Forty years of vent exploration – Four weeks of sampling

Four weeks at sea and we’ve got into the steady rhythm of the ship; we log the time passed from the menu in the galley (fish-Friday, curry-Saturday) and the weekly linen change. I have studied this hydrothermal site called TAG, nearly 4km below us on the seafloor, for nearly 30 years. First for my PhD, then on and off over the years. TAG is now one of the most well studied, deep-sea vent sites anywhere on the seafloor. Continue reading →

Fair winds and following seas

In many ways the work of an oceanographer hasn’t changed since the early days of the discipline when a team of scientists sailed for several years across ocean basins making spot measurements of depth and salinity; hauling up strange creatures from the depths. We still ‘sail’ in rather larger science teams for much shorter periods of time. The rhythm of work on a ship and the lowering and hauling of wires is very familiar. Continue reading →

Five things we’ve learnt about the oceans in the last 25 years

It’s early 1993 and I am sailing across the Atlantic Ocean aboard the Royal Research Ship Charles Darwin on my first deep-sea adventure. The late Harry Elderfield is our chief scientist and we are mapping out the newly discovered hydrothermal vents along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and sampling the plumes that waft upwards from the hot seafloor vents. We tow our sensors on frames hanging from conducting wires that are kilometres long, gradually building up a picture of the plumes. Continue reading →

Blue Planet 2 | Episode 6 | Coasts

We have a tendency to take our coastlines for granted. It is by far the most accessible and relatable marine habitat, with thousands flocking there every day for their primary source of food, watersports, or just to relax. The UN estimates 40% of the world's population live in coastal areas. They provide the most extensive economic and social benefits of any natural habitat, encompassing 77% of the services provided to us by all ecosystems. Continue reading →

What to expect from Blue Planet 2 – Our Blue Planet

Blue Planet 2 has been a spectacular series, with ground-breaking technology, innovative filmmaking, and top scientific correspondence allowing our ocean's most incredible stories to be broadcast to an audience of over 14 million people. The series has allowed characters from the big blue to come to life in our living rooms, inspiring a new generation of marine biologists, just as The Blue Planet (the original series) did for me and my fellow students. Continue reading →

What to expect from Blue Planet 2 – Coasts

So far in Blue Planet 2, we've experienced the wonders of the deep, colourful coral reefs, the vastness of the open ocean, and the remarkably productive green seas. The penultimate episode of the series will focus on possibly the most challenging environment for marine fauna - our dynamic coasts. Along the coastline, two vastly different worlds collide - the terrestrial and the marine. Continue reading →