OCC member Colin Speedie has undertaken the task of researching and vetting citizen science projects that are particularly suitable for the cruising community to contribute to. As budgets are cut and research money dries up, scientists are looking for new ways to access and collect valuable environmental data. Cruisers on the other hand are in a unique position to assist and often eager to contribute to something bigger. It's one way that our members can give back and help preserve this natural environment we find so precious.
OCC Environmental projects update December 2014
After the big exodus from Europe by the Atlantic crossing fleet, the Caribbean cruising season has begun at last. And now that you’ve got time on your hands, how about learning about and taking part in one of the excellent scientific and environmental projects that OCC crews can take part in?
First up this month is a new and exciting project to help monitor humpback whale migrations between the Caribbean and New England. All humpback whales have distinctive patterns on the underside of their tail flukes, each one as individual as a human fingerprint. By photographing the underside of the tail flukes when the animal dives, and forwarding the images to researchers, ‘your’ whale can very likely be identified from the extensive database held in New England. Photo-identification (as it is called), is a well-proven, non-invasive research technique that anyone with a decent camera can assist with. Carib Tails is looking for cruisers to join in with this valuable work, so if you’re in the Caribbean this winter, or going up the East coast of the USA in the spring, do give this project a look.
Birding Aboard, the organization that has developed the SeaBC sea bird count have a new website, with a wealth of information on their activities and how you can help. There are also lots of useful tips and resources available to help you get the most out of your participation. We carry out daily seabird counts when on passage these days, and it’s an educational and enjoyable addition to our cruising, as well as helping scientists to monitor sea bird populations and distribution. Many OCC members already take part, so if you haven’t done so already, why not join them?
Dr. Richard Kirby, the man behind the excellent Secchi Disk initiative tells me that the project is going great guns, and that participation via individual yachts or rally participants is at an all-time high. This excellent citizen science project is aimed at helping to monitor the levels of phytoplankton in the oceans, the basic plant matter upon which the health and wealth of the oceans depends. OCC yachts reach parts of the oceans that others don’t so your efforts whilst out there can make a big contribution to the coverage and success of this fascinating project.
Watch Cowspiracy, a most important environmental documentary
Suzanne Hills, s/v Wanake, urges us all to watch Cowspiracy. It focuses on animal agricultural and the effect it is having on our planet, including the impact that our oceans could be all but fishless in 50 years. It is streaming on Netflix or you can download it here: Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret.