Secchi Disk: Now the World’s largest marine citizen science study of plankton
The Secchi Disk study, which was begun in 2013, is run by The Secchi Disk Foundation charity and is the world’s biggest citizen science study of marine phytoplankton with data collected by the seafarers from all around the world.
Published 6 years ago, updated 4 years ago
Created in 2013 by a team of scientists from Plymouth University, UK, the Secchi Disk study has resulted in thousands of seafarers around the world contributing to what now has become the largest global study of plankton.
And you too can take part.
The Phytoplankton are the plant-like microalgae that form the base of the marine food chain. Research published in 2010 by three Canadian scientists suggested that globally, the phytoplankton had declined by 40% over the last 50 years due to the sea surface warming as a result of current climate changes.
Other, more recent studies have also suggested that the phytoplankton are changing in their abundance around the world. Since the phytoplankton begin the marine food chain, their abundance determines the abundance of the other life in the sea, from fish and crabs to whales and polar bears, and also to the seabirds in the sky.
Consequently, it is very important to understand how and why the phytoplankton are changing.
However, the ocean habitat of the phytoplankton is vast and there are not that many scientists to study them, and this is where any seafarer can help by becoming citizen scientists and taking part in the Secchi Disk study.
The Secchi Disk study combines a tried and tested piece of equipment called a Secchi Disk with a free smartphone app called Secchi.
The first Secchi Disk ambassador seafarer
Susi Goodall, the only female entrant in the 2018 Golden Globe, solo, non-stop, round-the-world yacht race, has teamed up with the Secchi Disk study to become its seafaring ambassador.
Like so many sailors who love the ocean, Susie has a keen interest in helping to conserve the marine environment and said about becoming a Secchi Disk Ambassador “I’m very excited to become an ambassador of this amazing project, to collect some data, and spread the word amongst other sailors about the help that we can give scientists in understanding the sea’s biology.”
Dr. Richard Kirby the project leader said “It’s fantastic to have Susie as a project ambassador. Susie is inspirational and her enthusiasm and love for the marine environment are second to none”
Susie’s yacht for the Golden Globe race is a Rustler 36 called Ariadne and prior to the race Ariadne’s hull is going to be carrying the Secchi Disk project logo and website address to promote the citizen science phytoplankton study. This winter Susie and Ariadne will be crossing the Atlantic and taking Secchi Depth readings along the way, so keep a watchful eye and say hello if you see them berthed in a marina.
Even better, Susie encourages you to make your own Secchi Disk, download the Secchi app, and take part in the study yourself and become seafaring citizen scientists like her. You can find full details on how to do so in the Secchi app and on the project website http://www.secchidisk.org.
Susie says “The oceans are a remarkable place, our second home, so what better way to leave a legacy for the oceans than collecting some data on the phytoplankton to help understand the sea better; why not take part?”