Sailing For Science: Belated update, September 5th

On Tuesday we sailed to Pserimos, a much less populated area. Our intention was to find a pristine beach, but the winds were very high. We were unsure if the boat carrying the bulk of the electrical equipment would manage to cross into the next bay where there were no other boats. One of our boats, the Awareness, decided to make the journey to test out how rough the waters were and see if the next bay would be sufficiently sheltered. The waves ended up being quite large, tossing our little boat quite a bit. When we reached the next bay it was not sufficiently sheltered to perform our tests, so we sailed back to meet Tomana (our other boat) in a more heavily occupied bay. Here there were already some sailboats anchored and also some fish farming activity. Nevertheless, it was much less heavily occupied here than at the busy beaches of Kos.

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Here we performed a ´mini experiment´ in order test our hypothesis about hydrogen peroxide propagation in seawater. The basic idea is that titanium, which can be found in some sunscreens, will propagate hydrogen peroxide in seawater under UV light. To see if this reaction was taking place, we started with background samples at the pristine beach. Then, one by one we had to put on sunscreen and jump into the water near the intake line. There was of course no shortage of volunteers!
 

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You see the detector on the left, and volunteers with sunscreen on the right.

After the experiment we were able to spend the evening snorkelling in the bay, looking for sea shells and fish. The Mediterranean has been heavily fished and has very low productivity, so there wasn´t much to see underwater. In addition, large patches of seafloor get scraped clean of plant life such as Neptune grass by anchors from yachts and sailboats.

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After a day of work (and certainly lots of fun), we set sail back to Kos as the sun was setting. We were quite happy to get back to dry land as the rough waves were an added challenge for some of us!

by Helene Velle Mayer