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The 2021 UK Voyage

Building on the highly successful 2020 UK Voyage, the DARWIN200 team undertook a bigger and better test voyage to further prepare for our upcoming 2023-2026 DARWIN200 Global Voyage.

Over 13 weeks, 90 trainee sailors and young scientists joined our ship at different points of the journey, to undertake research projects studying the concentrations of plastic waste in UK waters, as well as surveying seabirds and marine megafauna – see result maps and videos below!

Young Scientists & Research Projects

The 13-week DARWIN200 2021 UK Voyage involved 90 trainee sailors and young scientists from six countries (many from underprivileged backgrounds, invited to take part as part of an upskilling initiative).

The young scientists undertook three main surveys to assess the state of marine ecosystems around the United Kingdom:

UK-Wide Plastics Survey: in partnership with CitytoSea, the DARWIN200 young scientists undertook a detailed survey of floating macroplastics, microplastics suspended in the water column, and washed ashore beach plastics. The DARWIN200 dive team collected samples of seabed sediment at locations around the UK which are currently being analysed for their plastic content! The data collected is forming the basis of several academic studies and will be contributed to national surveys including the Marine Conservation Society.

UK-Wide Marine Megafauna Survey: the DARWIN200 young scientists undertook continual observations of marine megafauna, including whales, dolphins, porpoises, basking sharks, sunfish and bluefin tuna around the UK! The prevalence and behaviour of each species was recorded, and the resulting data sets were contributed to UK conservation censuses to build a high resolution picture of the current distribution and prevalence of these species in UK waters.

UK-Wide Seabird Survey: the DARWIN200 young scientists undertook seabird counts (both in terms of species and prevalence). Records were plotted and contributed to conservation databases to assess the state of the UK’s seabird populations and ongoing population changes.

In addition to supporting various studies, publications and conservation databases, the findings of the above three surveys resulted in the following three summary results maps:

Data Maps

UK-Wide Plastics Survey Results Map


UK-Wide Marine Megafauna Survey Results Map


UK-Wide Seabirds Survey Results Map

Please note the above maps are all examples, maps showing the live data will be displayed here soon.

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