The spawn is over this year. The folks over at the DOE did another few dives in the last few weeks on the "lesser moons" and it turned out there was activity as well but not the height of SPAG that can be seen on the major moons. The Trident has been sent back to California for a maintenance cycle and then back out to some adventure. Before closing this, there are a few ways you can help/get involved. The first is head over to the REEF.org website and make sure you are spreading the word about that organization and the great work they do. The second is to make sure you and all your dive buddies are supportive of conservation efforts around the great Nassau grouper. https://www.reef.org/contribute http://www.reef.org/trips/2018 Until next year, Zack out.
Photo/text: Alex Paullin. Today marked our first location video shoot for Expedition #K2K! We spent the afternoon in the dried out remains of Theewaterskloof Dam, capturing breathtaking footage of sandstorms and songlines, before settling in at our campsite for a warm fire and some delicious poitjie stew. The cracked clay, barren husks of trees, and scattered carcasses of fish whose puddles had finally dried up were a sobering reminder that what we are doing through music is part of a global numbers game of environmental conciousness. Our puddle is drying up, and we are at fault. Will we ever reach the grassroots tipping point that we need to reverse what we have done? It's time for musicians to do their part. #dayzero #tippingpoint #DOTchallenge
Seagrasses are valuable habitat and in decline worldwide. The neptune grass, Posidonia oceanica, is the most important seagrass habitat in the Mediterranean and is in decline or recently absent at several locations. An inexpensive and easy method is necessary to monitor small declines in order to prevent loss and manage this habitat. We have developed a geospatial video towfish method in which a camera and depth sensors are towed from a boat and geopositioned with submeter accuracy. We would like to migrate this method to an ROV, the Trident system in order to make it usable throughout the Mediterranean. We envision a citizen-science based method of seagrass monitoring in which we use a fleet of Tridents that are sent out to ROV enthusiasts throughout coastal locations. Each Trident is deployed at a chosen location and sent back to the main lab for analysis, and images are stored permanently for future comparison. The regression of seagrass occurrence or cover against depth is compared at different places and times as a quantitative measure of change over space and time. Decline or increase is defined as a change in the parameters of a logistic regression of seagrass occurrence against depth. For more information on the statistics of seagrass monitoring and geospatial videographic monitoring, see our published work here: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0138378
Another day, another attempt to reduce all sources of needless waste before we head out to Saipan. On the left, 2 shipments of tools and consumables. On the right, all the waste packaging (mostly blister packs) that we removed. Yes, they take up roughly the same amount of space. I don't see nearly enough expeditions talk about how they handle trash before deployment. Lots of great solutions are devised during expeditions, but the easiest and most effective way to keep garbage out of wild and remote places is not to bring it with you in the first place.
March 6th, 2018San Diego, CA Project Pegasus Par 10: Rebuild Remix Project Pegasus has been a roller coaster of a ride since its inception last Spring (2017). After a long hiatus, we’re finally able to make the necessary repairs to get Pegasus back in the water. After a lot of head scratching and troubleshooting, we finally realized that the DB25 connector was fried. There about 25 different wires that provide power and information to Pegasus; think of the DB25 as the place where your skull meets your spine. One end of the DB25 is fixed in an “endcap” which seals off the e-chassis from the outside environment. The wires pass through the endcap and are dispersed across the body of Pegasus. The other end of the DB25 connector is mounted to the e-chassis, which is essentially Pegasus’s brain. All systems looked good after we rebuilt the starboard battery tube and controller board, but still Pegasus wasn’t turning on. Power simply wasn’t getting from the battery tubes to the e-chassis. It’s going to take us a little while to rewire Pegasus, which is easier said than done. Here’s Jordan had to say about our pre-rewiring prep: “The ROV and our team have been through a lot over the past year or so. It was sad to see that our DB25 pin, which controls where all the power from the batteries go, was fried. This means that we will need to essentially rewire the majority of the ROV. It is OK though because soldering is one of the most interesting parts of the build! Wire management is also a big concern for our team. We debated over the best places to cut the wires in order to ensure the best wire management as well as least amount of soldered connections. Today we had to look up some old instructions and rebuild the end cap with a new DB25 connector that we got from OpenROV®. We had to revert back to solvent welding with the dropper that is slightly to wide to allow the liquid to drip slowly. We were able to solvent weld the pieces of plastic together and epoxy the DB25 connector in the end cap, in order to waterproof this portion. After about 2 1/2 hours of work we realized that we had to wait at least another hour for the epoxy to dry before we could even start soldering the new joints, so we decided to save that for another day. We did, however, solder little pieces of solder onto the ends of the batteries so that they would stay in contact with each other in the battery tubes.” Stay tuned! The team and I are meeting next week to rewire Pegasus and get it ready for its public debut at CMIL’s Marine Science Day! Cheers, -Baron von Urchin
We are currently looking for funding for the pilot program here in the Hampton Roads area. We are setting up the funding options on the page and will update you when ready. In the meantime, we are working on project documentation, budget estimates and schedules. We will post them shortly. We will also post some of the pitches we have done or are doing as we move forward with this effort. We need your help! Please contact us if you feel you would like to contribute in any way.
This project will support the restoration efforts of Mālama Maunalua; a local nonprofit. Mālama Maunalua has engaged approximately 3,000 volunteers, including 1,000 students, to participate in our 30+ community hukis (invasive algae removal events) every year for the past eight years. More than 3.5 million pounds have been removed and recycled as soil amendment at local farms. Even with schedule hukis several times a month, Mālama Maunalua lacks the eyes and hands needed to map and monitor the 28 acres of the bay on a regular basis. Future work aims to employ underwater ROV imagery and aerial sUAS imagery to improve our understanding of algal cover and regrowth dynamics.
