People all across the US, from Kansas to Florida, Washington to Maine, are in for a real surprise this summer. Visiting local lakes is a great way to beat the heat, and to many's shock, also a great way to find jellyfish! Freshwater jellyfish live all over the US, and can be found in everything from ponds to quarries to large reservoirs. As a scientist specializing in jellyfish, I've been trying to study these strange animals for years. However, without a citizen science team and ROV, it's hard to locate and collect them. This expedition will explore lakes in search of freshwater jellyfish, with the aim of better understanding the biology and ecology of these mysterious and beautiful animals.
A long time coming - finally I'm on the way to the Galapagos. Ever since meeting HARRIET, the Galapagos Tortoise that lived at the Australia Zoo, some ten years ago, I wanted to go and see this archipelago. The wait is over, I'm on my way!
One of our primary goals for this expedition was to retrieve offering pots that we discovered on the lakebed in 2012. Sibinacocha’s water level has been dropping in the last few years due to climate change and more recently, from lake water being piped to downstream villages. Subsequently, many of the ruin structures and the pots surrounding them are in shallower water, which allows more light penetration and therefore, more algae and aquatic plant growth. Features that were easily recognizable when I discovered them in 2011 are now completely covered with aquatic vegetation. This not only makes the structures and their surrounding offerings difficult to study, the vegetation growing on the pots also damages their surface. In 2015 our underwater archaeologists realized that the submerged cultural features were being covered and so they stabilized the one pot that we could still locate at that time. The pot was surrounded by sandbags to prevent algae growth on its surface and a buoy was placed next to it to ensure that it could be relocated. It’s also conceivable that the structures and pots could be out of the water in the very near future, which will make them more vulnerable to damage and looting. Therefore, the Peruvian Ministry of Culture granted the Peruvian Center for Maritime and Underwater Archaeology (CPAMS) team an emergency action permit to recover the pots that we could still locate. Underwater archaeology is a relatively new discipline and that is especially true in Peru. The CPAMS underwater archaeology team is the first of its kind in Peru and we were all quite honored to be included in their effort. In fact, I’m told that this underwater artifact recovery was also a first in Peru, which is shocking considering the country’s rich cultural history. The CPAMS archaeologists believe that there must be more submerged sites like this in the Peruvian highlands, they just haven’t been discovered yet (we hope to change that soon!)… Once the gases in our bodies safely equilibrated to the altitude, our dive team made a reconnaissance dive to inspect the state of the stabilized pot and to conduct systematic searches for the other pots. Dense vegetation thwarted our efforts to relocate the missing pots so we focused on recovering the stabilized pot. In recent years strong winds and storms have become more frequent in August, and that pattern was looking the same for this expedition. Concerned that bad weather might prevent us from safely recovering the pot, we chose to recover it with our first good weather window. The day that I had waited years for had finally arrived. On August 20 the dive team entered the water to retrieve the pot. Under the supervision of CPAMS, we rehearsed the recovery effort on land to help ensure that the plan was executed smoothly. Every team member was assigned a specific task — both above and below the water. We were supervised by CPAMS archaeologist, Martin Polo, and artifact conservation specialist, Alexandra Sponza. As I carefully removed the sandbags surrounding it, I was relieved to find the pot was intact and just as we’d left it two years before. We photographically documented its condition and then enacted the plan that we’d rehearsed. One diver removed the vegetation and sediment around the pot until we could tell if the bottom was intact and we were sure that it could be safely removed according to the plan. A sturdy, plastic crate was rigged with strong, kevlar cord and placed next to the pot. On cue, each diver executed their task until we passed the crate to waiting team members on the shoreline (check out the attached video. Password: Sibina). The pot was quickly transported to one of our expedition tents and Alexandra took over. At that altitude, temperatures quickly drop to below freezing after sundown and we had a very old artifact filled with water. If that water were allowed to freeze, the pot could shatter. Alexandra set up a makeshift lab in the tent and a stove was lit inside to stave off the cold. She immediately siphoned off the water in the pot until only a thick layer of loose sediment remained. As the layers were removed we sat tense with anticipation as to what might be at the bottom of the pot. Suddenly she cracked a smile and said, “there’s something here…” We all wondered what, if any, offering would be found inside, but one thing was in the back of everyone’s mind… gold. Golden figurines wouldn’t be too surprising for such a location and the precious metal is certainly the stuff of adventurous dreams. After a few more layers were removed, Alexandra knew that it was something hard and not seeds, coca leaves, or the remnants of cloth, which wouldn’t be too surprising either. She cleared enough of the sediment away from the objects to reveal their shape and photograph their configurations. Then, finally, she reached in and removed one of the objects. I could tell by her expression, it wasn’t gold. The weight of gold is unmistakable. She placed the mud-covered objects on a plastic tray, just as they were positioned in the pot. They were clearly made of stone or some mineral. After a moment she sheepishly said, “what does that look like to you…?” Laughter erupted. The three stones were perfectly placed so that they looked like… well, look at the attached photo. They may have been meant as a fertility offering, and that wouldn’t be too surprising considering the potential significance of where we were. Regardless of what the stones were meant to represent, finding stones in such an offering was a first for all of the Peruvian archaeologists that we work with — just another ‘first’ for Sibinacocha. Alexandra still had more work to do to ensure that the pot was stabilized and conserved for future study, so the next day, we had a truck meet her back at the end of the road and she returned to Cusco to work in the lab that we’d set up there. All of the sediment from the pot will be analyzed by Neal Michelutti, a paleolimnologist from Queen’s University. Since the pot acted as a catchment basin for sediment as soon as it was submerged, its makeup could teach us more about the historical environmental conditions in the lake, as well as the timeline for when the pot was submerged. As you can see from the attached photo, the algae had indeed pitted the surface of the pot and a section of the lip was broken out. Since we couldn’t find the missing piece in or around the pot, it’s possible that it was broken prior to being placed at the site. I took a stab at generating a 3D model of the pot using a series of orthophotos. The bottom wasn’t redendered in the model because I wasn’t able to photograph the bottom at the time. You can check it out the model at this link: https://sketchfab.com/models/a6d60614bfde4fef84ea4f8932ee7011 Password: Apacheta We haven’t identified the origin of the stones inside the pot yet, but they don’t appear to be from rock that is native to the area surrounding Sibinacocha. Understanding where the stones came from will reveal something about the people who made these offerings. Initial analysis of the pot, based on its construction and shape, supports the archaeologist’s initial hypothesis that it was constructed in the mid-1400s. In the future, I hope to bring a technology that will see through the vegetation and sediment to locate the missing pots and recover them, and perhaps even map out the submerged structures without having to excavate the site. But we still had work to do at Sibinacocha on this expedition, and two days later we broke camp and hiked around the lake to survey the area around the base of the rocky peak of Yayamari and hopefully, to search for sites on its 18,500-foot summit. I’ll report what we found there in the next post. Password for the attached video: Sibina
Day 4 Already the last day. It seems like the sharks want to put up a show for us. Especially in the afternoon, there is a lot of interactions. Especially a big male named Thor is making quite a splash. By about 2pm, they have to almost drag a couple of us our of the cages. It's just too good to go...
