Saturday, August 12, 2006
A team of Danish scientists on board a scientific research vessel on Friday launched an eight-month round-the-world voyage to assess global environmental pollution. The Galathea 3 project is billed by organisers as the most important Danish scientific expedition for more than 50 years. The expedition is backed by the Danish ministry of science, technology and innovation to the tune of 80 million kroner (about R87-million), and has received 90 million kroner from private sponsors and research agencies. The mission involves 35 Danish research scientists on board the Vaedderen (Ram), a converted Danish naval surveillance ship, who are to conduct some 70 scientific projects, notably the taking of samples from the seabed in oceans around the world to assess global pollution levels. "By analysing samples from the seabed and creatures like mussels, crabs and fish for environmentally hostile metals and substances, we intend to piece together a map of world environmental pollution," biologist Anders Engell-Kofoed of Denmark's Roskilde University and one of the Galathea team, told daily Politiken.
Vaedderen"These will be fabulous indicators to assess the state of the environment," Engell-Kofoed added. The researchers plan to build up a sample bank, accessible to scientists from all over the world. The expedition also hopes to extend scientists' knowledge of marine animal and plant life and organisms such as bacteria, plankton and algae. After undergoing repairs to a faulty propeller in Norway, the Vaedderen's route will take her to the Faroe Islands and Greenland, before sailing on to Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Chile and the Galapagos Islands. It will return via the Panama Canal to the Caribbean and New York before crossing the Atlantic a second time for the final leg back to Copenhagen on or around April 25, 2007. In addition to the 35 scientists and marine biologists, the Vaedderen has a 50-strong crew along with a dozen journalists, photographers, a TV crew and two students. The expedition is named Galathea after the Danish navy corvette of the same name which went on Denmark's first voyage of scientific research in 1845. A second Galathea expedition was carried out in 1950-52.