In The Media

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    NBC News – Average Joe as Oceanographer?

    UNITED STATES – Crowdsourcing Goes to Sea.

    The promise is awesome: thousands of sailors voluntarily collecting valuable ocean data as they cross the seas — work that would cost hundreds of millions of dollars if research vessels were used. But there’s peril: Can you trust the data?

    “There is always an element of ‘data unreliability’ when many different people are collecting data,” admits Federico Lauro, the leader behind the project to crowdsource sea science described this week in the journal PLOS Biology.

    But the team has an answer: Keep it simple. “Our approach is to use automated instrumentation that will self-collect samples and eliminate the ‘human error’ aspect,” says Lauro, a marine microbiology professor at Australia’s University of New South Wales.

     

    READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

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    The Globe And Mail – ‘DIY Science: Researchers Look To Sailors for Ocean Data’

    CANADA – With cutbacks in research dollars around the world, a group of international biologists believes it’s time for some DIY science.

    The team is developing simple observations and tests that recreational sailors and boaters can undertake on the high seas in the name of knowledge.

    “The amount of funding that is allocated by various international governments is always somewhat inadequate, given what oceanographers would like to do,” said Jay Cullen, of the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of Victoria.
    “So when we look at the number of private vessels … that do transverse some of these less accessible and less sampled areas of the ocean, we see an opportunity,” he said Tuesday. The ocean covers 70 per cent of the planet, and many scientists believe only a fraction of the marine life forms that call it home have been discovered.

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    Times Live – ‘Researchers Seek Citizen Oceanographers to Monitor High Seas’

    SOUTH AFRICA – Researchers Wednesday urged sailors to become “citizen oceanographers” and help scientists better understand some of the world’s wildest seas where ships and even planes disappear without trace.

    An Australian-led study said that despite technology such as GPS navigation and advanced research vessels with modern capabilities, much of the world’s oceans remains under-explored, with cost a key impediment to knowing more. “Notwithstanding satellite constellations, autonomous vehicles, and more than 300 research vessels worldwide, we lack fundamental data relating to our oceans,” said the study published in the journal PLOS Biology. “These missing data hamper our ability to make basic predictions about ocean weather, narrow the trajectories of floating objects, or estimate the impact of ocean acidification and other physical, biological, and chemical characteristics of the world’s oceans.”

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    ABC NEWS – ‘Sailors Called On For A New Wave of Citizen Science’

    CHRIS UHLMANN: This week in Hobart the $120 million research ship the RV Investigator made its long overdue arrival. With it come high hopes of a new era in Australian hi-tech marine research.

     

    But the cost of operating the ship doesn’t come cheap and funding expeditions is a constant struggle, which is why a group of international researchers have devised an innovative and cheap way to conduct critical ocean research.

     

    They hope to use recreational sailors as citizen scientists to help collect important data on marine microbiology around the world.

    Rachel Carbonell reports. RACHEL CARBONELL: Federico Lauro is a world class competitive sailor and marine microbiologist with the University of New South Wales. He combined those two passions when he led a group of international scientists for an experimental voyage through the Indian Ocean.

     

    FEDERICO LAURO: Well the study is based on an expedition that we recently did from Cape Town in South Africa to Singapore and it’s basically a test case and a proof of concept voyage to show that you can do a lot of oceanographic research on normal sailing vessels.

     

    RACHEL CARBONELL: What kind of boat did you sail in?

     

    FEDERICO LAURO: Well we sailed a Swan 61, which is actually a really nice boat, but everything we developed can be used on boats down to the size of about a 25-footer.

     

    RACHEL CARBONELL: He says the two month trip cost the same as two days on a purpose built research ship and proved that the world’s recreational yacht fleet is a significant untapped resource for marine citizen science.

     

    FEDERICO LAURO: We estimate that there’s probably about at least 1,000 fulltime sailors around the world and maybe even ten times that much. And so even if only 10 per cent were interested in participating, that would be a hundred vessels that would participate in this. You can imagine how big of a fleet and how many samples and how much ocean you could cover.
    RACHEL CARBONELL: The method used in the study would only suit research relatively close to the ocean surface. This expedition used specially designed technology to collect data on marine microbiology.

     

    Research Fellow from Macquarie University Martin Ostrowski was on the difficult first leg of the journey.

     

    MARTIN OSTROWSKI: It was tough, actually. We had quite a few teething problems to get the boat underway. And we’re also testing all the scientific equipment.
    At the same time we also had some pretty foul weather. It was quite uncomfortable. But we managed to get some science done and we managed to get all the equipment working and that really set things up for the next few legs.

    CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW

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    The New Age – ‘Citizen Oceanographers Wanted to Monitor High Seas’

    SOUTH AFRICA – Researchers Wednesday urged sailors to become “citizen oceanographers” and help scientists better understand some of the world’s wildest seas where ships and even planes disappear without trace.
    An Australian-led study said that despite technology such as GPS navigation and advanced research vessels with modern capabilities, much of the world’s oceans remains under-explored, with cost a key impediment to knowing more.

     

    “Notwithstanding satellite constellations, autonomous vehicles, and more than 300 research vessels worldwide, we lack fundamental data relating to our oceans,” said the study published in the journal PLOS Biology.

