Following in Darwin’s Footsteps

In only a couple weeks The HMS Beagle Project will conduct a feasibility study for doing modern oceanographic research aboard a sailing ship. The Brazilian tall ship Tocorimé will serve as the analogue HMS Beagle. I am honored to say that I will serve as the modern day counterpart to Charles Darwin. My position will be to serve the Project as the research technician for the cruise and will consist of identifying the animals we bring up and doing DNA extractions for the 2-3 days research cruise, in general, giving technical support to the Brazilian scientists on board.

Called Darwin and the Adventure, the week long workshop aims to discuss the possibilities for doing modern oceanographic and biologic research aboard sailing vessels. The Adventure has a double entendre – it was the support vessel for the HMS Beagle and our modern sailing vessel, the Tocorimé, roughly translates to adventure from Portuguese. We will be sailing out of Paraty, a UNESCO world heritage site, on the southern coast of Brazil.

[googlemap lat=”-23.222417016351557″ lng=”-44.7198486328125″ width=”500px” height=”300px” zoom=”2″ type=”G_HYBRID_MAP”]Paraty, Brazil[/googlemap]

The goal of this workshop is to “… bring together a new international team to discuss with the Tocorimé operators – cruise logistics, scientific aims, timing, observations from space, public and schools outreach and contribution to the international Census of Marine Life and Consortium for the Barcode of Life” (reference). It is an ambitious effort that will sync the ship to the International Space Station and to classrooms in Brazil, the United States and Britain. The outreach portion of this project is phenomenal and will reach a group of children from classrooms in Brazil that would otherwise not have an opportunity to ask questions to astronauts and marine biologists. I can’t wait to hear what they have to say!

There will much blogging, twittering going on during this exciting workshop, so stay tuned to Deep Sea News, The Beagle Project Blog, and the twitter feeds for Karen James and myself. Below are the details for this workshop/expedition (reused from The Beagle Project Blog). More information is forthcoming, including the official press release!

When: September 20th-23rd, 2009

Where: Paraty, Brazil (see map above) and aboard the Brazilian Tall Ship Tocorimé (right)

What: A scientific workshop on the potential of doing modern oceanographic and biological research aboard a sailing ship such as on the voyages planned for the new Beagle and a feasibility study consising of two day science cruises aboard the Tocorimé. The day-cruises will be coordinated with overhead passes of the International Space Station, where astronaut Mike Barratt (a.k.a. Cosmopithecus) will be photographing our position as a test-run for our future planned scientific collaborations. Hopefully, Mike will also be speaking with us live via ham radio, when, in addition to testing our ship-to-space connections he will be answering the questions of local school children in Paraty!


  • ~20 marine scientists from around South America
  • from the HMS Beagle Trust: Director of Science Karen James and Beagle Project co-founder David Lort-Phillips
  • from the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton: Dr. Simon Boxall, oceanographer and collaborator on the brilliant Cape Farewell project (Note: Dr. David Billett, Co-Chair Ocean Biogeochemistry and Ecosystems Group at NOCS cannot join us in Paraty but he deserves a big mention as he is the Principal Investigator on this project and has done an enormous amount of work on the science and logistical side)
  • from tall ship Tocorimé: Markus Lehman and Adriana Perusin
  • from NASA: (alas, Dr. Susan Runco, Earth Remote Sensing Scientist of NASA’s Image Science and Analysis Group can’t join us – her replacement has yet to be named)
  • and… ME!!

4 Replies to “Following in Darwin’s Footsteps”

  1. Hello, A great project you’re on.. I’m working on a book on Darwin’s time in Brazil and have made two trips to do research… I would love to know more about the Darwin tour which is featured in a National Geographic video– do you know how I could contact someone or a link to the trip? I’m especially curious about the 12 sites mentioned… Thank you in advance for any help, and have a good sail! Job Potter, Amagansett NY

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