It was the mid-1970s, when a Brazilian couple made up of Vilfredo and HeloisaSchurmann went on a tourist trip on a sailboat, a journey that would mark them, their descendants and thousands of people on the planet for life… and they keep adding up. The couple simply fell in love with the sea and neither had peace until they began to crystallize, in 1984, the dream of exchanging dry land for a life in the ocean, even by then being the parents of Wilhelm, David and Pierre, aged 7, 10 and 15 years old, respectively. They went to sea sailing along the coast of Brazil and the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian Ocean until completing their first circumnavigation.
As evidenced by his dozens of biographies, from his departure to his return to Brazil, 10 years of adventures passed, of encounters with different peoples and cultures in which young people grew up while studying on board, no doubt in an effort and daring monumental in times when the planet -on the high seas or on land- was barely crawling in the then incipient digital revolution called the Internet. At the end of the expedition in 1994, they were already convinced that they had found their place in many places in the oceans.
29 years after that expedition that changed their lives, that “place in the sea” is Costa Rica. The last week of February, the sailboat today equipped with all kinds of technology and scientists arrived in Golfito, on the Pacific coast of this Central American country. The ship is commanded by Vilfredo Schurmann and his children, who are the third generation of the family. They live and work on the ship, whose main objective is to fight against plastic that threatens marine fauna and obviously, human beings.
The first Schurmanns met a couple who acquired the Acquired Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) through blood transfusions, and died leaving an orphaned daughter. She, named Kat, is adopted by sailing adventurers. “It is a fascinating story. They had promised Kat’s father that they would go around the world with her and thus they embarked on the second journey together with the girl and her three sons”, Norman Lizano, Costa Rican ambassador to Brazil and aligned with AmeliaRueda.com, tells it the cause of ‘Voice of the Oceans’: “Unfortunately, Kat dies in her adolescence, also a victim of the same disease and they make another sailboat, the current one, which they baptize with her name”, says Lizano.
According to data from the official website, it is estimated that there are currently 51 trillion microplastic particles in the seas around the world. Every year, at least 11 million tons of plastic enter the oceans, the equivalent of unloading a garbage truck every minute. In Latin America and the Caribbean alone, 17,000 tons of plastic waste is produced daily and on average less than 10% of the waste is recycled, according to UN Environment.
According to what David Schurmann, the first-born of the generation, told in an interview from Sao Paulo, Brazil, on his third trip around the world in search of preserving the oceans, the expedition of the famous sailboat docked in Costa Rica. This expedition is the fourth under the “Voice of the Oceans” initiative, which at this point has the mission of raising awareness in society and documenting the situation of marine debris under the sea.
According to David, who literally grew up in the sea and has lived on the waves for the rest of his life, today they have achieved with immense satisfaction their initiative, supported by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) as part of the Clean Seas campaign, focused on raising awareness about pollution by plastics and microplastics.
This involves governments and the public at every stop they make on this fourth expedition that began 17 months ago along the Atlantic coast, from southern Brazil to New York, the Caribbean to Panama, where they stayed for 3 weeks making documentaries, according to the Panamanian newspaper La Estrella, whose journalistic team accompanied the crew of the famous sailboat for several days.
In these 2 weeks, after crossing the Panama Canal, they anchored in Golfito before visiting Cocos Island and the Galapagos Islands, and before continuing to New Zealand in mid-November 2023, to complete the first stage of the expedition, David explained.
They are unstoppable
It is that not even the pandemic stopped them, as David reflects. “Of course we live in moments of confusion but we never give up, our expedition is finally on its way. We believe that with education about the importance of caring for our oceans and with the joint participation of all countries we can find solutions and create a profound impact, significant and very positive for our seas and environment”, said the family spokesperson.
And he adds: “Efforts and actions to address marine litter are not only a struggle in Brazil, but also in the rest of the world. We have been winning battles, but if governments come together we can reach more people and inspire others to end this marine pollution”, he added.
For now, this particular and incredible family continues its course in the world’s oceans, convinced that their fight has been and will be worth it, especially since the new generations in the world are clinging to their battle for the good of the planet.