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Free Range Ocean inaugural mission

To celebrate World Ocean Day 2023 we’re happy to report that a donation from Another World Adventures contributed towards the development our new ocean conservation not-for-profit called Free Range Ocean and the first of its many exciting projects. 

Free Range Ocean is a UK-registered not-for-profit organisation founded in 2023 to inspire action for our ocean through adventure, science and storytelling. 

The first Free Range Ocean initiative took place this spring 2023.

Project: TransPacific

Dates: 86 days between March and May 2023

Vessel: Freeranger (Beneteau 50 Celebration sailboat)

Passage: Sailing over 7,500nm across the Pacific Ocean, from Whangamata, New Zealand to Victoria, Canada via French Polynesia and Hawaii.

An international crew undertook two citizen science projects during a vessel delivery with the aim of contributing data from hard to reach places offshore to global research projects. 

Free Range Ocean Skipper: Mark Griffiths

Crew New Zealand > French Polynesia > Hawaii: Bryce Thurston & Bernadette Marcon

Crew Hawaii > Victoria, BC: Elle Burke & Adam Eason

Onshore Direction & Logistics: Larissa Clark & Duncan Copeland

The first of two projects they were able to support with remote data sampling was the Global Oceanic Environmental Survey – A collaborative data collection project coordinated by the GOES Foundation.

Aim and background: More than 60% by mass of all animals and plants in the oceans are under 1mm in size and they have been almost completely ignored by climate scientists, this is surprising because they control our climate, atmosphere and are the life support system for the entire planet. 

By way of example, there are more cells of a plant call Prochlorococcus than there are grains of sands, and the mass of small animals called Copepods equates to the mass of 17 million jumbo jets. The animals migrate from a depth 400m every night to feed on the plants at the surface. This is the greatest mass migration on the planet, and their swimming action moves more water than the moon and tides. 

The biology of the oceans are critically important but the science emerging is telling us that because we have polluted our beautiful oceans so much over the last 70 years, we have collectively managed to reduce the numbers of tiny planktonic plants and animals by a staggering 50%. This destruction is continuing at a rate of 1% year on year. These tiny animals are munching on toxic microplastic (they can’t tell the difference between plant and plastic particles) and the GOES Foundation have created an observational study so that we can start to estimate the amount of toxic chemical in the deep ocean. 

Free Range Ocean Participation: 

The crew collected samples twice per day for the entire voyage (minus a handful of times when it was not safe to do so) taking photos of the samples using a microscope on board and documenting the results which were submitted to the project upon landfall. Over 100 at-sea water samples were collected.

A summary report created by an undergraduate marine scientist is soon to be publishedhaving conducted data analysis on the samples collected during the voyage to understand and they’ll share observations and findings.

The crew took a 0.5 litre of sea water, put it through a GOES filter (developed by Dr.Jesus Ramon Barriuso Diez), count plankton, microplastics (fibres and beads) and any other particles which are over 20 microns.

By counting the particles, the microplastics and the plankton, the GOES Foundation will use machine learning to undertake the following, but the really exciting thing about science is that other patterns and relationships may start to emerge as the number of samples we all take increases: 

  • look for relationships and correlations in the numbers

  • present the data in ways that help us understand what’s going on in the deep ocean

  • add up the amount of toxic PCB that is in the deep oceans of our planet.

Watch this space for the findings…

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1 Comment

Peter Grove
Peter Grove
2 days ago

Brilliant website! Wonderful plans! Look forward to following you closely!

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