Day 3 - Night Dive After BBQ dinner on the upper deck we go for a night dive with the ROV. The boat is in about 80m of water, to make it to the seafloor faster, I put a 3lb dive weight on the tether at about 15m. That acts as a clump weight and will give me the chance to explore for about 30m around. We end up diving to about 95m. Everyone is astonished how much life there is. One of the first things we see is a big, purple gorgonian fan. Also, lots of sponges and yellow corals can be seen. Behind a rock, we come across a lobster who's not impressed with us disturbing the calmness of the night with our lights.
There's already an iNaturalist group that's been created to document citizen science observations. We'll be contributing there, too, and adding underwater images from the OpenROV Trident. https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/leopard-shark-and-bat-ray-die-off
Open Water Test 2 with Teen Explorers We brought Aquarius Project Teens ten miles off the coast of Chicago to test the magnetic retrieval sled, ROV, and side scan sonar in deeper waters. The waters calmed later in the day, but the early chop made for quite a few early morning green teens. Our exhibits team had to rush to get the sled ready for deployment, so the bottom skis weren't reapplied, which made for a sled that liked to land upside down about 50% and flew off the bottom even easier. The magnetic wheel needs to run closer to the lake bottom because it had trouble rotating with its current height. The Rare Earth Magnet Wheel We've continued to test this rare earth magnet wheel configuration and it has had the most consistent results with our meteorite simulants. We're currently creating housings for three magnet wheels with attached retrieval baskets. One drawback to depending on a rotating magnet wheel to pick up meteorites with a low iron content, we can't cover ground very fast 1-2 knots (approximately 1.2-2.4 mph). Next Steps with Limited Time and Limited Resources Excitement is building for this project from many sides, but funds remain limited and the weather will soon make water research very difficult. With the time and resources we currently have, we're hoping to make a several day excursion to the strewn field in the next week and a half to test the sled and ROV in the strewn field. We've contacted the School of Freshwater Sciences at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and they've agreed to take us out on the water with their research vessel The Neeskay on Friday. We'll be able to test our sled with the adjustments made from our open water test and hopefully prepare to strike even further north when a window of calm water opens! 20,000 Leagues Under the Stars Chris Bresky The Aquarius Project / Far Horizons / Adler Teen Programs
Look at a map below and see how near the northeast quadrant of Australia is to Papua New Guinea. There is a wilderness of coral reef there that is very rarely visited. Definitely no day boats, and this liveaboard only a couple of times per year will visit. We start the expedition in Cairns, a wonderful destination in itself. This allows us to sample the best of the Ribbon Reefs, including the iconic Cod Hole and Pixie Bommie, as we dive and motor to the north. For more detail on the tropical coral reefs of Queensland, please see [Alert Diver - Tropic Queensland] (http://www.alertdiver.com/TropicalQueensland)) Eventually we cross into the Great Detached Reef region. Aside from the pristine coral reefs and abundant marine life, this is also the location of Raine Island, a rookery for most of the green sea turtles in the Great Barrier Reef region. We will be there at prime nesting time, and as you might expect, we won’t be allowed to go onto the island and disturb the nesting, but we will be able to dive offshore to see the predators that tend to congregate that might feed on an adult green sea turtle or the hatchlings. This includes tiger sharks, which would indeed be a fortunate photo opportunity, although unlikely. Our time at sea will be 7 days
I am honored to announce that we received grant funding from the National Geographic Society for our expedition. Noam Argov - the expedition PI - received the Early Career Grant from NGS to see this project through. The official project start date is scheduled for Jan 27, 2018. We will be embarking to Kyrgyzstan on that date to document horse-backcountry-skiing and the preservation of nomadic culture through extreme sports. Stay tuned!
