Plenty of beautiful yachts have been floated on and off DYT Yacht Transport’s semi-submersible ships, but none have been so intriguing as the 126-foot research vessel M/V OCEARCH, which is presently making its way from Port Everglades in Florida to Brisbane in Australia on board DYT’s 686’ flagship Yacht Express. The research vessel is the namesake of the non-profit organization OCEARCH, which is globally recognized for its work in the field of ocean sustainability. DYT has teamed up with the organization to support its study of sharks as well as other large predators that are essential to the future of the marine ecosystem. This marks the second time Yacht Express has called on Brisbane and Auckland since its launch in 2007.
The M/V OCEARCH, powered by two Cat engines and three Cat generators, features an at-sea laboratory and custom-built 75,000 pound capacity research platform that can lift a 5,000 pound shark along with a team of scientists and crew – with one degree of list, conditions permitting.
“By moving OCEARCH around the world, DYT is helping the ocean recover faster, and that is critical if we want to successfully accomplish our mission,” said Chris Fischer (Park City), founder and expedition leader of OCEARCH. “If we were to drive the vessel to Australia ourselves, it would take us 60 days and our people and equipment would be totally taxed. The gift that DYT is giving to Australia by delivering OCEARCH there is one that affects every person who loves the ocean and uses the beaches. We hope this marks the first voyage of many with them.”
DYT’s PR/Marketing Officer Catalina Bujor added, “DYT Yacht Transport recognizes the importance of the research done by OCEARCH and is proud to be able to support the organization in conducting its work.”
OCEARCH’s upcoming trip to Australia will mark its 21st expedition. “They have a public safety issue there as well as a conservation challenge, so our goal is to capture and tag as many tiger sharks as possible,” said Fischer. “That way we can find out where and when they are moving, and where and when they are breeding and giving birth.”
Fischer founded OCEARCH in 2008, after eight years and 180 TV episodes of ESPN’s Offshore Adventures. “We were one of the most watched outdoor TV shows at the time, but I began to see that there was a huge disconnect between the knowledge of professional mariners and world-class scientists,” said Fischer. Because of this, we simply didn’t have the fundamental data we needed on sharks, marlin, tuna and various other species to understand how to manage them sustainably and make sure that there were fish for future generations from now.”
Wanting to make a global impact on the future of the ocean, Fischer began coordinating OCEARCH expeditions that, for the first time in history, brought together fishermen and scientists to tag great whites, tiger sharks and various other species so they could be tracked and their migration patterns studied. Once a shark is tagged, anyone anywhere in the world can follow it in near real-time using OCEARCH’s Global Shark Tracker.
“Sharks are the lions of the ocean; they are the balance keepers, and if we lose them there won’t be any fish,” Fischer added. “Over 200,000 sharks will be killed today, mostly for a bowl of shark fin soup in China. While groups like WildAid drive down demand in countries like this, we are pioneering on-the-water research to create never-captured-before data so we know how to affect policy to help populations recover. DYT is allowing us to be a lot more mobile and enable more scientists to work with more sharks in a shorter period of time.”
The OCEARCH team will begin its research Down Under in early 2015.
On December 10, 2014, M/V OCEARCH floated onto Yacht Express, taking her place among other large yachts along the starboard side of the ship’s huge dock bay, for her ride to Australia. To secure M/V OCEARCH, keel blocks were laid out on Yacht Express’s dry deck first, with stanchions and sea stands moved into place alongside. Yacht Express then was “ballasted,” submerging the dock bay so it could flood with sea water, and M/V OCEARCH motored into her pre-determined location and tied off, per the instructions of the DYT Loading Master. Deballasting began when all yachts were onboard, essentially lifting the dock bay of Yacht Express while divers ensured M/V OCEARCH and the other yacht cargo were positioned accurately. When the operation was completed, the deck was dry, the sea stanchions were secured, and M/V OCEARCH was ready for its oceanic voyage.