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  • Writer's pictureSophie Dingwall

We Are Pelagic

Pelagic - meaning 'open sea' Birds and fish who spend most of their life in the open water are described as pelagic... Turns out plastic is now pelagic too.

Sitting slouched in the corner of the cockpit, my mind has taken me to an entirely different location (Camden to be precise) caught up in the pages of my second book of the trip. I say second, as the first I never actually finished. After ten pages it made me cry, after twelve I was a sobbing mess and decided that this was maybe a book to read on my own. A heart wrenching, devastating - true story might I add, was not the kind of vibe I wanted. Plus, everyone was going to think I was crazy!

My new book has sucked up all my attention, probably because it’s about a teenage girl who has terrible relationships with boys and even with her best intentions, makes all the wrong decisions. Something that I could relate to. My mother used to say if there was a bum within a 100 miles I would find them. Don’t worry Tim, you’re most definitely not in this category.

Screams from behind the helm brought be straight back to the real world, well... my real world floating in the middle of the Atlantic. Jolting from my uncomfy corner spot in the cockpit, I look to see what has happened. A blabbering of words and noises come from Barbra who is showing signs of excitement while springing up and down on the spot behind the helm.

It’s a whale!

As I’m sure you can all imagine, 14 VERY excited girls scrambled to the deck… still chattering away as they do so. Naturally our sailing course has become erratic as everyone has full attention looking for the whale that just breached 40ft to starboard of our boat.

We were like a group of detectives, scouring the seas around us for another glimpse of this amazing creature!

There he was - I’m presuming he’s a guy as he must intrigued by all us girls and what we are doing. He appeared again a big dark figure just under the water and caught the wave that surfed alongside us, then dived deep and disappeared. Joyful cries filled the deck as he took centre stage showing off his speed and elegance to us all.

Thinking this would be our only last time with this whale (now identified as a minke whale) we stand posed, hopeful for another sighting. Minke whales are in the baleen family and small in comparison to most other wales. Baleen whales don’t actually have any teeth, instead hair like strands which create a filter. They engulf water and then push out the water capturing shrimp and other prey for their dinner. Unfortunately, microplastics are also digested. This whale in fact followed us for another hour and a half. To see such a big creature up close for so long in the open is really special. I felt honoured that he hung around for so long with us and lucky to be in that moment, as most people will only get to witness anything similar on tv with the epic David Attenborough.

Nature has kept a close eye on us from leaving the Azores. Birds, fish and dolphins have made themselves present nearly every day, as if guiding us into Antigua - or so I like to think so!

I have learnt so much from this trip so far and my new favourite word 'pelagic' had me thinking...We are Pelagic. Our life currently exists in the open ocean, every aspect of it - cooking, eating, sleeping, washing, laughing, fishing. We are like the pod of dolphins, congregated together, eating together and entertaining together. Difference being they have had way more fresh fish than us!

From the research we have done so far, we know that these amazing creatures are digesting plastic which has devastating effects on their health. I hope that the whale who joined us on our voyage can escape plastic pollution, but the reality is, this plastic soup that has become our ocean will likely be the reason for his demise.

This has certainly given me something to think about.

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