Science on board the Toftevaag

As we sail through the blue Mediterranean, we carry out scientific surveys with clearcut objectives. 

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SURVEY OBJECTIVES

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Mapping the abundance and distribution of cetaceans, seabirds and marine turtles

We use data modelling with visual surveys, satellite tracking and acoustic surveys to produce a geographic information system that will provide:

-       the foundation for the design of marine protected areas

-       trends in conservation status of animals and usage of different sites

-       a solid foundation for the establishment of management measures

 

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Identifying risk factors of bycatch in fisheries

We study the way sea turtles and cetaceans use their underwater habitat and investigate their behaviour on the surface. Using this data, we can identify the factors that lead to bycatch and entanglement in floating debris and fishing gear. We can then produce a series of recommendations and technologies to help fishermen reduce the risk of bycatch.

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Modelling and predicting risk to fragile species 

Our “turtle oceanographer” program equips sea turtles with satellite tags. As they roam the open ocean, they feed back data in real time, giving us access to their secret underwater lives. This process, where information is transmitted wirelessly to a source, is known as telemetry, with the data we can develop mathematical models to predict their depth and movements. Once again, the models can be used to reduce the high risks of bycatch, entanglement, ship strike and more.These models will then be used to supply society and key sectors with tools for mitigating risk. We combine this data with the oceanographic information from SOCIB to produce maps that enhance the efficacy of cleanup activities for fishing gear.

 

 

Studying the effects of marine litter, noise, toxic pollution and other stresses on marine life

Our surveys provide an ideal platform to conduct studies on animal health and welfare. We collaborate with teams of veterinarians from the Oceanogràfic of Valencia, looking at the effects of the ingestion of toxic substances and marine litter (micro and macro plastics) and stress produced by shipping, man-made noise and fishing.

Documenting the beauty and the challenges of the open ocean.

Our surveys expose us to awe-inspiring experiences- working out in the deep blue. However, we also witness some of the major threats to the ocean ecosystem. Photography and videos are key tools to help raise awareness about these environmental issues and to supplement the educational activities we develop when we’re back in port.

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Getting the data out there!

After the excitement and adventure of data collection out at sea, comes the even harder part. We carry out data analysis, reporting, presenting, publishing, training and lobbying, to make sure our proposed management measures are implemented. Our main objectives are:

·       Design new marine protected areas (MPAs) and a new offshore National Park of over 100.000 Hectares

·       Assist in the management of already established MPAs

·       Reduce the risk of vessel strikes

·       Reduce the risk of noise pollution

·       Reduce negative interactions between fisheries and endangered species