Project: Indigo V Expeditions
Here on Citizen Science Center, we share a lot of opportunities to participate in projects within your own community–sometimes even from the comfort of your own home. While that’s obviously optimal on a day-to-day basis, what if you had a chance to collect critically important data from onboard a yacht, while sailing between Thailand and Singapore. Seems pretty appealing, right?
That’s just opportunity Indigo V Expeditions aims to give “citizen oceanographers” with their Indian Ocean II Expedition. Indigo Expeditions first set sail in 2013, hoping to answer the question, “Can sailors contribute to oceanography in a meaningful way?” You see, the globe’s oceans are under considerable stress. In the last 50 years, we’ve seen declines in numbers of big fish, coral reefs, and other visible and easily measurable forms of marine life. However, what’s more difficult to detect are microbe levels. While invisible, microbes comprise of 90% of the ocean’s biomass. They are the baseline of the food chain, as well as a major stabilizer of atmospheric levels of oxygen. Scientists need to gather enormous amounts of data to determine well-being of the ocean’s microbial systems, and create a plan of attack for preserving ones that show signs of decline.
While their importance really can’t be overstated, sending out a traditional research vessel to measure microbes is extremely expensive. According to Indigo’s site, it would cost at least $15 million a year for the crew, ship, and analysis of data collected. And in a year, one vessel could only cover about 3% of the ocean’s surface! Needless to say, a more cost-effective and efficient system of microbe measurement is needed.
The OSMO (Ocean Sailing Microbiome Observatory) autosampler may be the answer here. This groundbreaking, autonomous instrument clamps onto the stern of a vessel, taking DNA samples of microbes found in the water. Since thousands of already-manned vessels cruise the world’s oceans regularly for both business and pleasure, harnessing their power to collect data could cut research costs drastically.
The OSMO still needs some field testing, however, so the Indian Ocean II Expedition offers interested citizen scientists an opportunity to actually set sail on a Nautor Swan 61 yacht. You’ll be taking samples, conducting studies, trying your hand at sailing techniques, and visiting some truly spectacular parts of the world such as Indonesia and Maldives. There are various legs of the expedition running from spring to autumn, so if you’re interested in booking a spot on the Indigo V cruise, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact Rachelle if you’re a vessel owner interested in more information about obtaining access to an OSMO to use on your own independent excursions.
Sailing off into the sunset, while collecting data that could preserve the ocean’s bedrock infrastructure–sounds like a win-win!
Photo Credit: Pixabay