A Key West captain and kayak tour guide with two degrees in environmental science is changing course for the month of February and sailing far south of the Southernmost City that’s been her home for the past five years.

Lynsi Wavra was selected to participate in Exxpedition, an all-female global ocean research project that aims to collect, evaluate and identify the source of microplastics in the ocean.

Wavra will spend an estimated 19 days at sea, sailing 2,000 nautical miles from the Galapagos Islands to Easter Island aboard a 72-foot boat.

“This is a dream come true for me,” said Wavra, who grew up on a Christmas tree farm in North Carolina and has always felt a deep connection to the outdoor world as well as a fierce need to leave the world better than she found it.

The Exxpedition features two “x chromosomes” in its logo. All-female crews conduct worldwide research through a series of sailing “legs” in various regions. The project has been described as a collection of “all-female science voyages to make the unseen seen, from the toxics in our bodies to the plastics in our seas.”

Wavra was selected to join Leg 7, and will arrive in San Cristobal in the Galapagos around Feb. 13. Weather permitting, she and nine other women, including a few professional captains and mates, will depart the Galapagos on Feb. 17 and set a southerly course for Easter Island,  off the coast of Chile, that’s known for its ancient and towering stone heads. 

Along the way, the crew will sail through the South Pacific Gyre, an area of ocean currents that lead to it being a plastic accumulation zone.

“We’ll do fish dissections to see what they’re ingesting and we’ll be sending samples of microplastics back to a lab that can trace the plastic’s origin,” said Wavra, who launched a Go Fund Me page to help raise money for her self-funded adventure. The Exxpedition is a nonprofit organization, so each crew member is responsible for raising about $11,000 for the trip. Wavra is about halfway to her goal. Her fundraising page can be found at:

www.gofundme.com/f/sailing-around-the-world-studying-plastics

All-female crews on each leg of the worldwide Exxpedition collect water samples and analyze the microplastics contained in the world’s oceans. JAMIE COLMAN/Exxpedition
Key West kayak guide and boat captain Lynsi Wavra will spend most of February aboard the 72-foot Travel Edge as part of the worldwide research Exxpedition. SOPHIE BOLESWORTH/Exxpedition
Lynsi Wavra will spend 19 days next month sailing from the Galapagos Islands to Easter Island while studying microplastics in the ocean. EXXPEDITION/Contributed

 

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