The sailing boat Pakea Bizkaia is in St. John's following the route of Basque whalers who first visited Newfoundland and Labrador nearly five centuries ago.

The original sailors came in search of cod, but the modern-day sailors are on a trip of scientific discovery and exploration.

They've been researching whales and other marine life, and will be returning to Spain with a message of environmental conversation after finding plastic in the middle of the Atlantic, said sailing crewmember Jon Zarrage.

"We have been researching," he said, "because even in the middle of the ocean the water has plastics."

The crew left Spain in May and headed north to Greenland, then down to Labrador, before heading over to Newfoundland. They will be leaving St. John's on Saturday for the month-long return trip to Spain.