Aquarius Project Teen Inspired to Take an Internship in Cosmochemsitry Mary Greenlees made an exciting connection with the scientists at the Field Museum through the Aquarius Project. Read how she is currently working with Post Doc Cosmochemists to analyze meteorites by Mary Greenlees Introduction Hi, I’m Mary and currently, I am a research intern at the Field Museum under University of Chicago grad student, Jennika Greer. Jennika’s expertise in cosmochemistry and meteorites. The project we are working on involves examining samples from a meteorite impact site in Santa Fe. The Process Our first task was to crush the samples and use a sifter to separate the pieces out by size. By doing this, we wanted to isolate the “medium” sized pieces so that we could better examine them under a microscope. Once we used chemicals to clean the samples, I went through the samples using a microscope to try and isolate what I thought was quartz. The quartz was described to be either completely transparent, or it had a pink tint to it. The next step was to use the Raman. The Raman Spectroscope Upon first glance, the Raman looks like an ordinary microscope. It has a revolving nosepiece that holds the objective lenses (which decide how zoomed in you want to be), a stage with stage clips, etc. However, one distinct difference is that it has a green laser. The Raman is primarily used to identify molecules, as different molecules have different readings.The laser is meant to stimulate Raman scattering, which when picked up, is translated into a graph (as seen in the photo below (2)). Jennika taught me how to use the Raman (and in doing so discovered that I had mistook some of the samples as Quartz, when they were not). So, the next time we met, she handed me a new sample plate and showed me a few examples of what they could be. However, when left to my own devices, I discovered that the graph looked nothing like the ones Jennika had pulled up. But, almost all of them had a peak at around 440 and 1350. Which meant that they were in fact the same molecule, but we didn’t know which one. As of right now, we are still trying to figure out what this mystery material is, and plan to use different tests to try and determine what it is! Photo Descriptions: The image on the screen is a picture that is used to map out the slide, making it so that it’s easy to maneuver around (you use your mouse to click where you want the microscope to focus on, and it moves there A picture of the mysterious peaks! A much needed selfie with the Raman
We are working hard to set up evrything for the next operation stage. Now it's time for our research team to analyze all the data acquired in these last years and submit them to the scientific Committee. For the rest of the team days are full of work on social and web to add new contents to support our project.The Punic Ram is going to be anlyzed from one of the world maximum expert of carthaginian language...I'm sure its translation will add new relevant data to our research, here is the detailed image of the inscription
The archipelago of the Philippines is known as the global epicenter of marine shore fish diversity, home to 2,824 marine fish species and 484 coral species. With more than five million fishers relying on fish and fishery products as a source of food and income, the marine ecosystem is a vital resource for the country’s growth and development. Unfortunately, the region is also one of the world’s most impacted by overfishing and illegal fishing, with dynamite fishing still being used in certain areas. A recent study revealed that 59 species have been disappearing from Philippine waters since the 1950s, including some coral reef giants such as the Humphead Wrasse, the Bumphead Parrotfish and the Giant Grouper. Today, 97% of the Philippines’ large-bodied marine species are so low in numbers that they can only be found in certain areas. In partnership with the Haribon Foundation and with the support of National Geographic, we are producing a five-minute underwater virtual reality experience to bring the heart of the Filipinos back to the ocean. Using the power of immersive storytelling, Filipino teenagers will experience the beauty of Apo Reef Natural Park (ARNP), the second largest contiguous coral reef in the world, meeting some of the most charismatic yet threatened species that thrive there. Getting an insight into our interconnectedness with the natural world, they will be inspired to protect it.
A key component of Rare's Fish Forever program is the establishment of managed access areas coupled with marine reserves. To date, we have used divers to survey the fish populations and benthic communities inside and outside of our managed access areas to document baseline conditions and to monitor the effects of these areas on ecosystem health. In the next phase of our program we plan to incorporate underwater imagery and ROV technology into our evaluation strategy.
With a National Geographic team, we explored Kiel Cove to search for eelgrass habitat and sharks on the Tiburon Peninsula using the Trident drone. On a cool, sunny day with a brisk North wind, we arrived in the sheltered cove off the Tiburon peninsula known to have healthy eelgrass beds. There was evidence of a recent herring spawn with active seal ions, harbor seals, grebes and cormorants foraging. We deployed the Trident and had a successful documentation of eelgrass beds (Zostera marina). The buzz along the bottom gave me great confidence we can document sharks although we did not see any this trip.Hound sharks and rays use eelgrass as a preferred habitat to forage, so we will keep looking for them at herring spawns with the Trident. Eelgrass is also critical habitat for many species and is in great decline globally. It is preferred spawning habitat for Pacific herring and refuge for invertebrates like Dungeness crab, and other species. We did see epiphytic algae and Isopods (Corophium sp.) on the blades, but no signs of Phyllaplysia taylori, the Zebra sea hare or Taylor's Sea Hare, that uses eelgrass habitat grazing on the epiphytic growth. The Trident should be a good tool for scanning for this tiny endemic nudibranch- thought to have been impacted by the heavy flows of freshwater flowing into the San Francisco Bay in 2017. Our youngest intern Luca came along and adeptly piloted the drone. We will continue in Aquatic Park and Richardson Bay during the winter season in anticipation of the hound shark and ray pupping season. Late spring we will re-launch our vessel after a refit and begin exploring and documenting our coastal MPAs.
