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Global Ocean Sampling Expedition

The J. Robert Beyster and Life Technologies Foundation 2009-2010 Research Voyage of the Sorcerer II Expedition

Since 2003 scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute have been on a quest to unlock the secrets of the oceans by sampling, sequencing and analyzing the DNA of the microorganisms living in these waters. While this world is invisible to us, its importance is immeasurable. The microbes in the sea, land, and air sustain our life on Earth. This is why Dr. Venter and his team have been on their voyage of microbial discovery.

Having successfully completed a global circumnavigation, conducted ongoing sampling in waters off California and the west coast of the United States, and carried out sampling with other collaborators in extreme conditions such as Antarctica and deep sea ocean vents, the research vessel Sorcerer II and Dr. Venter are again setting sail to the waters of Europe. This two year leg of the Sorcerer II Expedition, funded by generous donations from the Beyster Family Foundation Fund of The San Diego Foundation and Life Technologies Foundation, will explore the microbial life in the waters of the Baltic, Mediterranean, and Black Seas. These are scientifically important because they are among the world's largest seas isolated from the major oceans.

Sampling Route

The Sorcerer II left her home port of San Diego, California on March 19, 2009 heading south along the coast of Mexico. As with the previous sampling expeditions, the Sorcerer II's onboard scientists take a 200 to 400 liters water sample approximately every 200 miles, filter it through progressively smaller filters to capture the various sized organisms, and then freeze the filters with the captured microorganisms for shipment back to the JCVI labs in Rockville, MD or San Diego, CA where the sequencing and analysis is done.

Sailing through the Panama Canal (this will be the third transect through the Canal), the boat will head to Florida. After a short stay there the Sorcerer II will leave United States waters and go to Bermuda and then the Azores. From there she sails for England and the Plymouth Marine Laboratory where the crew and scientists will have a short stay with their collaborators there. From the UK waters the boat will then head to Stockholm for a summer and early fall of sampling and collaboration with scientists in Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Estonia, and other Baltic countries. After what Dr. Venter and team hope will be a fruitful sampling year, the Sorcerer II will head for Spain and Italy for winter 2009. In 2010 the Sorcerer will begin sampling in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. Check back for more updates on the progress of the Sorcerer II.

Funding for 2009-2010 Expedition

Beyster Family Foundation Fund of The San Diego Foundation has donated funds for the costs associated with Sorcerer II Expedition. Life Technologies Foundation and other anonymous donors are providing matching funds.