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Documenting sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation.
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Lost Sharks of San Francisco Bay

A young researcher in pursuit of forgotten sharks.
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Marine Ecology and Underwater Robotics in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

Our goal is to enhance scientific capacity for stakeholders within the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands and provide a STEM learning experience for students and marine professionals in underwater robotics.

Recent Observations

Hello all! Firstly, the expedition was a great success and I have tons to share. I'm sorry for the delay in posting, but life is just starting to get back to normal. Hurricane Harvey that devastated Houston also decided to hit that city when my flight was scheduled to route through there, so... I had quite an epic getting home. Since then I have been unpacking gear and processing data. I'll breakup up our field posts to reflect the basic activities around the expedition: Well, my question about whether snow had hit the mountains was answered almost as soon as we left the main road and headed into Pitumarca. The mountains were white. Now the only question remaining was how deep the snow was and could we make it over Jahuaycate pass...? Just above Pitumarca we stopped to view the remnants of an Inca road that follows our route into the mountains (or do we follow its route...?). Many of the Inca roads were paved with stone and very well constructed, so large sections of them are still used by inhabitants today. In the first photo you can see the stone stairway and some of the paving still intact on the trail. Fortunately, most of the snow had fallen in the northern portion of the range and after many hours of driving, we safely reached the drop off point where our arrieros (horsemen) and 27 horses were waiting for us. They had walked for over a day from their village in Tinqui, which is on the north side of the Cordillera Vilcanota range. That required them to bring the horses over a higher, sustained pass called Campa pass. Unfortunately, one of our arrieros, René, did not bring sunglasses and was nearly snowblind by the time he arrived. I have worked with René for years and he is as strong as they come in the mountains, but he had to spend the next 24 hours in the tent and in extreme pain. You know the conditions are bad when one of these incredibly strong mountain men is taken out... Walking over the ridge and seeing Sibinacocha again is always magic for me, and of course it's always a privilege to introduce the place to others. Four of our team members were new to the site and I was disappointed that the storm might destroy their first view. Fortunately, as our expedition dropped over the ridge into the lake's basin, the clouds lifted enough for us to feel the sun before we reached our first base camp just before dark (see photos). After a cold night, woke the next morning to clear skies and began slowly unpacking and preparing our equipment. The first day at 16,000ft (4900m) is though, you typically have a light headache, you're out of breath, and it seems that everything requires monumental effort. So I was doubly impressed when Neal Michelutti and Chris Grooms with the Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Lab (PEARL) from Ottawa inflated their boat and paddled out into the lake to begin immediately collecting sediment cores. Their goal was to collect preliminary data to guide a larger sediment coring expedition that we have planned for August 2018 (stay tuned...). The project will tell us quite a bit more about the local climate, what changes the lake has undergone (including lake level fluctuations that submerged the structures and artifacts that we were there to investigate), and will hopefully provide indications for when humans were using the area. After unpacking I took the UAV up to shoot some test images and immediately crashed it when the program I was using froze. Lesson learned. My heart sank when I thought that I had ruined our opportunity to collect the aerial images and data that I planned to gather. Fortunately it happened just as I was landing and everything seemed to be working fine — with the exception of a broken propeller and bruised ego. Next we went to examine the dive site and to orient the new dive team members to the area. It would be another day before we could safely begin diving as the gases in our bodies needed to equilibrate to the new, thin atmosphere that we were in. As were were walking to the dive site, I immediately found another arrowhead (see photos) and more looking revealed Incan pottery sherds, all of which our archaeologist, Martin Polo, quickly began documenting. We were off to a good start!

For the past month, we have reached out to prior researchers in Australia, and to the general diving community. We have been trying to find who has recently spotted or seen fisherman with sevengills. So far, everyone says they are on the south cost of Australia, but no researchers have been involved in gathering data on sevengills for over five years now. We know that the shark has been reported in temperate water all over the world. We hope to have a Trident OpenROV so we won't need to use SCUBA. A small boat, in coastal waters, should be good enough to get out into the areas where the sharks have recently been seen. We are looking for contacts in South Australia for our November 2017 Expedition. If you can help please comment or contact me.

