Shark Stewards is restoring coral reefs in Malaysian Borneo, assessing and protecting reefs and fish populations including sharks in the Semporna islands. An associated online film series Borneo From Below is promoting public and government support for marine protection in the region.
Project Pegasus Part 6 – The Great Tangle We’ve officially reached the end of the modules for the construction of little Pegasus, and the team and I couldn’t be more thrilled! We’ve broken this post into two days because we ran into a little bit of an issue the first time we tried to turn Pegasus on. After charging the high-capacity lithium batteries that give our little ROV the juice it needs to run, we couldn’t get any feedback from the ROV. After a whole lot of head scratching, and a lot of time digging through internet forums, we realized that our batteries weren’t making contact in the battery tubes. After this “ah-ha’ moment all we had to do was solder a little bit of material onto the positive end of each battery so that they make good contact into their tubes. And then, violà! Little Pegasus came to life! But, our trouble shooting issues didn’t stop there. Here’s what Project Pegasus intern Jordan had to say about these last two days: “5/24/17 The ROV is very close to completion. We were able to turn the ROV on and we saw the light show that it produced. It was a very cool sight to see, the ROV flashing its lights, especially because I know that we did all of the wiring and soldering in order to make it happen. We did some troubleshooting today with communication back from the ROV. The ROV would turn on but it wouldn’t send us communication back, which was problematic. For the sake of time we decided to move on and email OpenROV™’s [tech support] people about the issue. Next, we placed the O-rings on the battery tubes and the DB25 pin connector to make sure they were water tight. At this point in the construction of the ROV, there were no more directions. Because of this, communication with the team was crucial in order to make any new adaptations to the ROV. We wanted to solder a waterproof quick release to the ROV so that we would be able to disconnect the 100m long tether from the ROV. We were not sure how close to the ROV we wanted to solder the quick release, but we decided together what length we would solder it at. 6/1/17 We had the amazing opportunity to video chat with Ms. Samantha [Wishnak]from the r/v Nautilus crew about their massive ROV called Hercules. She was able to talk to us about her daily life on the research vessel and how her team uses Hercules to obtain scientific data. Talking to her and asking her questions was very enlightening because many of us on our team want to pursue a career in ocean science and possible do exactly what Samantha is doing right now. After the video chat we got to work on finishing the ROV. The first thing we did was try to align and set the lasers on the ROV. There are two red lasers on the front of the ROV right next to the camera. These lasers measure how far away certain objects are from the ROV. This information will be important, along with live visual data from the ROV, to determine how close we want to get to an object underwater. We weren’t able to calibrate the lasers to what the directions wanted. The lasers were actually crossing, so the left laser was creating the right dot 3 meters away, and the right laser was creating the left dot 3 meters away. This is very problematic because that means the lasers are traveling at an angle, so the laser is going to travel further to hit the same object, which will make our measurements inaccurate. We decided to move on and ask the people at OpenROV™. The last thing we did today was a very long and tedious task. We have 100 meters of [tether] cable that came with the ROV, but we want to line all of it in black [expandable PET] webbing to protect the tether. Essentially we needed to feed the 100-meter tether though the black webbing. On top of that the 100-meter cable was very mixed up in the ultimate tangled headphone conundrum. We split off into two teams; one team’s job was to try and untangle the mess of cable, and the other team’s jobs was to feed the cable through the black webbing. We switched off jobs here and there but it ended up taking us nearly two hours. By the end of two hours we had untangled the the monster and made great progress with the feeding of the black mesh. It was a very rewarding moment in the end. Even though this process wasn’t very exciting, like soldering or solvent welding, it was a necessary step to reach our ultimate goal of completing the ROV.” Well said Jordan! I’m incredibly proud of all of the team members; their dedication and commitment has paid off. Stay tuned, the next time Project Pegasus meets we’ll be submerging Pegasus for the first time!!! The clock is ticking; the Edwards Lab leaves for Alaska in just over one month! Cheers, -Baron von Urchin
Thought to have disappeared millennia ago around the same extinction event that took the dinosaurs - glass sponges are the first animal life form on earth - and they're still here Glass sponges have recently been re-discovered in a few bays and sounds within the emerald green waters of the Salish Sea. As a submarine crew, we went out in search of these rare gardens along with our local guides and fellow conservation enthusiasts at the Marine Life Sanctuary Society to explore this ancient ecosystem and create a baseline survey of their condition for conservation. Here's our press release! Aquatica submersible routine dive discovers new glass sponge bioherm We are scuba diving, submarine piloting, ROV deploying and more to capture this vibrant ecosystem to share it with the world. Come dive with us!
