As the days grow colder and we creep towards the Winter Solstice, many are hunkering down, keeping cosy and planning for warmer days. However, in Aotearoa New Zealand there is a group of scientists, entrepreneurs, creatives and passionate ocean conservationists who have been silently preparing a two-week voyage into the big blue.
Setting sail on 13 June 2021, the Blue Cradle inaugural expedition will collect environmental samples along shipping routes and important marine habitats. Working in partnership with the Cawthron Institute, the Institute of Environmental Scientific Research (ESR), The University of Auckland and Algalita South Pacific, it will shed light on how microplastic pollution and non-indigenous species are impacting the area from Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland to Opua, Bay of Islands.
Scientists from the Aotearoa Impacts and Mitigation of Microplastics (AIM²) and The Marine Biosecurity Toolbox research projects will board SV Manawanui from Far Out Ocean Research Collective, taking in the biodiverse waters of the Hauraki Gulf and its many islands. They will head north to Whangārei and the coastal waters of greater Northland to assess the presence of biosecurity threats, and current micro (and macro) plastics pollution levels.
Following in the tail flukes of the tohorā (Southern right whale), the team will be sure to greet the residents whose home they will be entering with respect and reaffirmation of the need for data. Human activities are threatening the health of the world’s oceans and the wildlife within. To be able to recommend the right solutions the correct diagnosis is first required.
An unhealthy ocean not only affects its inhabitants but all life on earth: ecosystems, human health and the economy are all at risk. The crew will be stretching their sea legs on terra firma at Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland, Leigh and Whangārei to engage with the community and industry professionals conducting presentations, equipment demonstrations and educational workshops. A key aim of the expedition is to inspire government, tangata whenua, industry, the public and rangatahi (youth) to join together in ocean protection.
The expedition will also be captured on film to bring the experiences at sea to a wider audience (hopefully not the sea-sickness!) and share the stories of those working for a better ocean. The team can be joined on social media from the 13-27th of June for updates as the voyage progresses.
Blue Cradle is grateful to their partners ESR, The Cawthron Institute, The University of Auckland and Algalita South Pacific for collaborating on this expedition and to Far Out Ocean Research Collective for hosting the team aboard the SV Manawanui.
This expedition was made possible thanks to the New Zealand Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment Endeavour Research Programmes: AIM² [C03X1802] and Marine Biosecurity Toolbox [CAWX1904] programmes, and Blue Cradle sponsors Hansaworld Ltd, Greenhill Seltzers and M. Satya Kumar Dontamsetti.