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Meet the crew: Researcher Emilia Heiskanen

Meet researcher Emilia Heiskanen! She will be conducting research for the Ocean Cleanup during the Fiji to Vanuatu and Auckland voyage!

Q: What is your name, where are you from, and how old are you? 

A: My name is Emilia Heiskanen, I am from Finland and I am 32-years old.  

Q: What initially sparked your interest in your field? 

A: I never really knew what I wanted to do when I “grow up” so after high school, I decided to work and travel in Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia. During my travels, I had an opportunity to encounter some of the most incredible marine habitats and species. This also made me realize how vulnerable the marine environment is to human-caused stressors, especially climate change and plastic pollution. After my travels, I moved to Scotland to study tourism but soon realized – thanks to my travels - that my heart was set on understanding and protecting the marine environment. This realization led me to find my career path so I switched my undergraduate degree to marine and freshwater biology, after which I continued to do my postgraduate in marine science in the Netherlands. 

Q: What do you hope to achieve with your research during this voyage? 

A: I hope that studying the samples we collect during this voyage, from both the surface waters and remote beaches, will give us a clearer understanding of the scale of plastic pollution in these remote regions of the world.  

Q: Can you tell us more about your upcoming project on board? 

A: We are a team of researchers, each of us having joined one of the four legs of the South Pacific voyage. As with previous legs, our mission for this part of the voyage is to collect manta trawl samples to understand microplastic densities in the surface waters of the ocean. For recording larger plastic items, we conduct visual surveys aboard and have cameras monitoring the ocean surface. We will also aim to study plastic debris on the beaches of the islands where we stop.  

Q: Why did you choose to conduct your research aboard Bark EUROPA? 

A: We are fortunate to have been invited for the South Pacific voyage aboard Bark Europa. This unconventional approach to conducting research, compared to typical missions on motorized vessels, offers us a unique opportunity to conduct research without noise and emissions from the vessel. The South Pacific also remains a relatively understudied region in terms of plastic pollution, making this project incredibly interesting.

Q: What specific aspects of the voyage are you most eager to explore? 

A: I am very curious to see if we can uncover clues about the origin and age of the plastics we will likely collect during this mission. Understanding the sources is crucial for effectively mitigating and managing the plastic pollution problem. 

Q: Have you ever been on a research expedition at sea before? If so, how do you think this experience will be different? 

A: Yes, I have previously joined a research expedition on a motorized research vessel in the Bothnian Sea. Conducting research in the South Pacific aboard a tall ship will be a very different and new experience for me which is very exciting! 

Q: What's one surprising fact you've learned about the ocean or the creatures that call it home? 

A: The number of microorganisms (up to a million) that can be found in just a drop of seawater is mind-blowing!  

Q: If you could choose any marine animal to encounter on this trip, which would it be and why? 

A: Choosing just one is tough, but I would say encountering a humpback whale would be incredibly epic. Witnessing their sheer size and curious behaviors would be a humbling experience for me. 

Q: Beyond research, what are you most looking forward to experiencing on this adventure? 

A: I am looking forward to connecting with the ocean in a whole new way, getting to know my fellow voyage crew members, learning from locals on the different islands we visit, and of course, gaining new skills like sailing along the way!  

Q: What do you do when you are not on the ship? 

A: I love spending time in nature and the outdoors, whether it is running, hiking, camping, (learning) surfing, or taking my dog for a walk. In addition to outdoor activities, I enjoy doing yoga and spending time in the kitchen cooking up new recipes. 

Q: Is there anything else you haven't mentioned now and would like to share? 

A: I'm really excited to join the South Pacific mission because it's a chance for me to visit Oceania, the region that first sparked my interest in marine science, for the first time since my travels! 

Geschreven door:
Emilia Heiskanen | Emilia Heiskanen



Good story Emilia, I hope you have a nice trip on board.

Ritsaert  |  08-07-2024 19:44 uur

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