Darwin200 Project Sets Sail To Retrace Charles Darwin’s Legendary Expedition

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A brave and dedicated group of scientists is setting sail to inspire a new era of conservation and ignite a global passion for environmental stewardship.

Stewart McPherson, the project leader behind Darwin200, has spent more than a decade breathing life into this audacious expedition, retracing Darwin’s historic 1830s voyage on a century-old tall ship.

“There are three main goals. The first is to train, upskill and empower the world’s very best young conservationists,” McPherson told weather.com by Zoom from Sydney, Australia. “We’re trying to make 200 exceptional leaders who will change the world of tomorrow.”

These intrepid young adventurers, known as Darwin Leaders, converge at various ports along the two-year voyage to immerse themselves in the study of local wildlife and engage in groundbreaking conservation efforts.

‘World’s Most Exciting Classroom’

McPherson and his team are also sharing the experience with aspiring scientists at home. “Every single week, we beam out a whole rainbow of activities to schools around the world to engage kids in science, nature, and conservation.” He adds, “We offer weekly experiments, natural history segments, ‘Curiosity of the Week,’ and live conservationist updates from the field, broadcast from different countries.”

Last but not least, the team promotes community engagement and research projects at each stop along the way, making landfall at key locations where Charles Darwin stepped ashore.

Trekking The Globe

Already 10 months into their voyage, the group left from Plymouth, England, bound for South America in August 2023, first stopping in Brazil and then traveling through the famed Beagle Channel (named for the HMS Beagle which later carried Darwin on his travels).

The journey already has been marked by remarkable achievements: planting 2,500 trees in Brazil’s Atlantic rainforest, exploring an undocumented seamount off the coast of Uruguay and rediscovering a supposedly extinct gecko population in Cabo Verde.

Honoring Darwin’s Legacy

When asked how Charles Darwin himself might react to these breakthroughs, McPherson muses, “Throughout the whole journey, I’ve always wondered his thoughts, his emotions, and at the last port, Galapagos, more than any, because the Galapagos really opened his eyes to the transmutation of species – this idea that species weren’t fixed in space and time, that they could change.”

The historic tall ship Oosterscheldenl on its pioneering two-year global voyage of 40,000 nautical miles.

At 22 years old, Darwin’s original journey took place just as the Industrial Revolution started to take hold in Europe. “The world that Darwin saw, the population was a tenth of what it is today,” explains McPherson. “The places that he went to were not as developed and nowhere near as impacted ecologically as those we see today.”

In a world often overshadowed by environmental crises, McPherson emphasizes the project’s hopeful message: “Conservation is not doom and gloom,” he says. “We’ve got many serious problems taking place, but conservation is about what we still have, it’s not about what we’ve lost. If we care, and crucially, if we act now, we can make things better. We can build a better future for nature and wildlife as a whole.”

If you’d like to join the Darwin200 crew and take part in the global conservation movement, here are some ways you can get involved:

  • Apply to be a Darwin Leader. The team is still looking for 19 young conservationists to participate in their mission.
  • Track the ship’s progress and see where they’re headed next.
  • Check their blog for up-to-date research and experiences from each stop.
  • Visit the online classroom for the latest educational tools from the experts in the field.
  • Follow along with the project on social media.

Source: https://www.wunderground.com/article/science/news/2024-05-28-scientists-sail-historic-charles-darwin-voyage

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