Our First Prototype Magnetic Meteorite Sled Test Written by Jennifer Moore - Far Horizons Teen Intern I am an eighteen year old incoming freshman at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, a recent graduate of Marist High School (but those days are behind me) and also a Far Horizons Teen Intern! Today was our first day of testing the Magnetic Underwater Meteorite Sled (MUMS Jr.). We did three tests in different conditions, the first one in the sand, the second in the rocks, and the third in the water! Before we did any testing we attached a 360 camera to see our progress while the sled was underwater. We also adjusted the height of our magnets using duct tape. All of these tests happened at 12th Street Beach, in Chicago, next to the Adler Planetarium. Our model meteorites (which look somewhat like space pierogis) were slightly buried by the sand. This really hindered us, because our magnets couldn't pick them up. This will probably be similar to conditions in the lake. However, the magnet picked up lots of what we think is iron filaments and little magnetic rocks. This is something to take into account when we will be searching in the water... perhaps there is a way to clean this off. The second test was slightly better than the first. We adjusted the magnet a second time, and the sled pulled far easier than it did in the sand. Hopefully the texture of the lake is more similar to the rocks. We only picked up one meteorites. (space pierogis) Another issue we faced was our sled would push rocks up and onto our magnet, which can be frustrating and possibly push off meteorites (space pierogis) our magnet. Our final test occurred in the water, about one meter deep. The team all had to wear waders, which felt weird in the water. We had our 360 camera recording during this portion of the test! I (Jennifer Moore) pretended to be the boat and pulled it through the water. Once again, we did not pick up all five meteorites (space pierogis), however we picked up 3 of them! Also our MUMS (Magnetic Underwater Meteorite Sled) moved fairly easy while in the water! We learned a lot to continue to modify our sled design. Overall I consider it a success!!! Jennifer Moore
GLOBAL MARSPilot project "Global Mars" is an experience for students in traditionally under served places in the world to engage in a unique education that would encourage them to pursue science and help become scientists themselves. Below are the Global Mars pilot project goals, 1)Introduce/encourage interdisciplinary learning 2)Fill a knowledge gap 3)Introduce/encourage STEM 4)Introduce/encourage scientific research and exam preparation 5)Introduce students to the scientific method 6)Introduce/encourage passion based learning 7)Encourage learning science through mentoring Global Mars focus on achieving the above goals utilizing planetary science. *Why do we encourage passion based learning? Global Mars understands that every student's passion is different. We want to help students utilize their passion to help them learn. *Why do we serve traditionally under served places in the world? Global Mars know that traditionally under served places in the world suffer from the cycle of poverty. Global Mars believe that education is the key to break this cycle of poverty. *Why do we encourage passion based learning in traditionally under served places in the world? We want to help students utilize their own passion to break the cycle of poverty. *How are we going to achieve this? Global Mars consists of a "spark" based curriculum and a passion project that can help the young learner gain new skills so they can carry them in a lifelong journey. This can benefit their community and eventually the world. With a statistically valid study we will establish the program's long term and short term efficiency. *Pilot project: In the summer of 2017 the pilot project will take the Global Mars team to Matara, Sri Lanka to diffuse knowledge to under served students in the community. We are excited to take you on our journey, please stay tuned to our passion based adventure :) Link -> (https://hirunisenarathdassanayake.wordpress.com/global-mars/)) Global Mars Team | #TeamPassionLearning | #slmars
The Kraken performed well this past weekend-- Most successful dive yet! I have a lot to learn about video post production I admit. But, I was eager to get footage of our dive from Phippsburg, ME online. Upgrades: The new strong tether worked really well. We also upgraded our tether management system with the introduction of threaded disconnects and an extension cord reel. I need to improve the tether strain relief system since it has a tendency to slip and put tension on the communication wires. Good times!
St. Pauls Monastery Guest HouseThe edge of the coral reef was a bit of a swim from the shore (~500m) through a shallow lagoon. Coral was very nice. Giant clams the size of footballs were a highlight. Not a lot of fish around but it was quite wavy which didn't help the visibility.
June 23 - July 2nd are the dates for Snapshot Cal Coast. We will be in the field at Pelican Cove June 30th from 7:00 am - 9:30 am capturing images of the biodiversity in the intertidal with support from community volunteers and Terranea Recreation and Sustainability staff. Look forward to see what is different from last year and which organisms are also present again this year. June 27 - 28th Snapshot Cal Coast at Big Fisherman, Catalina Island, early morning low tides will provide a great opportunity to add images in better understanding biodiversity and seasonal changes in algae as well as other organisms.
I'd be a liar if I claimed that I post expedition logs on here promptly after trips. Nevertheless, here is a run-down of our trip down the mine-shaft. There were two separate trips, about 4 weeks apart from each other. April 21, 2017: First time visiting Kennedy mine. Quick tour of the premises, which consisted of all the old buildings and processing facilities used until 1946 or so. From mid-1940's through mid 2000's, the premises have been vacant, with much of the old equipment, office documents, etc left completely intact and unmoved. Many of the flooded mines in the area became popular destinations for local residents and workers to dump their garbage into what seemed to them to be a blackhole, a void. Only in the mid-2000's was it fenced off for concern of safety. This means that there is 60+ years of unknown activity. We were mentally prepared to find something grisly after being told this. We were escorted to the big flooded hole beneath the mine's head frame (tall building from which the mine's elevator is deployed). Short walk down. Very much a neglected hole. Until we contacted them with interest in the flooded cavern the site operators had hardly paid any attention to it, if at all. We deployed our Trident ROV prototype unit. We had some issues this first dive. While it initially worked out alright, within 20 minutes we were having connectivity issues, camera stream dropping, and video files being lost. We had about 30-40 minutes of diving within 5 meters. on top of all that, we had gotten the tether wedged in a crack in a redwood timber that had floated up to the surface of the shaft from the bottom. It was quite precarious, as the tether had to be wrangled out from the crack it was stuck in with a 6 meter long piece of wood, while standing on a rusty cat-walk over the shaft. This first dive was honestly pretty underwhelming. We wrapped up our dive, cleaned up, gave the ROV a bleach-bath to kill anything that may have gotten itself stuck to the ROV, and went on to the rest our day. We had tried to dive Trident in Black Chasm cave, which is a national monument, however is it privately operated and the gift shop manager didn't seem to be moved by our proposition to investigate the bottom of their cave for them via robot. Well, they actually were interested however they insisted we rent the entire cave out for $400 / hour. We ended up taking the tour anyway, which was bittersweet because the cave was incredible but our real intentions were stifled by lust for profit. Slept at a nearby campground that night. Next day after having a privately operated natural feature not be available to explore, we were intent on finding someone local who could tell us where some NON-privately operated caves might be. So we went to a gold mining museum, where this gentleman (whose name I cannot recall) fully dressed in gold miner regalia was exactly the person we were hoping to find. Having been in the region since the 1970's, after our inquiry he proceeded to tell us of all the caves, quarries, other abandoned mines, where he personally goes to look for gold, where he goes to smoke joints and where the local freemasons meet weekly. My notebook has at least 3 pages of information acquired from our new friend. Got his phone number - landline only, as he refuses to adopt cellular technology. I applaud him being steadfast in his own way of life. We then determined that this trip was more of a reconnaissance mission and that it was to be continued.
