This year we are inviting experts from different fields; plastic science, whale and bird scientists to collect data about Icelandic ocean health and develop together a field course for students next year 2020. The aim of the trip is to better understand the issues and threats in Icelandic waters and support the scientific research. We want to bring inspiration to people, getting them involved with the traditions of the sailing world, encouraging them to reconnect with the natural elements, the wind and the oceans. Sail training and team work are also highlights of the experience.
We believe that we account with the perfect platform and scenario for motivating experienced people as well as young generations, learn from each other and from the seas, to strengthen links between organizations and conservation leaders for a healthy Ocean.
The exact plan and route will depend on weather conditions but we are sure that it will be full of adventures for everyone.
We will conduct regular plastic surveys using a manta trawl. We will look in to plastic presence on bird nesting areas and on fish stomachs. We will collect whale and bird visual observations, use professional hydrophones to record whale vocalizations and ocean sounds, test acoustic devices (pingers) against cetacean’s entanglements and if possible we are ready to take whale skin biopsies and feces samples!
We will look for whales and birds in Breiðafjörður, and sail into the remote Westfjords , some of the best hot spots for marine life in April. We aim high and mainly under Opal’s main engine (the sails) we will reach the magnificent Arctic Circle (66ºNorth) in Grimsey Island. Here, in the northernmost inhabited Icelandic territory, we want to give space and time to develop a dialog between the oceans and the humans. We will stand for the Voices of the Sea and work together on building up solutions to the ocean problems.
Looking for the Northern Right Whale!
On top of this! During our voyage we will keep a constant eye in the water to sear for the highly endangered Northern Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis). These magnificent creatures disappeared from Icelandic waters due to a massive hunting period during II century. After all these years with no signs of population recovery, just last year, July 2018, one individual was spotted near Reykjavík, Iceland!
This exciting project will be monitored under close supervision and in collaboration with Joe Roman, whale scientist and expert on the matter.