Warming seas, overfishing and pollution mean it is vital to improve the system for monitoring the world's oceans, says a group of distinguished scientists.The group making the call is the Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans, a mouthful bouncily acronymmed to POGO.
Twenty years ago it was suggested that there should be a worldwide ocean monitoring network, something which is half done, and POGO are off to Johannesburg for a meeting of Group of Earth Observations (acronym: GEO) where POGO will say that it's just not good enough (acronym: JUNOGOE). Dr Tony Haymet, Chair of POGO's executive committee and director of the US's Scripps Institution of Oceanography and an executive member of POGO said:
"The good news is that we have demonstrated that a global ocean observing system can be built, deployed and operated with available technologies."POGO reckon that 'completing such a system over the next 10 years would cost an estimated $2-3bn (£1-1.5bn), and would include: some stuff and then: Research vessels - to be used for scientific surveys.
Well POGO, GEO and Dr Haymet, we could give you one of those gains right speedy or eftsoons. We could have a rebuilt HMS Beagle in the water in 2009 and it could be your flagship. After all, Darwin did kick a lot of this stuff off, plankton trawling, observing and recording plankton blooms, cetacean watching and recording long before marine biology became the fashionable and important science it is today. And don't forget Beagle's commander Robert Fitzroy who was the genius behind setting up Meteorological Office.
And unlike most research vessels stinking the planet up with their engines and steel hulls, the Beagle will be the ultimate low-carbon research ship. A good few dozen tonnes locked up in her wooden masts and hull, and being a sailing ship, when the wind is in the right direction, well, she'll sail. POGO, you need a BEAGLE.
Darwin plankton trawling in 1832:
it is a bag four feet deep, made of bunting, & attached to semicircular bow this by lines is kept upright, & dragged behind the vessel. — this evening it brought up a mass of small animals, & tomorrow I look forward to a greater harvest. —
I am quite tired having worked all day at the produce of my net. — The number of animals that the net collects is very great & fully explains the manner so many animals of a large size live so far from land. — Many of these creatures so low in the scale of nature are most exquisite in their forms & rich colours. — It creates a feeling of wonder that so much beauty should be apparently created for such little purpose. — The weather is beautiful & the blueness of the sky when contrasted with white clouds is certainly striking.