One brief paragraph of a recent study by the AWI has left me absolutely speechless: “In comparison, even the lowest values from the Arctic seafloor are ten times higher (than the waste concentration in the so-called garbage patches)”. They must be joking, I thought. No, they’re not!
plastic bag bottom of arctic ocean 2500 metres depth (cMBergmann)
First of all, how cool is that: You are on a ship, and every 30 seconds you get a new picture from the ocean ground beneath you. The OFOS (Ocean Floor Observation System) is the technology behind this, drifting a metre and a half above the ocean floor and delivering still and moving pictures.
In the past, the scientists from AWI have observed the ocean bottom for sponges, sea cucumbers, fish or any other living creature down below. In recent years, however, their attention has also been grabbed by litter on the ocean seafloor. Once they started having a look also at the waste in oceans, they produced some worrying numbers: between 2002 and 2011 the waste on the ocean floor in one square kilometre more than doubled (2.500 metres beneath sea surface). Continue reading
When looking at the career pages of the AWI (Alfred-Wegener-Institut, based in Bremerhaven, Germany), the requirements for getting a job with them seem to be quite challenging: PhDs, Science Officer, Master Students, and a doc for their Antarctic station… There is a good reason for that: They are experts and extremely good at what they are doing. One of the items they keep looking at is marine debris and its origin, distribution and impact.
The text below answers a couple of fundamental questions on marine debris. This is rather similar to a previous post here on Active Outside (basic Q&A on waste in oceans), yet it does give more details and background information on various topics. All of the below (plus lots more) can also be found on the website of AWI. Some of their answers I have shortened a bit, and the reason for including it here as full text instead of including a link is also quite simple: I’d like to keep the content, even if AWI decides to (re)move their page.
Their researchers and scientists are doing a more than fabulous job, and their realistic view on this matter is something I value highly (e.g. their comment on estimated numbers of marine debris floating on the surface of the oceans).
Keeping the kids busy and trying to avoid “death by boredom” (their wording) during school holidays can occasionally turn into a challenge. One week of this year’s Easter school holidays turned out to be as much fun for the parents as it was for the kids.
Ok, my kids are not really that bad when at home. They can go without parents for hours, only needing help when it comes to food and drink. This is usually fine for a couple of days, but two weeks can get very long in the end. So we spent one week of that Easter break near the Baltic Sea, an hour’s drive from home. It was on Fehmarn, one of my favourite islands round here.
It was the second week in April, spring having not really arrived yet, sunshine and rain playing hide and seek on an hourly basis, a nasty cold wind blowing – not really a combination to have the kids roam around outdoors. There was, however, not a single day with the kids asking for more action. The reason: horses!
A very long time ago (January last year, actually, but it feels a lot longer) I spent quite a few hours browsing the web to find some information on the costs of a Mini Transat campaign. I managed to pull some data together and came up with a pretty neat cost estimate – however, that is a different story. While doing my research I stumbled upon a couple of Classe Mini sailors’ websites, one of them being Lina Rixgens. What a goal she has set herself, and what a story it has been so far!
The very first information I found was a flyer for Lina’s Mini Transat campaign. Her project idea sounded pretty cool, and I was indeed a very happy person after she had rather quickly replied to an email and answered a couple of questions. Soon after I published a first article about Lina and her plans for a Mini Transat campaign. But – who is she, what’s her background? In brief:
- young medical student, German, living in Belgium
- has been sailing for more than half of her life, including Optimist, Europe, crossing the Atlantic with “High Seas High School” and racing around the Baltic Sea with ‘Haspa Hamburg’, a Judel/Vrolijk designed long distance cruiser-racer
- regatta-proven, including World Championships in class Europe
- highly organized, with a clear view on her goals and aiming to reach them asap (that is my personal view, though it may sound like taken from a consultant’s CV).
How to get rid of all that garbage floating around in our waters? One of the ideas having caught my attention is the prototype of a catamaran called Seekuh (sea cow), currently being built and ready for its mission in summer 2016.
Plastic garbage in shallow waters, seas and oceans is omnipresent. Tons of plastic bags, fishing nets, bottles, cosmetic product waste and the like are polluting our liquid surroundings. Three quarters of all the garbage in oceans consists of plastics needing a couple of centuries to decompose. All that waste is a major danger to wildlife and, ultimately, humans (if you are rather new to this topic, check out these Basic Q&A regarding waste in oceans).
A catamaran called Seekuh (Sea Cow)
Worldwide, awareness to actually do something about all that waste in oceans has increased dramatically in recent years. Lots of projects and initiatives have been started, and a pretty cool one I found to be a catamaran called Sea Cow (Seekuh). What is this supposed to be, or mean?
What a trip! Sailing around the world is one thing, nothing unusual for a couple of young chaps. The more than amazing element is that their sailing boat has not used a single drop of fuel, i.e. zero emission. Including cruising the 40 nautical miles along the Panama Canal. How did they do it?
The four guys from the Eco Sailing Project first had an idea, which turned into a plan, which turned into pretty cool reality. Wanting to tour the world they decided to go for the very sporty option: sailing around the world. And not just that: the boat should be self-sufficient in power and energy supply, surviving on re-usable energy only. Brilliant.
zero emission sailing yacht (c ecosailingproject)
Once they had bought a 1978 built yacht, the old motor had to go, same as the exhaust system and the diesel tanks. Old stuff out and gone, lots of new equipment came on board: LED lights, solar power, wind turbine, e-motor. One of the items I found simply great is the propeller turning to hydro generator while sailing – how cool is that? An overview of their energy supply you can find in the little picture here. I love it.
Sailing projects not completed, a sailing career abandoned, agony high instead of spirits rocketing. A question that keeps coming back to me: What frustrates you most with sailing in the Classe Mini?
I have followed the Classe Mini rather closely in the last 18 months or so, and despite successful stories of winners and finishers, of smiles and laughter everywhere, there are quite a few sailors feeling extremely down. ‘Feeling down’ meaning they are in the middle of a major crisis. Lack of funding, injuries, race calendar, weather, boat size, boat handling, the list could go on. Those are only a couple of the reasons I have found when looking at Classe Mini sailors’ websites or social media entries. What a disaster! And that after so much bravery they had shown in the past.
canoe walkway partly frozen
Take your camera along when going outside, a few dozen shots should always be possible, play around with settings, click again – we all know what to expect and what to do. Unless, of course, you decide (like I did) to take some wonderful winter photographs. Minus six outside, wind blowing with force 4, and it all felt a bit like the Arctic.
My little photo shooting session took place in Kiel, one of the canals having been my choice of location. There was not really any snow around, temperatures were below zero and the wind would have been lovely for a sailing tour – but not so on that specific morning. I don’t know what the wind chill factor for that morning had been, and I must say that I am used to (dry) cold outside. This, however, felt pretty bad. Continue reading