And that's a wrap! Bon voyage from a Coho born this Spring 2017. SPAWN spent its Spring mornings counting juvenile salmonids swimming to sea for the first time (smolts) because this life stage will be a make-or-break point for the year class. Decades of research have proven salmonid populations are about as successful as their smolt life stage is in freshwater. A healthy aquatic ecosystem will produce fat, healthy smolt populations expressing a full range of the phenotypes and adaptations in that gene pool. Smolt monitoring tracks how fat, healthy and abundant an out-migrating salmonid population is. A population with a full arsenal of adaptability has the capacity to respond and survive environmental changes like temperature fluctuations and precipitation variability. If a wild stock of salmon, such as the juveniles we counted this Spring, is able to maintain it's full range of diversity and genetic variations, it will retain the capacity to adapt.
In less than a month, I head to the beautiful Schoodic Peninsula for my 4th field season with citizen scientists from Los Angeles County (USA) high schools. We will continue our intertidal monitoring to track any change in community structure due to ocean acidification and warming. This year we also hope to place "robomussels" at our field sites. These are are automatic temperature loggers placed inside real mussels shells to measure temperature the way critters experience warming at the scale they experience it. This will give us a more accurate and biologically-relevant indication of how intertidal critters experience ocean warming. We will also be looking for sites for the OpenROV Trident, so we can be prepared if we are granted one (fingers crossed!)
Ocean Imaging are a group of marine scientists, videographers, and enthusiasts, who work together to communicate marine science and environmental stories. We aim to work with researchers and community groups who might not otherwise have the expertise or resources to get their message out to the world. At this stage this is a 'passion project' for us, but we're trying to build something self-sustaining, and would love you to be a part of it. We have been offered a unique opportunity to join a sailing boat in Greenland for two weeks this August with a team from Ninth Wave Global. Together we have an open plan to sail Northwards from Kangerlussuaq via Disko Bay, returning on a similar route. Along the way we will observe and collect stories about the unique environment, local communities, and researchers working here. Greenland is a place of rapid change - social, environmental, and economic - and with change come trade-offs: gains and losses balance out in the end. We look forward to exploring and better-understanding some of the issues in Greenland from the perspective of those who live, work and conduct research there. We'll add more information here soon, including a plan for our route, but in the meantime, you can check out some of our other stories at theocean.com.au or Ocean Imaging.
We're navigating a new plan for today based on the small craft advisory that the National Weather Service issued for the Manitowoc and Two Rivers area. Five to eight-foot waves on Lake Michigan are not conducive to lakebed mapping or shipwreck exploring! We're still meeting with our teachers and students at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum to pilot the ROV from the dock, and for some beach activities and seining nearby with Titus Seilheimer, UW Sea Grant fisheries outreach specialist. We'll meet at 2 p.m. as planned at the R/V Storm docked at the museum to discuss the lakebed mapping project with our teachers, students and any reporters who would like to learn more. Looking forward to a great day in Manitowoc!
This orthophotoplan made with one of our drones in 2016 is the basis of our 2017 mission. We will use our scubadiving gear as well as the brand new Trident to explore and document the underwater remains. Every aspect of the mission will be conducted under the supervision of an underwater archaeologist, Krisztian Gal.
On March 21st, the Viking Explorers went to the Fire Island Lighthouse. At the lighthouse, we explored the Lighthouse Museum and saw how the original lens of the original Fire Island Lighthouse, built in 1826. The lens is a design called a Fresnnel lens, afterthe famous scientist Augustin-Jean Fresnel. His design used cuts of shapes in glass a certain way which would magnify light so people could see a kerosene lamp from miles away. This allowed sailors to be guided to Fire Island during storms or fog. We also had the opportunity to climb into the new Fire Island Lighthouse, built in 1858. There we looked over the edge with our 360 video cameras and saw the light within the lighthouse, at the very top. After that, we brought our ROVs to the Great South Bay, where we found beautiful green sea lettuce at the bottom of the bay. The video link has been attached to this post.
How will the African Marine MegaTransect work?In oder to be effective, the African Marine MegaTransect Expedition is designed to create a database that is comparative to the database created in 2012/13 by the same team in order to calculate change in time. This is critical because we do not know how much time we have left before the coral reef can't sustain coastal communities anymore. In fact it is possible that we have already passed that stage. The key message from this expedition in building scientific capacity and defining actionable management plans is COMPARATIVE DATA AND TRENDS associated that link into climate change models and discussions and takes into consideration social data. This is our goal, we will be more empowered with this data, it should have been done years ago, with all the aid money the various nations have received for marine resource management. The African Marine MegaTransect has been broken down into 5-phases, which will be implemented from November 2017 - December 2018. These phases include: Pre-Expedition phase June 2017 - November 2017: This will include planning, logistics, permit applications, team development, technology training, data platform development and media campaigns. Sea going survey phase November 2017 - March 2018: Core data driven survey using various technologies to measure coral reef health and coral reef fish biomass, abundance, diversity and abundance (the key measurements needed for management and conservation). Land mission phase November 2017 - March 2018: To gather social data and also to sample commonly eaten fish in local fishing markets to determine fish toxicity due to plastic assimilation. Post-Expedition phase April 2018 - December 2018: Data analysis, open accessing the data and discoveries, writing policy recommendations, publishing scientific documentation, media campaigns, develop an MPA management/recovery strategy. Equipment purchase phase: Phase 5 is really about purchasing the right equipment, doing the necessary training and software checks. It is a continuous process.