Found A Whale Placenta! Being the first to film the birth of a humpback whale will involve a mix of luck, skill, and a lot of water time. A combination of these paid off for our team member, Anna Garner, on February 17th, when she found a placenta freshly passed from a mother whale. Here is her account of that day on the water. I captain a whale watching raft out of Lahaina for Pacific Whale Foundation (PWF). On the first trip of the day it was glassy calm. Around 9 am I came across a female, escort and a small calf. The mother had a noticeably hooked dorsal fin making her very distinctive, the male had a fairly blunt and squared off dorsal fin, and the calf initially appeared to have no dorsal fin at all. Once or twice I used binoculars and could see that the dorsal fin was laying completely flat to the calf’s back. I have worked on whale watching boats since 2006, and I don’t recall seeing too many dorsal fins quite as flopped over as this one. Additionally, this calf was tiny and barely breaking the surface as it came up. The general impression that it was fairly meek. The color of the calf was the same dark grey/black of the mother. After twenty minutes or so I left. The activity level was minimal from all three whales and they were beginning to travel west. We went off to look at other whales. Closer to 10 am I found the same mother, calf and escort. I recognized the distinctive hooked fin of the mother and the flopped dorsal of the calf. The male appeared to be the same as in the prior encounter. I never saw the tail flukes on any of them so I can’t confirm by that method that it was the same whales. However, I do feel confident that we had happened upon the same mother, calf and escort again. I didn’t see any other whales to watch so I cruised along with the trio on their left side as they traveled west. Nothing particularly dramatic happened. They swam. Sometimes a little faster, sometimes slowly, not always in a straight line but generally heading in the same direction. At one point the calf slapped it’s tail as it was swimming. I noticed that the tail had a rubbery/floppy appearance, though I wouldn’t say it looked crumpled at all. Along the same lines, I didn’t notice fetal folds, though from a solid 130 or so yards away (I checked with the rangefinder once or twice) it isn’t the sort of thing I could see. I did use the binoculars on the initial sighting, but the calf had such minimal surfacings that I didn’t see enough of the body to say if fetal folds were present. On the 10 o’clock sighting I was mostly focused on driving the boat and less on binocular usage. Finally, something happened. It was more of the same really, a slight dive/round out from the mother combined with a swish of the tail that created a bit of a wake. The ocean rippled from the dive and I could see a white patch where the whale went down. As I drove over I did think that it might be a placenta, due to the young nature of the calf, the fact it hadn’t been their prior, and the constant hope that I will see something unusual and exciting in the midst of a 12 hour work day. As we got closer to the spot it did look a lot like a white plastic bag. When I pulled up alongside it we could see some red attached to the white blotch. The water around the placenta had blood in it. Just a light cloud of blood that tinged the water a brownish green color, and it dissipated fairly quickly while we watched. There were lots of little pieces of white, like tissue paper floating around the main piece. We were lucky to have an OB Gyn on the boat and she was able to give me a rough idea of what we were looking at: The white section that was about four feet long and two feet wide was the amniotic sac; the placenta appeared to be ripped in half dangling off either end. There were veins running through the surface that were as big around as a finger. If you are trying to create a mental picture allow me to assist you. Envision filling a white garbage bag with raw hamburger meat and throwing it in the ocean. Done! You basically have yourself the after birth of a whale. I’m sure everyone who will read this will have their own interpretation of the events. Here are mine: I think that calf was born very close to the time we first saw it, but I have no idea how close we might have been to the actual event. I think it took the mother about an hour of swimming to pass the after birth. A human can often take 10-30 minutes. An hour seems like it would make sense. Does the swimming and contraction of the tail muscles aid in expelling the after birth? Seems likely, and I am curious about that. Based on my observations, I’d say that female passed the after birth right at the surface before the dive. I think I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time. I didn’t see any sharks in the area, nor did the female loiter in the area. I’ve wondered if a female might eat the after birth. Certain mammal species do, but in this instance it didn’t appear to be on the agenda. Seems worth mentioning that I did not collect the after birth. Tempting to be sure, but I am under the impression that you need a permit to collect any part of a whale. I am not sure what happened to the after birth. Though I returned to the same general area on future trips we didn’t come across anything. I want to take a moment to thank Annelise Cochran for being an awesome naturalist and crew member who was just as stoked to find a whale placenta. She took some great photos of the moment that can be viewed on the PWF facebook page. Also thank you to Jeanne, our passenger who shared her photos with me. Mine were worthless, and it was very kind of her to share. She is also the OB Gyn who interpreted the photos for me. It was the first placenta I’ve ever seen, and I knew none of the anatomy until she enlightened me. All 18 of my passengers were excited and good sports about hanging out with a whale placenta for 10-15 minutes of their whale watch, I’m glad I had such a nerdy, enthusiastic bunch to share the encounter with. P.S. I struggle to add more then one photo to my posts here. Probably because I (Anna) can be somewhat inept when technology is involved. So you can view an almost identical blog post, with MORE PHOTOS at Kohola Film
My research seeks to understand the risks associated with the transport of invasive marine species In a world globalized through the movement of people and products, the maritime industry dominates: 90% of the world’s trade moves by ship in an ocean that covers 71% of the globe’s surface. As the movement of goods and people continues to globalize, so does the risk of spreading marine invasive species through vectors like commercial ships. Invasive species are a huge ecologic and economic threat to the United States, as well as on a global scale.San Francisco is the most invaded estuary in the world, and thus the risk factor increases for the spread of marine invasive species through mechanisms like ballast water transport and biofouling. In addition to the already existent risks, there are numerous vessels in San Francisco with atypical operational profiles, staying in one place for extended time periods and accumulating biofouling, the attachment of organisms to the wetted surface areas of a ship. There is a relevant need for quantitative measurements of biofouling and organisms’ responses to ship transit. In order to eradicate, prevent, and act effectively against marine invasive species, we need a better understanding of the role that hull fouling plays in marine invasion dynamics. In order to eradicate, prevent, and act effectively against marine invasive species, we need a better understanding of the role that hull fouling plays in marine invasion dynamics. I will approach the problem in two ways. First, I will conduct a fouling survey of the Training Ship Golden Bear (TSGB) at the California State University Maritime Academy and continue to monitor its hull fouling communities throughout its annual summer voyage. I want to know what impacts a rapid shift in salinity and flow will have on these communities. I hypothesize that a sudden change in salinity, as well as additional flow, will remove settling communities and kill settled organisms. Additionally, I will submerge fouling panels coated in a paint similar to that on the TSGB. As these panels are submerged throughout various locations in the bay, I will look to ground my earlier mentioned field results in lab work by subjecting the communities I grow on the panels to varied salinity and flow levels. I want to fully understand the impact of salinity and flow on these communities. Similar to part 1, I hypothesize that in my lab experiments, a sudden change in salinity and flow will be destructive to fouling communities. To understand the level of mitigation, monitoring, and legislative action necessary, scientists and policy-makers need to understand the actual level of risk of invasive species transport from these types of vessels with existing biofouling communities. Specifically, in order for California to successfully uphold its 2016 biofouling regulations, the State and its regulators need to have quantitative data for analyzing risks of invasive species transfers in, and out of, its coastal waterways.
