A few words about the science on this trip by Vassili
When the research vessel Song of the Whale is sailing between research projects we use the opportunity to collect data. This time it is an extremely long way, from South Georgia in the Antarctic to Portugal. It is a massive transect, south to north – for the sailors, about 100 degrees of latitude in total. It is a unique opportunity to collect information and make comparisons as we travel back towards Europe. We are very much off the beaten track and once offshore, weve seen few ships of any kind: we are probably the first whale research vessel to make this trip and almost certainly this is the first open ocean plastics survey from the South Atlantic to the North Atlantic. Our whale research is visual and acoustic. When conditions permit, we maintain a watch on the A frame at the stern of the boat and record all sightings. We are also towing a hydrophone to monitor the sounds that the various species of whale and dolphins make. The plastics survey is conducted using a manta trawl which we also tow behind us for 30 minutes at a time. Lastly, we trialling a new technique to collect DNA from sea water, known as environmental DNA, or eDNA. We collect samples at regular intervals and when we see whales or dolphins. More on each of these studies in later blogs.

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