The 50th Bristol Harbour Festival was great fun: after a couple of years of COVID19 -induced absence, it returned with a wide range of activities, music and events for all ages.
Naturally, Seas Your Future used the opportunity to showcase the tall ship Pelican of London right in the centre between the M-Shed and Arnolfini. Tours on board were very popular, so were our science workshops for kids. Next to the SS Great Britain, Seas Your Future’s second tall ship, the Fridtjof Nansen, is currently undergoing refurbishment and could be seen from the viewing platform outside Albion Dock.
I ran a wind turbine design competition with 11 young children, testing the power output of their various engineering feats with a volt meter and hair dryer as wind source. The winner was a young Hinson from Hong Kong with a well-thought-out design. Prizes of Pelican-branded mugs, caps and pins went down very well.
Leanne Hughes, survey geologist and experienced outreach worker at the British Geological Survey, continued with the renewable energy theme from a geotechnical point of view and got children to explore the stability of wind turbines in different types of marine sediment.
For kids and parents alike, examining a water sample from Bristol Floating Harbour under a microscope was a mesmerising surprise: it was teeming with zooplankton, microscopic animals that are either larvae or juvenile stages of larger species, or remain tiny all their lives. We identified the dominant animals as rotifers, many with eggs attached, and a range of copepod species.
Coincidentally, why plankton is interesting beyond fascination was highlighted just ahead of the festival by the publication of a new study by researchers at the University of Bristol and other institutions about the amount of carbon stored by microscopic algae.
Sadly, where people celebrate, there is waste – and although Bristol provided lots of extra facilities for waste disposal and people made great efforts to use them, there was simply too much waste from take-away food and drinks. The next big step is to make festivals more sustainable…but that is another story.
The recycling policy states that the festival ‘ensures that 100% of the waste from the festival is recycled or used to create renewable energy‘. Indeed, the debris from Saturday were collected early on Sunday morning. Avoiding waste generation for such an event is a real challenge that requires management, retailers and the public to work together.