Purple Urchin Removal -- February 2-3, 2018 This most recent video, taken by Jon Holcomb, a professional urchin diver, was taken off Caspar on the North Coast of California. The video shows a stunningly bare ocean floor where once rich stands of bull kelp thrived. Scattered across the seabed are groups of purple urchin, which Jon is removing in an effort to assist the regrowth of kelp. Two divers were involved in this removal dive, which took seven hours over two days. One small note of hope from Jon – the purple urchins are now so weak that they cannot move far, so clearing areas of urchins and keeping them clear may indeed allow kelp spores to attach to the rocks and begin to grow, without being immediately eaten. 2018 will be a pilot year for Noyo’s Help the Kelp campaign—more divers will be enlisted to remove urchins from additional areas, and Noyo volunteers will be there to continue the measuring studies. The Trident drone will help with the monitoring and documentation of the various sites. Photos: Typical amount of urchins removed in one diving session, about 380 pounds. (Photo: Natalie West) Noyo volunteer, Steve Brekke-Brownell, measuring an urchin using manual calipers. One thousand urchins are measured for each session, usually by 3 teams of 3 persons: two measurers and one recorder per team. (Photo: Natalie West) This photo was taken during a recent measuring and shows an urchin of reproductive size (50-75 mm). The gonads are smaller than would be normal in a healthy urchin, however, the presence of some eggs confirm that the urchins must be removed, not crushed in place, which could result in release of the eggs into the ocean. (Photo: Natalie West)
Made it into Kyrgyzstan and making our way to the Kyrgyz Ala-Too Mountain Range (the Tian Shan). Day 1 was spent on the road to Karakol from the capital Bishkek, driving down the windy roads of the high desert and shooting footage of the unique Kyrgyz horse around lake Issyk-Kul. It’s rare to find purebreds these days but you can still tell these horses are smaller and furrier than the North American or European breads. You can also see them grazing on grass alone and roaming the steppe, outside of stables.
Wine+Design night! Just finished up sketching up the layout of the aquarium exhibits with Ruby Banwait and Kevin Kaufman tonight. We have a sleek new interior design for the Floatarium which we will reveal soon! Stay tuned!
Underwater Drones and Ghost Gear in Indonesia Abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG), also known as ‘ghost gear’ accounts for approximately 10% of marine debris and has serious impacts on marine wildlife, habitats and fish stocks. ALDFG may result in reduced profits when it continues to fish (‘ghost fishing’) and increased operational costs for vessel owners/operators and authorities through the replacement of lost gear and retrieval efforts. ALDFG also represents a navigational and safety at sea issue. Fishing gear has been abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded since the earliest time when fishing began, but extensive use of low-cost, durable and non-degradable synthetic materials in fisheries worldwide since the 1960s has dramatically accelerated and intensified the problem. The overall increase in fishing capacity and the targeting of more distant and deep water grounds has further escalated the issue. Research shows that gillnets, traps, pots and fish aggregating devices (FADs) are some of the most likely gear types to become ghost gear, and can have the most severe impact on mortality and welfare of marine species. Indonesia World Animal Protection through partnerships in the Global Ghost Gear Initiative and with funding from the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations has been undertaking a field project in two pilot sites in Java, Indonesia relating to the issue of ALDFG. Indonesia was proposed as region for the project due to the severe issues of marine debris, including ALDFG, known to originate there, coupled with increased threat of IUU and the stated recognition and willingness of the Indonesian government to take steps towards addressing it. Gillnets were proposed as a primary focus of the project due to both their prevalence and impact as ALDFG. Gillnets, designed to catch fish by entangling them around their gills, have been found to be one of the most damaging types of fishing gear, along with trammel nets, if not managed properly and make up a significant proportion of global marine fisheries landings. Gillnets and other entangling nets are able to maintain high ghost fishing catch rates for long periods, years in some cases. On our pilot site in Sadeng, where the fishers operate in deeper waters in the Indian Ocean in less favourable weather conditions, high rates of gear loss were reported, with one study estimating 35,000 pieces of gillnet being lost in the spiny lobster fishery each year. Due to the low value of gillnets and a government subsidy programme providing nets to fishers there is limited incentive to retrieve lost nets in either project site, although repair and reuse of damaged nets is commonly reported. Problem Despite awareness that significant numbers of gillnets are being lost in Indonesian gillnet fisheries there is no data about volumes based on aerial, beach or marine surveys. The current estimates are based on face to face interviews for a research project. Therefore, it is important to verify the data from the surveys in the pilot sites to ascertain how much gear is lost, whether it is ghost fishing and entangling marine wildlife and whether it can be safely retrieved. Proposed Solution Following conversations with all the parties we propose that a solution to bridge the data gap and understand the severity and prevalence of ghost gear in hotspot areas in nearshore gillnet fisheries, underwater drones could be programmed using AI to identify ghost gear and be deployed on survey missions. Using sensors, AI and a camera we hope that drones will be able to demonstrate where ghost gear is accumulating and start to indicate what type of impact it is having. Data collected during the surveys will not only inform the future development of our solutions work in Indonesia but also provide vital evidence for the Global Ghost Gear Initiative data portal, which is a project aiming to create the first and only global data set on trends and abundances of ghost gear. With this dataset many things be established: the main contributors of these accumulated piles of ghost gear can be educated, the scope of this problem can be visualised and, therewith, politicians can be presured into taking more action. Project Scope We know that large amounts of fishing gear are lost at depth in the Southern pilot site, but this is potentially unsuitable for the capacity of the drones due to the conditions. However, gillnets are commonly lost inshore rocky habitats in shallower conditions, so we propose the drones could be tested in this environment to determine some key research questions: How much gear has accumulated in the focus area? How are the currents effecting the accumulation of ghost gear? Is there evidence of wildlife and marine flora entanglement? Is the gear in a position that indicates it can continue to ‘ghost fish’ (ie- hanging vertically in the water column, rather than snagged and rolled up on the sea bed? Is the gear safely retrievable? Etcetera
I've been testing my new Trident ROV (one of the beta units) and it performs amazingly. I can't wait for the summer months when we will be out all the time looking for seastars, subtidal creatures, and hopefully some of the whales that hang out in Tutka Bay. Here's a quick peek at one day out on the water. I took my friend, Curtis Jackson, who is a boat captain (and biologist and amazing person) out with me so that he could have a chance to "fly" the Trident underwater. He will be getting his own Trident later this Spring and has great plans for it (e.g. education). Later this year, when we have more hours of sunlight, the seaweed will be gorgeous. The shells on the seafloor are the remains from sea otter lunches. I'm most encouraged by the presence of some healthy seastars (in this video you will see Evasterias troschelli, a Mottled seastar). Please excuse the cheesy theme music!
