Secchi Disk Project

Things to Do

Secchi Disk Project

You Can Help Monitor the Ocean's Health

by Richard Kirby, project leader

How would you like to help create a unique and valuable database of the Ocean's Biology?

This is something you can do while cruising anywhere. Its free, takes almost no time, and would be a huge help to marine scientists.

While we are achieving global awareness and getting good response from cruisers,
I'm sure there are still a lot of you who don't yet know about the project.

I am a plankton scientist and the project leader for the Secchi Disk Project and the Secchi App; a global study of the marine phytoplankton by seafarers.

Background Information
In 2011, a study by a group of Canadian marine scientists reported that the phytoplankton in the oceans had declined by 40% since the 1950s. Their study provoked controversy among marine scientists; some thought they saw contrary results.

Part of the controversy stems from a lack of data about the marine phytoplankton. This is due to the fact that the oceans are vast, and there aren't many scientists to cover them. However, because of the important role played by the phytoplankton in underpinning the whole marine food chain, we need to know if, how, and why they are changing. This is where you can help.

All You Need is a Smart Phone
To take part, all you need a smart phone that can receive a GPS signal. Download the free Secchi App and make a Secchi Disk, which is simple to make with things you already have onboard. That's it.
You don't even need a network signal for the Secchi App to work. It will store the data you collect until you get back to shore.

A Secchi disk is a simple white disk of 30cm diameter. When tied to a tape measure and lowered into the water, the depth at which the disk just disappears from sight – is called the Secchi Depth. The quicker the disk disappears from sight, the more phytoplankton there is in the water column. Your collected data will become part of the overall database. Find out more at the project's website and download the Secchi App from there. It's available for iOS and Android.

Many of the datasets scientists use today are 'citizen science' studies that began a few decades ago. Often we look back and wish - "if only we had started measuring 'x' ten years ago". There's no time like the present to start something for the future. The Secchi App is a Citizen Science project, that encourages data collection and makes data submission simple and personally rewarding. So, please join in.   Thank you for your interest.

Richard Kirby, Plymouth University,   Follow on Twitter
Ocean Drifters from Plymouth University on Vimeo.