     

    “These missing data hamper our ability to make basic predictions about ocean weather, narrow the trajectories of floating objects, or estimate the impact of ocean acidification and other physical, biological, and chemical characteristics of the world’s oceans.”

    READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

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    ABC Radio Interview, Mornings with Tim Holt – ‘Sailor Scientist Makes it Home’

    AUSTRALIA – Last month we caught up with a scientist at the University of NSW who also happens to be a national sailing champion.

     

    Dr Federico Lauro was offered a yacht delivery from South Africa to Singapore and saw the chance of some ocean research as well as an enjoyable trip. The first leg of that journey is complete.
    On board were scientists from Australian and International Universities and it was not all smooth sailing. Dr Federico Lauro is back in Oz and preparing for the second leg of his journey.

    LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW HERE

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    SBS World News Australia – ‘Aussie Champ Sailor Leads Ocean Mission’

    AUSTRALIA – Sailor scientist Federico Lauro of the University of NSW is leading an international research team to collect microbes from the Indian Ocean.

    NSW scientist and sailing champion Federico Lauro will combine his skills when he leads an international research team on a microbe-collecting expedition in the Indian Ocean.

     

    The team of Australian, American and Danish researchers is setting sail this month on the 18-metre yacht Indigo V for a six-month, 10,000km journey from South Africa to Singapore, focusing on marine micro-organisms. The research will examine the impact of human activity on the ocean.

    READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

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    The Australian – ‘Aussie Champ Sailor Leads Ocean Mission’

    AUSTRALIA – Scientist and sailing champion Federico Lauro will combine his skills when he leads an international research team on a microbe-collecting expedition in the Indian Ocean.
    The team of Australian, American and Danish researchers is setting sail this month on the 18-metre yacht Indigo V for a six-month, 10,000km journey from South Africa to Singapore, focusing on marine micro-organisms. The research will examine the impact of human activity on the ocean. Italian-born Dr Lauro, from the University of NSW, won the Australian Championship in the Yngling sailing class in 2010 and came fourth in the world in that class last year.

     

    The expert in microbial genomics was also a national sailing champion twice in Italy in the 1990s. Dr Lauro says microbes in the ocean sustain life on Earth but the Indian Ocean is mostly unexplored and little is known about the microbes that live there.

     

    “Our expedition will sail from pristine waters into the busiest shipping lane on the planet to gauge the impact of human activity,” he said in a statement. “We will cross from cool, nutrient-rich waters to the warm, nutrient-poor waters to see how microbial diversity changes.”

     

    Dr. Lauro hopes the expedition will convince some of the thousands of yachties who sail around the world every year to take simple sampling gear with them to monitor the health of the oceans.

    READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

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    Sydney Morning Herald – ‘Anchors Away’

    AUSTRALIA – They are the tiniest of creatures but a team of international scientists plan to cross an ocean to study them.

     

    Federico Lauro, a champion Australian sailor and scientist, will lead a six-month expedition from South Africa to Singapore to investigate the Indian Ocean’s microscopic marine life. ”We’re crossing some of the most under-explored waters from a biological point of view on the planet,” said Dr Lauro, an expert in microbial genomics at the University of NSW.

     

    Marine microbes drive the ocean’s vital nutrient cycles that convert carbon from the atmosphere into oxygen and food for other marine creatures – a process known as photosynthesis.”They’re so tiny, but they are so important,” Dr Lauro said. ”You could eliminate all the higher animals like dolphins, whales, even coral and the ocean would still function,” he said.

    READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE   

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    ABC Radio Interview, Mornings with Tim Holt – ‘Sailor Scientists’

    AUSTRALIA – When University of NSW scientist, and national sailing champion, Dr Federico Lauro was offered a yacht delivery from South Africa to Singapore he saw the chance for combining the trip with some ocean research.
    His 10,000km trip will now include scientists from Australian and international Universities collecting microorganisms from remote areas of the Indian ocean. The expedition sets sail later this month. Dr Federico Lauro spoke to Mornings Tim Holt.
    LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW HERE 

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    UNSW Newsroom – ‘Sailing Into The Unknown’

    AUSTRALIA – UNSW scientist and national sailing champion, Dr Federico Lauro, is leading an intrepid scientific expedition that sets sail in May to sample the waters of the Indian Ocean.

     

     

    An international team of researchers on board a 61 foot (18 metre) yacht – Indigo V – will collect the microorganisms that inhabit the remote waters as they sail the 10,000 kilometres from South Africa to Singapore.

     

    “The microbes in the sea help sustain life on Earth, but the Indian Ocean is mostly unexplored and little is known about the microbes that live there.  Our expedition will sail from pristine waters into the busiest shipping lane on the planet, to gauge the impact of human activity. We will cross from cool, nutrient-rich waters to the warm, nutrient-poor waters to see how microbial diversity changes,” Dr Lauro said.

     

    The expedition team includes researchers from UNSW, Macquarie University and the University of Technology, Sydney, as well as from the Desert Research Institute and the University of California in the US, and Copenhagen University and the Technical University of Denmark.

    READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE: Sailing Into the Unknown

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