar Gyre. The 14-person crew collected 41 samples to determine microplastic concentrations in the region and carried out  40 visual observations to track the macroplastic pollution in the area. Data contributed to 5 Gyres' first Global Estimate of Plastic Pollution.

Previous 5 Gyres Expeditions


2013 Bermuda to Rhode Island

2013 Lake Michigan

2012 Japan to Hawaii

2012 Marshall Islands to Hawaii

2012 Lakes Superior, Huron and Erie

2011 Hawaii to Vancouver

2011 Easter Island to Tahiti

2011 Chile to Easter Island

2011 Namibia to Uruguay

2010 Brazil to South Africa

2010 Ascension Island

2010 Bermuda to Azores

2010 Bahamas to Bermuda

2008 Los Angeles to Hawaii