Sargasso Sea Gyre Marine Pollution, Climate, and Tagged Marine Life Observation Survey

Matt Rutherford, who last year completed his amazing solo Around the Americas voyage, explains the objectives of his newest undertaking, the Ocean Research Project.

July 22, 2013
Matt Rutherford on his sailboat
Matt Rutherford Courtesy Matt Rutherford

There are three objectives for this survey:

Monitoring Marine Pollution

To conduct a Sargasso Sea marine debris survey recognizing standardized methods to add to the global understanding of what the quantity of marine debris in surface waters within the gyre is and to stimulate awareness of the consequence of human activity. This project is run in collaboration with our partner 5 Gyres. Samples will also be analyzed for persistent organic pollutants (POP) such as PCB’s and pesticides through University of Tokyo’s Pellet Watch Program.

Monitoring Marine Life

To collect detection files of monitored marine life within the Sargasso Gyre to provide to Dalhousie University’s Ocean Tracking Network for scientists to monitor migratory routes of tagged species.


Monitoring the Climate

The vessel will act as a mobile observing platform reporting atmospheric and oceanic observations to NOAA as a voluntary observing ship to feed international atmospheric and oceanic modeling databases that depict global weather forecasts, climate studies and in effect support mariner’s safety at sea. Work will be in cooperation with partners NOAA’s Voluntary Observing Ship, Ship of Opportunity Program and the Atlantic Oceanic and Meteorological Laboratory. Ten climate observing drifters will be deployed which are capable of reporting more than 400 days of data a piece while any expired drifters will be retrieved upon identification en route. Data will be submitted as requested to partners and made accessible via multiple open source data portals. An educational documentary will highlight our experience meeting our objectives during our Atlantic Garbage Patch Survey.

Learn more about the voyage at the Ocean Research Project website.

Check out the photo gallery of r/v Ault‘s refit to prepare for the journey.


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