Upon our latest meeting our Coral Care and Reef Mapping project now has the full support of Fundemar YIPEE!!! With this collaboration official I was able to create some data that details the common areas of interest for both the local dive shop and Fundemar. Fundemar provided locations of all its current areas of interest, the local dive shop also provided dive site locations they are interested in having mapped with the accuracy and details I am able to provide. Below are mocked up maps of the 3 different locations maps, with the common interests map being the primary focus for this first stage of the mapping process HAPPY DIVING
This expedition's goal is to bring underwater exploration to a June/July expedition tracing ancient sea routes of the North Atlantic. The adventure will launch from Aberdeen and sail on to Reykjavik. From the craggy coastline of Scotland, past the staggering cliffs of the Faroe Islands to the volcanic plains of Iceland, this expedition charts a course unlike any other on Earth. The opportunity is made possible by Adventure Canada and The Explorers Club working together to inspire young explorers and provide the opportunity for explorers, like me, to gain new knowledge and share new stories from the remote parts of the world we travel in. I plan to explore the underwater landscapes of Scotland, the Shetland Islands, Faroe Islands, and along the Icelandic coastline using an OpenROV. Through this tool, I can add depth to the expedition allowing glimpses of vibrant sub-polar and temperate marine communities. I am especially interested flying the ROV in the waters of Mykines Island at the westernmost outpost of the Faroe Islands. The isolated nature of the island suggests unique marine life in this gateway to the Norwegian Sea. The region is known for lush kelp beds. Within these regions, exploration may encounter Deadman’s Fingers a spookily-named five branch soft coral colony endemic to the region! The expedition will also have an extensive land-based exploration component. Followers and friends connected here through OpenExplorer will have the chance to explore Neolithic ruins on rugged Celtic islands and sail into the sagas of Norse explorers bound for far-flung Arctic shores. I look forward to experimenting with the types of storytelling I can add to an expedition by opening up a window to the undersea world. Using this page, I hope to open landscapes in the Northern Atlantic to people who may otherwise never experience the place. This adventure will foster all of our curiosity which I believe is the root of learning. We will all be able to dive into the temperate ocean- a zone which absorbs a high percentage of CO2 from the atmosphere and drives the productivity blooms which every plate of seafood depend upon. For this adventure, I'll be leaning on my extensive background in telling adventure stories honed working on Exploration Vessel Nautilus, the world's largest passenger submarine, and as North America's Rolex scholar. I've pitched this exciting expedition to partners and will learn in March if I will have a spot onboard the ship. Cross your fingers for me fellow adventure-ers! I would love to share this adventure with all of the OpenExplorer community! [Image by KudoyBook Travel]
This is it, folks. Our last chance on this expedition to the Gulf of Thailand to collect the imagery needed to reconstruct a MASSIVE 3D model of our study site and to use it for....SCIENCE! Specifically, by creating a 3D map of this massive coral reef, we can extract data that describe the shape of the habitat, and we can see how well this habitat could be used to predict the behavior (including social feeding behavior) of ecologically critical coral reef fish. Check out more of our videos to learn more about our research, and about marine biology (in action ) in general.
I am an avid diver, having explored underwater sites who has dived 7 seas. I have done marine conservation work through helping to found and grow the Sustainable Ocean Alliance, as well as supporting Marine Conservation Institute's Global Ocean Refuge System-- an initiative to help incentivize strong protections of 30% of the world's oceans. I also write about ocean issues as a contributor to Huffington Post and will publish about my OpenExplorer expeditions: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/sebastian-nicholls Past expeditions have resulted in video and photo assets used for raising awareness, driving political engagement, and encouraging greater protections of marine ecosystems.
The key goals of the research mission will cover these areas, and include:GIS mapping for seven islands Drone Lidar, IR, NIR image acquisition Coral Reef monitoring and decline WFCRC (and partners) methods for reef assessments to ensure the data has the widest applicability Coastal morphology A feasibility and needs assessment on each island for a coral nursery time permitting. Previous experience has shown that to involve residents in actions that effect their own wellbeing could achieve the long lasting results needed for sustainability now and well into the future. With that in mind the ESRI GIS software and data base information gathered along with training to monitor and survey each island will be donated to a representative of the Cook Islands to continue and duplicate the data gathered as a base line for comparison over time. Participation from local constituents as well as an understanding of local traditions and life styles are paramount in how the program will be executed. It is not our effort to reinvent the wheel in our executions but to use existing local and digital knowledge and previous work for a seamless project delivery. The data model we create will provide a single, user friendly resource to monitor and manage local resources. Previous research on the islands will be merged into with our GIS database as much as possible and is a common format to be used by other researchers and we encourage interdisciplinary data sharing. WFCRC Major Objectives and Key Goals: Research and report the causes of, and solutions to coral reef decline Implement strategies to promote conservation and sustainable use of coral reefs locally and internationally. Capture hi res 4k drone visual, Lidar and NIR geo referenced imagery of entire coastal areas along with various other island locations Establish control points around each island for survey which will allow for follow up surveying covering the exact same transects to be performed at given time intervals. Create a GIS base map to contain all data gathered Turtle nesting surveys and in-water observations where time allows Locate turtle nesting sites and identify restricted areas on gis base map and by mobile WFCRC Mobile application. Shark population surveys using remotely deployed camera arrays using geo referenced photos with possible ARGO tracking for GIS base map.
