Kerry sets sail on ocean science adventure

Kerry MacKay is setting sail on the tall ship Pelican of London in August.

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Known to many for her work with the GRAB Trust, Kerry MacKay is soon setting sail on an educational expedition around the UK.

Normally found running workshops with schools and community groups throughout Kintyre and Mid Argyll, beaches and marine litter project education officer Kerry will join the crew of tall ship Pelican of London as it embarks on a two-month voyage circumnavigating the UK.

The is in preparation for the 2021 Darwin200 global voyage following Charles Darwin’s journey on HMS Beagle, a project which aims to mobilise passion, enthusiasm and hope to inspire greater care for the natural world.

As well as stopping at bucket list locations like St Kilda, the Scilly Isles, Orkney, Shetland, the Hebrides, and Bass Rock, the Pelican will call into key ports along the route during Kerry’s expedition. The team hopes to bring ocean science to life for people at each of these ports, although this may be somewhat limited due to Covid-19 restrictions.

As new crew, Kerry will receive training from the expert Pelican crew for a week before the official start of the Darwin200 UK launch on August 4.

She said: ‘I’ve never sailed before, so it will be a fantastic way to learn. I am, however, a keen scuba diver and cannot wait to dive places like St Kilda and the Scilly Isles, doing underwater surveys and filming.

‘It’s been a roller coaster year. Now, everyone is taking tentative steps back out into this new world, living with Covid-19 every day. I’m doing the opposite – I’m isolating myself for a week in preparation for joining the ship. Getting Covid-19 on board would be a disaster so we are all taking great precautions to stay safe and will each get a Covid test before we are allowed on board.’

Having trained as an ecologist, Kerry plans to get fully involved in the research being carried out during the voyage. Led by members of Plymouth University, there will be projects to investigate a range of ocean health indicators. From whale and dolphin watching, hydrophones and plankton trawls, to conductivity and temperature monitoring. Not to mention the huge issue of ocean plastic pollution and microplastics, which Kerry already works on with the GRAB Trust and the Marine Conservation Society.

Kerry is inviting everyone to join in. She said: ‘We want as many people as possible to share this experience with us, so we will have a whole team of camera people aboard who will capture all the adventures on deck, underwater, and with drones. So follow the adventure on the Darwin200 social media pages. There will be epic videos, cutting-edge science, live lectures, and lots of stunning scenery with amazing wildlife.’

Follow Kerry and the team on Facebook (@Darwin2002021), on Twitter and Instagram (@Darwin200_) and on YouTube (Darwin200), as well as using #Darwin200.

The tall ship Pelican has its own website – – and social media pages that will also share parts of the journey, and there will be updates on the GRAB Trust Beaches and Marine Litter Facebook page when Kerry can access the internet.