Bayfield resident Jennifer Pate took part in an expedition across the Atlantic Ocean to study the effect of plastics and toxins on oceans and marine life late last year.
Her documentary “eXXpedition – Jen Pate: Making the Unseen Seen” will be shown at Bayfield Town Hall on Thurs., Apr. 2 at 7:30 p.m. (Contributed photo)
Bayfield resident Jennifer Pate can stake claim to that experience and wants to share it with others.
This upcoming Thursday, Blue Community Bayfield will present “eXXpedition- Jen Pate: Making the Unseen Seen” at Bayfield Town Hall at 7:30 p.m.
The film documents an expedition of 14 women, including Pate, who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to study the impact of plastics and toxins on oceans and marine life.
Pate has been participating in world expeditions for about five years now.
“After my first, I set up my own film company when I was still living in England,” Pate said.
As her films focus on environmental issues and social responsibility, Pate said her interest was peaked immediately when she heard about this particular expedition.
She was chosen out of a field of 300 applicants.
It was an all-female team, which Pate admitted caused some uncertainty for her at first.
“It was a first of kind for me, all of my other expeditions have been a mix of men and women. Before we left, a lot of us were wondering if it would get catty, you know, the typical stereotypes of a bunch of woman being together,” she said. “But I found it was the exact opposite – it was the most calm expedition I’ve been involved with.”
Beyond the experience of traveling across the Atlantic itself, Pate said she left the expedition with 13 new friends.
“We all said we can’t get rid of each other – when you go through an experience like that you’ve got friends for life,” she said. “We all came out like family and made a connection we will have for the rest of our lives.”
Although she has a mind for environmental issues, this was the first time Pate had become directly interested in the oceanic effect of plastics and toxins.
“The adventure was what drew me in, but the more and more I’ve read the more I have come to be so involved with this issue.”
The negative effect of smaller pieces of plastic such as beer and pop can rings and shopping bags has been known for a considerable amount of time, but Pate said they were looking at micro plastics, which never really break down, just disintegrate into smaller pieces and “become sponges for toxics”.
Sea creatures eventually ingest these pieces of plastic and the toxins along with them.
The expedition left from Lanzarote in the Canary Islands on Nov. 16, 2014 and arrived at Martinique in the Caribbean islands on Dec. 5.
“It 100% exceeded my expectations,” Pate said. “It was an incredible trip.”
The team traveled on a 72-foot vessel with a varying amount of sailing experience amongst the crew members.
“Half our team was brand new and even the ones who were experienced hadn’t necessarily sailed an ocean before.”
Pate had many more responsibilities than just holding a camera.
Each crew member took their turns handling cooking, cleaning and navigation duties.
The documentary premiered on March 7 in London, England, hosted by the Royal Geographical Society.
Pate said about 200 people attended, including 13 of the 14 crew members of the expedition.
The event at Bayfield Town Hall is sponsored by the Bayfield Photography Club and admission is by donation.
The documentary is available for streaming at www.vimeo/ondemand/exxpedition
Proceeds from film streams will go towards to creating an education package, which will be facilitated by British company Digital Explorers.
For more information on the film, visit www.exxpedition.com.
Pate said she hoping to organize a similar expedition for the Great Lakes in the near future.