The two-phase restoration of Yosemite Slough will create the largest contiguous wetland area in the County of San Francisco. The project will help restore essential wildlife habitat, improve water quality, and prevent erosion along the shoreline of the City of San Francisco—an area of the bay where tidal wetlands have been most impacted and suffered the greatest loss due to urbanization. According to our partner agency the California State Parks Foundation – Goals and objectives of the proposed restoration are to Increase the area subject to tidal influence by excavating three areas that were formerly part of San Francisco Bay Restore habitat diversity by adding 12 acres of tidally-influenced wetlands and marsh area and remove chemically-impacted soils from upland areas to improve the quality of existing habitat Improve habitat for special status species (e.g. western snowy plover and double-crested cormorants) by a nesting island along the north shoreline Improve the quality of life for the surrounding community by creating a clean, beautiful local park for viewing wildlife habitat Create an environmental area that local schools can use for field trips Connect to the Blue Greenway, an important effort to build 13-miles of Bay Trail along the southern waterfront of the San Francisco Bay Trail.
We have less than six weeks before the trip to Guadeloupe, so I've been working on the home made Niskin bottle. A few months ago Judith Baker gave a talk at #AES17 about eDNA. When we spoke afterwards, she said she was using four liter samples. That greatly simplified the designs I'm using. Previously we had been planning to use two niskin bottles on a sled, but triggering two with a single AUX connection would be problematic. The lower volumes mean we can use a single home made Niskin bottle and still get useful eDNA samples. We wanted something that could be triggered by the OpenROV 2.8, could be built in a shop or garage with common tools, was made out of readily available materials (we used plumbing parts) and could collect scientifically useful samples. The result is the big niski you saw before - a single bottle made of a two foot section of 4-inch interior diameter PVC - mounted to a a "sled" made of buoyant plastic kitchen cutting boards. The combination of the two is barely positively bouyant in fresh water. I'll bring along some disk style fishing weights like the ones used on our OpenRov 2.8 to make sure we can get it neutral when we are on site. The trigger assembly is smaller nested PVC tubes. The servo to pull the pin is mounted to the plastic with zip ties. The whole assembly is easy to set up and trigger. Here's an example video.
Mr. S. was able to get out for a little bit to Hills Creek Dam near Oakridge, Oregon on the weekend. He was not able to get students out because he needed to test a firmware issue that was going on. (The Arduino decided to erase the flashed image) He saw some fish (One of decent size) and managed to get the ROV tangled on the rocks. We will print off floats to keep the tether off the bottom. Good day of floating other than almost having to swim to get the ROV tangled. Thankfully there was a very long branch that helped to de-tangle the tether and keep him dry!
Baltimore's Inner Harbor is a place of tremendous impacts and profound change. With the combined run-off of over half-a-million people and centuries of industrial development, the Inner Harbor has faced its share of environmental damage. But new initiatives are turning the Inner Harbor around. Solar-powered trashwheels collect plastic and debris before it enters the Chesapeake Bay. Floating wetlands and experimental oyster gardens are slowly cleaning the Inner Harbor's waters. And the Healthy Harbor Initiative is on track to make the Inner Harbor both swimmable and fishable by 2020. Join us for a day on the Inner Harbor with OpenROV Trident as we explore these clean-up efforts and discover the vibrant marine life that still calls Baltimore's Inner Harbor home. Participants will get to fly the new OpenROV Trident, meet with community leaders working to restore the Harbor, and learn a bit more about their local waters. Date is still to be determined, but will happen late this Fall. Follow this expedition for more updates.
The current plan is to take at least one Trident OpenROV out the the Yukon and let interested folks try it out. The current expedition dates are: Sunday October 15th Saturday October 21st Sunday December 10th Saturday December 16th In the video below (at 00:49), you can see my 26' Shamrock Cuddy. It is the the boat on the right, immediately after the open space. It has a dark blue covering and a nice wide open read deck. Please let me know if you are interested in any of these dates or if you know anyone who is. Drone images of marina - Credit David Hershman
The IUCN request was granted and the spatial data has been downloaded. Now I need to figure out how to view the data. This is new territory for me. If anyone out there knows what tools a citizen scientist can use to access the data I would be very appreciative of any assistance. Barbara
This expedition is centered on creating an informative documentary. We'll be highlighting the marine conversation program on the island, including coral reef monitoring and recovery research. We'll be examining the life of sea turtles, and doing daily dives to document the research being conducted. While our main goal is to shed light on this extremely important work, we'll also take a look at the locals and volunteers, to show people that they can also make a difference.
Over the past decade or so my dive buddy Lamont and I have been filming and putting together a somewhat shotgun approach of projects (storm drains, starfish, visibility project, marine debris, etc...) to help build awareness for environmental issue in Puget Sound. Now with the help of OpenROV and OpenExplorer we hope to bring all these together under one 'roof' so to speak along with a way to involve more citizen scientists and curious individuals and their observations. If you've been interested in observing your local waterways with a ROV but didn't want to build one from a kit, and/or were not ready to buy a TRIDENT sight unseen, we will be running a demo day or two in the not so distant future. We will be looking to document both sides of the story, positive results from restoration projects (things like the kelp bed by the sculpture park) and negatives (increasing underwater garbage patch off Alki) and straight observations via video transects (seastar wasting syndrome and biodiversity shift follow up). Standard diving, snorkeling, watershed and beach walking observations also wanted! If you want to be a contributor there will be a number of ways to get involved for curious folks of all ages! If you have a smart phone and can # an Instagram picture, we want you! If you can write coherently about your diving observations and your perceived changes over time, we want you! If you just want to cheer us on, and share a sick starfish picture once in a while, we want you! There will also be other non documenting skills needed, from beach mom to crafty to programmer types... This is about everyone finding a way to get involved that suits your needs, skills and availability. If this sounds like something you, your friends or family, your students , etc.. might want to be involved in, please follow our micro-expedition here. If you have an idea for a ROV survey in the vicinity of Puget Sound please let me know via the comment section and it may take a bake sale to pay for gas money, but I'll see what we can do.