I hope to join Adventure Canada and The Explorers Club on an October expedition circumnavigating Newfoundland onboard the Ocean Endeavor. The adventure will begin and end in St. Johns and travel along the historic and rugged coastline. I plan to explore the underwater landscapes of this unique island using an OpenROV from Zodiacs (inflatable boats), pier-side, and perhaps even from the ship! Dive sites are not yet decided, but near the top of the list has to be the remarkable geology of Gros Morne National Park. The expedition will also have an extensive land-based exploration component. Sites along the Newfoundland coast will include Red Bay’s Basque Whaling Station (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), learning about Viking history in North America at L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site, and enjoy a taste of the Mi’kmaq culture in Miawpukek First Nation (Conne River). I look forward to experimenting with the types of storytelling I can add to an expedition by opening up a window to the undersea world. For this adventure, I'll be leaning on my extensive background in telling adventure stories honed working on Exploration Vessel Nautilus, the world's largest passenger submarine, and as North America's Rolex scholar. The decision if I have a spot onboard will be made by late March. Cross your fingers! I would love to share this adventure with all of the OpenExplorer community! [Image by the Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism Board]
So much excitement in the house!! Look what arrived this week! Getting it all charged up and ready for its maiden voyage to investigate the cove 2 stormdrain. Also working on outfitting my OceanKayak to be the best Trident platform EVERY! :)
Heavy winds, large swells, great white sharks. Not many people visit the Farallon Islands, mostly biologists and a few curious adventurers joining us on our fall Sharktober expeditions, and even fewer dive the islands. One notable exemption of the latter is Pt. Reyes urchin diver cum underwater cameraman Ron Elliot, featured in the film Sanctuary in the Sea. Now in his 70s, Ron has likely had more white shark encounters in the water than anyone on earth, still living that is. Our last trip out in 2017 took place under fire stained skies, calm seas and the water as clear as it gets. Our dive team of two splashed near Saddle Rock at the entrance to Shark Alley hoping to document and record the local white sharks. Sea lions barked from the barren rocks of the marine terrace in Mirounga Bay and a few greeted us as we scouted with the Trident. The bottom of SEFI is granitic, littered with large aggregations of red urchins and smaller clusters of purple urchins and anemones. Several species of urchins color the rocks and at sixty feet the water is a surprisingly warm 59 degrees F., welcome on this wetsuit equipped expedition. Pairs of China rockfish (sebastes nebulosous) nestle in rocks and the males display the large poisonous primary spines on their dorsal fins as the females nestle in to the crevices. Two huge lingcod (ophiodon elogatus) slither through the sea and take refuge from the seals. The water is clouded with larvae and the energy of this place is remarkable. The presence of these relatively large fish is a testimony to the marine protection in place. Several rockfish populations plummeted due to overfishing from the 1970s to the 1990s. NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service closed large areas to fishing in 2002 under special closures, called Rockfish Conservation Areas (RCAs) all along the U.S. west coast, from the Canadian border to Mexico. The rockfish closure (RCA) is helping the Canary rockfish (sebastes pinniger) to recover and the fishery is again open to anglers under special conditions and limits set by California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Like sharks, the Sebastes are slow growing and long lived and more vulnerable to overfishing but the combinations of management and the no fishing zone under the California Marine Life Protection Act are helping these fish recover. Rockfish specialists Dr. Rick Starr (Sea Grant) and Dr. Mary Gleason (The Nature Conservancy) examine and evaluate rock fish assemblages and help State fisheries managers make decisions on RCAs and catch. Biologists like this frequently rely on underwater cameras to collect data, and with the Trident, data may be shared by citizen scientists. In white shark feeding areas like the Farallones, perhaps cameras are a more prudent form of exploration. We didn't see any sharks on our dives this year, but the use of the Trident will he helpful in examining species make up and populations inside MPAs such as Southeast Farallon Island, and will be part of our underwater MPA Watch program under the Golden Gate MPA Collaborative Network. Learn more about the Farallon Islands Expedition 2018 and our Borneo expedition on Open Explorer and on Sharkstewards.org, and support it by donating on the link below.
Packing for this expedition is a daunting task. I knew form the beginning that I would greatly exceed baggage allowances so I asked some of my fellow expedition members of they would kindly take one bag for me. That still left me with too much. But, oh well, that is part of getting everything there! I weighed all the bags and they came about to around 325lbs. The remotely controlled surface vessel takes up almost three of the bags, plus I have 8 cameras including lenses, chargers, extra batteries etc. Here is a list of cameras: Canon 1Dx Canon 5D Mark III Canon 5D Mark IV Sony A7r II Sony RX100 III Sony RX100 IV GoPro 4 GoPro 5 Boxfish Research 360 camera (almost 30lbs in its case!) Rylo 360 camera Now, let's add the Trident with the 100m spool of cable, tools for assembly and fixing, camera clamps for attaching cameras to various thing, spare hardware such as nuts, bolts, etc., tape/glue. Just use your imagination on the "support' stuff you need to pack, there is no Home Depot in Antarctica! And, I'm bringing a DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone, extra batteries, case, etc. And, BTW, all of the batteries, all 8lbs of them, must be carried as carry-on luggage since they are lipos. Oh yes, I almost forgot clothes. After all, this is Antarctica I'm talking about! Jackets, heavy and well insulated boots, layers of shirts and pants, hats, more layers of clothes. Every medicine and first aid items..... I have a surfboard bag containing the two custom flotation devices for the surface boat. They are made out of surfboard foam but with the metal support pieces it starts to add up. So, nine bags total. Am I nuts? Yes. Will I have a blast? Yes!
Since 2009 Mote Marine Lab scientists and collaborators have been studying the biology, life history, population structure, diet and movement patterns of spotted eagle rays off Southwest Florida and in areas around Mexico, Cuba and east coast of Florida. This research has produced several publications to help better inform fisheries management and has provided important information on this data deficient species (see Bassos-Hull et al. 2014, Newby et al. 2014, Sellas et al. 2015, Flowers et al. 2016, Cerutti-Pereyra et al. 2017). We are excited about the possibilities of how a Trident ROV will augment and enhance our research, specifically looking at spotted eagle ray aggregations and habitat and prey availability.
We have some theories on the ID of this barge, sitting in 53msw just beyond Cook Island on the Tweed Coast, Northern NSW. Having spotted some stacked cargo with the appearance of railway track segments, we plan to return with tools to remove some encrustation and take accurate measurements of the cargo to check against shipping manifests. We've made a few dives, however due to conditions on the wreck, we've been unable to make a positive ID as yet. Some sources call it the "cane barge" but we're not sure the profile fits.
We plan to explore beneath the current borders of Bonaire National Marine Park (60m depth) for high densities of invasive Lionfishes.We want o localise high densities of Lionfishes and apply traps in favorable locations to catch them. We'd inspect the substrate and scout for fishess with help of a submersible ROV before deployment of traps.
