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What Kinds of Microbes Make Surfers Unique? #CitizenScience @cliff_kapono @americangut

Kapono Surfing Microbes

It can be challenging deciding what to do with your life, but the best move is to combine the things you love. Cliff Kapono has done just, and it happens to be microbiomes and surfing, according to UC San Diego News. It seems like an unlikely combination until you understand Cliff’s background—he’s a chemistry doctoral student at University of California and also happens to be Hawaiian. His interest is studying the organisms of the ocean and their impact on humans. What better way than concentrating on surfers, who are practically one with the water both inside and outside of their bodies. Here’s the project according to the post:

Kapono sets off on a nine-month expedition, called the Surfer Biome Project, to collect hundreds of chemical samples from surfers across five continents. He begins his trip in England, where he will partner with researchers from the Center for Environment and Human Health at the University of Exeter School of Medicine. He will also recruit volunteers to help him collect samples by reaching out to local non-profit organizations such as Surfers Against Sewage, a group that works to reduce pollution and waste in bathing waters across the United Kingdom.

You might wonder how these organisms get collected, and it’s through the American Gut organization. This citizen science project asks the participant for swabs from a choice of sites like the mouth, forehead or palm of hand. As you might expect, fecal samples provide the most information. You should definitely check out their site to see their results so far, and note how age, diet, alcohol, exercise and antibiotics all affect the outcomes. Even if you aren’t a surfer, you can participate in their project.

As for the Surfer Biome Project, Chris is hoping to find a connection with the ocean and those tiny things co-existing in and on our bodies. It may be the tipping point needed for people to pay more attention to protecting the thing that covers so much of our planet. No matter what the results, Chris is certainly going to gather more great video footage from his surfing adventures. It should be quite interesting given the issue of pollution, as well as the healing benefits of salt. I know I’m looking forward to the finished bar charts.

For those of you who plan your life according to waves, make sure you are thinking about your skin. We’ve got the perfect accessory you can DIY–a Sunscreen Reminder Hat. Using our FLORA microcontroller and a matching FLORA UV Index Sensor, you can be sure to know when you need to apply; you’ll get a little tune from a piezo! It’s a fun project that is great for the beach and it will certainly amaze your friends.


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