Being part of the National Geographic Explorers since 2020, in 2022 Theo found himself participating in the program ‘From Shore To the Abyss: Exploration of Shark Communities and Microplastic Pollution in the Main Hawaiian Islands’, a collaboration between the Ocean Exploration Trust, and the National Geographic Society. The OET, founded by Dr. Ballard, who is known for, among other things, discovering the Titanic shipwreck, acquired the exploration ship Nautilus, which explores the world’s oceans and seeks new discoveries in the fields of geology, biology, maritime history, archaeology, and chemistry while giving a new dimension to the concept of education.
During the Nautilus missions, scientists, educators, and the global public have the opportunity to experience remote exploration through live broadcasts from the ship. Schools are also given the opportunity to interact with the Explorers on board through scheduled zoom calls, aiming to bring STEM to the next generation. The expedition where Theo participated in the Pacific Ocean took place from 1 to 8 October 2022 and for one week the explorer ship sailed around the Hawaiian Islands, hosting two teams of Explorers. The first team studied the shark communities in the area, while the second team, of which Theo was a member, investigated microplastic pollution.
The aim of the mission was to investigate the interaction of the human factor with the aquatic environment and in particular, Theo’s team focused on the problem of microplastics, creating a map of the pollution found in surface water and air. After analysing the findings and categorising them according to their source of origin (e.g. plastic bags, fishing nets, fibers from synthetic fabrics, etc.), targeted interventions on individuals and businesses that cause microplastic pollution will follow, proposing sustainable solutions.
As part of the mission, some ship-to-shore connections were made with various networks around the world. Each explorer is allowed to make a certain number of zoom calls. Theo got approval from the Ministry of Education to broadcast the expedition live to all schools in Greece, presenting the journey and solving the questions of the young students, perhaps inspiring them one day to try to become part of the National Geographic Society, as he dreamed of as a child, and he succeeded. In addition, Theodore made calls with the Roots & Shoots network to schools in India, as well as a connection to the Falling Walls network, making the impact of the mission known to a huge number of stakeholders. In addition, he was a guest at TedX Patras where he gave a related talk from the deck of the ship.
Theo continues to be an active member of the National Geographic community as an Explorer to this day.