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80Isea&iISPRING-SUMMER 2010How did 4myPlanet come about?I've always been passionate and curious about the ocean, andthis led to interesting discussions with researchers on marinebiology, including the SeaKeepers Society, and scientists inMonaco and France. I was also inspired by reports of HSHPrince Albert II of Monaco's explorations to the North Pole, andby my own visits to the laboratories of the OceanographicMuseum and the Institute of Atomic Energy in Monaco.I realised how important it is to study the oceans, and decidedto combine my transoceanic voyages with contributions toscientific research.Looking at the results from the initial data collected, whatconclusions can be drawn?Most of the planet is covered with water, and therefore theoceans are a prime factor when considering the environmentand change. Until recently, most observations have focusedon the atmosphere, with data recordings being taken fromweather stations based ashore. Ocean studies have, in themain, concentrated on specific areas, be it geographically orecologically, but in order to have a better understanding weneed permanent, global data. Since setting off on my journeyaround the world on 11 January, 4myplanet has collectedover 170,000 measurements and transmitted these to theinternational ocean observatories Coriolis and the GlobalOcean Surface Underway Data Pilot Project (GOSUD). Themeasurements are also used to benchmark data from theEuropean satellite Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS). Ihave also collected 15 water samples for analysis of chlorophylland iodine levels. We've already noticed huge damage to theocean, notably the waters south of Spain, where the intensetraffic of cargo ships results in huge hydrocarbon pollution andan amazing amount of waste. Do you think that all the yachts that take part in the VendéeGlobe Challenge will carry a data collection kit for4myplanet research?It is essential that there are as many yachts as possiblecollectingdata regularly. There are many ways to get involved.For example, a yacht can be equipped with a thermosalinograph- as I have done on my yacht.The Vendée Globe course is a rare opportunity for valuabledata collection from the southern seas. We need dedicatedteams for the project as each navigator must be motivated togather data with a scientific approach. They need to be advisedby researchers, and must work with a research managementteam capable of analysing and distributing the data rigorously.Of course, if all the participants of the Vendée Globe Challengeget involved with the 4myplanet initiative it would be fantastic.Has your initiative already attracted support?We are trying to show yacht owners that if a small femalesolo navigator can do this on an 18m (60') sailing yacht, thenanyone on a yacht can do it. A couple of captains have confirmedthat they will equip their yachts with the SeaKeepers system,so that's a good start.What do you foresee happening to the world's oceans if wecontinue as we are? Objectively, and without being too alarming, I'm scared for thefuture of our oceans. I'm worried that the situation will turn socatastrophic that by the time the necessary actions are finallyundertaken it may be too late. The examples are many, fromhydrocarbon pollution to the radioactive waste that is burieddeep in the Atlantic Ocean - it may well be in concrete containers,but no one knows how long they will last. It feels like our oceansare becoming the waste bin of our world at a time when weshould concentrate on sustainable development to ensure thatall marine species will survive. I hope that the key decision-makers around the world will wake up before it is too late. n"We are delighted to be supporting Alexia's courageous voyage to bring attention to the crisis of the seas and to increase scientific understanding of their many challenges. We wishher Godspeed, and are proud she is flying the SeaKeeper burgee on her remarkable voyage."Jim Gilbert, Board President of SeaKeepers & Co-Founder of Showboats InternationalSole inspirationsea&ichats to 4myplanet project founder andteam leader Alexia Barrier about her environmentalinitiatives as she crosses the equatorPhotography: Gilles Martin Raget

furtherafieldWILDISLESWith our global radar very much focusedon the conservation and protection ofour planet, a visit to the Galapagosislands has never been more relevant.A pocket of the world that time forgot, it offers a uniqueopportunity to step back to a world as it may have been beforehumans walked the earth. It is also an eye-popping exampleof how species co-exist with their environment, and howchanges to our natural world impact on them. A journey through the Galapagos is a remarkable experiencefor anyone, but for nature-lovers it is pure catnip. Prepare toencounter landscapes of wild mangroves, volcanic summits,inland lagoons, cliffs and coasts, and spend days exploringpirate hideouts, spotting dolphins, whales, penguins and gianttortoises, and snorkelling coral reefs amid sea lions, seals andturtles. The islands deliver a revelation every hour, and they'reparticularly excellent for families as children are knocked outby the opportunity to interact with real-life furry favouritesgalapagosSPRING-SUMMER 2010I sea&iI81?The Galapagos is an eco haven off the coast of South America - a place where polar penguins strut alongside tropical flamingos, and whales share waves with giant turtles. Visit the islands and stepashore for the ultimate nature high ByKate Rigby