Please select your home edition
Edition
Southern Spars - North Technology

Calling all roving sailors - your chance to help a marine survey

by Lee Mylchreest on 23 Feb 2014
Just lower it into the water until it disappears, and measure the depth - called the ’Secchi Depth’ Richard Kirby
New Zealand and Australian sailors, here is your unique chance to make a difference in the marine scientific world, just because you are a sailor with a smart phone, helping as 'Citizen Scientists' with a plankton survey for Plymouth University. They especially need the help of sailors in the southern hemisphere. The process is simple and fun and it's vital to our knowledge of the oceans and climate change.

This month the Secchi Disk study and the Secchi App project is just a year old, and already the project leaders are excited about the results. So what is the Secchi Disk study and the Secchi App project? It is the global Citizen Study by seafarers to study the marine phytoplankton and to help track the effects of climate change. (See Sail-World story.)



If you didn't find out about it the first time, read on to find how you can help while out sailing. After a year, and although it is still early days in terms of a long-term study, the project organisers are already excited by the extent of the data collected. Dr Richard Kirby, the project's leader, told Daria Blackwell of the Ocean Cruising Club, 'We hope to soon be able to start some analyses on the role of Citizen Science in marine biology, which will hopefully lead to a publication to acknowledge all your efforts so far. The project is a long-term study however, and the database improves continuously as ocean coverage increases and successive years of Secchi depth data accumulate.'

It was all started when a study by a team of Canadian marine biologists reported that the phytoplankton in the oceans had declined by 40% since the 1950s due to climate change. The phytoplankton are microscopic plant-like cells that float at the surface of the sea from where they underpin the whole marine food chain. Knowing the amount of phytoplankton in the sea, and whether it is changing, is very important therefore, since their abundance determines the number of creatures at every step above them in the marine food web; this includes the amount of fish in the sea to the numbers of sharks, whales, penguins, and polar bears.

However, other scientists didn't agree and the problem was that the oceans are a vast place and there aren't enough marine biologists to study them, and so this is where you, by becoming a Citizen Scientist, can help.

The Citizen Science project relies upon sailors and other seafarers, anglers and divers, knowing about its existence and taking part. They are especially keen to reach out to sailors cruising in the remoter Southern Hemisphere.



Finally, as the project team anticipated at the start, sailors have been remarkably ingenious with the variety of materials they have used to make their 30 cm white Secchi Disk. The more unusual materials include a Vinyl LP, an aluminium road sign, a Frisbee, and a disk cut from a ship's toilet seat.

So what is a Secchi Disk and how do you make it?

A Secchi Disk apparatus is a weighted, 30 cm diameter white disk attached to a tape measure. The Secchi Disk can be made from fibreglass, plastic, metal or wood, the only restriction on its design is that it must be 30 cm in diameter and matt white.

When the Secchi Disk is lowered vertically into the water from the side of a stationary boat, the depth below the surface at which it just disappears from sight is called the Secchi Depth. Away from estuaries, the Secchi Depth reflects the amount of phytoplankton in the water column.

The amount of phytoplankton in the water column will vary seasonally, from place to place and annually. You may choose to set up a sample site and measure the Secchi Depth twice or more a month, or you may choose to make recordings on your travels. In whatever way you decide to take part, your help will help the scientific team to understand the Ocean's biology much better. It is planned for the Secchi Disk study to run for many years to come to create the world's biggest plankton survey.

In order to take part in the project you need to make the very simple DIY Secchi Disk and download the free Secchi app to your smartphone or tablet - you will need a smartphone or tablet that can receive a GPS signal. You can follow the data you collect, along with that of others, on the project website.

For more information go to the website

Sail-World Cruising would like to thank the world-wide www.oceancruisingclub.org!Ocean_Cruising_Club for their contributions to this article.

