Rachelle was the invited evening speaker at the Oxford Nanopore Community Meeting the Manhattan Pavilion. As this is a meeting of some very brilliant scientists, she was tasked with the job of lightening the mood during drinks hour and right before dinner. She presented the real heart of our program by talking about the beauty of our oceans and the animals that live in it. She presented an famous inspirational image by National Geographic Explorer Brian Skerry of a Southern Right Whale meeting a Scuba diver eye-for-eye.
She then gave the same talk at Oxford Nanopore HQ in Oxford, UK, a few weeks later. She couldn’t help but add in a short 30 second clip of a near knockdown she and captain Federico struggled with last year on their UNESCO sponsored Indian Ocean Expedition passage from Chagos Archipelago to La Reunion. No matter what you’re talking about, there’s always room for a little excitement!
We’re excited to announce our partnership with the clever folks over at Oxford Nanopore Technologies, who are rolling out the world’s first ever pocket sized DNA sequencer. This will usher in a new chapter in the world of real time data analysis. It will also change the face of field work as we’re all used to it: cumbersome sample preservation, tedious sample shipping and long wait times to a final result.
During our Indian Ocean Expedition, and coupled with the MinION, we will be able to produce the first ever real time microbiome analysis across the entire Indian Ocean. In short, we will be able to tell if the building blocks to ocean health and the food web is healthy or not. The only limiting factor now? No internet to share our results!
By democratizing sequencing, scientists and researchers are no longer limited to huge expensive equipment to run their experiments or field samples. MinION has already been sent to rainforests, Guinea and is set to take a flight on the International Space Station. Now, its off to the open ocean.
Welcome to another installment of Meet The Explorers. Today, we meet Eric Siegel who is a physical oceanographer and long time sailor. We’re excited to welcome our first family of citizen oceanographers!
Tell us about your intended cruising route and how long will you be at sea?
We are planning to depart Inverness, Scotland in July and make our way down the very scenic west coast of Scotland, Wales and England. We will cross the Bay of Biscay and enjoy a month in Spain and Portugal, before crossing to the Canary Islands and then the Cape Verde Islands. We hope to spend about a month exploring each of these island groups. In early November we plan to depart the Cape Verde islands and sail 2000 miles to Barbados. The schedule should allow us to arrive in Barbados in time to enjoy the 50th anniversary of Barbados’ independence. After enjoying the remainder of the winter and spring months exploring the Caribbean, we will likely start making our way north towards life in Canada.
Who will you have on board?
Laridae will be crewed by ourselves (Eric & Angela) along with our three kids. When we depart, the kids will be 4, 9 and 11 years old. We may also have some friends join us for the longer passages as crew to help with the sailing and looking after the kids.
Cruising with young children poses an extra challenge. Have they been to sea before and do you prepare any differently?
Cruising with kids is a different experience than sailing with only adults on board. There are extra rewards that come with extra challenges. The challenges are keeping the kids safe and keeping them occupied. We have spent a lot of time trying to teach them how to be safe onboard (wearing their lifejackets, clipping in their harnesses, not touching lines under heavy loads, holding on everywhere, etc.). Keeping them occupied may be more challenging than keeping them safe! Our youngest can spend hours cutting, drawing, and making up stories. Our eldest will devour a new book each day. Our middle child will want to spend a lot of time steering and fishing. We will be home-schooling all of the kids, so they will have plenty of reading, writing, and projects to keep them occupied (and us as well!). The kids have not done any overnight passage yet, but they have done many long day-trips. So far, their memorable accomplishments include crossing the Irish Sea, catching Mackerel in the River Clyde, operating locks in the Crinan and Caledonian Canals, swimming in Loch Ness, and seeing dolphins in the Moray Firth.
In addition to collecting samples for us, will you be doing any other science while on board?
We both studied oceanography in college and Eric has worked in the field of marine technology and oceanographic instrumentation. In addition to collecting samples for Indigo V Expeditions, we plan to do a few fun projects to study oceanography and use technology in interesting ways. We will carry a CTD with us. We will use it to profile the water layers in many harbours as well as across the ocean. We can also use the pressure sensor on the CTD to measure the astronomical tides and local seiches in the various anchorages. We plan to bring a sensitive hydrophone that will allow us to listen for whales, dolphins, and other natural and man-made sounds in the ocean. Finally, we will bring an Iridium drifter with us to deploy mid-Atlantic and then track its position to study the ocean currents.
What inspired your voyage?
We first discovered the joys of long distance voyaging when we took a short break from work (before kids!) and sailed our 37 ft boat from Seattle to New Zealand, through Mexico and the tropical Pacific islands. During that trip, we became friends with a lot of sailing families with young children and admired how the travels were creating amazing memories for the children and priceless experiences for the family. Now, fifteen years and three wonderful children later, we are excited to share our love of sailing, the ocean, and visiting new cultures with our children. We will be sharing our travels and oceanography projects with friends and family on our website: www.laridae.ca
Lowly bacteria finally gets the recognition they deserve! Just last month, The White House Office of Science and Technology unveiled The National Microbiome Initiative, which aims to further advance microbiome science in all its varied forms.
Since 2012-2014 over $922 million was invested into microbiome science, with another $121 million earmarked for 2016-2017, with an additional $400 million from outside stakeholders. We contributed to the Fact Sheet, committing ourselves to expanding our focus to viromes and how plastic is affecting the microscopic makeup of our oceans.
Rachelle Jensen gave a talk at the three hour event, illustrating the power of putting science into the hands of everyday citizens. Other presenters and panelists included Congresswoman Slaughter, Dr Craig Venter, directors of the NIH, DOE, NSF, US Dept of Agriculture and President Obama’s Scientific right hand man Dr John Holdren.
Microbiome research is very much in its infancy, but we’re finally beginning to understand the positive role microbes play in human health, ecosystem health, bio remediation and even cancer treatment. We’re excited to see so much forward movement in this field and we’re even more excited that our fellow sailors are a part of it! Watch Rachelle’s speech below: