EcoOcean: When The Eco-Ship Comes In

The Mediterranean Sea is especially sensitive: there are large populations of people surrounding its shores and the influx of water with the other oceans is limited by the narrow straits of Gibraltar. Not only pollution, but also other man-caused activities threaten the Mediterranean, says EcoOcean, a non-profit research vessel, whose mission it is to research and educate on the marine environment of the Mediterranean Sea. Normally, marine research vessels are either funded by the government or belonging to institutions which mandate the research done on board, explained Andreas Weil, whose father a Swedish philanthropist, has donated enough money to build and fund research on the ship. Most of the time, researchers from Israel's seven universities submit a request and use the ship equipped with a dry and wet lab; projects are accepted as long as the research has an environmental bent. Basic research off Israel's coast is missing or severely lacking, explains Weil who got jazzed about environmental science after studying at the Arava Institute.Originally from Stockholm, Weil was shocked to see so little in the way of environmentalism in Israel. Now he is playing his part through running Eco-Ocean alongside a Swedish-born Israeli professor, and family-friend Sven Beer.

This TreeHugger got a gift of a lifetime two weeks ago when she went on board with the EcoOcean crew and researchers. That day we tested for pollution in the mouth of the Yarkon River, near Tel Aviv. The Government, says EcoOcean, only tests the waters about once a year. EcoOcean is coming out once a month so they can have real, hard data for when the day comes to lobby in the government.

The sea is our cradle of life, says EcoOcean's website; the oceans cover over 70% of earth's surface, and with life existing to their deepest depths, they constitute a volume for plant and animal life that is orders of magnitude larger than that of all continents together. Indeed given those facts, it is strange that we call our world "planet earth" and not "planet ocean".

As we sailed back into the harbor, the old Bob Dylan song fit the moment:
Oh the fishes will laugh
As they swim out of the path
And the seagulls they'll be smiling.
And the rocks on the sand
Will proudly stand,
The hour that the ship comes in.

EcoOcean seeks interns and collaboration with international scientists. Email. ::Related::Deep Impact