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Exploring the ‘floating golden seaweed jungle’

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The crew and research team on-board the 72ft

Sea Dragon expedition ship are currently undertaking two expeditions from the Island to find out more about the Sargasso Sea.

The

Sea Dragon is operated by Pangaea Explorations, and has sailed around 50,000 miles over the last two years as part of a series of research expeditions in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

During the missions the team are sending a daily blog, with photographs, explaining what they have been doing and what they have found.

Here are the most recent update from the

Sea Dragon, one from Emily Penn, programme director with Pangaea Exploration, and one from Dr Wolfgang Sterrer.

Emily Penn writes:

We can read books, watch documentaries and compare statistics but there's nothing quite like getting out there and seeing it for yourself. Pangaea Exploration's mission is to take people scientists, journalists, artists, youth, everyday individuals to sea, to engage with the ocean first hand. In the past 300 years hundreds of volunteers have join the core team to sail over 70,000 nautical miles on board the 72ft ex-Global Challenge race vessel,

Sea Dragon, studying critical issues including plastic pollution, coral reef biodiversity and ocean chemistry.

Since arriving in Bermuda we have taken 12 kids and 12 scientists sailing in the Sargasso Sea to get up close and personal with Sargassum, plankton and all sorts of exciting ocean critters.

Dr Wolfgang Sterrer writes:

With its ‘floating golden seaweed jungle’ and Bermuda's coral reefs, northernmost in the world, the Sargasso Sea is now considered one of the world’s most productive ecosystems. Yet this unique ocean and its biodiversity are under threat — from overfishing and seabed mining to biofuel harvesting and pollution. The Bermuda Alliance for Sargasso Sea (BASS), a grouping of the Island's conservation organisations, is now working towards establishing the Sargasso Sea as a marine protected area (MPA) through research, education and community awareness.

The better we understand nature, the more effectively we can protect it. Genomes are the ultimate information resource about all things alive, and worth conserving in their own right. With support from BASS, and in partnership with Ocean Genome Legacy, a not-for-profit organisation in Boston, Bermuda scientists have begun to collect, archive, and make available for research the genomes of all marine creatures of Bermuda and the Sargasso Sea. This is no mean undertaking, given that there are an estimated 25,000 species out there — but we've made a start.

Human power hauls the trawl back aboard after a timed half-hour.
The almost full compliment. Back row: Anna Dobson, Nathan Figureido, Megan Zimmerer, Linsey Palmer, Dr Roberta O' Connor of the Ocean Genome Leagacy, Dr Dan Distel of the Ocean Genome Legacy, Andrew Dobson. Front row: Amber Wilson, Meredith Gillespie, Craig Tyrell of Bermuda Gas (sponsors of the voyage), Elisha Bailey-Lewis, Fae Sapford, Asha Symons, Max Johnson
Elisha Bailey-Lewis demonstrating her nautical skills acquired as a crew member of the Spirit of Bermuda.
Jobs to be done: Eric Loss, skipper of the Sea Dragon, explains to Nathan Figureido and Elisha Bailey-Lewis their roles in the mechanics of hoisting the plankton trawl, while Dr Wolfgang Sterrer prepares to seal the 'sock' of the trawl net with ubiquitous duct tape.
Identifying the contents of the catch.
Elisha Bailey-Lewis sprays the trawl with salt water to wash everything caught into the 'sock'
Anna Dobson had the privilege of returning the Sea Dragon to port, a perk of being keen to volunteer — you never know what you will be tasked with.

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Published May 31, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 30, 2013 at 6:57 pm)

Exploring the ‘floating golden seaweed jungle’

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