Zhik Yachting 660x82North Technology - Southern SparsWildwind 2016 660x82

Related Articles

Kids Polarised Sunglasses from Barz Optics
Barz Optics have developed a quality range of junior polarised sunglasses ideal for sailing and fishing. Barz Optics have developed a quality range of junior polarised sunglasses ideal for sailing and fishing. Each pair are supplied with a neoprene case and sunglass retainer.
Posted on 4 Aug
Reducing weight aloft with composite backstays
Reducing weight aloft is one of the most cost effective ways of increasing your boat speed and performance. Reducing weight aloft is one of the most cost effective ways of increasing your boat speed and performance. Every kilogram you take out of the rig is roughly equivalent to 4kg added to the bottom of your keel!
Posted on 26 Jul
Bavaria STYLE 46 Australian Premiere at Sydney International Boat Show
For everyone who appreciates luxury on the water, the STYLE package is now available for the Cruiser 46 and Cruiser 51?. For everyone who appreciates luxury on the water, the STYLE package is now available for the Cruiser 46 and Cruiser 51?. Making the most of your time on board, be it with family or friends, is becoming more important. Yacht owners want certain levels of comfort and an onboard living experience coupled with versatility.
Posted on 26 Jul
What to look for when buying a modern lifejacket
There is no doubt that modern lifejacket design has changed considerably. There is no doubt that modern lifejacket design has changed considerably and one of the biggest drivers of this change has been due to personal ownership. Rather than crew relying on lifejackets being on-board a boat, they want to own their own lifejacket as part of their kit bag.
Posted on 25 Jul
The New Bavaria Cruiser 34 - you won't believe this is a 34' yacht!
The Sydney International Boat Show sees the World Premiere of the Bavaria Cruiser 34 - 2 Cabin version. The Sydney International Boat Show sees the World and Australian Premiere of the Bavaria Cruiser 34 - 2 Cabin version. The new Cruiser 34 offers more space and more comfort than ever before with a bigger cockpit, dual helms and ergonomically designed seating. This is the first time the entry level Bavaria cruiser has been offered in twin helm!
Posted on 19 Jul
Navathome Australia brings RYA Theory to your door
The RYA Cruising Syllabus has been built up over years of best practice development in Sail and Power Boat skippering. The Royal Yachting Association Cruising Syllabus has been built up over years of best practice development in Sail and Power Boat skippering. Split into a theory and practical syllabus the training modules take you in steps from a Start Yachting orientation through to Yachtmaster for either power or sail.
Posted on 5 Jul
Free $US3,000 Carbon Vang with SouthernFurl boom orders in July
Southern Spars is giving a free carbon vang - valued at US$3,000 - with SouthernFurl in-boom furlers ordered in July Southern Spars is giving away a free carbon vang - valued at US$3,000 - with all of their SouthernFurl in-boom furlers ordered in July. Carbon gas vangs make a great addition to the furling boom package, though if you’d prefer to keep your existing one, Southern Spars will offer you a 5% discount on the price of your boom instead.
Posted on 29 Jun
Newport Bermuda Race - High Noon takes honours
As the Newport Bermuda Race fleet rushed to the finish line on Monday in the wake of the first-to-finish boat, As the Newport Bermuda Race fleet rushed to the finish line on Monday in the wake of the first-to-finish boat, the powerful 100-foot grand prix Comanche, to the surprise of many they were led by an unusual boat and crew. High Noon, at 41 feet, is fully 59 feet shorter than Comanche and tens of feet shorter than many other entries.
Posted on 22 Jun
Platino recovery - Family confirms that tug has made rendezvous
Reports in social media say a salvage tug has made a rendezvous with the Platino earlier than expected. Reports in social media by family and friends of Nick Saull, the crew member killed during a catastrophic incident abroad the 66ft yacht Platino say the salvage tug which left on Tuesday night has made the rendezvous earlier than expected. The Facebook report says the tug, Sea Pelican, arrived on Friday morning, the weather in the area has eased and with a more favorable outlook.
Posted on 16 Jun
Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron to ban bottled water
Approval has been given to create a ban on bottled water that comes in plastic containers. The RQYS Management Committee has confirmed that approval has been given to create a ban on bottled water that comes in plastic containers. This will place the club as a leader in environmental impact management in Australia and around the world. The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club earlier this year did likewise. Who’s next?
Posted on 16 Jun