MARE leads part of the cientific work that navy is doing circumnavigating

Like Fernão Magalhães 500 years ago, the first one that circumnavigated the globe, the cadets of the Portuguese Navy also intend to discover, pointing out this historical fact. They left Portugal, aboard Sagres School Ship, on 5th January, 2020.

MARE didn’t run away from this experience. And so, to the questions: what does the color of the sea indicate? What is the amount of microalgae in the water column? How contaminated is the ocean? will seek to respond with analyzes that will be carried out on this trip.


"On board", the Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre has two projects: "The color of the sea as an indicator of the amount of plankton", led by MARE researcher, Vanda Brotas; and “Presence of inorganic contaminants along the Fernão de Magalhães sea route”, led by researchers Bernardo Duarte and Vanessa Fonseca.


The color reflected by the surface of the ocean depends on the water itself, inorganic particles in suspension, dissolved organic matter and the quantity and size of the Phytoplankton cells (made up of photosynthetic microalgae, is the base of the ocean's trophic chain). Therefore, on board Sagres and with the monitoring of MARE-FCUL on land, within the Citizen Science area, projects have been developed that aim to bring citizens the ability to measure the color of the ocean.

In the Laboratory, the MARE-FCUL team, with support of international partners, will obtain the satellite image corresponding to the day and local of the harvest, with the chlorophyll concentration value determined by the color sensor (OLCI) of the Sentinel 3 satellites, of the European Space Agency.


The second project - Presence of inorganic contaminants along the sea route of Fernão de Magalhães - aims to assess the degree of contamination of the Ocean, based on the quantification of inorganic (heavy metals) and organic contaminants directly linked to human presence (pharmaceutical residues) , in waters collected along the maritime route previously followed by Fernão Magalhães.

Once the route taken by Fernão Magalhães approaches areas with high anthropogenic pressure, in addition to ocean areas relatively far from the coast, it will be possible to understand the impact of coastal urban centers on marine ecosystems on a global and unprecedented scale. And it will also be possible to obtain marine contamination data for various areas of the globe, and for many locations it will even be the first record and the first assessment of the level of contaminants.

For this purpose, the crew were provided with very simple sampling kits so that any crew member can collect water for analysis, without compromising the analysis.


These projects are part of CIRCULARES: a citizen science project that involves several scientific areas. In addition to MARE, cE3c, Instituto Dom Luiz, CIUHCT, the Portuguese Ecological Society and the company Senciência are also part of it.


* Image: Navio Escola Sagres (Sagres School Vessel), Portuguese Navy