The seasonal sea-ice influenced marine ecosystem of the Antarctic Peninsula (AP) is changing rapidly. To understand how climatic changes will manifest in the demography of predators that rely on this habitat, we first require an understanding of their behavior and ecology. The largest ice-dependent krill predator and most abundant cetacean in the Southern Ocean is the Antarctic minke whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis). Despite their abundance, virtually nothing is known of the foraging behavior or ecological role of this species. Thus, we lack the knowledge to understand how climate- driven changes will affect these animals and therefore the dynamics of the ecosystem as a whole.Intellectual Merit. We will use multi-sensor and video recording tags, fisheries acoustics, and unmanned vehicle systems (aerial and submersible) to study the foraging behavior and ecological role of AMWs in the nearshore waters of the AP. We pose the following research questions: What is the feeding performance of AMWs? How important is sea ice to the foraging behavior of AMW? How do AMWs feed directly under sea ice? We will use proven tagging and analytical approaches to characterize the underwater feeding behavior and kinematics of AMWs. Combined with visualizations and quantitative measurements of the prey field, we will measure the energetic costs of feeding and determine how AMWs optimize energy gain. Using animal-borne video recording tags and robotic technology we will assess the quantity and quality of sea ice foraging habitats and determine how feeding that occurs directly under sea ice differs from open water feeding. This knowledge will: (1) significantly enhance our knowledge of the least-studied Antarctic krill predator; and (2) be made directly available to international, long-term efforts to understand how climate-driven changes will affect the structure and function of the Antarctic marine ecosystem. Our educational and outreach are to increase awareness and understanding of: (i) the ecological role of minke whales around the AP; (ii) the effects of global climate change on an abundant but largely unstudied marine predator; (iii) the advanced methods and technologies used by whale researchers to study these cryptic animals and their prey; and (iv) the variety of careers in ocean science by sharing the experiences of scientists and students. These will be achieved by delivering continuous near-real-time delivery of project events and data to informal audiences through pervasive social media channels, together with a traditional professional development program that will provide formal STEM educators with specific standards-compliant lesson plans. These traditional products will be delivered through the established Scientific Research and Education Network (SCiREN) program in North Carolina.
Finally got out into the wild again. And ... learned some more lessons! The first thing that went awry was on the top side communication box. Putting the wires the little box that has the springs to hold the wires in fell apart. After a moment of despair, I settled in to getting back into working order, and succeeded. Though, I'll have to work out some way to keep it in place... One could easily drop a piece in the wrong place. *My tether management system. * Turns out I hadn't quite thought it all the way through, and I'd not actually tested it. I ended up laying out a length and just seeing how far I got. Once I got it home, I did a little reworking of my winder and I think have it in a good place again. *Control direction. * My controller is working in the exact opposite way that feels natural so it was difficult to feel I was getting anywhere. I later realized I could have just turned it upside down and been happy, but I ought to figure out how to adjust the code for that. Testing it is a bit of a pain though, so almost might as well just leave it as is. Tether+rocks=bad Luckily due to my earlier constraints I did not get very far, but rocks, even small ones were proving problematic. My next test, I'll have to pick an area a little more devoid of rocks. But having better control will at least allow me to go back. Also having someone doing a little bit more tether management with me would be useful. * Scummy water * makes for crummy visibility! Be careful where one drops the rover in, I guess! (another negative for Lake Merritt perhaps given concentrated run off) *Vertical Engine trouble * The biggest downside to my run -- my vertical engine was working fine for about 10 minutes then decided to stop working. Can't quite tell what went on here, it was working fine when I got it home again after cleaning, so maybe it was just jammed by a little piece of debris. More soon.
Shark Stewards is collaborating with the National Park Service at the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park to assess marine species and habitat in Aquatic Cove and develop new opportunities for youth and public education. This program will include cataloguing marine species from invertebrates to sea birds, on pilings, the municipal pier, in the cove including subtidal habitat using a Trident ROV by Open Explore. Eelgrass beds will be mapped in the cove using the ROV along transect lines in a baseline survey. Using the mounted camera species will be recorded and identified both along the bottom and on pilings. to compile a list of marine life in the Park. Eelgrass, Zostera marina, is a foundation species critical for the health of the Bay, sequesters carbon, and provides critical foraging, nesting and habitat for many species including the endemic nudibranch Phyllaplysia taylori. Eelgrass beds have been greatly impacted inside the San Francisco Bay. Aquatic Park provides ideal habitat for eelgrass beds and the plant has been identified visually, yet no mapping has occurred. Viktoria Kuehn, a masters student in the Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of San Francisco will conduct the initial survey in the cove. This baseline survey will provide invaluable information and will be repeatable over time to determine change in the marine ecosystem.
After one season gone in Myanmar we got to properly test our Open ROV and it was great to have it on board! The video below is part ROV part diving underwater footage but if you browse our channel you will find lots more! Working on a complete Open ROV video right now and hope to get it online soon! All that being said the rov did make life easier and better giving us a chance to explore the seabed below the 40m mark and giving us more insight in the marine life deeper down!
