Purely sailing-related purposes apart, Katharsis II’s voyage around the Antarctic had an itemised research programme. At this stage, it can be declared that all programme assumptions have been met.
Research activities during the journey may be divided into two independent stages: installation of research instruments for the ARGO programme, and water sample collection to study the presence of plastic particles in Antarctic waters.
The first stage involved the activation and deployment of floats owned by the international ARGO programme floats (www.argo.ucsd.edu). Katharsis II‘s voyage allowed the deployment of three such instruments in areas rarely reached by research vessels. The entire process of float deployment from the deck of Katharsis II was uneventful. These floats are now operating in Southern Ocean’s waters.
As notified by ARGO programme co-ordinators, the floats are functioning correctly, displaying academically unique data. These instruments will for many years to come be taking readings of water temperature and salinity, providing information which allows observation of changes to marine waters – changes frequently caused by human presence.
The second stage of the journey’s research programme involved research to find whether plastic contamination has already reached the virgin regions of waters around the Antarctic. Giant volumes of plastic used by humans are discharged into seas and oceans, causing danger to marine organisms. For purposes of this research activity, water samples were collected every 36 degrees of latitude with the use of a special-purpose net allowing ocean water filtration. Ten samples were collected for analysis by the laboratory of the Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Sopot.Is plastic present in Antarctic waters? At this stage, we have no such knowledge – we hope not. We are now waiting for analysis results, and a rundown of the second stage of research activities forming part of Katharsis II’s journey around Antarctica.
Piotr Kukliński, Ph.D.Hab.
Marine biologist. Yachtsman – Katharsis II, watch III
Academic teacher and professor at the Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Science Research – projects co-ordinator for the Antarctic Laboratory aboard Katharsis II
More information about Katharsis II Research Projects: