Introducing Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean
Claire Taylor - Plankton Analyst, SAHFOS UK
Sir Alister Hardy at work
Sir Alister Hardy was employed as a fishery biologist when he
embarked on a two year voyage to the Antarctic on the ship
'Discovery' in 1925, taking with him a prototype 'Continuous
Plankton Recorder' (CPR). On his return he developed a smaller
version of the CPR for use on merchant ships and this model was
used on the first tow of the Survey which began in September 1931
from Hull, England to Bremen, Germany. With only minor
modifications and the addition of modern oceanographic sensors, the
design is what is still being used routinely today.
In 1939 the CPR Survey began tows into the North Atlantic Ocean
and 1959 saw the first trans-Atlantic tow undertaken to
Newfoundland, Canada. By 1997, we had expanded into the Pacific
Ocean, towing from Alaska to California. From 2000 a regular route
began from Vancouver, Canada to Japan and five years later the
Survey expanded into the Southern Atlantic. During 2009 we extended
our routes into the European Arctic . Potential areas for the
future include extending into the Russian Arctic.
Continuous Plankton Recorder 1930s
The CPR Survey was based in Hull until 1950 when it moved to
Edinburgh, Scotland and in 1976 the whole survey relocated to the
IMER Laboratory (now Plymouth Marine Laboratory) in Plymouth, UK.
From 1990 the company operated as a registered charity known as the
Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (SAHFOS) and moved
to its present location at Citadel Hill, Plymouth in 1993.
Continuous Plankton Recorder 2011
The Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (SAHFOS) has
been collecting data from the North Atlantic and North Sea since
1931. With almost 500,000 samples analysed, 500 taxa counted and
approaching 5 million miles towed, makes us the longest, most
geographically extensive marine biological survey in the world.
There are approximately 30 dedicated staff based at Plymouth,
composed of analysts, technicians, researchers and administrative
staff who, along with the goodwill and support of merchant ships,
all play a paramount role in our success.
The SAHFOS Lab 2011
In September 2011 we celebrated our 80th Anniversary with
'Plankton 2011', a hugely successful series of lectures and poster
presentations delivered by marine scientists from all over the
world. The SAHFOS science strategy in place today focuses our
attention on the concepts of 'Going Global 'and 'Going
Our ultimate aim is to develop the CPR Survey for sampling the
plankton environment into new areas. The kick off GACS workshop
provided a good foundation to help us achieve this and through
international collaboration with our GACS partners we can gain a
better understanding of global plankton biodiversity.
North Atlantic Route Map as of 2010