In 2016, Ocean Sanctuaries reached out to the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, South Africa and established a citizen science partnership with Sevengill shark monitoring. See here for more details: https://www.aquarium.co.za/blog/entry/citizen-science-global-sevengill-shark-identification-project Already, we have had almost half-a-dozen photographic submissions from Cape Town into Wildbook, the program which contains the pattern recognition algorithm used to analyse the spots near the face.
So now that we have a model for predicting historical surface currents around Point Reyes, and we have an estimated time for the ditching, what does our model tell us? We take the estimated ditching time of 6:25pm, and add 2 hours and 15 minutes to get the time (8:40pm) that we will use on the September 21 2017 surface current charts. Posted here are the surface currents for 9pm around Pt Reyes. As was earlier guessed, the current flow is pretty much all south. If coupled with a wind generally from the north, then the ditching spot of the plane will be well to the north of the landing spots for Lt Anderson and Private Eastwood. As stated earlier, I'm not sure how accurate this hindcasting of surface currents is. Perhaps its totally meaningless. But the general flow around Point Reyes is southward, so to me this just verifies that we're not dealing with some weird spot in the tidal cycle where the currents reverse and the flow along the coastline is northward.
We currently have an array of sensors deployed around Point Sal. This area of California's Central Coast is notoriously sharky and we are keeping dives to a minimum. With a Trident ROV we can inspect our instruments from our small boat to make sure they are positioned properly and aren't fouled by marine growth or ocean debris. The ocean is a notoriously hard place to collect data, and something is always going wrong. If we are more aware of potential issues with our array, we can then dive to fix them, which increases our chances of collecting high quality data. The better the data, the better our understanding of the ocean temperatures and currents we are measuring!
Sept. 13: Ocean conditions in Laguna today were not conducive to safe diving: surf was high (3 ft. plus) and there was a noticeable rip current, which normally would not have been a problem going out, but on a steep-facing beach like Shaw's Cover, would have presented a difficult re-entry on the way back in, so the decision was made to come back another day when conditions were better suited to scientific surveys.
Little Creek Oyster Farm Tech Challenge: Marine Observation Buoy We propose to spur the best minds out there into action and inspire some of our eager youth to explore how they can contribute to the study of what is happening in our waters. Water quality and specifically the limited resources to monitor our bays, estuaries, oceans, lakes, rivers, creeks and streams is something we take personally. So we are proud to tackle this challenge head on. We seek to build an affordable, open source marine observation buoy. Further we'd like to see these buoys deployed and the data sent to a dashboard/map to give us an idea what is happening in the water. Much in the way that weather stations give us a better, bigger picture of what is happening in the air. We can't do it alone. We are building an advisory panel drawn from scientists, aquaculture farms, gearheads, tinkerers and data junkies to guide, monitor and judge this challenge/tech prize. The Challenge:Build a MOB: Marine Observation Buoy Goals: *Affordability *Durability *Open Source Crafted from available parts (including 3d printed materials as long as files are shared.) Targets: This list is open ended but some ideas include: *water temp *dissolved Nitrogen *dissolved oxygen *salinity *light penetration *color / algal bloom *current/tidal/wave data What about sending data vs logger? More details to be revealed as we get closer to launch date! The Challenge Begins 11/1/17!
In the last decade, the financial cost of conducting marine research has declined by several orders of magnitude and tools once restricted to the most well-funded institutions have become affordable to grass-roots organizations as well as individual stakeholders. One of the most dramatic examples of this is the production of the OpenROV, a low-cost observation-class ROV (remotely operated vehicle). OpenROVs have been used to conduct studies on marine invasive species, establish marine protected areas, and survey historic shipwrecks. Saipan and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands are uniquely situated near the Mariana Trench and surrounding Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. Despite access to vibrant and diverse marine resources, the capacity to conduct community-driven scientific research, ocean conservation, and fisheries resource management is relatively limited. While national and international research teams use advanced underwater robots to study and explore the regions around the CNMI, there are no marine robotic assets within the Commonwealth dedicated solely to community-driven ocean research and education. While not capable of diving to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, a small fleet of accessible observation-class microROVs can be of significant benefit to scientists, citizen scientists, managers, and other ocean stakeholders in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The OpenROV 2.8 ships as a kit to be assembled by the end user. This presents a tremendous opportunity for STEM education programs that teach robotics, electronics, soldering, and coding, as well as marine science. OpenROV Trident is a more advanced ROV which can be used to supplement and expand research projects conducted using OpenROV 2.8s. In conjunction with a long-term management plan, this offers the potential to create a holistic marine robotics education program that not only trains students to use underwater robots but introduces them to careers in marine technology and provides the technological capacity to pursue those careers. This structured capacity-building workshop model was tested in Papua New Guinea in October, 2014. Twenty-three undergraduates from the University of Papua New Guinea joined two marine ecologists, two robotics technicians, and several faculty members from UPNG at the Nago Island Research Facility in Kavieng, New Ireland, to construct 6 OpenROV 2.6 microROVs and learn how to design and implement marine ecologic surveys. Robots from that program were then donated to various stakeholder groups where they were used to survey coral reef biodiversity, monitor garbage accumulation in local lagoons, and track sea cucumber recovery following a national fishing ban (personal communication with W. Saleu, our PNG organizer for that program, and P. Minimulu, director of the Nago Island Research Facility). Similar, though less intensive workshops were conducted with high school students in Gloucester Point, Virginia, in conjunction with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and Virginia SeaGrant and, most recently, at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium in Chauvin, Louisiana. We also recently completed a series of educational ROV experiences throughout the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam, where we presented recent discoveries from the Mariana Trench to local student groups and then invited them to join us at local beaches and harbors to learn to fly ROVs and get a hands-on experience in how research is conducted using underwater robots. Project Goals and Objectives The goals of this project are to: Conduct two intensive workshops in marine ecology via remote observation in which community leaders and students learn to build, maintain, and operated observation-class microROVs and develop the skills to design and implement a marine research or education program using ROVs. Provide a minimum of 4 OpenROV 2.8 microROVs and 1 OpenROV Trident for community-driven research in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. To achieve these goals, we will: Identify 2 to 3 community leaders in Saipan and conduct an intensive ROV-building workshop with a focus on teaching, facilitation, and long-term management. Host a second ROV-building workshop in which students, under the direction of Thaler and community leaders from the first workshop, and one additional technician construct at least 3 OpenROV 2.8 observation-class microROVs. Use the ROVs to conduct student-designed marine ecologic surveys under the supervision of mentors and local community leaders. Deliver the ROVs to local community groups for use in community-driven research and education program. We don't ship out to Saipan until Spring 2018, but there's plenty of work to do on identifying community leaders, preparing hardware, and perfecting lesson plans in the lead up to this adventure. This grant was funded by the NOAA Marine Education Training Mini-Grant program.