We decided to wait for this next school year to do our dive to look for sturgeon due to student schedules and Mr. Soko's new addition to his family (A healthy happy little girl)! Now that she is getting older it will be easier to get out to dive. There is also good news that the Army Corp of Engineers has lowered the level of the water significantly to do maintenece on the spillway gates at Hills Creek Dam. The water is down atleast 80 feet and should make getting to the bottom to see fish so much easier!

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: 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.

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.

Open Water Test Prep Two weeks ago our open water equipment test off the coast of Chicago was cut short due to high seas. It's given us more time in the lab to keep iterating on designs of the teens this summer. Notice the different magnet wheel iterations. We're considering a metal housing for the magnets as well, however our greatest success in testing was with exposed magnets to meteorite simulants. We're back on the water on Saturday (weather permitting) so there will be more test findings to come!

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 idea was to investigate on several location the water quality of the "grachten" in Amsterdam.More about the Project can be found under: Summer Academy Project link here

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.

According to the article in the Independent Journal, Private Eastwood wandered into the RCA radio station after coming ashore. This landmark is easy to find, as it's still around- they're referring to Radio Station KPH, which was located in a famous art-deco building from 1929 until its closure in the late 1990's. The building has been preserved and is part of the Point Reyes National Seashore. You can read about its history here and here. The radio station KPH building is located about 3/4 of a mile south of Abbott's Lagoon, well back from the beach. As was indicated on Mike Warner's Flickr site, Eastwood probably came ashore at the beach immediately to the southwest of the lagoon.

We made a trip many years ago. It was the first expedition on OpenExplorer, in fact: 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:

Here it is! For best results watch in Youtube at high res.

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. 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 ( 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:

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,

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!

The ROV and DP vessel recently conducted a dam inspection at Cherry Lake, CA, still on schedule for Tahoe in August

We may visit mine again in future when some ROV issues are worked out and push the depth limits of this flooded hole in the ground. Until further notice there are no plans however.

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.

This expedition will build on existing work done by Glen Dennison on the glass sponge reefs. Glen is an ocean explorer and citizen scientist and he has personally discovered ten of the known sponge reefs in Howe Sound. He has done this through both air-gas diving, and the use of a low-cost drop-camera system. Over the years, Glen has mapped many sites in Howe Sound and has collected hours of drop-camera footage on the sponge reefs. The bathymetric data, in combination with the drop-camera footage can be used to visualize the boundaries of the glass sponge reefs; as well as map relative sponge coverage throughout the reef. Recently, a group of students at Fleming College worked in collaboration with Glen to create a bathymetric map and relative density surface of the East Anvil Island glass sponge reef. This was done by extracting still images from drop-camera video data and classifying the geo-referenced images. The goal of this project is to build upon existing work and contribute to existing datasets. We will produce higher resolution maps of the glass sponge reefs using the ROV in combination with the plethora of data already collected by Glen.

