Goal 3: Solve


In continuation of Charles Darwin’s work aboard HMS Beagle, the DARWIN200 ship offers a unique platform to support research into many of the world’s most critical environmental problems. We are embarking on eight engaging research projects, featuring real-time data feeds, informative results presentations, interactive online lectures, and insightful interviews with the talented teams of researchers driving each initiative. Four research projects will be undertaken from our ship while it is sailing, the other four will be undertaken in the ports that we visit.

Understanding the Pulse of the Planet

Through these research projects, we aim to captivate global audiences, particularly students, enabling the public to delve into and gain deeper insights into some of the world’s most critical environmental challenges.

With a focus on practical solutions, each project will delve into actionable measures and ways in which we can all play a role in addressing these issues, working together to build a more promising and sustainable future.

Study 1: Temperature Data

Throughout the Darwin200 Global Voyage we will be recording air and sea temperature data, which will be uploaded by satellite and displayed on the voyage map on our website.

In collaboration with our partners we will compare this data with information from past data sets that were recorded during earlier voyages. You help analyse the results!

Study 2: Wildlife Survey

A systematic study of seabirds, cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises), pinnipeds (seals and sea lions) and other megafauna (basking sharks, whale sharks, sunfish, rays etc.) will be undertaken during the DARWIN200 Global Voyage.

Our data will be important information to understanding the movement of endangered species in sectors of the Atlantic and Pacific.

Study 3: Microplastics

The DARWIN200 team will systematically trawl for plastic particles in ocean waters worldwide. Each water sample will be filtered and concentrations of micro-plastics then studied, classified and recorded. Live interactive maps will reveal concentrations of plastic pollution in real time along our voyage route. Data interpretation lectures will be beamed from our ship at key ports.

Study 4: Ballooning Spiders

Charles Darwin noted the phenomenon of “ballooning spiders” that release strands of silk to be lifted into the atmosphere, often carried hundreds of kilometres out to sea. Darwin found spiders that landed on HMS Beagle far from land.

We will continue his work and undertake a systematic survey for ballooning spiders throughout our global voyage.

Study 5: Wildlife Transects

We will undertake biodiversity transects in primary, secondary, severely degraded rainforest, as well as established, replanted forest. This will explore the impacts of deforestation by tracking the diversity of communities of key organisms (plants, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals). We hope to also quantify the recovery of biodiversity in reforested habitat.

Live lectures, films, photos, reports and interviews will be beamed from each study site.

Study 6: Coral Transects

When in tropical waters, we will undertake transects to investigate the health of coral reefs at key locations. We will survey for coral coverage, bleaching, eutrophication, sedimentation, introduction of non-native species, diseases and physical damage.

Solutions to saving coral will be explored and broadcasted publicly as we look at the impacts coral reefs have sustained over recent decades. Additionally, we have organised a series of lectures concerning coral health.

Study 7: Pollution Solutions

At key locations, we will investigate solutions to pollution-related problems, either in practical application of existing technology, or the development or testing of new ideas, concepts or prototypes. Example projects include ocean clean-up arrays (which collect floating plastic waste using solar power) and pollution-eating ‘row-bots’ (which use fuel cells to consume oil waste).

We will also investigate the impacts pollution exerts on ecosystems, and recovery processes that take place.

Study 8: Chasing Canoe Bugs

This study will explore littoral and cave habitats examined in Darwin’s writings. We aim to confirm the presence of cave-restricted relict arthropod species on Rapa Nui and discover new relict species on Pitcairn and Mangareva islands. In these habitats, we’ll search for species linked to the “Canoe Bug Hypothesis”—which posits the ancient Polynesians inadvertently transported arthropods with transplanted “canoe plants.”

Objectives include confirming the persistence of presumed canoe bugs (including Stylonisus manuvaka) on Rapa Nui, potentially extending the range of known Rapa Nui relict species to other islands, and discovering potential canoe bugs on Pitcairn and Mangareva. We will also sample the open ocean as we sail between islands to collect “rafting” terrestrial arthropod species.

Study 8: Miller-Urey

During the last months of the Global Voyage, we will run the famous Miller-Urey experiment, which replicates the early environment on Earth to create amino acids (the building blocks of life) out of a soup of simple elements and compounds.

The results will be revealed publicly at the concluding award ceremony in London in 2026 during a special lecture event exploring the evolutionary origins of Life on Earth.

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