The public face of fleet science – Freedom of the seas!
In our day to day lives, everything to some degree is governed, whether it’s through your local council/town hall/municipality/borough/city or Central Government, or through International Laws and the UN. The roads we drive on, the homes we live in, the food we eat, the education we receive is all governed ….. every inch of the country we live in, inc the coastline (if your country has a coastline) is all owned and governed…. BUT, a few miles off shore lies international waters, i.e. the oceans. Now it’s fair to say, because everything we regularly encounter day to day is owned and governed, that you would think International Waters ‘the oceans’ would also be owned and governed … well, surprising not, the oceans actually belong to every single one of us!, yes thats 7.6 Billion of us, which is truly wonderful and magical!
However, this also means that we all have a responsibility to protect and preserve those oceans ( they belong to you remember ! ) , not least because if the oceans die, then we die! Its a responsibility we all have thats never been properly taught or communicated to any of us.
At the moment your oceans are in trouble, everyday they are becoming more polluted, with plastics, chemicals, hormones, rising sea temperatures, acidification, and even ever increasing noise pollution! And this pollution is starting to affect all of us, even if you don’t live by the sea - the fish you find on your dinner plate, may contain some of those pollutants, including micro plastics!
For those of us who are lucky enough to live and work on the water, we develop a very profound connection to the oceans - our boats are our homes and the oceans are our back gardens and parks! - imagine waking up and looking out into your back garden or park to find that the grass has been bleached and burnt, the plants are dead, the trees are all dead, someone has dumped a pile of plastic, there are barrels of chemical waist dumped and almost all the animals that frequented that space daily have disappeared, except a few which are actually eating some of the waist material … you would be horrified! You would be straight on the phone to the council! but the oceans don't have that as they belong to all of us its actually every one of us that holds that responsibility.
This is effectively what is happening in our oceans, reefs are being bleached and dying due to rising sea temps and acidification, piles of plastic are amassing mid ocean and the sea life is disappearing because of it! So want spread the message that the oceans belong to us all, to help foster that connection for everyone and educate the public independently on just what’s happening to our oceans.
We plan to share all the information, imagery and video collected by the fleet and for it to be completely open for the public to view. All of the research data that is collected will be completely open source and available for anyone to download and study. The oceans belong to us all and we are going to collect data and information to help share some of what’s happening and make a change for generations to come.
Managing the project - a fleet collective
It’s a reality of world cruising that we can spend extended periods with reduced or no connectivity to the outside world at all-a rare thing in this interconnected world!
So in order for the project to both scale and be able to grow beyond what we as just a small team can manage, the “Given Time Fleet Science” project has to run as a collective.
What does that mean?Well it means that we will have a shared management interface for the project lead boats, so that when a request comes in for a new boat to join the fleet, or from an researcher asking if any vessels can visit a specific location then any one of that group of the project lead boats can read and approve the request which can then go out to the wider fleet as a request. This keeps the project growing and working regardless of where we are or how good or otherwise our connection is. We have broad experience of managing multi element highly complex projects however; we also recognise that to succeed this collective management approach will be truly key.
Asking a boat to go to a location and Hosting a marine ecology researcher
Marine Expedition costs are simply huge – so for a scientist or an academic to be able to get one of the Given Time Fleet Science yachts to go to a location to collect up to date, local data is incredibly valuable to any research especially when you consider the rate of change we have been observing in the health of our oceans.
So we want to make the project interface such that a member of the marine research community can see where the Fleet Science vessels are and be able to ask for a nearby yacht to go to a specific location to collect video, stills or a written report on the condition of perhaps a reef.
Ideally to also collect information on sea temperature, pH and dissolved CO2 using simple instruments that we plan on providing to members of the fleet to support the other information thats collected.
We on Given Time plan to and will be asking other Fleet Science vessels to potentially provide accommodation for a visiting academic or Scientists for short visits while in cruising areas.We also plan on making space aboard available for researchers to join us for longer ocean passages where they and their equipment can join us free of a charter charge. Our intention is to keep the process cost neutral for cruisers wherever possible and although not charging for visiting scientists or academics to be on board, we would always ask visitors to make a contribution towards food and fuel costs to the boat that is hosting them and to organise suitable personal insurance to cover them during any visit.
Sound – Recording both aquatic life and the parasitic man made noise.
Recording the sound from our oceans can tell us a number of stories about both the type, condition and quantity of aquatic life and also the amount of man-made parasitic noise in the water.
These recordings can and will lead to useful further study on the health of our oceans.We are working with leaders in the field to make sure we get this right for the project and will provide more details soon.
This could perhaps be as simple as a suitably calibrated hydrophone connected to a smart phone for recording while anchored, at a dive site or dropped from your dingy while snorkelling on a reef together with supporting details of the location and the prevailing conditions. Or it could be a much more advanced multi point recording rig being used by a hosted scientist visiting one of our Fleet Science Vessels at a point of interest to record much more substantial and specific information.
Provenance of the data
Its been clear from the start that what’s measured needs to be trusted or it cant be used in any useful scientific study. Our aim is to provide clear training and direction for those boats contributing on the collection of the study information and how to submit it. Whats collected needs to fit within existing study boundaries so that it can usefully be incorporated into existing research -plastic for example – we need to ensure that our surface collection Manta or similar system is collecting material using the right parameters or its data cannot be usefully incorporated into the global calculation on quantities of plastic in our oceans. The focus will initially of course be elements that cannot be easily measured from space, butkeep in mind even the very latest spacecraft need supporting surface data to ensure their calibration is correct! A simple instrument with good instructions can be used by anyone to collect useful data. We want to set up the project so a scientist can send instruments out to the fleet and in effect add a data point to what’s being collected.