This week, two dedicated Earthwatch ambassadors share their exciting ocean adventures. Record-breaking yachtsman Brian Thompson hopes to make history by becoming the first British sailor to win the most coveted prize in solo ocean racing, the Vendée Globe, a round-the-world, solo yacht race regarded as the ultimate challenge in ocean racing.
At 13.02pm on November 9th, Brian embarked on the biggest race of his life, following an emotional farewell to family and friends. Despite having broken 25 sailing records to date, he will be looking to rewrite the history books in his first solo circumnavigation. Held every four years, this is the 6th edition of The Vendée Globe, which has only ever been won by a French skipper. The best British performance in the race was in 2001, when Ellen MacArthur sailed to fame, with her incredible second place finish.
On November 9th, Brian not only began racing against the clock, but also recording sightings of marine life for Earthwatch as he skippers the high-performance Open 60-class yacht through 23,000 nautical miles - with the Earthwatch logo proudly displayed on the mast.
Brian says, "Having sailed since I was three years old, the oceans are close to my heart. As an Earthwatch Ambassador, I share their commitment to protecting the seas from the threat of pollution, over harvesting and climate change, and urge others to support their research and conservation efforts. It is important that we all play a part in protecting our precious oceans before it is too late."
You can follow Brian's journey every step of the way at Team Pindar. Earthwatch's Senior Research Director Nat Spring will be exploring our oceans in regular blogs alongside Brian's ‘live from the boat' updates.
Meanwhile, the new BBC eight part series Oceans, co-presented by Paul Rose, comes to our screens on 12th November. The series follows a team of scientists and explorers as they tackle some of the most challenging marine environments in the Arctic, the Red Sea, the Sea of Cortez and the Indian Ocean. Hear underwater interviews about the Oceans series with Paul Rose and watch clips from the programme at BBC Oceans.
Paul says, "It's a fact that we know more about the surface of Mars than we do of the Earth's oceans. Our oceans contain more than 99 per cent of the living space on Earth. And when we consider that humans have explored less than 10 per cent of this vast space, it's no wonder that we understand so little about this unchartered expanse. The brilliant Earthwatch oceans programmes are now becoming even more essential."
Oceans research is a high priority for Earthwatch and we are looking for solutions that will benefit both marine life and local people. Our projects are diverse, ranging from studying whales and dolphins in the Hebrides to carrying out reef surveys in the Bahamas, and conserving sea turtles in Costa Rica.