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People are most likely to protect what they know and love. Michel Franck and Sophie Bourguignon are using that philosophy to safeguard the treasures of Earth's largest life-support system — the sea. The purpose-built Sea Explorer is a floating classroom, where scientists, students, adults, and children can immerse themselves in marine life and go home inspired to help save the underwater environment.
Sea Explorer couldn't have been built without the support of volunteers and technical professionals with a heart and mind for sustainability. The entire process, from design to launch, took six years — 38,000 hours in all. Sea Explorer was built on circular economy principles, using recovered aluminum donated by local boat owners. "Aluminum is light, strong, corrosion-proof, and requires no maintenance," comments Franck. "And when the time comes, the cat's hulls can be recycled again, completing the circle and starting a new one."
Of course, finding an energy-efficient power solution was a priority. A voltaic system with 15 solar panels provides electrical power for all onboard appliances. Twin John Deere PowerTech™ 4045TFM85 engines take Sea Explorer safely into ports and out to sea and provide motorized power when weather conditions call for it.
"We were looking for fuel-efficient engines that would help minimize our impact on marine life," says Franck.
The vessel facilitates exploration and learning, combining education with hands-on experience. Two upper decks offer a great view of marine life, while the crow's nests on the 30-meter (90-foot) high mast are extremely popular with the more adventurous passengers. The flat-bottomed hulls are beach-friendly, enabling participants to observe marine life on land and sea.
Passengers can observe and understand the life and role of the smallest to the largest marine creatures. They also learn about the importance of underwater sounds to marine life, and how we — even unintentionally — can disrupt conditions with noise pollution and sea waste.
The workshops aboard Sea Explorer are aimed at eco-friendly sailing and respect for all marine life. Much of the training material has been designed to teach children the important role the ocean plays in the health of our planet, and how human activities affect marine ecosystems. "It's so rewarding to see how children fully immerse themselves in this magical world and leave here with a determination to make a difference," says Bourguignon, a school teacher by trade.
Some passengers are so fascinated by the experience that they return. "People enjoy mingling with the captain, the crew, and other passengers, sharing their experiences and knowledge," concludes Franck. "I am glad we can facilitate this aboard our pride and joy, Sea Explorer."
We were looking for fuel-efficient engines that would help minimize our impact on marine life.