Derelict fishing traps continue to catch wildlife for years after they are lost. This "ghost fishing" is a huge problem for coastal wildlife, and the traps are hard to find and recover on a large scale. We are using image recognition software and our OpenROV, "Bill Murray", to develop a new and possibly more effective search and recovery process. Who are we? Four current and former UF students: two ecologists, an engineer, and an environmental scientist, interested in solving conservation problems by taking advantage of the powerful technologies that are now becoming cheap enough to use. We are grateful to TIES, a part of the State Department, for our grant funding. Why is our robot named after the guy from Caddyshack? We will use our OpenROV to attach a tether to ghost traps, allowing them to be pulled aboard our vessel by a winch. It is named Bill Murray in honor of his role as Steve Zissou, and because we will be using it to bust ghost traps!
We have been so busy lately but we did not forget about our rover. We have plans for our first real dive in the next couple weeks. We are going to go dive in front of a dam and look for sturgeon. At this point we are finishing our depth sensor.
According to myths and written records, a magnificent city of "Seven Pagodas" or Mahabalipuram flourished in the 7th and 8th centuries on the shores of the Bay of Bengal in Southern India. "Before the December 2004 tsunami, evidence for the existence of the Seven Pagodas was largely anecdotal. The existence of the Shore Temple, smaller temples, and rathas supported the idea that the area had strong religious significance, but there was little contemporary evidence save one Pallava-era painting of the temple complex. Ramaswami wrote in his 1993 book Temples of South India that evidence of 2000 years of civilization, 40 currently visible monuments, including two "open air bas-reliefs," and related legends spreading through both South Asia and Europe had caused people to build up Mahabalipuram’s mystery in their minds (Ramaswami, 204). He writes explicitly that "There is no sunk city in the waves off Mamallapuram. The European name, ‘The Seven Pagodas,’ is irrational and cannot be accounted for" (Ramaswami, 206). Anecdotal evidence can be truthful though, and in 2002 scientists decided to explore the area off the shore of Mahabalipuram, where many modern Tamil fishermen claimed to have glimpsed ruins at the bottom of the sea. This project was a joint effort between the National Institute of Oceanography (India) and the Scientific Exploration Society, U.K. (Vora). The two teams found the remains of walls beneath 5 to 8 meters of water and sediment, 500 to 700 meters off the coast. The layout suggested that they belonged to several temples. Archaeologists dated them to the Pallava era, roughly when Mahendravarman I and Narasimharavarman I ruled the region (Vora). NIO scientist K.H. Vora noted after the 2002 exploration that the underwater site probably contained additional structures and artifacts, and merited future exploration (Vora)." Source: Wikipedia
The Center for Great Lakes Literacy, Great Lakes Sea Grant Network and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will host 15 4th-12th grade teachers andnon-formal educators to work beside scientists performing Great Lakes research July 8-14, 2017. Stops in ports (including the NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary) will include additional science experiences. The workshop will offer first-hand explorations of Lake Huron ecology, geology, geography, weather and biogeochemical processes, with particular emphasis on human impacts. Participants will collect planktonic and benthic organisms as well as conduct water quality data collection and analysis. Part of this research experience will demonstrate to teachers how ROVs can be used for scientific work. One difficulty in assessing fish abundance and distribution in the Great Lakes is sampling on rocky substrates, because bottom trawling isn’t feasible. There is particular interest in assessing round goby abundance on these habitats to get a better idea of what their potential ecological impacts could be and whether or not they have displaced native species, such as mottled or slimy sculpin, for example. The research team is excited to use the OpenROV Trident to examine these areas where typical sampling methods can’t be used.
Yesterday our school hosted an Earth Day event for students and their families. This provided an opportunity to let people fly OpenROV #3536 and learn about how we're going to be using it in Guadeloupe. We equipped the ROV with a water sampler - a niskin bottle - and let the people take samples. This allowed us to talk to them about types of water pollution and how we test for them....but most of the questions I fielded were about the OpenROV and its capabilities. We had people of all ages and backgrounds using the ROV. Here are some adorable photos of a two year old controlling it. She got pretty good at up and down, but will need practice to get the hang of the left joystick, Niskin Bottle: Oceanography for Everyone
Mid October 2016, the Octopus Foundation returned to the Italian island of Lampedusa to help the "Lampedusa Turtle Rescue". Once again, we decided to attach the Olympus camera (Tough TG-Tracker) on the back of a marine turtle for half an hour. This time, it is a 34kg specimen that takes us for a ride. Link to the Lampedusa Turtle Rescue Link to the TG Tracker camera
Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) operates an Environmental Monitoring Program with stations that include both meteorological as well as water quality instrumentation in Terrebonne Bay. LUMCON’s monitoring stations offer real-time in-situ coastal environmental data that is available to the scientific community and the general public. While stationary monitoring stations are excellent for collecting long-term time-series data sets, an OpenROV Trident carrying a mini-CTD payload would be ideal for conducting transects and collecting pressure, temperature, conductivity, nutrient, chlorophyll and dissolved oxygen data over a larger area within Terrebonne bay. A Trident/CTD can be used in areas that are inaccessible to a conventional motor vessel. Another advantage of a Trident/CTD system would be collection of water quality data in 3 dimensions by combining horizontal transects with an undulating motion of diving and ascending, in effect creating an undulating CTD without the need for a motor vessel to tow the system and create disturbances in the water column ahead of the CTD. Utilizing real time sensor information we can make the data instantly accessible which allows for easy dissemination of crucial small scale events occurring on a bay wide basis in a time frame that allows for immediate action by interested parties.For summer of 2017, LUMCON’s Environmental Monitoring Program has approached YSI/Xylem concerning purchasing or obtaining a demo EXO1 4-port data sonde with pressure, temperature, conductivity, and dissolved oxygen probes. LUMCON would like to design a mount for an EXO1 sonde, experiment with flight patterns to determine the most efficient speed and pattern for covering the water column along a transect, as well as assess the feasibility of mapping hypoxia across all of Terrebonne bay. (Figure 1. from Batker et al. 2010, Earth Economics)
Channelkeeper expedition with our AnacapaROV - Very successful ocean testing after initial testing in the bathtub and a swimming pool. With our connection to the Santa Barbara Channelkeeper we were offered the opportunity to test the ROV in unison with the educational expertise of the Channelkeeper staff with their "human ROV". They sent divers down with live video and sound and we were able to interact with them and ask questions. We then explored the local Santa Barbara Mohawk Reef just south of Mesa Lane beach and had a spider crab attack the OpenROV. The lights, lasers and motors performed successfully.
Our expedition in coastal Louisiana will in many ways be an analog of our deep-sea experiments investigating wood fall communities. In May of 2017 we will deploy 200 wood packages at 5 sites, 2,000 meters deep in the Gulf of Mexico. Identical wood packages will be deployed in a transect from land to open ocean in Terrebonne Bay with the goal of conducting parallel experiments. Using the OpenROV we will gather environmental data at our experimental sites and conduct frequent visual inspections to learn more about the ecology of wood on sea floor ecosystems in the shallow water habitats of Louisiana. The Trident ROV would be used primarily as a tool to conduct site inspections in an effort to create a time series documentation of the biological and physical associations that a food and structure source creates in shallow water coastal communities. Not only would the Trident be an observation platform for the experimental arrays of wood packages but it would also be invaluable for the discovery of natural wood deposits associated with storm events and coastal erosion. Accessibility to wood fall experiments allow for an in depth investigation of several research questions that can only be addressed with regular video surveys. These include multi-species interactions, habitat use by transient mobile fauna, predator-prey dynamics, encrusting habitat enhancement, regular structure associations, and physical enhancement of benthic habitats. The use of a Trident ROV gives us a freedom unknown for these kinds of manipulative ecological experiments. Knowledge gained from the type of work described above would then enable us to plan a larger scale investigation that would seek to tie metabolic energetics along transects of differing community and resources gradients in the coastal marshes of Louisiana. Potential to develop a strong research program using the Trident ROV allows us to couple multiple lines of research that ultimately would answer basic questions of habitat heterogeneity, linkages between ecosystem structure and function and constrain aspects of the metabolic theory of ecology.
The unique and highly productive Louisiana marine ecosystem is made up of vast coastal wetlands of both abandoned and active deltas that meet the Gulf of Mexico. These productive waters in turn create some of the most productive fisheries in the world. The sheer amount and diversity of life in the teeming coastal waters of Louisiana is hard for many fathom. With an OpenROV Trident, we will bring this underwater diversity to students first hand, while engaging them with exploration and data collection that captures fish population structure and behaviors around structures in a variety of habitats and across seasons.
The last thing I expected when I visited Thoreau’s famous Walden Pond was to find jellyfish. But small, nickel-sized jellies were teaming in the cold October water, underneath a canopy of red and gold leaves. As a scientist who studies jellyfish, I desperately wanted to learn more about these odd freshwater jellies, so I returned to the pond with my high-tech equipment: a net, collecting jars, and a bright green pool noodle. I floated around, freezing, on the noodle for nearly an hour before I found the jellies. These small, clear jellies weren’t spread evenly over the pond like I’d thought; instead, they were all clumped in a single bay at the surface, not far from the stone remnants of Thoreau’s cabin. Though I collected a number of jellies, they did not breed successfully in captivity, and within a few weeks all the jellies in Walden Pond were gone. My chance to study the freshwater jellies that year had passed. Though freshwater jellies seem elusive, they are all over the United States, often appearing and disappearing with little notice. Even though they’ve been reported in 44 of the 48 contiguous united states, we know very little about these animals. For example, all the animals I observed were grouped together in a small area of the lake. Do they passively concentrate in certain parts of a lake, or like the famous golden lagoon jellies on Palau, do they actively migrate throughout the day? If we can locate freshwater jellies effectively, and in multiple different lakes, we’ll have a much better chance of answering these questions. However, floating on a pool noodle in cold water simply is not an effective strategy for finding and studying freshwater jellies. I propose to study freshwater jellyfish, in collaboration with citizen scientists, using a Trident ROV. We will use the ROV to locate jellies in multiple lakes, and examine their distribution and daily movement patterns. Once we find jellies, I will collect them for further study in the lab. I will conduct this work in conjunction with an outreach campaign with the local community. I will alert citizens to the general presence of freshwater jellyfish through op-eds in local newspapers, flyers, and public talks. Citizens will report sightings to me via email or through our expedition webpage, and I will invite them to join me in the field as we locate freshwater jellies with the Trident ROV. With the aid of a Trident ROV and citizen science, we will be able to study these strange and beautiful animals, and hopefully catalyze interest in freshwater jellies and local freshwater ecology throughout the region. (photos: Number 1: The old "old way" of collecting jellies in a pond with a pool noodle Number 2: A freshwater jellyfish, from Wikimedia commons)
A brief update; we conducted a couple of test immersions in the Baga river, and then tagged along with TerraConscious on one of their eco-friendly dolphin boat rides out on the Arabian Sea, where Matsya was introduced to seawater for the first time. The water was murky, but she dived to the seabed (at a very shallow 10m of depth) and everything worked well. There were no leaks and aside from a few data-glitches on the IMU, all the components worked! I've taken a few segments from the footage recorded by Matsya's camera, and compiled them into a short (~1min) video which should be available below. Next up: Fixing the port motor, finding a source of replacement motors in India, painting the OpenROV frame in a high-visibility colour (so she can be easily located when she surfaces) and getting things in place for future dives.
One of the targets for exploration on our next expedition is a large spring formed by a sinkhole that is located about 600ft/200m above the lake (at 16,600ft/5092m) and at a potentially important location. It's about 30ft/10m deep and such locations were (and are) often considered sacred sites in the Andean cultures. Often called "ojos" or 'eyes', they sometimes received offerings, which were thrown into them. In the photo you see below, the nearly 20,000ft (6100m) mountain of Jatunriti can be seen in the background. The water that flows from its rapidly-receding glacier feeds the lake and, eventually, the Amazon river itself. Since our limited diving gas is precious up there, and our dive gear has to move around on horses, the ROV will be critical for this site. We'll be able to explore the spring to determine if anything might be down there and therefore, if we should even attempt to dive at the site. Diving at these altitudes is serious business. One concern I have are the aquatic plants growing around the edges and walls of the spring. Does anyone have experience with operating an OpenROV around aquatic vegetation? How much of a concern is prop-fouling? If the the propellers do foul, are they easily cleared without damaging the motors?
Debrief The ice has now melted on Collins Bay, and the ground is starting to thaw out. It will soon be time for more shoreline explorations, but without ice! Some improvements to make on the robot are: Ensure there is threadlock on the set screws Use a longer rope for tether Add flotation devices to robot (just in case) Make a waterproof battery box (just in case) Take still photos on the camera in addition to video; sometimes the footage was a little shaky to get a sharp screen grab Have a handle on the robot for carrying (already done!) Have a smoother pan up/down option instead of directly controlling with joystick Custom wheels for ice A key item we noticed was we should really use the robot's point of view to its advantage. This means taking more photos and videos of the ground underneath, as well as the plants and stunning horizon view. Also, it would have been better if we started out earlier in the day. By the time it was the end and I recorded the outro, it was so dark you couldn't see me. Bringing a tripod next trip is necessary to capture another view point and reduce shake... especially when it's cold outside. All in all, it was an interesting journey to bring the robot into such cold weather and operate it on ice! We can almost dream of glacier explorations... Maybe one day! Special thanks to the Open Explorer community for following this expedition and commenting. It's been nice to share the journey with all of you Here's how you can be a part of Robot Missions! Join in your local shoreline cleanup Support our continuing efforts on Patreon Like us on Facebook for upcoming Field Tests Follow us on Twitter for news
It's a race to confirm the new theory! "Beyond Grand Marais, the Brule River splits at the Devil’s Kettle waterfall. Half of it tumbles down and continues on its way. The rest pours into a dark deep hole in the hill ... and disappears. For years, people have tried to figure out where that water goes. Logs and Ping-Pong balls tossed into the churning cauldron seemed to simply vanish, fueling speculation that the lost branch of the river might flow for miles underground, carrying bobbing debris down to the distant shores of Lake Superior or off to some underground cavern. Now, finally, a researcher from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) thinks he’s cracked the riddle of Devil’s Kettle. “It’s a beautiful optical illusion,” said DNR mapping hydrologist Jeff Green, who first marveled at the wandering waterway during a family trip to Judge C.R. Magney State Park years ago. The disappearing half of the river, it turns out, reappears pretty quickly downstream." http://www.startribune.com/scientists-think-they-ve-solved-the-mystery-of-devil-s-kettle-falls/414996694/
According to a report by the United Nation Food and Agricultural Association, Malaysia is the 9th largest shark fishing nation and has risen to become ranked 3rd globally for shark fin imports. This small nation is having a serious impact on global shark populations in the Coral Triangle, as well as overfishing as much as 90% of its own shark population. However, a strong local movement centered in Sabah Borneo Malaysia is speaking up for sharks and increasing protection. Shark Stewards is supporting this work on the ground in Malaysia helping assess shark fishing, the shark fin trade and conduct a shark survey to determine impacts on sharks and rays. With the Sabah Shark Protection Association, we are striving for increased shark protection, stopping the flow of shark fins and creating marine protected areas for sharks and other species in Malaysian Borneo. Our Shark Shepherd collaboration with marine artist Ben Von Wong working for a no shark and ray fishing policy in Malaysia and supporting dive ecotourism with support from the Ministry of Tourism. Sign the petition. Shark fin soup is widely consumed in the major cities of Malaysia, and Sabah is the major destination for cheap and endangered seafood for Chinese tourists. Shark fins are sold on the streets and in the alleys and finned sharks are evident in all the large fish landings. The fins are sold first, although the meat is generally unpalatable and rendered into lower grade products like fish meal and fish balls. Read an excerpt from our National Geographic Ocean Views blog. Now in the fourth year, the project also is filming a series called Borneo From Below, an online “Funservation” program on marine life produced by the local media production company ScubaZoo. With host Aaron “Bertie” Gekoski the series is adventurous, humorous, and at times like this, dead serious. As part of the series, we are continuing a fish market survey we assisted with the Malaysian non profit Tropical Reef and Conservation Centre (TRACC) to determine how common sharks and rays are being caught here. We are also diving and filming sharks and following the shark from the reef to the plate. This episode is about coral catsharks, but we are finding it more challenging to find them alive than dead. There is increasing concern that Malaysia is adding shark fins to the top of the list of the country's record of wildlife trafficking and trade of illegal wildlife parts like rhino horn, elephant tusk and bear and tiger products. However, media attention is supporting champions in the country and helping bolster Sabah's interest in protecting the environment and supporting dive tourism to save sharks. Restoring and Protecting Reef Habitat Protecting marine habitat is also critical to help save sharks and marine ecosystems here in the Coral Triangle. Dynamite fishing is one of the prevalent factors causing reef destruction. Our work with our partners at TRACC on Pom Pom island is restoring coral reefs, assessing fish populations and reintroducing ground shark species as a pilot conservation project. Students from the University of San Francisco and volunteer divers are helping rebuild reefs with artificial reef structures, and conducting fish surveys to determine efficacy. Preliminary Results During 2015 & early 2016, the local village community divers and the TRACC international volunteers have built a wide range of different reefs at a variety of different sites on Kalapuan island in the Semporna district. In 2016 367 bottle reefs were constructed and installed with approximately 3500 hard and soft corals. The bottle reef system is composed of reef friendly cement, sand reinforced with mild steel, and recycled bottles to provide a solid substrate for coral settlement, reef stabilization and coral planting. As part of the trial we also constructed 12 large turtle reefs; 2 igloos; 12 deep reefs planted with gorgonians and sea fans and over 1500 corals in the nursery. We also built several large bommie / tetris reef structures as a trial of techniques. Many of the bottle and turtle bommie reefs were built and positioned on the Kalapuan community reef site during the Kalapuan environmental and coral planting days. Please support our work so we can help our partners fight for their vanishing sharks and coral reefs. Shark Stewards is a non profit project of the Earth Island Institute.
