Everyone on board has received basic sail and safety training and we’ve had quite an interesting start to our voyage.
Out of Cumberland basin and under the Clifton suspension bridge, down the Avon and into the Severn Channel…
…where the ‘fun’ started, with a lot of people looking and feeling decidedly ropey.
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.
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 historicdock.
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!
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.
We will contribute our data to the Secchi Disk Foundation, who research the global distribution of primary producers that underpin the marine food web.
At the University of Plymouth, we will celebrate World Ocean Day with a conference for schools that showcases our expertise in marine research and technology in the Faculty of Science and Engineering.
Our exciting programme of talks covers all scales: local to global, pole to pole, plankton to top predators and eons of time in evolution. It also celebrates human ingenuity for investigating and solving the plant’s most pressing challenges.
Learn more and join us at the event via this LINK.
As we are preparing for the 2021 Darwin200 voyage with a whole new set of Citizen Science Projects for young people to engage with, the videos of our science projects piloted during the voyage in summer 2020 are being published.
Watch Joe Ellison summarising our large fish and cetacean project, which contributes to the database of the Sea Watch Foundation:
Explore the underwater world of Britain’s coasts with Dr Rohan Holt and Kerry MacKay:
Consider what you can do to reduce microplastic pollution after Shaolin Casey provides you with food for thought:
Discover how Charles Darwin undertook sea surface temperature measurements on his voyage around the world and how modern techniques compare, explained by Molly Brennan:
How much litter is found on remote beaches on our coasts? Find out from Aoibhinn Lynch and Kerry MacKay:
…and watch out for another five videos to be released soon…
Littering is one of my pet-hates. This reminds me: I’ve said that before, during the first COVID-19 lockdown in the first series of ‘Outdoor Daily’ (now, there is consistency for you…).
Anyway, littering is unnecessary, careless, inconsiderate, unsightly, polluting, damaging to wildlife…need I say more?
The featured image shows a common occurrence in the Tamar Valley, where my daily walks with my dog T’isker take place these days. They are the plastic skeletons of shotgun cartridges and their contents. I find them in fields and along hedgerows, on field margins and in the reed beds of the estuary and the beaches of the Cornish coastline.
Likely sources are people using shotguns for controlling vermin (rabbits, rats, perhaps some crop-threatening birds) and people shooting for fun (pheasant and partridge, also rabbit and wild geese).
Question is: how many of the people using shotguns and other guns in the countryside are actually picking up their spent cartridges?
My friend Alan told me that it is a no-no to not pick up your spent cartridges…
Between 2008 and 2019, UK sales of cartridges and other ammunition were worth between a stunning £51000000 and an even more stunning £79000000. Wow! I don’t know whether this includes ammunition for the police (I doubt it) or the armed services (I doubt that even more).
Let’s just have a little back-of-the-envelope calculation:
say 50% of the money spent is on shotgun cartridges for use in nature (around £30 million)
Primer (the metal end of the cartridge, steel or brass)
Propellant (the powder that goes ‘bang’)
Wad (plastic, cork or fibre – determines how the shot disperses)
Shot (metal pellets in steel or lead, containing 2-5% antimony, perhaps some nickel or copper coating)
I guess the propellant will get burned and becomes atmospheric pollution, the shot finishes up in the game and on the ground or in the water, the primer, wad and the plastic case drops to the ground or in the water near the gun. That’s a lot of plastic and metal introduced to nature…antimony is quite toxic and so is nickel is.
The good news: there are shotgun cartridge collectors on the market, so I guess some people pick up after themselves. Perhaps a well organised shoot will lay down some rules and see that they are followed. There is a legislative move from lead shot to using steel, which is less toxic and more inert in the environment and therefore less polluting. And the use of plastic wad is increasingly frowned upon, again something that could be encouraged by rules on well managed shoots.
The bad news: I keep finding these debris in nature…and so do other people:
Featured image: plastic shotgun cartridge wads in the reed bed of the Tamar estuary, UK.
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