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.
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.
Ever since I became aware of the incredible intelligence and social behaviour of octopus, I just can’t bring myself to eating cephalopods anymore.
I mean, nine brains!
This new study just highlights an incredible similarly between the way mammals and cephalopods sleep and dream…
Featured image: “Key West Octopus” by Joe Parks is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
This is haunting!
Sperm whales are even more intelligent and organised than we knew, which makes it even more sad and outrageous that we hunted them to near extinction and some of us still do.
Read the ‘easy’ version in the Guardian and the research paper I. The reference therein.
What have we failed to learn about all the species we eradicated out of greed, ignorance and ‘don’t care attitude?
First I hear the cry of the crow.
It draws my eyes to the acrobatics of a young buzzard evading the crow’s attacks with graceful ease.
The spring sun lights up its wing feathers – creating an almost ghostly appearance against the blue.
I watch in awe until they part and fly their separate ways.
All I have for you is a picture of the sky – the rest I leave to your imagination.
10 miles on the Tamar estuary with my paddle board…
…a great way of spending a sunny spring Sunday!
Lots to see, including otter footprints in the mud, the ochreous outflow of a mine adit and the overgrown scenery of the upper reaches.
So lovely to see wild ponies on the moor, interacting naturally!
One day social distancing will be a thing of the past for us, too!
Here and Now
What better role model of this mindful principle than your dog?
Eyes, nose, ears, body, motion, breath, terrain – all as one – one experience.
No thought of yesterday, no dream of tomorrow.
Here and Now.
Saturday is burning day!
Have you ever noticed the black columns of smoke rising to the sky in rural England on a Saturday evening?
Saturday is burning day for waste that isn’t legal to burn: bailing plastic, tyres, feed and fertiliser bags, plastic gloves, udder wipes, worming tubes…who knows what else.
The local council offices, the Environment Agency and DEFRA can’t be reached on Saturday evening, so nobody can report the illegal fire while it’s burning.
And in winter, plastic waste can be burned under the cover of darkness without having to stay up late…
… just as happened last night on a farm in the valley.
I smelled the acrid plastic fumes as soon as I stepped into our orchard before dinner, a stink that brought me right back to my childhood, when my dad burned the plastic wrapping of the blocks he built our house with.
That was in the early 1970s, and while the smell should have told us that all is not well with the practice then, detailed knowledge about the toxins released from low temperature open fires are now more common knowledge than when I was a kid.
Not that I want to excuse what went on on our building site – not at all! It was common practice then and it was wrong, even then. I am saying that we should learn something and change or behaviour accordingly.
Today, someone would have to try very hard to remain ignorant of the fact that burning plastic releases harmful chemicals into the air, soil and water.
Just one example of information freely available on the internet: Alexander Cogut (2016) has published a comprehensive overview over global open burning of rubbish, and at that time, approximately 41% of global trash was ‘disposed of’ in that way.
Do we really want to tolerate this on English soil? In 2021?
Cogut’s report highlights that the open burning of waste is carried out at relatively low temperatures and for that reason, releases a variety of pollutants. The main issues are:
- greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and methane
- particulate matter, which is air pollution that can cause severe cases of respiratory disease and coronary disease
- persistent organic pollutants, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, dioxins and furans, all of which are known to cause cancer (carcinogens) and have been associated with causing other diseases.
Toxins are known to be particularly harmful to unborn fetuses, infants and children and can cause severe developmental damage in the young – in addition, air, soil and water pollution also damages ecosystems and wildlife.
Even if ignorance persists, ignorance is no defence in front of the law:
The Waste Management (England and Wales) Regulations 2006 classify agricultural wastes as ‘controlled wastes’ and it is prohibited to dispose of it by burning or burying. That includes, among other materials, plastic, foil, containers and even cardboard. Farmers have a legal duty to send waste off their farm, to be recycled, incinerated or go to landfill. Moreover, waste can only be transferred to authorised persons and a Waste Transfer note must be provided to show lawful disposal.
That’s a far cry from what happened last night!
Perhaps burning on site is permitted again since the UK left the EU???
Nope! Just checked gov.uk – as of today, 17 Jan 2021 there are no known changes to EU legislation related to the Waste Management (England and Wales) Regulations 2006.
I am writing here about general principles, not a single incident near where I live – that was just a trigger to get this off my chest!
Saturday is burning day all over rural England!
Update: I wonder how much plastic is used to light wood burners every day ????
Watch a summary of the circumnavigation and big thanks to World Parks on YouTube:
A clear view over the English Channel from Rame Head.
On Thursday, we could see as far as the Lizard Peninsula, some 40 miles away.
Whether it was legal to drive there under the current lockdown has become murky, with two friends being fined for separately driving to meet for a walk, and while that’s being clarified, I’ll return to walking my local lanes.