This is a very late post (like 2 years late). On another trip to this lake another survey was done. After spending time searching, the tether came into sight and we were able to trace that to the ROV. This video is the story of the entire search and recovery effort!
I took the ROV out for a few trips this summer, with the new LED pack, and some other minor improvements. This time I also used an external GoPro to record video, which has much higher fidelity. I saw the usual, but gathered some more user experience to put into the next iteration. The major problem I'm having now is reduced mobility due to the tether. The boat I'm in will often drift with the current, whereas the ROV remains in one place near the bottom. This puts tension on the umbilical cable, which prevents the ROV from turning around. If anchoring the boat doesn't work I'll need to think of something new. The other issue is the LEDs, which weren't placed very well. Most of the light is cast directly in front of the ROV, which limits visibility in dark water.
The longest fjord in Greenland After a few days of drone training and a long cycle to film the Greenland Ice Cap at Russel's Glacier, we were ready to meet Breskell and start our sail North. We met Edgar, Vari, Olivier and Malik at the harbour at Kangerlussuaq, and found an anchorage for the night. The next day we did a test sail, practiced launching the drone from the deck of Breskell, and met the last member of our crew, Dominik (a film-maker from the UK - check out his work here ). Finally we were set to go. What came next was the longest fjord in Greenland, an endlessly beautiful sail to the open sea. I'm not going to write too much about it, except to say that we estimated the peaks to be from 600-1000m in elevation, punctuated by a series of glaciers spilling down the valleys from the ice cap above. Hopefully the images will speak for themselves.
We made a trip many years ago. It was the first expedition on OpenExplorer, in fact: https://openexplorer.com/expedition/seaofcortez Our goal was to follow the steps of John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts, who had made a similar trip almost 75 years earlier. Their trip was an expedition of curiosity, a group of friends sampling and collecting species down the coast of and up through the Gulf of California. The results of the trip became, in addition to the scientific work, a book: The Log from the Sea of Cortez. The book is one of my favorites. Our first trip was something different. We wanted to test out the emerging citizen science tools that we and our friends had built. It wasn't a serious scientific expedition. This trip has similar goals: we want to show just how far these tools have come in the past few years. We'll go back with the team, including Walt, Eric and Mac. "For many little errors like this, we have concluded that all collecting trips to fairly unknown regions should be made twice; once to make mistakes and once to correct them." - John Steinbeck, The Log from the Sea of Cortez
Welcome to Africa - Not the terrestrial Africa, but the Africa shaped sponge reef we discovered in Howe Sound. We're heading out at one o'clock today to dive on the south west coast of our Africa shaped reef, think Madagascar. Over the past few dives we've been outlining the borders of the reef and it has become clear the that reef is a lovely homage to Africa. What do you think?! Tracking the submarine from above with an acoustic transponder, the crew of Topside (our surface support boat) helps guide the submarine pilot (moi) between waypoints. It has become standard operating procedure now to guide the pilot by telling her bearing and range to different countries on the african continent. Last month was one of our first "cross continent" dives, here's our track! via GIPHY On every dive I take down my own way point map, and a few nautical charts. I keep them in a flight notebook along with emergency procedures checklists, a pen, a red pointer laser, and a flashlight. Here's part of the pilot kit:
Proof of concept... #360 TRIDENT as seastar survey tool! Before embarking on any adventure, I like to complete a proof of concept for whatever shenanigan I am up to. In this case, it is testing the OpenROV TRIDENT as filmmakers assistant and #360video survey tool. This Monday I got to do something i've been dreaming of for over a year now! I got to test out shooting 360 video with a TRIDENT ROV! In preparation for the coral bleaching and restoration portion of the film, Cloudbreak, it became clear that being able to survey larger areas of the reef before jumping in with the 360 cameras would be super helpful. So I figured, why not do double duty and do a quick Seastar wasting syndrome survey while we were at it! Last time we surveyed the Passenger ferry pier at Cove 2, we noted basically zero seastars and a multitude of tiny urchins. This time... No stars, and no urchins. I'd chatted with Zack from OpenROV about catching up when he was in town, but we hadn't really nailed down and exact date until last week. I'd been wracking my brain about 'optimal' set up for a 360 flying ROV. Would it be pole out front, would it be the 3 camera array mounted on top, the options were numerous. In the interest of efficiency and utilizing stuff I already had sitting around the house (and limited options on hand for mounting brackets etc) i figured why not give the method that Kodak Pixpro already uses for flying