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The UK ocean health check

In preparation for the 2021 Darwin200 global voyage, we have chartered tall ship Pelican of London to circumnavigate the UK with specialist environmental scientists onboard to mentor a group of young scientists. These scientists will conduct a programme of observations, experiments, discussions, and problem-solving sessions related to the health of the UK’s surrounding waters.

Stewart McPherson, Darwin200 project leader says:

“In preparation of the Darwin200 global voyage, we’re embarking on a UK-wide initiative that brings along ten new scientists to carry out a detailed science programme throughout the 59-day project. We’re planning on a host of activities such as live lectures, citizen science project updates, and we’ll be publishing updates from the science programme on a daily basis, where we hope to engage 1000s of young people across the UK to look at the health of the UK waters and better understand marine conservation”.


Darwin200 is delighted to partner with the University of Plymouth to lead the science programme onboard the UK voyage, which has been designed by DRs Charlotte Braungardt and Richard Sandford from the University’s School of Geography, Earth and Environment Science. Its aim is to develop a solid understanding of the marine environment through a broad range of activities, observations and experiments that explore the physical structure and chemical composition of the ocean, its ecology and life sustaining functions for the planet.

Dr Braungardt

“We’re extremely pleased to be involved in this project and mentoring the onboard scientists where we will encourage them to investigate the human impact on this awe-inspiring environment and discuss ways to address it on all levels, from individual behaviour to high-tech and global governance solutions.”

University of Plymouth

Ocean sightings on UK Voyage

Along our voyage so far we have spotted dolphins, BluefinTuna and other marine megafauna. We have plotted them in this map and have also updated citizen science projects with our sightings so take a look what’s surrounding us in the UK! Watch Episode 4 of our Darwin200 films which concentrates on this very subject.

Meet the science team


Dr Charlotte Braungardt

University of Plymouth Scientists/Leads

My first career move was inspired by the heady days of debate and action as the green movement took off during my teenage years in Germany. I studied to become an electronic engineer and worked with a Stirling engine for my dissertation. The company I started with invented and installed many of the processes that clear up domestic and industrial emissions. But industry was not was not ready for ‘green’ engineers yet, and I came to Britain to become an environmental scientist and connect with the ocean through sailing and watching its wildlife. As academic I focus my energy on research and education, specialising on aquatic pollution. In this position, feel privileged to work with young people by sharing my knowledge and experience, as well as learning from and with them. In this context, two areas are of particular importance to me: sustainable living and personal resilience that enables individuals to see opportunities in change and learn from dealing with uncertainty.


Naomi Timms

Young Scientist

My name is Naomi, I am 22 and originally from near Salisbury but currently living and studying in Plymouth. I have always had a love for animals, conservation and the environment which is why I studied Animal Management at college and am now studying Environmental Science at Plymouth University. Alongside my degree I am part of the university’s dance society and also take part in local bat monitoring programmes and as many beach cleans as possible! I am particularly interested in learning how anthropogenic sources such as climate change and plastic pollution affects/has affected species and what we can do to help. I am really looking forward to boarding the Pelican of London and meeting like-minded people and seeing what we learn along the way!


Aoibhinn Lynch

Young Scientist

Hello! My name is Aoibhinn and I’m a 19 year old Athletic Therapy and Training student. I grew up in the South of Ireland beside the sea so have been fascinated by the ocean and its inhabitants from a very young age. I became involved in Tall Ships sailing through the Irish Girl Guides and since then I’ve sailed as a mentor and watch leader on board TS Pelican of London and have been fortunate enough to become the chairperson of Sail Training Ireland’s Youth Council too. In the off chance I’m not on a Tall Ship, you can find me on smaller ships as a dinghy instructor!


Penelope Martinez Halmen

Young Scientist

My name is Penelope and I’m a 18 year old student from Stuttgart, Germany.
I’ve lived with my family in different countries (Argentina, Georgia and Germany) and experienced many different school systems. But in all of them I lacked the practical reference to what I had learned. What motivates me is, learning by doing and working with people in their own fields while seeing the world with my own eyes .
In winter 2018/19 I took part in the Ocean College program and spent 6 months on board of Pelican of London.
During this half year I’ve learned to love the sea and started to take an interest in our environment and conservation and the ocean with all its inhabitants.
I’m really excited about taking part as one of the young scientists and I’m looking forward to all the projects.


Natasha Pulley

Young Scientist

I’m from Cambridge and have degrees in English Literature and Creative Writing. I have written my first novel, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, which was published in 2015 and I’m busy working on my next one which concerns tall ships and the Napoleonic Wars. I have no science expertise and I am on this voyage to find out how someone with no background in conservation can help solve some of the environmental issues facing us now.


Abigail Cundell

Young Scientist

My name is Abigail and I was born in Portsmouth but have grown up in Britain’s Ocean City of Plymouth since the age of 2. I commence my final year of Environmental Science at the University of Plymouth in September 2020, where I’ll be focussing my dissertation on Seagrass populations in Plymouth Sound and Estuaries. I’ve always been very environmentally orientated and took a keen interest in Biology, Chemistry and Geography in school therefore, studying Environmental Science was a clear pathway for me. Alongside my studies I work as a part-time Barista and in my spare time I enjoy exploring Devon/Cornwall, embroidery and going out for coffee!


Shaolin O’ Cathasaigh

Young Scientist

My name is Shaolin, I’ll be 23 when on the voyage and I’m from Cork. I have a broad spectrum of interests that range from the practical side to the academical side. I haven’t made a final decision yet on what I am to do career wise but in the meantime have been trying to pick up as much life experience and skills as I can.

I have been sailing before on the Pelican 3 years previously around Ireland, it was a beautiful and enriching experience where I met many interesting people and worked as a team trying to sail the Irish Sea. I do rowing at home where annually I take part in the Ocean to City race, a race in which many different nations take part in. Although I do not yet know what I want to do in University I have ideas of what my interests are, such as history, environmental sciences and teaching. So far my further education has mostly been past times such as Acting and this year will be Horticulture as these are life skills I believe I’ll want for life. Confidence in the voice and presence with acting and the ability to forage and grow with Horticulture.

I really do look forward to this trip and meeting the difference people on it. The sights are to be amazing and getting a better insight into environmental sciences we shall be practicing aboard is an experience worth having.


Joe Ellison

Young Scientist

I’m Joe, 22-years old from Chester and a recent graduate of marine biology BSc (Hons) from Plymouth University. My passion for the natural world has always existed spurred on through childhood trips to Chester Zoo and the natural history museum in London. While many favoured cartoons growing up, I was engrossed in wildlife documentaries and books aspiring to be the next Steve Irwin, catching frogs in my back garden. My passion for conservation and marine biology really took off with the original blue planet series, this opened my eyes to the underwater world, combined with deep sea fishing trips and hands on experience with fish and shark tagging drove me to pursue my dream of becoming a marine biologist.

I am fortunate enough to have worked on several conservation projects both marine and terrestrial and have implemented marine biological skills in Europe and the UK. I am incredibly interested in the future sustainability of our oceans and marine food production in particular, having focused much of my education towards fisheries and aquaculture. Recently I have been involved in the conservation of the European sea bass having completed my dissertation assessing their growth rates throughout the UK, in an attempt to better understand and protect this vulnerable species.

UK voyage itinerary

Meet at 12:00 noon in Sharpness Docks, Gloucester, England for 36 hours of training.
Training day on Pelican in Sharpness Docks.
Depart Sharpness Docks and arrive at Folkestone. These days sailing will be a gentle start to ‘learn the ropes’.
Depart Folkestone, arrive Southampton.
Darwin200 promotional day in Southampton docks. Voyage crew can rest and relax.
Depart Southampton, arrive Plymouth.
Darwin200 promotional day in Plymouth docks. Voyage crew can rest and relax.
Depart Plymouth, arrive Falmouth.
Darwin200 promotional day in Falmouth docks. Voyage crew can rest and relax.
Sail to Scilly Islands. Afternoon ashore exploring Scilly Islands.
Depart Scilly Islands, arrive at Cardiff.
Darwin200 promotional day in Cardiff docks. Voyage crew can rest and relax
Depart Cardiff, arrive Liverpool.
Darwin200 promotional day in Liverpool docks. Voyage crew can rest and relax.
Depart Liverpool, arrive Belfast. Anyone coming for first half of voyage only disembarks here. Anyone coming for second half of voyage only, joins Pelican here.
NOTE: depending upon the final numbers of people coming for second half only, participants coming for the second half only may be required to arrive in Liverpool 36 hours earlier for training.
Darwin200 promotional day in Belfast docks. Voyage crew can rest and relax.
Depart Belfast, arrive Glasgow.
Darwin200 promotional day in Glasgow docks. Voyage crew can rest and relax.
Depart Glasgow, arrive at the Hebrides.
Two days ashore exploring various islands of the Hebrides.
Depart Hebrides, arrive to St Kilda.
Full day exploring the ‘lost’ island of St Kilda (ruined stone villages, bird colonies and epic landscapes).
Depart St Kilda, arrive Orkney Islands.
Full day exploring Orkney Islands.
Depart Orkney Islands, arrive at Shetland Islands.
Full day exploring Shetland Islands.
Depart Shetland Islands, arrive at Edinburgh.
Darwin200 promotional day in Glasgow docks. Voyage crew can rest and relax.
Depart Glasgow, arrive London.
Voyage crew departs Pelican in London.