Across the steppes of eastern Kyrgyzstan, nomadic communities are seeing their traditional lifestyle disappear. Facing receding glaciers, declining precipitation and expansion of urban centers, nomadism often results in poverty. However, in a small village in Kyrgyzstan’s Issyk-Kul region, a nomad named Emil Ibakov is taking an innovative approach to preserving his traditional culture and lifestyle. Emil is attempting to keep nomadism alive by integrating it into a new adventure sport: “Backcountry-Horse-Skiing.” Rooted in 2,000 years of heritage, backcountry-horse-skiing fuses equestrian traditions of the Central Asian steppe with modern alpine ski-touring. Using yurt camps as bases, participants ride steppe horses up the mountains with skis strapped to the horses’ backs, and then riders backcountry ski the alpine terrain. It creates a hybrid outdoor experience that allows Emil to practice steppe culture, while attracting travelers to Kyrgyzstan and teaching them about his traditions. Krygyz nomadic culture is disappearing because steppe lifestyle (yurts, mobility, horsemanship) is increasingly unlivable. Nomadism is a food producing economy, relying on climate patterns to move livestock. Droughts and land degradation mean modern nomads find it hard to move around, causing poverty and agricultural uncertainty that forces abandonment of steppe life for the city. Because the lifestyle core to nomadic culture is disappearing, nomads are looking for new ways to make a living while maintaining their culture. Recognizing adventure tourism as one of the fastest growing sectors in Kyrgyzstan’s economy (World Travel and Tourism Council 2016), Emil is attempting to preserve nomadic traditions by blending them into a new adventure sport he can share with local communities and travelers. He hopes backcountry-horse-skiing will help steppe culture survive and influence the modern world. How can backcountry-horse-skiing preserve nomadic culture? The traditional steppe horse is unique from any other breed, making its mastery core to Kyrgyz nomadism. Unlike sedentary breeds, steppe horses survive on grass and have unique hooves that kick through ice and snow to climb alpine terrain (like crampons or ski-skins). Moreover, skiing and alpinism is recently integrating into Kyrgyz identity. With 80% of the country covered in mountains, the Soviet Era brought outdoor education, mountaineering, and ski resorts to Kyrgyzstan. In the post-Soviet period, there is now a knowledge transfer of alpine skills to today’s nomads. Combined with post-Soviet resurgence of nomadic nationalism, the dual legacy of horsemanship and alpinism creates a ripe environment for backcountry-horse-skiing. This story uniquely highlights Kyrgyz nomadism and the invention of a never-before-seen hybrid sport. Most narratives about Central Asia focus on the Mongolian Empire or Silk Road, while countries like Kyrgyzstan are rarely shown. The few narratives about Kyrgyzstan focus on its terrain and outdoor sports, but lack social and cultural context. I want this story to humanize Kyrgyzstan, showing adventure sport and geotourism from the perspective of its inventors and specifically documenting the new invention of Backcountry-horse-skiing. Instead of painting Kyrgyz nomads as victims to modernity, this story focuses on the nomads innovating traditions to preserve them. Aside from the impending disappearance of Kyrgyz steppe culture pressing the timeliness of this project, this story also comes at a time when the concept of “nomad” is pop-culturally relevant. With yurts touted as “glamping,” and “digital nomad” used to describe today’s remote tech worker, there is a unique opportunity to educate audiences about the history and people behind these trends. Finally, the Issyk-Kul Region in Kyrgyzstan is becoming a hub for adventure sports in Central Asia (World Travel and Tourism Council 2016). Its nomads are at an inflection point in the economic role they play in Kyrgyzstan’s tourism. Unfortunately, indigenous peoples’ roles in shaping their country’s tourism industry is often overlooked, allowing for later exploitation. An example, which I work on first-hand, is the Sherpa of Nepal’s Khumbu Region and the high but hidden price they pay on Everest expeditions from years of being downplayed in the Everest narrative. I worry a similar fate for Kyrgyz nomads if we fail to capture their influence on Kyrgyzstan’s adventure tourism. This project’s goal is to highlight a disappearing nomadic culture and the invention of an adventure sport as a tool for that culture’s preservation. It also aims to tell the story from the perspective of an innovator within the community at risk. While I’ve researched adventure tourism for sustainable development over the last 5 years, there is a lack in field research about its effects on cultural preservation. I see this project as a crucial first step for enhancing this knowledge and for showing audiences some of the most innovative ways communities are using tourism to survive. I hope sharing this story of ingenuity inspires other communities reconciling their traditional livelihoods with modernity. I also hope this story is a call to action for consumers of adventure tourism. What may be an adrenaline-inducing travel experience for one person, is a fight for the cultural preservation and livelihood of a community. I want this project to make us more thoughtful travelers, looking beyond the mountains we climb and ski to understand the cultures and and histories behind our exploration. A final objective is to drive more traffic to community-based geotourism in Kyrgyzstan, as these initiatives are crucial for the cultural and economic survival of nomadic communities. In terms of capacity building, the project’s beneficiaries are the communities of Issyk-Kul Region, specifically in Karakol and Jyrgalan and Ak-Suu valleys. These communities increasingly rely on tourism for their livelihood and will gain from exposure to global audiences. Kyrgyzstan was recently ranked in the top 10 countries for a tourism boom by 2025 , as its contribution of tourism to GDP is one of the fastest growing globally (World Travel and Tourism Council 2016). I hope this film will not only increase Kyrgyzstan’s tourism, but also enhance tourism infrastructure development, a current barrier to tourism growth. Moreover, the UN World Tourism Organization noted adventure tourism as a unique tool for enhancing cultural heritage and raising awareness about biodiversity and conservation (United Nations World Tourism Organization 2014). This project’s potential to increase adventure tourism in Kyrgyzstan can help combat environmental concerns threatening the preservation of nomadic culture. Lastly, this film could bring additional outdoor vocational resources to the region. Increased training can fuel geotourism ventures and increase the safety margin for guides and tourists. Kyrgyzstan’s Community Based Tourism Association (CBT), which employs and trains nomads, will especially benefit. I hope a film in which an indigenous population is innovating its country’s tourism will fuel capacity building at a grass-roots level and avoid future exploitation of nomadic communities.

