Nautical Miles: From Darwin to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The diaries from sea voyages are thrilling, especially those that study marine biology.  From the first entry setting down the base coordinates to later entries listing nautical miles traveled. Although they take place almost two hundred years apart,  two sea voyages  are available online this week, Darwin’s Beagle Library  from Darwin’s voyage (1831) and Clean Our Oceans Refuge Coalition (COORC)  Alguita Expedition to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (2014).

The history of marine biology is the history of developing technology to meet the challenges of marine taxonomy and long days at sea. Despite the technological advances used on both voyages, sea travel is never easy. The Darwin Online project is hosted by the Department of Biological Sciences at the National University of SingaporeAccording to Darwin Online, “there was no sudden discovery on the Galapagos sparked by the finches as popular legend has it. Instead he intensively studied the geology, animals, plants and peoples of the lands visited.”  Darwin’s reference material was the four hundred book reference library on ship. Of these books, 36% are about previous travel/voyages and 7% are atlases/nautical maps, many of which are still unidentified. 

The Clean Our Oceans Refuge Coalition, continues the study of marine biology by researching a modern phenomena, understanding the effects of plastic debris on marine life, ocean cycles, ocean chemical composition, and marine conservation efforts.  The Alguita Expedition on their blog and Facebook page, follows their crews efforts to research and clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Day 17 has the line, “We have now been on the move for 2 days to find calmer weather as it got to rough to even work our research area and do trawls.” How many scientists doing field work 200 years ago and today can relate.

The COORC is looking for researchers to assist them in their research, including geospatial analysts, oceanographers, and others with applied ocean research interests.






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