As we sail Leg 4, we track along the Australian Coast avoiding the worst of the East Australian Current, made famous by the Turtles in 'Finding Nemo'!
The water temperature rises rapidly from the Southern Ocean running through Bass Strait between Tasmania and Australia to where we are now, in the Coral Sea offshore just north of Brisbane. We are now enjoying champagne sailing in 24 degree water temperature and 27 degree air temperature.
We are headed for the end of the New Caledonia Island reef chain that stretches for 170miles, then we go north to the Eastern edge of the Solomon Islands, Santa Ana Island. The passage between us and our destination, Hong Kong, is littered with reefs, atolls and small islands I never even knew existed.
To the east of us is soon to be the Great Barrier Reef. It is suffering from decay due to the acidity levels and this whole area being of a similar make up, it makes we wonder for how long we will be able to enjoy this area before the process goes too far and is irreparable. PH levels is one of the criteria being tested by our unique science experiment on board TTTOP.
We are looking at PH levels and CO2 levels that are intrinsically linked. Salinity, temperature and chlorophyll levels as well as the microplastic levels. It is the latter that has never been done before and will produce some raw data and that be our reference data going forwards. If we can get more vessels to carry this equipment we will be able to see the rate of change and the danger level we are at with our world's Ocean Health.
Unlike most research to date, that collects water at the surface level to test for microplastics we are looking at water through an inlet used for our watermaker, so about 1 metre below the surface. It collects water and runs it through three layers of filters. These filters are changed every two days and sealed. The GPS logs exactly where this data is from and the filters are given in at the end of each leg for testing in the lab.
I hope we are able to see the dangers and can encourage others to address the dangers so the world's most beautiful reefs can continue to be enjoyed!
In the meantime, I hope we have safe passage through the reefs and see them at a distance.
Dee and team TTTOP