Challenging Habitat Blog

See and hear what it takes to get scientific data from the heart of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Antarctic Quest 21 team and patrons have published their first story video, and as I guess that Forces Net is not the usual channel for most of you, below is a link.

It’s worth a watch, even if the video fails to represent all the scientific project the expedition will support – you can always check that out on the AQ21 website and by reading my ECO Magazine article.

Featured Image credit: British Services Antarctic Expedition 2012 (BSAE2012)

I am excited to highlight the special edition of ECO Magazine that celebrates the start of the UN Ocean Decade.

My article What is your next step against climate change tells the story of Antarctic Quest 21, an expedition planned for the forthcoming Austral summer on the Antarctic Pensinsula. Antarctic Quest 21 supports pollution and climate science through direct observations and installation of scientific equipment that will collect data for years to come.

Coring during the British Services Antarctic Expedition 2012 on the Antarctic Peninsula. Photo credit: BSAE2012.

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.

I’m mitigating my carbon footprint with monthly donations to Tree Sisters, a charity that works for environmental sustainability through reforestation in projects that also address social and economic sustainability as they foster equality, communities, mental and physical wellbeing.

Tree Sisters have extended Earth Day into Earth Week and you can double your donation with match funding HERE.

Thank you, Adam Benjamin, for introducing me to Tree Sisters and to your Dancer’s Forest project!

A large seagrass restoration project is underway in Plymouth Sound.

That’s great news for the Plymouth Sound National Marine Park, conservation and drawing down carbon.

Learn more about seagrass meadows and their many benefits at the Ocean Conservation Trust.

The importance of seagrass to the marine ecosystem has been highlighted for a while, and a great insight has been provided by Dr Rohan Holt in the context of a research project in Wales.

Featured Image: “seagrass Halodule uninervis” by Paul and Jill is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Today, 22 April 2021, is Earth Day.

Everybody (well, almost, or not even that) is in on it:

The Independent reports on Greta Thunberg’s criticism of US fossil fuel subsidies, The Telegraph sports the ’10 best sustainable beauty brands*‘ and The Guardian promotes policy goals and a new sense of working for the common good to solve the climate crisis. Even Apple celebrates Earth Day with a its ‘Environmental Justice Challenge for Change’.

I hope that there will be a lasting legacy, that we don’t treat yet another Earth Day as we’re largely treating ‘Mothering Sunday’ – make a fuss, then put it on the shelf for another year.

The thing is: the climate crisis is not someone else’s problem and the causes of it are not someone else’s responsibility. Both are mine. Both are yours, too.

The easy thing I’ve done is to donate monthly to a charity that plants trees. I want to compensate my carbon footprint, not just this year, but all my years…planting trees on my own land, I’ve racked up 22 years…only xx to go (but that would be telling) with getting other people to plant trees for me.

It’s a start, but there is so much more to do, not least of all to reduce my footprint, rather than just lazily compensate for it with money. So, to learn what else I need to consider and can do, I’m going to help an organisation to audit their footprint. My focus will be on a somewhat off-the-beaten-track activity, which will be rather illuminating: it’s the team of Antarctic Quest 21 – an expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula in the name of climate and pollution science. Read more about this here: antarcticquest21.com.

*Who says we need to improve our beauty? – but that’s another story (or rather, rant) about the ‘industry of influencers’ that make us believe that we are in some way deficient…and need to buy their stuff to correct that!

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.

It’s a great headline: “Plastic Is Falling From The Sky- But Where’s It Coming From?”

The answer is not so great, because most of us are contributing: rubber rubbed off our car tyres.

Read the story here:

Featured Image: “Rainbow and the rain” by Ryan Ojibway is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

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…

Featured Image: Dr Rohan Holt

%d bloggers like this: