The DISCOVERY Yacht Program is comprised of scientist-led expeditions, citizen science, and educational outreach events. SeaKeepers collaborates with numerous organizations, academic institutions, and government agencies in order to accomplish its DISCOVERY Yacht missions. SeaKeepers staff work closely with yacht owners and crew to coordinate research and outreach activities that reflect each yacht owner’s ocean-related interests.
The degree of participation can vary from a 10-minute instrument deployment while en route to your next port to an afternoon outreach trip with children to week-long expeditions with a team of expert researchers. Vessel owners who generously donate time on their yachts to the SeaKeepers DISCOVERY Yacht Program may qualify for tax benefits to the extent of the law and will be honored at SeaKeepers events, featured on the SeaKeepers website, and recognized for their research and conservation efforts in the SeaKeepers newsletter.
Scientific expeditions provide yacht owners, guests, and crew the opportunity to participate in ongoing research while engaging with influential, well-known marine scientists. The largest expense, and often limiting factor, in ocean research is access to an at-sea research platform. Using member yachts, The International SeaKeepers Society works with experts in the marine science and oceanography fields to promote and facilitate groundbreaking research. Each scientific expedition is unique and is organized with both the science and yacht in mind.
Citizen science expeditions offer an opportunity for vessel owners to get involved in smaller-scale marine research initiatives. These expeditions do not require scientists to be aboard, but they permit vessel owners and crew to participate in ongoing research projects which depend on the participation of non-scientists within the community. One of our main projects supported by citizen scientists is the S.A.R.A.H. Initiative, a citizen science movement engaging the yachting community by providing comprehensive onboard kits to allow yacht crews and owners to conduct plankton survey-style transects to describe and quantify the presence of marine microplastics.
The International SeaKeepers Society works with a number of institutions, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and Argo to make ongoing oceanographic measurements. The collection of consistent and accurate data is extremely important for oil spill and marine debris accumulation analyses, weather and hurricane prediction models, quality control tests on satellites, and an overall better understanding of the marine environment. It is vital that the global instrument arrays are well distributed; private vessels can achieve this along routes that are not typically traveled. Currently, The International SeaKeepers Society employs the use of two types of devices — SeaKeepers Drifters and Argo Floats. These instruments have been designed to be scientifically productive and efficient while minimally invasive to the environment.ฒฝยฬ
SeaKeepers has also partnered with Florida International University’s Global FinPrint, a Paul G. Allen initiative, which is conducting the first global survey of shark and ray populations with the use of baited remote underwater video (BRUV) surveys. SeaKeepers vessels can support the effort by deploying the BRUV rigs at coral reef locations around the world. Each rig is minimally invasive and includes an underwater camera and attached bait box. Marine organisms are attracted to the bait and are then filmed. Researchers review the footage to obtain important information about the populations of these globally threatened species, in order to drive shark and ray conservation through research and policy. Areas of particular interest include the Dry Tortugas, Indonesia, and French Polynesia.