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OCEAN71 was commissioned by the Octopus Foundation to visit the small Italian island of Lampedusa, where is located one of the main medical centers for marine turtles in the Mediterranean sea. Here, we will follow and document innovative medical treatments and scientific studies, all aimed at better understanding an ancient animal whose origins date back 250 million years. Further information: http://octopusfoundation.org/en/project/sea-turtle-lampedusa-clinic/
Day 7 of our 2016 Lampedusa mission: getting wet and impressed. After several days of fine tuning Homerus' custom made harness, and drilling the use of the 360° camera system, we decided we were ready for the ultimate test. First, the harness was put on Homerus at the center, and adjusted so that it would be 100% comfortable. Then, the turtle was put back into its tank to wait for the team to be fully operational. The two divers put on their wetsuits, took the boat from the port and headed towards Cala Pisana, a famous beach in the eastern part of the island. Once the boat was in position, with the divers ready to put their masks on, Homerus was brought by van, and placed in knee-deep water. The two divers approached with the 360° camera system and fixed it on the turtle's back in less than 3 seconds. Then it was game on. With a leash firmly attached to its harness, Homerus was released where it belongs, in the open sea. It took off, leaving the two divers behind like a supercharged car racing a bicycle. After 10 to 15 minutes, the 360° camera system was removed, so that Homerus could fully enjoy the moment. The boat stayed at a distance in case of assistance, and retrieved the cameras. In the air, the drone hovered over the group to take pictures and assist in case something went wrong and the crew on the boat needed directions. After half an hour of semi-freedom, Homerus was brought back on dry land, and driven to the center. All in all, it wore the harness for 3 hours, and didn't mind one bit. This is what Daniela had to say about the experience: "It was outstanding. Homerus wasn't traumatized in any way, and the camera didn't seem to bother her underwater. She was a bit off balance when coming back up for air, though". Philippe, the magazine's photographer, couldn't believe his eyes, he who had seen Homerus 5 years ago in a very different state: "She used to weigh 20 kilos less than today, and have only one functional flipper. She was struggling at the time, and today, we were the ones struggling. We just couldn't keep up with her for a second, it was impressive. My legs are killing me after all this effort. The best moment for me was when Daniela gave me the leash, and I could feel the turtle's strength on the other side of the rope. At some point, she calmed down after the rush of the first acceleration towards the open sea, and she relaxed. I could really feel how much she was enjoying this moment, it was powerful. Today, she won, and it's the proof that Daniela's reeducation has worked." Even if the reeducation has worked, it is not fully complete and a few months at the center are still necessary. Now, it remains to be seen if the 360° system's images are exploitable. But even if they are not, the experience brought some new knowledge to the people of the Turtle Rescue Center of Lampedusa. On the following aerial photo, the operational boat can be seen on the left. On the right, Daniela is holding the leash and being followed by the center's volunteers and the divers. Can you spot Homerus ?
Had a wonderful flight today. Taking loads of videos and pictures with the gopros, running experiments, prepping gear for Free Flight Research Lab test flights. Getting used to the altitude. Its possible to get to 12,000 ft tomorrow. My plan is to make it to 10,000ft, and then head down the range. Today's flight was after a long hike in the rain to the upper launch without my wing. Followed by hiking back down to the lower launch and getting my wing to fly. I launched off the lower launch in a smooth, gentle cycle. I scooped the first bits of lift, as I wanted to make sure I maintained good clearance from the terrain. Once I was above launch I made a couple 360s. I was scared of the clouds. It had rained on us twice today, hiking up, and down. You could see rain in the distance to the north and the sky was mostly full. This meant that playing near cloud base carried additional risk that was just not worth it. More hiking, more flying, and I plan to run the more experiments if the air is kind.
The makings of the fleet of OpenROV for this project, from left to right the latest edition for restoration a version 2.6/8, a restored v2.6/7/8 hybrid, a v.2.8 and a modified v.2.6. They have all been gone through to ensure they are in perfect working order.
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, established in 2000, seeks to advance environmental conservation, scientific research, and improve the quality of life in the San Francisco Bay Area. For more information, please visit http://www.moore.org/
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