Our passion for the ocean runs deep. Sailing, surfing, and diving is enough to fill us up to the brim, but there is also a gap that needs to be filled.
We get so much from the salty blue, and we want our great grandchildren to be able to explore and fall in love with the underwater world just as we have. We are adding to our upcoming sailing voyage by using our sailing vessel to do a variety of ocean citizen science project. The main reason to give back to our Blue Planet is because we get so much from her in return.
Our aim is to use our time on the water to do research and contribute to scientific studies. By better understanding our oceans we can address the issues facing it and help in its long term conservation.
We know how much we as humans rely on the ocean, so we are going to do what we can within our means to help better understand and protect it.
Here are a few of the projects we will be working on as we sail from Fremantle.
We know plastics in our oceans are a major problem. Our remote West Australian coastline hasn’t been spared, and we are interested to see with our own eyes, how much plastic lines our remote coastlines, beaches, and islands. We are planning to take micro plastic samples off of our vessel as we sail up the West Australian Coast.
We are also doing beach surveys and microplastics samples on some of our remotest beaches up the coast.
By knowing how much marine plastics are impacting our blue backyard we can move forward and encourage others to make more ocean friendly choices day to day ( like giving up single use plastics!)
Phytoplankton plays a critical role in our oceans health and monitoring this crucial part of our oceans health is a huge task. So ocean lovers and seafarers can help. The phytoplankton in the oceans accounts for approximately 50% of all photosynthesis on Earth and through the food web they support, they underpin the marine food chain. By using a simple tool the Secchi disk ( a plain white disk of 30cm diameter that is attached to a tape measure and weighted from below) lowered vertically into the water from the side of a boat, the depth below the surface at which it just disappears from sight is called the Secchi Depth. The Secchi Depth measures the clarity of the seawater, which away from estuaries and coasts indicates the amount of phytoplankton at the sea surface. We are sending our data to www.secchidisk.org
Our coral reefs are under threat from many factors like rising sea temperatures and toxins in our waters , even contamination from sun screens are impacting our reefs. Reef Check Australia has a reef searcher program where we can monitor reefs and add the data into their hub so reefs around Australia can be monitored for their health Reefcheckaustralia.org
One of the amazing things about sailing is your interactions with marine life. We will be recording our whale, dolphin, turtle, shark and ray encounters and sending them to researchers. We are using these platforms:
We are also members of ORRCA – Organisation for the Rescue and Research of Cetaceans in Australia. We are hoping to take part in their marine wildlife rescue training before we set sail.
Base is a lover of birds… a twitcher of sorts. He is going to do Sea Bird Monitoring and reporting back to various scientists that are studying bird populations up and down the Western Australian Coast.
With climate change impacting our local weather systems, we will be collecting weather data and recording the sea temperature, air temperature and wind, and ocean state.
We are aiming to raise funds for some of the additional gear we need to make these projects work. Check out our video here about our projects.
Seems like we have a bit of work to do. But we can’t wait to get stuck into it all. We aim to set sail by the start of May 2016!!!! ( 1 month away!)
We recently did a local citizen science day over at Rottnest Island with an organisation called Plastic Tides. We built a DIY micro plastics trawl net and surveyed 1 mile on the East side of Rottnest. We then did a micro plastics beach transect. Here is a little video about what we did. We are waiting to get our samples under a microscope to determine if we have any microplastics – no visible plastics were found!
Stay tuned as we share how we go with these Salty Times Citizen Projects and some key solutions to help our oceans.
Until next time,
Jamie and Base