Scientists join UK voyage assessing the health of our oceans

Scientists from the University of Plymouth are setting sail on a voyage aimed at inspiring young people through marine environmental science.

The voyage around the British Isles, aboard the tall ship Pelican of London, is being coordinated by the UK-based organisation Darwin200 and includes professional crew training young sailors and University staff training young scientists.

It will include an ocean science programme which has been devised for the voyage by Dr Charlotte Braungardt and Dr Richard Sandford, from the University’s School of Geography, Earth and Environment Sciences.

They will be leading scientific observations, experiments and problem-solving sessions related to ocean processes, marine ecology and chemistry, plastic pollution and renewable energy aboard the ship as it makes its way around the UK coastline.

Some of the data gathered will contribute to ongoing science projects, including marine mammal surveys for the Sea Watch Foundation.

This is the second expedition Dr Braungardt and Dr Sandford have undertaken aboard the Pelican of London, the first having been a pilot of SEA the Future, the ocean education programme of the charity Adventure Under Sail, who owns the ship.

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Pelican of London

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Pelican of London

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Pelican of London

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Dr Braungardt, Associate Professor in Environmental Science, said:

“The ocean is a special habitat. On land, the inhabited zone extends only a few tens of metres above ground and a few metres below ground. The oceans are different and this alone is reason to cherish, understand and protect this habitat in all its diversity.
"We’re extremely pleased to be involved in this project and mentoring the onboard scientists. We hope to encourage them to investigate the human impact on this awe-inspiring environment and discuss ways to address it on all levels, from individual behaviour to high-tech and global governance solutions."

Stewart McPherson, Darwin200 project leader, said:

“In preparation for the Darwin200 global voyage, we’re embarking on a UK-wide initiative that brings along ten new scientists to carry out a detailed science programme throughout the 59-day project. We’re planning on a host of activities such as live lectures, citizen science project updates, and we’ll be publishing findings from the science programme on a daily basis. We hope to engage tens of thousands of young people across the UK to look at the health of the UK waters and better understand marine conservation. The team’s vision is to change the world by creating the next wave of determined young conservation leaders, whose careers spanning several decades, will build a brighter future for our planet.”

<p>Pelican of London</p>
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Pelican of London

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Pelican of London

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Starting in Folkestone, the UK voyage will call in at Southampton, Plymouth, Cardiff, Liverpool, Belfast, Glasgow, Hebrides, St Kilda, Orkney, Shetland, Edinburgh and London, where the journey ends with a sail through Tower Bridge. It will then be moored in London for a week where live lectures will be broadcast from the ship.

It will test the outreach platform and onboard systems for a two-year global voyage, which will harness the legacy of Charles Darwin by retracing his journey onboard HMS Beagle almost 200 years ago.

The prime objective of the global project is to find 200 next-generation global conservation leaders and inspire 200 million people by providing a platform of free, interactive resources for all school children, university students, teachers and the general public.

Currently planned to start in 2021, five global research projects will be conducted and the ‘world’s most exciting classroom’ will visit the 50 ports where Darwin made landfall.

The University of Plymouth and Darwin200

It is only by understanding them fully that we can explore how the oceans work and, importantly, provide solutions to the environmental challenges they are experiencing as a result of human activity

Dr Richard Sandford, Lecturer in Environmental Science

Read more about our role in the voyage