Vessel Name: Odontella
Vessel Make/Model: Secchi
Hailing Port: Plymouth, UK
Crew: Dr Richard Kirby, Dr Nicholas Outram, Dr Nigel Barlow, Dr Sam Lavender
About: Dr Richard Kirby, Project Leader; Dr Nicholas Outram, iOS app developer; Dr Nigel Barlow, Android app developer; Dr Sam Lavender, Database developer
Extra: The global scientific experiment by seafarers to study the marine phytoplankton
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15 September 2013 | Plymouth, UK
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15 September 2013 | Plymouth, UK

Secchi app


Secchi app

15 September 2013 | Plymouth, UK
Richard Kirby

I am a marine plankton scientist and the project leader for the global Secchi Disk project. This project aims to enlist sailors to become Citizen Scientists to create the biggest global study of the marine phytoplankton, starting now and carrying on forever into the future.

The project's website is

You can see the global data already submitted by sailors here:

Project database

I am writing here to tell you about the project and to ask if you would like to take part. We would also like you to tell other seafarers about this project on your sailing blogs or when you meet up.

The project involves a free mobile app called Secchi for iOS and Android and a simple, self-made piece of equipment called a Secchi Disk. Full instructions can be found in the tutorials and video on the project website, and in the Secchi app itself.

To give some brief background to the project:

In 2010 a group of Canadian marine scientists reported that the phytoplankton in the oceans had declined globally by 40% since the 1950s due to climate change. Their study provoked controversy among marine scientists however, as some thought they saw contrary results. Part of the controversy stems from a lack of data about the marine phytoplankton due to the fact that the oceans are vast and there aren't that many scientists to cover them. Because of the important role played by the phytoplankton in underpinning the whole marine food chain, we need to know if, how and why they are changing, and this is where we believe sailors and citizen science can help.

The project has been covered extensively in the scientific, news media and sailing press and has already become the world's largest marine citizen science study.

I hope you like the project and will take part, and will also help us raise awareness by telling others.

You can find the project on Facebook at /secchidisk and you can follow developments on Twitter @secchiapp, grouped under #secchidisk.

The Secchi app works on all mobile devices that can obtain a GPS signal from satellites without requiring a network connection. For iOS devices this means the iPhone models 3GS and later, or 3G and 4G iPads. There are over 2000 compatible Android devices. The Secchi app will only install on a compatible device. The Secchi app stores the data you collect until you get a network connection when you will be prompted to upload your data to the database. If you wish, you can defer the upload until another time in case you have joined a roaming network.

With best wishes,


Dr Richard Kirby
Project Leader
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