27 05 2024 | 11:40Greenpeace

The Sargasso Sea is a unique ecosystem, characterised by its lack of land borders: its edges are defined by ever-changing ocean currents, creating a relatively still, warm sea teeming with all sorts of life. Not least, Sargassum seaweed – from which the region gets its name – which in large quantities can act as a nursery to baby sea creatures, like loggerhead turtles, numerous species of crab, fish and shrimp. Its fantastic yellow colour means it’s sometimes referred to as the ‘golden floating rainforest’. The area also serves as a vital highway for migrating whale species.

While here, we’ve been documenting ‘mats’ (large masses) of Sargassum, to see what species are living in it, and, sadly, how much plastic waste has ended up here. We collected over 300 pieces of plastic in just 30 minutes, and pulled out abandoned fishing gear (known as ‘ghost gear’), with one net measuring roughly over 80 metres in length – truly dangerous for all the wonderful species that call this region home.

If the Sargasso Sea were properly protected under the Global Ocean Treaty, it would better safeguard the area against overfishing, pollution and shipping traffic, enabling species found here to thrive. And, what’s more, protecting the Sargasso could be the key to unlocking greater ocean protections all around the world.




We’ve worked with some incredible local people on a plethora of events: beach cleans, school visits to the Arctic Sunrise, speaking with local dignitaries, fishermen and activists about what their priorities for ocean health are. But one specific area we’ve been able to help with is ocean science work


The Arctic Sunrise has been assisting local scientists and conservationists with eDNA testing, which involves taking seawater samples to track migration patterns. We’ve also been listening for whales and dolphins using a special underwater microphone called a hydrophone. Two conservationists onboard recorded more than ten species of seabirds, including some frequent visitors to the UK such as Manx and Great Shearwaters, Leach's Petrels and Arctic Skuas.


We were lucky enough to spot a pod of 20 short-finned pilot whales, and at one point had five humpback whales playing around the ship – they were so close you could feel the spray from their blowholes! 


Check out our Ship’s Log for day-by-day updates live from the Arctic Sunrise, as well as stunning photos from the expedition.


We’ve also taken a special guest with us: Dan Smith, lead singer of British band Bastille


Like most people, Dan is worried about climate change and aware that a healthy ocean is one of our best defences against our rapidly warming planet. He’s using his platform to shout about the Sargasso Sea’s urgent need for ocean protection – which he expertly did on Radio 5 Live with Nihal Arthanayake


He’s signed our open letter to Foreign Secretary David Cameron, urging the UK government to work with other governments to protect the Sargasso Sea. Sign it here.