The fleet of volunteer boats partnering with Oceaneye grows bigger, and warmly welcomes today its latest member: Swiss Sail & Explore Association, thus bringing the aforesaid network to 12 sailboats.
Sail & Explore will collect samples in the course of their upcoming expeditions in the Mediterranean Sea, the Azores and Samoa, to ultimately feed Oceaneye’s mapping of pollution. Both organisations will share data and results to feed their respective scientific publications – Sail & Explore’s can be found here –, and will conduct joint outreach activities.
Based in Bern, Sail & Explore is in a way Oceaneye’s Swiss German twin. Indeed, the association also focuses on marine microplastics pollution and conducts its own expeditions. Additional activity and research fields include the detection, identification, quantification and possible implications of nanoplastic for animal and human health as well the synthesis of nanoplastics suitable as study materials, sharks and rays as well as workshops on the topic of plastic pollution and marine ecology. Sail & Explore was founded in 2017 by scientist Dr. Roman Lehner and Philipp Häfelfinger, a seasoned sailor with over 30 years’ experience. The initial aim of Sail & Explore was to close the data gap regarding missing microplastic data points to gain a better understanding of the type, amount and composition of plastics found as well as its influence on the animal world in our oceans. In addition, the expeditions also allow to raise awareness by giving non-scientist the opportunity to be part of a scientific project and learn from the experts. So pretty much like Oceaneye indeed.
Roman Lehner, Director of Sail & Explore, is convinced that “together with Oceaneye, we can reach, sensitise and inform a broader population to the critical problem of global plastic pollution with our citizen science initiatives, while collecting and analysing data for a solid scientific characterisation of the increasing lake and ocean plastic contamination.”
For Pascal Hagmann, founder and Director of Oceaneye, this partnership is a natural move. “In our logic of sharing, we are very happy to start our collaboration with Sail and Explore. This organisation is more than just a sailing partner. Indeed, it pursues similar objectives to ours (supporting science and contributing to raising awareness on the topic of plastic pollution of waters) with a complementary approach, as its activities – besides field studies – are mainly in Eastern Switzerland. Its research projects are also more oriented towards specific studies carried out with universities, whereas Oceaneye focuses mainly on the production and distribution of data, particularly to international organisations. This collaboration will allow us to better share our skills and data via our respective networks to improve the impact of our activities.”
No doubt that such favourable winds right from the beginning will take both associations very far.