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Citizen Science

An interview with Founder Monique Mills

What is Citizen Science?

A citizen science is scientific research conducted by a nonprofessional person – people like you and me – the average citizen. Scientists often need very basic data. The kind that anyone can collect.  Simply recording and reporting whale sighting is an act of a citizen scientist. Reef monitoring can be a photograph of the same location repeatedly and sharing that photo to be recorded is valid data. Identifying and counting the fish in a fisherman’s net is also important data. In this photo we asked a fisherman if we could have the stomach of his 50 pound catch of tuna in order to inspect its contents.

Dissecting a tuna stomach
How do you define sustainability?

The term ‘sustainability’ means ensuring the resources we use and consume are replenishable.  Let’s use fishing as an example. Over fishing means that a species isn’t able to reproduce sufficient offspring to maintain a healthy population. Protecting the ecosystem ensures the fish have enough food and habitat to reproduce so that we can consume fish season to season, year after year. We all have a responsibility and each person makes a difference. We often talk about what we do to the environment, but now we need to talk about what the environment is doing to our health. What we put into the ocean, we also put into our bodies – which means stopping pollution before it gets into the ocean, which is degrading the ecosystem and getting into our food. It’s a closed loop.

What projects is Making Waves Sailing involved in?

I am an ambassador for The 5 Gyres Institutewho are the leading research on global plastics pollution. The 5 Gyres Institute has provided us with a trawler that floats on the surface to capture water samples. The samples are filtered for plastics and the information collected is sent to 5 Gyres institution. I am not a marine biologist. I am a citizen scientist providing this information to scientists which is an invaluable contribution to developing conservation initiatives and awareness campaigns. We are also part of ‘fleet science’ lead by “Sailing Given Time” Explore – Search – Share

Explore: This seven year exploration mission will see us circumnavigate the globe, a huge adventure in its own right!  But this sailing expedition is way more than just a lap around the planet!

We are the lead vessel in a collaborative marine ecology research project, which will see the cruising community work hand in hand with the global scientific community.

We are creating a global network of resources for marine expedition research – A first of its kind mission of “Exploration through collaboration” – not crowd science but “fleet science!”​

We also plan to open up our vessel, our home, to visiting environmentalists, researchers, academics and scientists and host them to further enable their research! All while we cross oceans and visit remote locations.

What other programs are you involved with?

We are also partnered with local dive shops to assist in lionfish culling, education and beach cleanups. We are partnered with Lumba Dive on the island of Carriacou for education like their one day, PADI Marine Biology Course and other events.

I will be volunteering with the 2019 Grenada Sailing Weekto assist in the Sailors for the Sea Clean Regatta program which was initiated last year. This year we will do more to reduce plastics and waste.  My belief is that because sailors love to sail then we are naturally motivated to protect the places we play – our oceans and lakes.

What’s in the future for Making Waves Sailing?

Expeditions and our Sail with a Scientist Program. We are building a program called “Sail with a Scientist” where a marine biologist is on board to answer all your questions and host informal discussions with our guests. This will be a bit more engaging than our recreational vacation sails and is designed for a more educational experience such as our program. Sail on your choice of three sailing yachts, depending on your budget. It’s like a mini national geographic sharing your voyage with a professional marine biologist.

As for our Expeditions, each season, Making Waves Sailing will be sponsoring a boat and crew on one or more of our sailing vessels for scientific purposes on a designated expedition. We hope to raise funds for these critical expeditions. We will be reporting our findings here and on social media.

What are some of Making Waves Sailing sustainable and eco-friendly practices on board?

First of all the boat is sail power. For our power demands, we have solar panels and most boats have a wind generator, although there are times when we need the engine. A boat is a constant exercise in resource management. Most people don’t know how many amps their cell phone draws when they plug it into the wall. On board, you become acutely aware of your consumption when you are restricted with power, fuel, water and food. The boat is your life support system and as such, it’s important to manage resources wisely. Good maintenance improves efficiencies.

Sunscreen: Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide are mineral based sunscreens that provide a physical barrier to the sun.  NO Oxybenzene or Avobenzene – these ingredients cause great harm the critters in the ocean and you.  You may have to purchase them in a health food store.  We are currently in collaboration with a skin care spa in St Lucia to formulate our own sunscreen.

Toiletries: We insist on using biodegradable soaps and shampoos.  For an examination of products refer to

Water: We ask that you bring your own Water Bottle!  There are no recycling facilities on any of the islands. Drinking water will be provided.

Lionfish Tempura

When cleaning the boat inside and out we opt for non-chemical solutions when possible. During refueling it is critical to capture spillage. There are many things that can be done and every little bit counts.  One pint of fuel spilled will create a slick larger than a football field. We follow Sailors for the Sea ‘Green Boating Guidelines’.

It is also a priority to source our provisions locally. This is two fold benefit. We are contributing to the local economy while lowering carbon foot print and making sustainable choices.  Fish is always from local fishermen. For example we don’t serve shrimp or purchase frozen seafood from Asia. All fruits and vegetables are purchased from markets. Instead of store bought cookies and bread, we special order from the local bakery and request the goods be packaged in paper.

Our partner organizations