on aerial drones. With the original OpenROV that wouldn't be a real option due to shape, but with the new TRIDENT, its slim and trim design could work. So we opted to use the standard mounts (luckily I found two in my random accessories drawer) one on top, one on the bottom and hope for the best. I knew going into it that the stitch would be a bit of a challenge, considering loss of FOV with the small dome ports and parallax from the distance between cameras (less of an issue on a drone because everything is so far away) but figured if this is just for surveys and not for client footage, that what the heck, why not do a proof of concept! With Zach and Dominic in town, there was no better time than the present! We met up at Cove 2 as the passenger ferry was fortuitously not running, and got started! Introductions to the Trident were made, if you are familiar with the earlier generation OpenROV, this is basically worlds apart. The TRIDENT really is what the Phantom Drone was for aerial, it is stunning. The build quality is top shelf, it is robust and magnificently easy to master the controls. This immediately boosted my confidence. Once the cameras were securely mounted on the TRIDENT we removed the saltwater weights as the Kodak Pixpro's are a little negative and got started! The trim compensation worked well to level the TRIDENT out, even though she was nose heavy from the cameras, in future tests I'll probably make some little syntactic foam floats for the top camera, as although trim compensation worked well, I'd like to keep her floating in trim comfortably as that makes for more stable footage which is necessary for a good 360 viewing experience. We flew the TRIDENT #360 around for a good half an hour which was a blast. Again, if you have only experienced the earlier models of OpenROV, you REALLY need to give this a try, seriously night and day. Sadly my lenses fogged up on the Kodak housings (humidity and all can be a bear in the summer) but luckily I still managed to get a fair bit of usable footage which will be uploaded shortly. While you are waiting, here are a few pictures!
As co-chair of the Golden Gate MPA Collaborative we will apply the Trident to survey eelgrass habitat inside the San Francisco Bay in comparison to areas inside MPAs currently surveyed using snorkel survey at Drakes Estero. Our collaborative team will also use the ROV as a survey and monitoring tool for marine habitats outside the Golden Gate in the State MPA network.
Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants (EBTSOYP) is a Canadian nonprofit with a primary goal of bringing science, exploration, adventure and conservation into classrooms through guest speakers and virtual field trips. Since launching in September of 2015, we've hosted over 400 Google Hangout events with leading scientists, explorers and conservationists from around the world, reaching tens of thousands of students. What we do is 100% free for classrooms and always will be. With a recent grant we realized our goal of bringing the most remote regions of the planet into classrooms through our BGAN project. BGANs are textbook sized satellite units that allow us to video broadcast through Google Hangouts from pretty much anywhere on the planet. We send them into the field with a scientist or explorer, they broadcast into classrooms and then return them, and we send them out again. Last year we sent units to the Bahamas, Belize, Peru and Clipperton Atoll (most isolated coral atoll on the planet!). In September we’ll have units in the Galapagos, Tahiti and Vietnam. This year, we've set a further goal adding the element of being able to live broadcast into classrooms from the air and underwater. We'll be using a Mavic Pro from the sky and would like to do the same with a Trident from beneath the waves. Another part of this project is having the software created to allow easy transition between different live feeds. There's this silly rumour going around that there's nothing left to explore or discover, this couldn't be further from the truth! New technology is opening up countless opportunities in the fields of science and exploration. We believe these experiences inspire students while exposing them to important issues, amazing places, exciting role models and new career paths. Students won't remember every math or language lesson from school, but they will remember the time they were hanging out in a penguin colony in Antarctica or chatting with someone who just rowed across an ocean. www.exploringbytheseat.com A little more about what EBTSOYP does: Each month during the school year we host 20+ Google Hangout events for classrooms. We host full day events consisting of 20-30 speakers focusing on themes like ocean, biodiversity, women in STEM and space exploration. Follow and connect with various expeditions before, during and afterwards. Last year I started Explorer Classroom with National Geographic Education, several times a month we connect their explorers to classrooms for Google Hangout events. We chase grants and sponsorships to fund satellite time, but we also help fund innovative research, expedition and conservation projects around the world. Last year we were able to donate over $15,000 to various projects.
We are planning to use the ROV to locate and recover lost fishing and research gear from the ocean bottom at the Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve on the south coast of Oregon.