Better late than never, right? Sometimes work gets in the way of fun. In my last post, I was hoping to have nice weather for tossing the drone up in the air. Well...nope. Turns out it got really cold and windy instead. But we're all intrepid explorers, right? We push on. Despite the lake being choppy and stirring up a lot of silt, I was able to accomplish part of my goals for the day. The hope was to orient using some previous GPS waypoints, and see if we could locate any structures underwater. That obviously was not possible. However, I was able to shoot a lot of photos, and re-orient to the new topography. This was the first time I had been up to the northern(ish) end of the lake since it had flooded and refilled last summer. Turns out, catching 12-15 ft of water can really change the way things look (the northern end of the lake is flatter and shallower, so the water really spreads out). I realized my original plan of hauling gear out in my 17ft canoe, and anchoring on site, will probably not work. The town's location is out in a highly trafficked area, and no longer near the bank...more right out in the middle. I am considering hauling the stuff out to the island and putting that 300ft tether to work. We'll see. Dive time is here. Just need a free weekend with some good weather. Coming soon. (In the photo below, the bridge site should be about 100 yards towards the camera from a point directly between the two islands)
This time I didn't design everything from scratch, but used the OpenROV design for the mechanics (Electronics and software I did myself however). And for a change the ROV is still in good shape after it's maiden voyage! I plan to perform some upgrades in time for this summer vacation, and hopefully be able to do some proper exploring. During the testing of this ROV I saw cod, cuckoo wrasse, star fish, and sea urchins.
The Anchovy is a simple, long range, deep sea R.O.V. costing (hopefully) under 200 dollars to make and build. It consits of a single piece of pvc with two end caps, 2 motors, a livestream video camera, a gopro, a ballast, some floodlight leds and a thether atached to a buey housing the rf module. Later versions may include depth sensors, gas sensors and other added electronics. Keep in mind this is all in the development stage so feel free to contact me with any questions or ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org
Having updated the firmware, I was totally expecting my initial powering on of my OpenROV 2.8 to be only 75% functional based on my lack of experience with acrylic bonding and soldering. I was elated when Ioaded that batteries after assembly and it lit up! I was even able to connect to the cockpit with very little trouble as well having had some experience with IP networking. The only issues I noticed at first was that I had installed the camera upside down (the forum advised simply removing it and flipping around which was not too hard) and the starboard LED lights are dimmer on one side. I suspect my rookie soldering to be the root cause and I will look at this later. For a test run, I put the ROV in a 300 gallon hot tub (unheated) and was amazed that it flew as expected. It soon became apparent that my piloting skills will need some honing.
It's about time! If you didn't want to sit through hours of raw dive footage, here's the highlight video from our incredible adventure.
Our time in a Brazil with a fantastic group of students ended about a year ago, but we've been busy evaluating the program, improving the curriculum, and finding ways to tell the kids' stories. The highlights: 1) Our partners at USC's Rossier School of Education conducted an analysis of students' pre- and post-tests to show statistically significant educational gains following the Mars Academy program. Not only did the students learn about the scientific process, the ocean, and outer space, but they also demonstrated a greater sense of purpose and agency in improving their communities through science. 2) Hank and our film team have been hard at work on a feature-length documentary. Check out the extended trailer below! 3) We're planning future Mars Academy experiences for children around the world, so stay tuned for our next journey of exploratory education!
An interesting note. We've discovered that there is a Geocache hidden in the depths of the Lake that, until now, only certified scuba divers have been able to locate. Though we are divers as well, I am pretty sure no one has done geocaching with an ROV before. This is now an exploration target after we've checkout out our gear. From Blue Octopus Scuba: http://www.blueoctopusscuba.com/local/lake-phoenix** **"Certified Divers headed to Lake Phoenix for fun or skills practice should stop by the Admissions Desk and obtain a laminated map of the lake. There is a hidden underwater Geo Cache only reachable with SCUBA equipment, if you can find it. You'll have to plan your dives carefully to reach the Geo Cache and the mystery item..." One thing we didn't design for was salvage. Looks like we may have to rig up a gripper of some kind. Cache #GC2VPD7 From the geocaching.com: Geocache Description: "You must be a certified scuba diver to seek this cache located at Lake Rawlings Quarry in Rawlings, Va. Check in at the quarry. The cache is located at of the Mystery Boat (#11 on the quarry map). The site is not marked by a buoy so it is recommended to reference the map. The cache is a plastic box with DAN stickers on it. When you find the cache, sign the log secured to the top of the inside of the box. Take one of the FTF prizes and leave another trinket for future cache seekers. After you have found this cache, send us a photo of you with it and tell us the story of your adventure! " N 36° 56.984 W 077° 46.003 UTM: 18S E 253639 N 4092873** This is great fun. It also happens to be near the Blast Hole Whatever that is...We will find out!