They hide in the seagrasses of the murky waters of various lagoons around the Mediterranean or the Atlantic. The male caries the eggs and gives birth. They are a family of fish with a very peculiar way to move, eat and hide. It's the seahorse, one of the most iconic animals of our seas and oceans. Known to most of us since a very young age, they are surprisingly absent from the shelves of the scientific departments. In Europe, as they were never consumed or used in the industry, nobody bothered to thoroughly study them. Today, the French association Peau-Bleue decided it was time to fill the gap of knowledge. And the Octopus Foundation is part of the adventure.

Project Pegasus Part 8 – The Great Plunge Nearly three months of planning, preparation, and hard work have gone into this fateful day: Pegasus’s first plunge in salt water. From day one, when we opened our kit and started assembling our little ROV, the team has talked of almost nothing else. All of our hopes and aspirations rested on a successful first flight in salt water. In order to make sure everything went smoothly, we decided to test Pegasus in the shallow and protected waters of Mission Bay. On a cold and overcast Wednesday afternoon Project Pegasus team members set off on one of SDSU’s small boats, with the help of boat-handler extraordinaire (and fellow grad student/Edwards Lab mate) Tristin McHugh. We anchored in a shallow cove and prepared Pegasus for a fateful first dive. As it turns out, we experienced quite an emotional rollercoaster. All systems were a go; however, as we moved to drop our ROV in the water the camera image seized (much like our previous issue with the lasers). After rebooting the system, we tried again; and just like the first time just as we were about to drop Pegasus in the water the camera froze again. This happened not once, not twice but fives times! After our sixth reboot we decided to go for it…resulting in a flawless 35min dive! Our first “flight” of Pegasus took us on a tour of the murky water, through seagrass beds and around the boat. We quickly learned the nuances of a successful flight. As it turns out, Pegasus is a little heavy! Our negatively-buoyant ROV requires a lot of thrust to propel it through the water. We even learned what to do in the event of “entanglement” in environmental hazards, such as seagrass! After three months of I’m delighted to say Project Pegasus is a success. I’m incredibly proud of all of the hard work, dedication, and cohesion displayed by Project Pegasus team members. We all learned a suite of skills along the way, adding new tools to our toolboxes. However, it’s now time to pack up Pegasus in preparation for the Edwards Lab’s second research expedition to the Aleutian Islands. Stay tuned! There will be plenty of updates from the Aleutians. And when we get back in the Fall Project Pegasus will meet again to discuss a whole host of new projects for Pegasus. Thanks for following us along this incredible journey! Cheers, Baron von Urchin

The Center for Great Lakes Literacy, Great Lakes Sea Grant Network and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will host 15 4th-12th grade teachers and non-formal educators to work beside scientists performing Great Lakes research July 8-14, 2017. Stops in ports (including the NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary) will include additional science experiences. The workshop will offer first-hand explorations of Lake Huron ecology, geology, geography, weather and biogeochemical processes, with particular emphasis on human impacts. Participants will collect planktonic and benthic organisms as well as conduct water quality data collection and analysis.

Lake Casitas, located 12 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, is a small reservoir that serves coastal Ventura and the rural community of Ojai, California. The result of a 1952 United States Bureau of Reclamation water requirement and supply study, the lake was inundated in 1958. While today we continue to suffer Stage Three drought conditions, the lake’s lower water levels does offer us an opportunity to more easily uncover some of the Ojai Valley’s recent past. When the lake filled, it gradually covered ranches, roads and an old school. Using the OpenRov 2.8, local newspaper articles and interviews with the few local residents who lived in the area before our reservoir was created, students will prepare a story with photographs and personal accounts, which we will donate to the Ojai and Ventura Historical Museums for their use in perpetuity. We will conduct interviews and operate the rover in accordance with the accounts we acquire in order to create a photographic essay that will accompany the written accounts of the interviews.