It is our goal to film an event that has eluded researchers, filmmakers, and conservationists for over half a century. This winter in the warm protected waters of Maui County we will try to capture, for the first time ever, a birth of the poster animal for the conservation movement, the Humpback Whale. My name is Chris Cilfone and I’m a marine biologist, filmmaker, and National Geographic Explorer based on Maui We need the ocean for our survival but for the first time in the history of this planet the ocean needs us too. It has been my job for the past 7 years to spark conservation through inspiration. To show the public why these coral reefs, whales, turtles, and fish are worth saving and to show them why this ocean is worth protecting. My passion for educating the public about marine conservation has brought me all over the world. From collecting algae samples deep within the Inside Passage of Southeast Alaska to teaching the nation's youth about the ocean in the Florida Keys to presenting at Le Musée Océanographique De Monaco, I have worked with people from all backgrounds. Combining my passion for the ocean with my background as a story teller, I have educated thousands of people from around the world about the importance of our marine ecosystem. My short films promoting ocean stewardship have been featured everywhere from film festivals to online forums. I’ve won numerous awards from festivals around the world: Ocean Geographic’s 2014 Picture of the Year: Master of Competition, Best Short Film at the Blue Ocean Film Festival in Monaco, and the Hero Award at the My Hero Film Festival are just a few of my accolades. The infectious passion of my team and myself have influenced people from all over the world to think about their actions regarding how they affect the ocean. This winter my team and I are working on a documentary film entitled: Kohola. Kohola is the Hawaiian word for whale and come this December we are attempting to be the first people ever to film the birth of a North Pacific Humpback Whale. Right now, I am in pre-production. The filming will start this December and go until the end of May. Being that the main subject of this film will be a protected species, I had to go through a very long application process to obtain a special permit that allows us to enter the water in close proximity to the whales enabling us to get the footage we need. This permit is the first permit issued for an educational/commercial film since they have been taken off of the endangered species list. Along with the permit comes the credibility of a federal branch of the United States government: the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Over the next few months I will be gather as much funding as I can, getting all the logistics in order, and preparing my team for this incredibly hard task we're about to go up against. I'll be introducing my team as we come closer to the first day of production and tell you what incredible skills they each bring to the table. Follow us as we try to capture one of the most rare and sought after births in the entire animal kingdom. Be Blue, Chris
It starts with a beautiful sail boat: the Antsiva (http://antsiva-missions-scientifiques.com/). The two captains of the boat, Anne and Nicolas, have been navigating in the area for over 20 years and with Antsiva for the past 12 years. They charter their boat for tourists but also for scientists who wish to run tests and survey campaigns onboard. Now they have decided to create Ocean Innovation Tour and focus on innovation and coral reef protection to contribute to the sustainable management of ocean resources.
Over the past few years I've been shooting lionfish mainly for sport and to protect the local marine population. There have been a few scientists who have conducted some research and I have been involved in some of those monitoring programs, however, they are focused on a very limited area. I've dived in many different areas around St. Croix, USVI hunting lionfish, mostly where other divers don't go, and I've seen a lot of variation in density of the population. I've been as deep as 200' on tech dives and seen the critters there, as well. Using the ROV I hope to be able to analyze different areas, various depths, to get a better idea of where we can focus or hunting. I hope this help open the door to more commercial hunting of lionfish here.
The following is an excerpt from the websit for the restaurant regarding the history of the site. From the early 1900s up to 1942, there were a total of nine dredges operating inSummit County. This two million pound floatIng restaurant is a replica of one of the largest and longest operating dredges. It was the last dredge operating and stopped forever in the Blur River in 1942 and is right below us. Credit for the writing to: http://m.thedredgerestaurant.com
Sea Turtle Program_Bangladesh, a program of Marinelife Alliance research organization conducting sea turtle monitoring and restoration along entire Bangladesh coast and in marine areas. Program involved greatly local community, scientist and government to protect these magnificent marine megafauna group along with other species like cetaceans and sharks, coral and total marinelife. Program involved many activities like nest protection, scientific research on foraging, awareness campaign, training, school education, beach protection, mitigation, bycatch reduction trough offshore fishermen activity ad migration study by satellite tracking. This is ongoing program and already we have attached 27 satellite tags on olive ridley and green turtle. In coming winter we will fix more satellite tags on sea turtle at cox Bazar beach.
St Helens in Englandnis the home of Pilkington the first manufacturer of modern glass. This intensive process has for many years had waste hot water poured into the local canal. This is called The Hotties and we hope to see what lurks within.
California State Parks working with partners and the Marine Protected Area Network featured engaging and energetic #Floatscopes down the coast for World Oceans Day by kayak, paddle board, and boat. How extra amazing and engaging would it have been to incorporate a Trident's eye perspective? Looking forward to engaging the world with the underwater world of California's Marine Protected Areas. Enjoy the video and the excitement of sharing the wonders of the MPAs with a worldwide audience, http://www.periscopeforweb.net/CAStateParks
Hurricane Island and Greens Island are a really beautiful part of Maine, I can't believe I was brought here to pick up trash. However, the collection has been strong with us these past few days, despite a little inclement weather (not pictured). We were supposed to take an off day on Sunday after our sail here, but decided that the seaweed mat brought in by the northerly wind was too full of debris to resist. Armed with a few dinghies, gloves, and oars, we spent the morning cleaning 432 pieces of trash out of the seaweed. We saw some great big lions' mane jellies and got some help from a few kids that were hanging around the island. Afternoon was ROV time, and I'm psyched to have gotten the opportunity to fly the VideoRay that Rozalia has on board. We explored the local sea floor, around 30ft down, and watched some lobsters and sculpin doing their thing. Apparently there is a lobster crawl going on right now, as they come to shallower water for molting and mating. It certainly explains the pieces of molt and shell that we've been finding along with the plastic on the beach. We got to see something pretty special the last few nights while moored: bioluminescence! It was super bright on Saturday night, and we spent half an hour in the dinghy hammering around and splashing like little kids, watching the sparkles trail behind us. We did also catch two of the little dinoflagellates in a cup that we found floating by, and we're going to put them under the microscope we have on board! Today and yesterday, we cleaned up a couple of beaches on Greens Island. One beach we cleaned with some friends, and came away with 1972 pieces of debris from a --- stretch of shoreline. Today's cleanup was just the crew, but we pulled out 826 pieces from the two beaches on opposing sides of Heron Neck, an isthmus connecting the large part of the island to a smelly rocky bit where the lighthouse is. We ended up today with a hike up to sunset rocks on Hurricane Island. It was a nice time for me to reflect on the trip so far - we're halfway through for those of us staying the whole first expedition. I'll be off the boat on August 3rd, and Rozalia will take a break before their second trip of the season down into Massachusetts. I'm having a spectacular time so far, and I really appreciate the ways in which working with this crew is opening my mind. I don't think I'll ever again leave for an outdoor activity without gloves and a trash bag, and I love that we can make debris cleanup both a fun way to engage with the outdoors and a purposeful method of collecting data.