Whale Shark Diaries was started in 2015 with the intention of helping to conserve whale sharks, an endangered species, through collaborative reseach, awareness and education facilitated by responsible tourism around the species.Through running excursions to swim with these gentle giants, we are presented with the opportunity to gather information to help us identify individuals which can aid in tracking their movements and general condition. As well as this we have the opportunity to observe the behaviour of whale sharks both engaged in interactions with humans and in undisturbed situations to try to better understand our impact on their behaviour. This type of information can be used to help develop the management plan of the species here in La Paz, Mexico and elsewhere, to make tourism around whale sharks more sustainable.
We have been planning this expedition for over a year now. We have been training hard for the physical aspect of the expedition. Spending up to 8 days traversing the At-Bashi range at altitudes of >4000m will be very physically challenging. We have been working hard studying maps and previous trip reports to determine appropriate routes and to find out if anyone else has attempted anything similar in the past. The At-Bashi range is an area which had previously been explored very little. We've also been working hard to research the area's town, connect with some of the local residents and begin to investigate how climate change is affecting this mountain community.
This was our first fill day in Guadeloupe. We spend the morning touring the facilities of the science department at Université des Antilles's Guadeloupe campus; they are doing some really exciting things with lubricants, polymer aging/durability, sickle cell research....very diverse and extremely interdisciplinary. We really enjoyed the electron microscopy labs, where they showed us the chemosynthetic bacteria you see in the picture below. The host these microbes live in is a small clam. Although it is in shallow water, this similar to the microbes living in the Riftia worms of hydrothermal vents. In the afternoon, we drove OpenROV 3536 in the test pool of the university. We placed a plastic target in the tank and practiced retrieving it from the bottom....a neat way to 'game-ify' the process of practicing ROV piloting.
We've identified our local conservation partners for each target species and have developed draft methods that we'll be fine tuning over the next few weeks. We've tested our robots in the field; we're currently using an OpenROV 2.8 and a DJI Phantom 3A, but plan to expand our collection of robots to include a home-made fixed-wing aerial robot and the new Trident ROV. We'll be documenting our work on the OpenExplorer blog and on social media. The scientific outcomes of this set of projects will be disseminated through both peer-reviewed journals and popular science publications.
The Indian River Lagoon is in trouble. Once described as the most biologically diverse estuary in the United States its water quality has been deteriorating for years and wildlife is in decline - fishing, shellfish, sea grass, dolphins, bird life - by any measure you want to use - are in decline. At the Ocean Research & Conservation Association (ORCA) we have been documenting many of the lagoon's problems by creating pollution maps. One of the most exciting things about these maps is not the bad things they reveal, but rather the good things. There are stark contrasts with areas of unpolluted blue right beside bright red and the thing that has become increasingly obvious is those clean areas are associated with what are called living shorelines. These are places where there is a natural gradient of plant life that serves as both a biological filter and a very effective means of shoreline stabilization. We believe that the creation of living shorelines is low hanging fruit in terms of things that can be undertaken immediately to improve the health of the lagoon. For this reason our Living Lagoon project is restoring impaired areas of the Indian River Lagoon, while also exposing local students to the world of “living shorelines” through a newly developed school program. This is a community based effort carried out in collaboration with the Indian River Land Trust. Using plants that the students are growing and will help plant we are restoring Land Trust owned properties which they have identified as suffering from environmental degradation. We will also create before and after pollution maps which will have impacts far beyond our local community as they will provide a critical missing piece in the science of coastal habitat restoration and will hopefully provide the basis for expanding such projects into other impaired estuaries around the world. OpenROV represents a breakthrough in terms of providing an affordable and safe way for students to conduct the underwater surveys that are a critical part of the science.
With Schmidt Marine Technology Partners our new FUTURE FOCE system is being tested and will be deployed off of the Scripps pier very soon. We are working to develop new technologies for testing multiple-stressor climate change impacts in the marine environment. We previously built the CP-FOCE which we deployed on the Great Barrier Reef at the Heron Island Research station for over 8 months and found some really exciting results about how coral reefs will respond to ocean acidification. The FUTURE FOCE will be a portable multiple stressor system that will allow us to understand how marine animals and ecosystems respond to environmental stress. We plan to Open ROV and the Trident a critical part of our team that can check on and maintain our experiments when divers can't get in the water.
The Expedition Dates are being moved to early 2018. This is to ensure that we have the 100 meter tether and can provide a richer experience. In the meantime we are starting another San Diego Expedition: "Discover Citizen Science" with the Trident OpenROV, San Diego, CA https://openexplorer.com/expedition/discovercitizensciencesandiego
To test how OpenROVs perform at high altitudes, as a precursor to the eventual expedition to Ladakh, I took Matsya up to the Himalayas this past weekend. It was a long holiday because of the Diwali break, and with rising pollution levels here in Delhi, it was the perfect time to get out of the city and head up to the wilderness. We'd chosen Bhrigu Lake in Himachal Pradesh as the dive site; it's a small glacial lake at 4200m asl, and anecdotal evidence (from Wikipedia and TripAdvisor) suggested that it never freezes completely over. Pre-trip, I re-wound the wire onto a new spool, charged the 6 batteries, made sure the OpenROV was working perfectly and then sealed the main and battery tubes. I did this for a few of reasons; firstly, it gets dusty up in the mountains, and I wanted to expose the electronics to the minimum of dust. Secondly, I've worked at high altitudes before, and fatigue sets in quickly; I wanted to have as little technical work as possible at the dive site itself. And finally, I wasn't sure how deep the dive would be, so I preferred to play it safe and have the tubes pressurised at sea level, as opposed to at 4200m, where the atmospheric pressure is approximately half that at sea level. I also charged my laptop completely then sealed it in a plastic bag. I use a 15" MacBook Pro (early 2011), in which I'd replaced the hard disk drive (HDD) with a solid state drive (SSD) a few years ago. Using HDDs above 3000m is not recommended, because the low pressure means that there isn't enough of an air cushion for the disk to spin. If you do try starting up an HDD at high altitudes, apparently what you're most