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5 Gyres Galapagos Islands Expedition

Explore the legendary Galapagos Islands while participating in 5 Gyres' global microplastics monitoring work on this engaging, hands-on expedition.

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We are excited to bring you this special 5 Gyres Expedition through the Galapagos Archipelago! The Expedition will include two legs, the West, starting at Santa Cruz Island and circumnavigating Isabela Island with stops at the other nearby Islands, and the East, starting at Santa Cruz Island and visiting the south, central and northern islands. Along both routes we will monitor microplastics and explore solutions to the problem of plastic pollution. The team will be lead by 5 Gyres Co-Founder and Research Director Marcus Eriksen and will include representatives from regional NGOs who are working on community-based, zero-waste solutions that prevent the flow of plastics to local waters.

Set sail in one of the planet’s last wild and incredible places. For our two itineraries, we have chartered the S/S Mary Anne, a 3-masted barquentine, owned and operated by the Angermeyer family and one of the best boats operating in the national park. The Galápagos Islands are one of the greatest natural history destinations on Earth. This remote archipelago 600 miles off of Ecuador’s coast provided the seeds for Darwin’s theory of evolution. Its uniquely adapted flora and fauna continue to provide visitors with a living classroom of evolution and natural history. The Galápagos offers intimate encounters with wildlife where you can snorkel with penguins, sea lions, marine iguanas, and sea turtles, and walk amid giant tortoises, iguanas, boobies, albatross, and many other species found nowhere else.

5 Gyres is collaborating with NGOs in the region to highlight and scale the importance of the issue and discuss zero-waste efforts. To better understand the long-term impacts of these initiatives, onboard representatives from participating NGO groups will be trained on citizen science protocols. Through the 5 Gyres TrawlShare program, they will also be loaned monitoring equipment in order to continue monitoring plastic pollution in the region.

Data collected by all Expedition guests will be incorporated into the organization’s global dataset of microplastics, used in 5 Gyres’ Global Estimate of Marine Plastic Pollution study. In keeping with the “science to solutions” model, a better understanding of the global scope and trends related to ocean plastic pollution will help 5 Gyres monitor the efficacy of upstream solutions over time.

Trip Dates & Cost

2019: Jul 26 – Aug 3 (western route, first leg) | Aug 2–10 (eastern route, second 2). Pricing to be announced.

* Accommodations are shared. Trip prices do not include international airfare. Click here for our full expedition terms and conditions.

About 5 Gyres Institute

The 5 Gyres Institute discovered plastic microbeads in 2012 and campaigned for a successful federal ban in 2015. Through ocean expeditions, the organization was first to research plastic in all five subtropical gyres, and published the first Global Estimate of Plastic Pollution in 2014, finding nearly 270,000 tons and 5.25 trillion pieces of “plastic smog” worldwide. 5 Gyres, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, has been in special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council since 2017.


Carolynn Box is Science Programs Director at 5 Gyres. She received a Master’s in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island in 2005 and worked in the field of Coastal Management for seven years in San Francisco Bay. After her first 5 Gyres Voyage in 2011, a 33-day trip across the South Atlantic Gyre, she decided to change the course of her life and apply her science and organizing background to efforts to fight plastic pollution. Carolynn has traveled 15,000 miles researching microplastics and she will be completing her ninth ocean expedition with 5 Gyres in 2018. Carolynn is currently working on a large scale research program analyzing microplastics in San Francisco Bay, bringing her global knowledge of the issue upstream and local.

Marcus Eriksen is 5 Gyres Institute's co-founder and research director / board member. Marcus has led expeditions around the world to research plastic marine pollution, co-publishing the first global estimate and the discovery of plastic microbeads in the Great Lakes, which led to the federal Microbead-free Waters Act of 2015. He and Anna Cummins began 5 Gyres with an 88-day journey from California to Hawaii on the Junk Raft, built from 15,000 plastic bottles. Earlier, Marcus had rafted the Mississippi River, writing about the river and his experience as a Marine in the 1991 Gulf War in the book, My River Home (Beacon 2008). His second book, Junk Raft: An ocean voyage and a rising tide of activism to fight plastic pollution (Beacon 2017) recalls the rise of the plastic pollution movement, growing steadily today. He received his PhD from USC.


First Leg: July 26 – August 3, 2019
Western Route

Itinerary details coming soon.

Second Leg: August 2–10, 2019
Eastern Route

Itinerary details coming soon.

Please note that these are sample itineraries – weather or other events may cause the actual locations visited to vary from what is outlined above. Additionally, the microplastic monitoring and beach sampling efforts may impact our timeline. If all goes to plan we do, however, expect to accomplish the route as outlined.


Our expedition takes place aboard the 16-passenger S/S Mary Anne, a romantic square-rigged sailing ship with over 1000m2 of sail. The S/S Mary Anne is the only ship in Galápagos capable of traveling under sail alone, a unique experience that is ecologically-friendly and allows you to take in the views without the sounds of an engine; we will raise her sails as much as possible but may also travel under motor power to reach the next stop on our itinerary.

The Mary Anne boasts 10 double cabins with private bathrooms and air conditioning, as well as a sun deck with an open air dining table, and a spacious lounge with dining areas, a bar, and a library. She carries on-board kayaks and snorkel gear available for loan (included in the trip cost).

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