Athi River is Kenya’s second longest river at 390km, draining an area of 70,000 square kilometers and supporting the livelihoods of millions of fishing, farming and pastoral communities. The idea to carry out this expedition was sparked off after we visited what used be a beautiful picnic site by the Fourteen falls, central Kenya. What met the eye was a very disturbing site. There were polythene bags, used clothes and plastic containers strewn all over the river bank both upstream and downstream. The water quality was poor; dirty, devoid of oxygen and a murky green in colour. The clear and clean water that once used to rush down the channel supporting thousands of plant and animal species is long gone. The air quality that was crisp, clean and fresh over 10 years ago is today filled with a pungent and foul odour. There has been severe degradation of the environment, loss of biodiversity within the river and the riverine ecosystems. This has affected the fishing and farming communities negatively and resulted in a loss of income and poor livelihoods. The expedition aims to document and highlight the plight and pressure that this important river faces. Find out what has been done by the government and private sector in Kenya to reduce these challenges and what can be further done to conserve the river. Photos, videos and notes generated from this expedition shall be used to educate and inspire change in Kenyans to take action not to pollute or destroy this 390km long ecosystem. We shall also document the biodiversity present in and along the river.
BestwayClose to the Bestway Supermarket. Coral patches to the far left were the best. Saw a gray eel and Clown fish along with others. Deeper coral was quite damaged. My guess is from recreational boats that pass too close to the coral. Some coral was quite colourful while others were pale white - possibly due to coral bleaching? Swam with pod of dolphins that passed near this area. This was a definite highlight!
We are just about to end two weeks of sampling and monitoring the rocky intertidal zone of the Schoodic Peninsula of Acadia National Park. Eight citizen scientists from Los Angeles County high schools helped us sample quadrats and transects at 13 sites around the peninsula. We are still working on the Robomussels, aka Shellborgs, and hope to have them in place soon.
This is a really special project for me as I embark into the deep. So much is left unanswered when we talk about our oceans. I believe that key to protecting them is exploration. Its hard to imagine why one would protect something when it is unknown. Its been said that we know more about space than we do our planet ocean. I may not be able to explore everything but I'm going to do my best to find humpbacks mating in the wild and or giving birth. I'm very excited to have the largest indoor art installation at ArtPrize 2017. I'm looking to raise $100,000 for this massive art installation. Its the only way I know how to immerse people in this subject enough to make them feel like I do when in the ocean.
We had an amazing Cal Coast Snapshot at Pelican Cove over 30 volunteers showed up by 7:30 am ready to go. It was wonderful to see returning faces with new friends and many new participants. We focused on areas we didn't get as many observations last year. The Together we collected 510 observations representing 26 species. Two unusual for the area (Tegula brunnea and Trimusculus reticulatus). All the observations are posted at iNaturalist Pelican Cove Bioblitz 2017.
Background Like their shallow-water cousins, deep-sea corals support a high diversity and abundance of life, including many fish and invertebrates of commercial importance. Their dark, cold, nutrient-poor habitat means that deep-sea corals grow extremely slowly, though they can live to great age – a black coral taken off Hawai’i was estimated to be 4,265 years old, and thousand-year old specimens are common. Deep-sea corals are globally threatened by the expanding footprint of bottom trawling. A single pass of a trawl net can destroy a coral habitat that has taken millennia to grow. Consequently, the United Nations has declared that deep-sea corals and their associated ecosystems need immediate protection from destructive fishing practices. The challenge is to find the corals before they are trawled so that they can be protected. Since the seafloor is far less well known than the surface of the moon, scientists have turned to modeling to predict where deep-sea corals are likely to occur. In the summer of 2016, Marine Applied Research and Exploration (MARE) attempted to locate deep-sea corals off the California coast using a model-based approach developed specifically for the US West Coast by scientists in the United States and the UK. The attempt was unsuccessful – no corals were detected at any of the sites predicted by the model to be likely coral habitat. Project Description MARE believes that the ability to predict and verify the location of deep-sea corals can be rapidly and substantially improved, with important implications for the conservation and management of these fragile ecosystems. We propose to demonstrate this via a two-year pilot effort to locate and map deep-sea corals within the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (CINMS) off the coast of California. MARE staff, working in partnership with scientists in the US and elsewhere, will apply machine learning algorithms to our large existing data set, derived from 13 cruises over the past decade focusing entirely or in part on documenting corals off the California coast. Once analyzed, these data will be used to develop new predictive maps as the basis for further exploration. The revised predictive maps generated by our algorithms will be ground-truthed and validated by direct observation using our fleet of robotic deep-sea exploration vehicles. Data collected will be analyzed and fed back into our predictive algorithms, further enhancing their accuracy. Key outcomes of this project will be precise maps and supporting video documentation of corals within the CINMS that can be used as the basis of future management actions, and a more robust and cost-effective method of documenting the occurrence of corals elsewhere in the world.