Challenging Habitat Blog

We all know that life is full of uncertainty and most of the time, we don’t notice it too much, let alone worry about it. We’re used to it.

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Everyone on board has received basic sail and safety training and we’ve had quite an interesting start to our voyage.

Sea cadets Ollie taking the helm.

Out of Cumberland basin and under the Clifton suspension bridge, down the Avon and into the Severn Channel…

Jo Morley from City to Sea, with whom we are collaborating on the Darwin200 voyage saw us from Bristol’s shores.

…where the ‘fun’ started, with a lot of people looking and feeling decidedly ropey.

(no pictures!!!)

A night sail under starry skies, bioluminescence in our wake and seasick feelings were left behind.

We rounded Land’s End in the morning in the company of common dolphins, gannets and a fulmar.

Sails set and the voyage becomes more sustainable.

We’re all busy with the watch routines, setting and handing sails, daily cleaning and helping in the galley.

That’s an important learning process for the three young scientists, who will lead the citizen science programme during the Darwin200 voyage. Their understanding of how the professional crew is working the voyage crew will help the smooth running of the scientific programme.

I am here to hand over the citizen science programme I wrote for Seas Your Future to the science coordinators, recent graduates of ‘salty’ degree programmes with decidedly biological flavours.

Discussions with Rachel, Miles and Hannah are stimulating and every day, we’re learning something from each other.

Pelican has been in Albion Dockyard for maintenance and is now ‘shipshape and Bristol fashion’, an expression that, according to our captain Ben Wheatley, was coined here, as a reflection of the superb craftsmanship of shipwrights in this historic dock.

Before leaving, we commissioned a TriLux fluorescence sensor on loan from Chelsea Technologies. For me, it is always a delight to ‘play’ with a new instrument, and this one did not disappoint: easy to operate, no-nonsense data logging and seamless plug-and-play with our laptop. ‘Shipshape’, too!

The science coordinators Rachel, Miles and Hannah on the poop deck of Pelican, discussing the method of our first deployment of TriLux for a depth profile in Albion Dock.

We’ll use TriLux for spot sampling of depth profiles along a Secchi disk to determine key algal parameters involved in photosynthesis (chlorophyll a and phycoerythrin), as well as turbidity.

TriLux sensor, cable and Hawk data logger from Chelsea Technologies.

We will contribute our data to the Secchi Disk Foundation, who research the global distribution of primary producers that underpin the marine food web.

Going to sea again – a special treat in a time when UK covid lockdown is pealed away layer by layer, like the skins of an onion.

We are aboard tall ship Pelican of London in Albion Dock, with just a shed and the dry dock’s lock gate separating us from the SS Great Britain.

An awe-inspiring adventure of sail training and citizen science awaits a young voyage crew: a 13 week long circumnavigation of the British Isles!

We will study the natural environment and invasive species, collect litter from the beaches and study sea weed for signs of climate change.

The data we collect will support a range of organisations, such as the Sea Watch Foundation, Marine Conservation Society and Secchi Disk Foundation, in their efforts to understand the most pressing issues of our times: climate change and biodiversity loss.

Follow Seas Your Future and Darwin200 to learn about the powerful combination of sailing and science to transform our connection with nature and perspective.

Working from home during lockdown saves me and my carbon footprint a daily 1.5 h commute and I have more flexibility with when and how I start my day.

Some mornings just beckon a walk along the river! And today, I was rewarded with the magic sparkle of a light frost on bluebells and mist over the water.

Today Covid-19 lockdown restrictions in England eased a little, with ‘non-essential’ shops opening, along with outdoor catering, hair salons and zoos….

I didn’t go shopping.

In fact, not being able to go shopping for so many months showed me how little stuff I actually need.

This is liberating, and even if it means that I don’t contribute to the recovery of the economy just yet.

At least not with ‘stuff’.

I did invest in solar PV for our house last year, so I did my bit for the green economy.

And when I’ll physically go into work again, I’ll simply shuffle the comfy leisure wear in my wardrobe to one side and rediscover the nice things hidden in there that I have not worn for a year.

This will be even better than shopping: it’s like going into a shop, in which I like all things on the rails and they all fit me 😂.

Perfect!

Darwin200: wind energy!

The perspective of Jasper and Lorimer on wind energy around the British Isles is told in this video:

https://darwin200.com/a-project-to-explore-sustainable-wind-power/

You may well ask … It’s one of my favourite oak trees on my walks, sun shining through branches, seen through a shard of cobalt blue ‘night soil’ glass washed out of the abandoned daffodil fields in Silver Valley by recent rain.

Sometimes it is useful to look at life through a different lense.

Sometimes my daily walk in nature is spoilt by my mind not letting go.

Thoughts are occupying it like wire wool: persistent and abrasive.

It happens when I allow (perceived) urgency to take precedence over importance.

What I mean is this:

My walk in nature is important for my wellbeing, it is a time to relax, exercise and fill my lungs with fresh air, have fun games with my dog, see, smell, hear, feel and simply be, here and now.

When I allow the wire wool to tumble around in my mind, I have lost what’s important in this moment. Instead, I am caught up in work(overload) or a futile frustration about something I can’t change anyway

… you know the sort of thing that keeps you awake at 3 am sometime …

Today was such a day. Something so apparently urgent spun around in my head that I wasted most of my precious time outside. Blind to my surroundings, unaware of myself.

Until a flash of colour caught my eye: a fungi reaching out to me from among the dead leaves.

It brought me right back and with a smile on my face I remembered what was important in that moment.

Reflecting on this, the ‘urgency versus importance’ conflict may be a useful consideration in other contexts, too.

Could the simple question whether something is important, urgent or both, provide clarity for decision making in work, play and relationships?

(…and whose urgency is it anyway?)

Eerily beautiful: crack in the Brunt Ice Shelf – Drone Footage

Brunt I’ve Shelf has now calved: read more in the BAS press release.

This feels like full circle: lesser celandine is back in flower.

Back in April, during the first lockdown I wrote about this bright little flower before….

…and we’re still in lockdown.

It feels like a long while!

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