The Kraken performed well this past weekend-- Most successful dive yet! I have a lot to learn about video post production I admit. But, I was eager to get footage of our dive from Phippsburg, ME online. Upgrades: The new strong tether worked really well. We also upgraded our tether management system with the introduction of threaded disconnects and an extension cord reel. I need to improve the tether strain relief system since it has a tendency to slip and put tension on the communication wires. Good times!

And that's a wrap! Bon voyage from a Coho born this Spring 2017. SPAWN spent its Spring mornings counting juvenile salmonids swimming to sea for the first time (smolts) because this life stage will be a make-or-break point for the year class. Decades of research have proven salmonid populations are about as successful as their smolt life stage is in freshwater. A healthy aquatic ecosystem will produce fat, healthy smolt populations expressing a full range of the phenotypes and adaptations in that gene pool. Smolt monitoring tracks how fat, healthy and abundant an out-migrating salmonid population is. A population with a full arsenal of adaptability has the capacity to respond and survive environmental changes like temperature fluctuations and precipitation variability. If a wild stock of salmon, such as the juveniles we counted this Spring, is able to maintain it's full range of diversity and genetic variations, it will retain the capacity to adapt.

We're navigating a new plan for today based on the small craft advisory that the National Weather Service issued for the Manitowoc and Two Rivers area. Five to eight-foot waves on Lake Michigan are not conducive to lakebed mapping or shipwreck exploring! We're still meeting with our teachers and students at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum to pilot the ROV from the dock, and for some beach activities and seining nearby with Titus Seilheimer, UW Sea Grant fisheries outreach specialist. We'll meet at 2 p.m. as planned at the R/V Storm docked at the museum to discuss the lakebed mapping project with our teachers, students and any reporters who would like to learn more. Looking forward to a great day in Manitowoc!

This orthophotoplan made with one of our drones in 2016 is the basis of our 2017 mission. We will use our scubadiving gear as well as the brand new Trident to explore and document the underwater remains. Every aspect of the mission will be conducted under the supervision of an underwater archaeologist, Krisztian Gal.

On March 21st, the Viking Explorers went to the Fire Island Lighthouse. At the lighthouse, we explored the Lighthouse Museum and saw how the original lens of the original Fire Island Lighthouse, built in 1826. The lens is a design called a Fresnnel lens, afterthe famous scientist Augustin-Jean Fresnel. His design used cuts of shapes in glass a certain way which would magnify light so people could see a kerosene lamp from miles away. This allowed sailors to be guided to Fire Island during storms or fog. We also had the opportunity to climb into the new Fire Island Lighthouse, built in 1858. There we looked over the edge with our 360 video cameras and saw the light within the lighthouse, at the very top. After that, we brought our ROVs to the Great South Bay, where we found beautiful green sea lettuce at the bottom of the bay. The video link has been attached to this post.

How will the African Marine MegaTransect work?In oder to be effective, the African Marine MegaTransect Expedition is designed to create a database that is comparative to the database created in 2012/13 by the same team in order to calculate change in time. This is critical because we do not know how much time we have left before the coral reef can't sustain coastal communities anymore. In fact it is possible that we have already passed that stage.  The key message from this expedition in building scientific capacity and defining actionable management plans is COMPARATIVE DATA AND TRENDS associated that link into climate change models and discussions and takes into consideration social data. This is our goal, we will be more empowered with this data, it should have been done years ago, with all the aid money the various nations have received for marine resource management.  The African Marine MegaTransect has been broken down into 5-phases, which will be implemented from November 2017 - December 2018. These phases include: Pre-Expedition phase June 2017 - November 2017: This will include planning, logistics, permit applications, team development, technology training, data platform development and media campaigns. Sea going survey phase November 2017 - March 2018: Core data driven survey using various technologies to measure coral reef health and coral reef fish biomass, abundance, diversity and abundance (the key measurements needed for management and conservation).  Land mission phase November 2017 - March 2018: To gather social data and also to sample commonly eaten fish in local fishing markets to determine fish toxicity due to plastic assimilation.  Post-Expedition phase April 2018 - December 2018: Data analysis, open accessing the data and discoveries, writing policy recommendations, publishing scientific documentation, media campaigns, develop an MPA management/recovery strategy.  Equipment purchase phase: Phase 5 is really about purchasing the right equipment, doing the necessary training and software checks. It is a continuous process. 

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Our expeditions have been featured in: New York Times TED Wired FastCompany