The TREC expedition: get involved in Southampton

This August TREC comes to the NOC Southampton to gather biological samples and environmental data along the coastline. We've got several exciting events happening that you can participate in, from family workshops to evening pub talks!

Visit us and join in

Wednesday 16 August: We invite you to register for a free programme of activities which will include:

  • A hands-on, game-based workshop focused on human & planetary health called “Nexus Island”
  • Engagement activities with NOC scientists about deep-sea ecology, microscopic biodiversity and ocean circulation
  • A visit to NOC’s National Marine Equipment Pool workshop (includes selfie opportunity with “Boaty McBoatface”)
  • A tour of the British Ocean Sediment Core Research Facility (includes the opportunity to learn what mud from the bottom of the sea can tell us about planet Earth)
  • A virtual tour of our Research Ships

This is an open and inclusive programme designed for a general audience aged 12+. You don’t need a background in science to enjoy – just an open mind and a bit of curiosity! Under 18s must be accompanied by a parent/guardian.

Registration ahead of time is required. Spaces are limited to 40 for the morning (9.45 am – 12.30 pm) and 40 for the afternoon (1 – 3.45 pm). For more information, please email Note that registration for under 18s must be completed by a parent/guardian who participates with them in the programme.

Thursday 17 August: We invite you to our free exhibition stand at Westquay Shopping Centre, no registration necessary. Suitable for people of all ages to discover the fascinating microscopic world that lives in our ocean, such as plankton. These tiny organisms play a big role in planetary health, and we will have microscopes and models on hand to illustrate the breath of ocean biodiversity and the interrelated nature of the marine food chain. No registration is required – just show up at Westquay Shopping Centre anytime between 10 am and 4 pm and say hello! Lucky participants may walk away with a small prize.

Thursday 17 August: We invite you to a free interactive science talk from 6 – 7 pm at The Platform Tavern. Come for a drink and engage with scientists from NOC and the TREC expedition. It will be an informal and accessible evening for non-scientists to learn about the kind of research scientists are currently conducting to better understand planetary health and our changing seas. No registration is required, but attendees are encouraged to arrive early as seating will be limited.

About the expedition

The expedition will combine ocean exploration, conducted by the Tara Ocean Foundation and Tara Oceans Consortium, with parallel sampling of soil, sediment, shallow water, and selected model organisms in various habitats, supported by EMBL’s land-based mobile services and local marine research institutions.

Organism diversity will be studied across scales, from viruses, bacteria, and protists to multicellular groups such as algae and animals. Analysis will involve various meta- and single-cell omics as well as barcoding techniques that will be combined with innovative microscopy pipelines including automated imaging and electron microscopy. This will allow unprecedented detail in associating molecular and morphological data at the single-organism and single-cell level. Besides standard oceanographic metadata, special emphasis will be on detecting metabolites as well as physical and chemical (i.e., inorganic and organic pollutants such as metals, pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics) characterisation of the sampled habitats, providing the environmental framework to the biodiversity and adaptation analyses.

Overall, the expedition will conduct systematic, standardised, and integrated sampling with multimodal environmental metadata acquisition. This integrated profiling across environmental and man-made gradients of micro- and macroscopic life will enable us to obtain a first of the kind, pan-European census of European coastal ecosystems.

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Event dates: 
Sunday 13 August 2023 - 00:00 to Saturday 19 August 2023 - 00:00