Brighton woman passionate about our planet to join an environmental research sailing expedition
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An Environment Agency employee from Brighton is embarking on a once in a lifetime sailing voyage to highlight the issues of plastic pollution and climate change.
Sophie Goodall-Smith, aged 48, will board the Pelican of London on Sunday (July 18) – a tall ship on a 13-week expedition around the British Isles for the Darwin200 environmental research project.
She is joining the last four-week leg of the voyage as a crew member, alongside professional crew, trainee sailors and marine scientists who are studying the concentrations of plastic waste in UK waters, as well as surveying seabirds and marine megafauna.
Environmental organisation City to Sea is also partnering with Darwin200 to undertake the first UK-wide plastics survey.
Sophie, who supports the Environment Agency’s plastics and sustainability team’s Interreg Preventing Plastic Pollution project, is having a break from the day job to undertake the trip in her personal time.
She said: “I am passionate about our precious planet, so protecting our natural world from harmful pollution, including plastics, is an issue very close to my heart professionally and personally.
“I am thrilled to be joining this voyage, helping to gather invaluable conservation data to inspire and influence others to help our ocean ecosystems and marine life thrive.
“It’ll be part of my role to crew the ship and help City to Sea with its plastics survey, looking at floating macroplastics, microplastics suspended in the water column, and washed ashore beach plastics."
“The Darwin200 dive team will also be collecting samples of seabed sediment at locations around the UK which will be analysed for their plastic content.
“The data collected is forming the basis of several academic studies and will contribute to national surveys.”
Sophie, whose passion for the natural world has led to a 26-year career in the environment sector, is no stranger to adventure having previously undertaken conservation work in the Amazon rainforest, visited water, sanitation and hygiene projects in Uganda as a WaterAid ambassador, and run the Great Wall Marathon in China for charity.
Sophie’s love of the ocean means she is also a regular sea swimmer and community volunteer, undertaking kayak river cleans, and beach cleans, including for the Leave No Trace Brighton group.