likely to hear is a crunch as the reading head tries to eat the spinning disk. For most treks up to the mountains, I usually pack a 2-man tent, a sleeping bag and a petrol stove, along with cold-weather clothing and supplies. This time, I also had the OpenROV and the MacBook, which quite honestly I never thought I'd be lugging up a mountain. We took the overnight bus from Delhi to Manali, and then a taxi up to the start point of the trek on the Leh-Manali highway, a few kilometres before the Rohtang Pass. We walked uphill for about 6 hours to the first base camp at Rola Khuli at 3650m asl, where we pitched tents, made a quick dinner of instant noodles and cheese, and then settled in for the night. The next morning, we left most of our equipment behind in the tents, and headed off, through light snowfall, for the trek to the lake itself. We got up to Bhrigu Lake by 1pm; the weather had completely cleared up, so I unpacked my rucksack. I unwound a little bit of the wire and put Matsya into the water to check that the tubes were still sealed, which they were. I then started up my laptop and plugged the cables in; the lights on the top-side box started blinking, and Chrome started up. The laptop battery reading was 92%, so everything seemed great. I hit my bookmark for the OpenROV Cockpit on Chrome, and we had data! Visual and telemetry were coming in, and everything seemed great; I was about to start up the motors to actually begin exploring the lake when my laptop died. The battery discharged completely. We sat around enjoying the view for some more time and then headed back to Rola Khuli, where we packed up camp and then heading back to Manali. While not being able to actually explore Bhrigu Lake was a bit disappointing, we did have a great trip, and accomplished our primary purpose, which was to make sure the OpenROV worked well at high altitudes. The MacBook charged as usual, and is functioning normally; I'm actually typing this post on it right now. It was either the extreme cold up at Bhrigu Lake or the low pressure, or a combination of both that affected the laptop battery. The maximum operating altitude for a MacBook Pro, as per Apple, is 3000m, so for the expedition to Tso Kar, the main lesson learnt is that we're going to need a sturdier laptop. The OpenROV, though, is ready for that dive. (With thanks to Raghav, Siddharth and Aditya for being great trek partners! We left Delhi on the 18th, were at Rola Khuli on the 19th, at Bhrigu Lake on the 20th and back in Delhi by the 22nd of October 2017.)
Today David, Kate, and I kayaked from SeaQuest through the anchor-outs, to Strawberry point to scout eel grass, and see how the Trident would function in the shallows of Richardson Bay. The Three of us took 2 kayaks, a one seater and a two seater (sit on tops) form the Sausalito shoreline with with David Piloting the Trident in the two seater. We stopped at three locations : 37.87903 N - 122.494877 W 37.882132 N - 122.493509 W 37.881799 N - 122.483156 W Each location the Trident was sent below to inspect Eel Grass and check for any anomalies. David commented that at several locations he spotted what he thought were Sea Cucumbers Overall the tide, visibility, and depth made for a pleasant day on the water, but resulted in low visibility. Findings: *In shallows the, a slack tide is best for bottom viewing to avoid silt disturbances If you attempting to take samples in strong currents or tides, go 'with' the tide, not against it. *Eel grass can be acquired via the Trident's propeller
After another 2h 45m you finally made it to Galapagos, Baltra airport.There is only one run-way and no taxi way, but there aren't too many flights anyway. Once you get to the terminal, you get your National Park permit (100USD) and get your carry on bags checked for food, just in case. Just a short stroll away is the Baggage Claim. There aren't any conveyor belts, just tables with rolls that the workers use to push your luggage onto. Once everyone's luggage is there and the official gives a sign, everyone storms forward and grabs their luggage. As if the island is going to errode while you wait. You're getting out of the airport and depending on your style of travel, either get herded towards one of the tour busses or the public one. I was traveling idependend so it's public bus. Once it's full (read: very full, no standing room) you start your 10 min drive along the winding road. You cross lava plains, see lots of cactus and you get the first glimps on why Darwin called at least parts of the islands desolate. You arrive at the little channel that seperates Baltra and Santa Cruz island, unload from the bus and get on the ferry. The luggage goes on top and you inside (not that there are windows). The fare is $1 and the ride takes 5 min. On the other side you choose your next mode of transport. The public bus (I think around $4) takes you to town or you take one of the taxis. Taxis here are white pick up trucks. I was a bit constrained for time so I choose the taxi ($25) to make it to my ferry to go to Isla Isabela. The road to Puerto Ayora is fairly smooth and most traffic is from the taxis and busses coming from the airport pick up. Congratulations, you made it in time to get a ticket for the ferry to Isabela. The ferries are speedboats aka little yacht type runabouts with 3 x 200hp susukys in the back. The return fare is $55. Get to the port 30 min before your departure (there is a 2pm boat and I think one in the early morning), get your bags checked and sealed again (inter island transport of fruit and vegetable is prohibited) and registered for the transport. There are Navy officials present at all times and make sure the lists are handled correctly. The speedboats don't land at the pier, you have to take a little panga water taxi. Luggage goes in the front, passangers in the back, the fare is 50ct. When you get to the speedboat, choose your seat. I heard the front can be with little air, the back is most stable but noisy. Also, take a wind/rain jacket, it can be cold and windy on the ocean. The ride takes about 2 - 2 1/2 hours and can be bumpy at times. Also remember, Not throw trash the sea
We are a group of marine ecologists exploring the diversity, productivity and ecology of seaweed dominated rocky reefs from Baja California to Alaska. We focus our studies on the rich kelp forest communities and the services they provide. Our team members are investigating a variety of questions related to how changes to these rocky reef communities impact the important services they provide, and how we may better inform resource managers, stakeholder, school groups and the public about the deleterious effects of climate change, overharvesting, disease outbreaks, and winter storms on these vital communities. ARREE’s goal is to bring our work to the public's attention. One way we do this is to involve K-12 classrooms with hands-on exploration of these underwater habitats through the use of ROVs. With the help of OpenROV, we will bring students into the field with us and use a Trident ROV to allow students to experience the undersea world in real time. Our first of many planned expeditions will take place this summer (2017) on Catalina Island, off the coast of southern California. With the help of funding from CA SeaGrant, we will explore the impacts that vessel moorings have on shallow water benthic communities. Aside from diving and surveying the effects these moorings may have on these communities, we will let groups of students from the mainland "fly" our ROV while we are working underwater. With the help of two-way communication masks we will be able to communicate with the surface, and share our research with a wide and diverse audience.