Crew members aboard the yacht Kaitek left Northern Italy on September 26 en route to the Canary Islands and St. Lucia. As recreational as this may sound, the six crew members are sailing for science rather than style. The 40-foot yacht is part of a project run by the Environmental Ocean Team that intends to gather ocean water quality data over four years as the converted luxury boat circumnavigates the globe.
The boat carries a solar sensor pack on its hull that measures water temperature and salinity as well as phytoplankton density. The boat also records underwater sounds, natural and unnatural, with a hydrophone. This will give scientists an idea of the impact human industry (such as commercial fishing or drilling) has on underwater wildlife that depend on sound to survive.
The Kaitek is the first of what scientists hope to be hundreds of yachts in the YachtGOOS initiative, a network of oceanic research carried out on real-time monitoring-equipped vessels.
Read more at MSNBC.com.