Yachts for Science

Yachts for Science matches marine scientists with private yachts to undertake field research.

Often one of the greatest challenges for marine scientists is access to the sea to undertake their research. Private yachts, above 24 metres, often have spare berths or downtime between private use or charter that could be deployed to support marine scientists. In addition, increasingly owners and charterers enjoy including scientists on their trips.

Submit Science application forms and yacht details over at

Selection & Implementation

1. Submitted scientific projects are reviewed at specific times throughout the year and if suitable are short-listed.

2. The projects are then either matched with available yachts or held on record and matched with vessels if/when they become available.

3. Nekton connects the lead scientist with the yacht team directly to implement the project. Once a favourable match is made, both parties (representative for the boat and lead scientist) must sign a disclaimer before taking the mission further (Disclaimer details attached in the download forms above).

4. Project is undertaken under specific project guidelines – including sharing content and imagery for promotion during and after the project by Nekton and Boat International.

Submission Dates 2020

Science projects: 30th November 2020

Selected Science Projects So Far:

1. Using echosounder data collected from equipment on contributing vessels, data on deep scattering layers will be added to the growing global database to refine global biogeography of the mesopelagic environment. The database so far has data from research vessels and fishing vessels around the world but lacks data from the Mediterranean and Caribbean.

2. SCUBA divers will collect black coral samples to assess the diversity, abundance and size frequencies for black corals and gather baseline data on abundance and diversity of microbenthic fauna associated with black corals, to determine the role of black corals as ecosystem engineers on mesophotic and shallow reefs in Indonesia.

3. Using SCUBA video data will be collected to test the implication of foundation species loss on the short- and long term-biodiversity of coral reefs by studying early coral reef species succession in the British Virgin Islands after devastation from two back-to-back hurricanes. This baseline data will be compared with that collected before the hurricanes.

4. Breaking internal tides over seamounts that stir deep, nutrient-rich water up into the photic zone, supporting both pelagic and endemic benthic communities. An autonomous ocean glider will be used to measure linked components of this system, from internal tides to phytoplankton, in order to determine the spatio-temporal variability of both the driving physical processes and biogeochemical responses.

5. Explore the remote areas of the vast Maldives archipelago to discover and document new sub-populations of manta rays using SCUBA/free-diving surveys, tissue samples, satellite tags and photo identification techniques. Accurate estimates of their population size, structure, habitat use and connectivity is essential to ensure effective protection of these vulnerable species.

6. Survey black coral populations, using SCUBA to conduct video transects, to understand their current status, population trajectories including potential recovery and their role on supporting associated reef biodiversity in the Mexican Caribbean.

7. A study of coral recovery after bleaching events at the Great Barrier Reef. Scuba divers will assess the corals at three locations that suffered different levels of bleaching disturbance.

Click here for more details on the selected science projects.

Project Considerations

1. 95% of yachts operate in the Caribbean and Mediterranean. Projects are more likely to be matched if it they are in these locations – but all parts of the world’s ocean (not rivers) will be considered.

2. The average length of project if it involves scientists on board should be two weeks.

3. If a scientist needs access to a yacht in order to fit a bit of equipment or technology that could aid research (i.e. no physical presence required), the timeframe could be much longer.

4. Very few yachts have the capability to support complex marine research operations, so consideration should be given to the suitability of the project to the yacht environment.

5. Most yachts will be able to provide SCUBA small boats and the ability to deploy small equipment.

6. Projects that deliver tangible and positive impact to improve the health of the ocean will be considered favourably.

7. Selected projects will be provided with access to use the vessel and on board equipment to undertake their work with all board and lodging etc. provided for free.

8. Projects will need to secure their own permits for research.

9. Projects must be self-funded to complete the stated objective. Projects with funding already secured will be prioritised but projects without funding will also be considered to enable projects to use the ship time as matched funding for grants. No funding will be made available to support the project – including travel to/from the vessel.

10. Project leaders must be at least in a PhD programme or have a PhD and have previously had time undertaking a scientific expedition at sea.

11. All data generated should be shared open access on completion of scientific publications.

12. In any related academic publications, the ship time should be acknowledged with specific description provided by Nekton.