of the best destinations for research and conservation voyages

Shark tagging in the Bahamas

The Bahamas

Edited by Kara Murphy

The decline of coral reefs and pollution harming sea life are considered to be two of the biggest threats to the world’s oceans. However, whether you are superyacht owner or enjoying a luxury yacht charter it is possible to make a difference as there are plenty of opportunities for getting involved in ocean conservation while still enjoying a vacation.

Here we look at three of the best destinations for research and conservation voyages so that you can help protect the world’s oceans while on vacation.

1. The Bahamas

Why just dive with tiger sharks in The Bahamas when you can help tag them as well? The International SeaKeepers Society , a nonprofit organization that promotes oceanographic research, conservation and education through the direct involvement of the superyacht community, always needs yachts for its DISCOVERY Yachts program. The concept is simple: Owners donate time on their boats for research, including fuel, provisioning and crew and, in return, they have a chance to work with well-known marine research scientists while also possibly qualifying for tax benefits.

An ongoing program is shark tagging at Tiger Beach on Grand Bahama. “We try to do (this) expedition once every six months, usually in May and November,” says Angela Rosenberg, SeaKeepers’ director of Programs and Policies.

The 10-day November 2014 tagging expedition involved the 125-foot Northcoast Fugitive and the 150-foot Cheoy Lee Qing.

“Researchers want to know why the area is so heavily dominated by females — are they at Tiger Beach for gestation? Do female sharks remain there after giving birth? Do sexually immature sharks use it as a safe area from mates?” says Rosenberg. The expedition’s first part was spent collecting data from acoustic receivers anchored to the sea floor then redeploying them. The second part involved baiting the sharks and pulling them onto a custom-made floating platform. Researchers took measurements, blood samples and an ultrasound; surgically inserted an acoustic tag beneath the shark’s skin; and, on some occasions, attached a satellite tag and a National Geographic Crittercam to the dorsal fin. And you can help as much as you want. “Owners, guests and crew can be involved in all aspects of the research,” says Rosenberg.

Drifter programme

Yachts can also purchase and deploy monitoring devices that observe and transmit sea surface temperatures, current velocity, latitude, longitude and time, then track this drifter online.

PIcture courtesy of Nicolas.Voisin44/Shutterstock.com

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