Shark Stewards is restoring coral reefs in Malaysian Borneo, assessing and protecting reefs and fish populations including sharks in the Semporna islands. An associated online film series Borneo From Below is promoting public and government support for marine protection in the region.
UPDATE: We're picking up steam as we meet more and more interested scientists and science enthusiasts who are excited by our team's work. This kind of meteorite hunt has very little precedent so we are figuring out each step as we go! Nothing like building a plane while it's in flight! Our team was able to video conference with NASA Scientist Marc Fries, he works in curation and has done a considerable amount of work calculating meteorite falls from weather radar. (Click the link to one of his papers below) He shared new radar readout images (see images below) that show the fragments caught by radar after the fireball. Dr. Mark Hammergren, Adler Astronomer, is working on calibrating the videos from the meteor sightings and will be able to calculate where in our solar system the meteorite came from. This is exceptional as this will be one of about 18 meteors that has been able to be tracked to its source from video footage. Finding out the meteorite's point of origin will give us a better understanding of what the meteorite is made of. Adler Teens have completed our first draft of our PVC underwater ROV and will begin experimenting with neutral buoyancy (see image). Next week we'll be engineering meteorite simulants with teens from the Shedd Aquarium to be used in our underwater detection/retrieval tests with sonar and magnetometers (see images of test meteorites). We are all grateful for the journey thus far, the chance to teach hands on, applicable science, and collaborate with scientists across fields of study. What an adventure! Check out Marc Fries' Paper Slightly Cloudy with a Chance of Chondrites 20,000 Leagues Under the Stars, Chris Bresky Far Horizons Adler Teen Programs Specialist
The seas are dissolving. Thirty percent of CO2 emissions end up in the ocean causing ocean pH to drop. This is known as ocean acidification. And, of course, the oceans are also warming. Together, ocean acidification and warming, or OAW, is expected to have profound effects on marine life and ecosystems, including causing predators to lose their ability to find their prey to fundamental changes in ecosystem structure. The aim of this project is determine the effects of OAW on temperate, coastal ecosystems. In collaboration with citizen scientists, we monitor rocky intertidal communities in the Gulf of Maine at Acadia National Park for changes in species composition. We are also monitoring the pH, temperature, and salinity of the coastal ocean to determine if changes in community structure correlates with changes in ocean chemistry. Monitoring the intertidal zone, though, only tells part of the story. We also need to monitor subtidal communities. This would be done using the OpenROV Trident. Another goal of this project is to engage the public, especially local communities and school children. Currently, we collaborate with citizen scientists on our intertidal sampling. With the OpenROV Trident, we will work with local schools to develop programming around this project and on marine conservation in general. Allowing students to see what’s underwater (and to help collect data), right of their coast, is a great way to excite them about the oceans, conservation, and science.
After one season gone in Myanmar we got to properly test our Open ROV and it was great to have it on board! The video below is part ROV part diving underwater footage but if you browse our channel you will find lots more! Working on a complete Open ROV video right now and hope to get it online soon! All that being said the rov did make life easier and better giving us a chance to explore the seabed below the 40m mark and giving us more insight in the marine life deeper down!
Project Pegasus Part 5 – Bringing it All Together This week’s module was big milestone; today we finally started assembling the main body of Pegasus. After spending so much time welding acrylic and soldering connections, the team and I were really excited to secure the main body, battery tubes, camera chassis to the outer frame of the ROV. The Edwards Lab was able to purchase an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU)/depth sensor combo. This tiny sensor, about the size of a standard Lego™ brick, contains a gyroscope, accelerometer and a depth sensor so we can get real-time measurements of Pegasus’s pitch, roll and depth underwater. All of this meant that we had another tricky set of connections to solder. But, as always, the team members of Project Pegasus rose to the occasion. Here’s what Aaron has to say: “Up until today, the ROV was just a bunch of parts and pieces laying. I could feel the energy in the team once every component was set in place to make the ROV look like an actual ROV! The team completed steps 27 and step 5 on the IMU depth sensor and module. We each had a turn at connecting the IMU which was one heck of an extensive job! In the end we were able to make the IMU and connections look outstandingly amazing. The next step was getting the battery tubes mounted up by solvent-welding the battery end caps. Everything was smooth sailing until we applied epoxy to the battery end caps [to water-proof them] when we discovered epoxy leaking into the battery tube itself! Luckily we caught this before it was too late [when we submerge Pegasus in the water]” Aaron makes a good point; as we get toward the end of the build-phase of Pegasus we really can’t afford to make any mistakes. While Pegasus is really coming together, we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us before our little ROV can actually jump in the water. Stay tuned, next time we’ll put the final touches on Pegasus and get ready for our first dive!
2017 weekly smolt counts are congruent with historical data that shows the largest push of out-migrating smolts is the last week of April. Pictured is about what 2017 final tallies will look like. Year to year comparisons to follow-up in the wrap-up.
Derelict fishing traps continue to catch wildlife for years after they are lost. This "ghost fishing" is a huge problem for coastal wildlife, and the traps are hard to find and recover on a large scale. We are using image recognition software and our OpenROV, "Bill Murray", to develop a new and possibly more effective search and recovery process. Who are we? Four current and former UF students: two ecologists, an engineer, and an environmental scientist, interested in solving conservation problems by taking advantage of the powerful technologies that are now becoming cheap enough to use. We are grateful to TIES, a part of the State Department, for our grant funding. Why is our robot named after the guy from Caddyshack? We will use our OpenROV to attach a tether to ghost traps, allowing them to be pulled aboard our vessel by a winch. It is named Bill Murray in honor of his role as Steve Zissou, and because we will be using it to bust ghost traps!
Spreading passion based learning in the developing world is a challenge that we are working hard to overcome. Currently we are working on the pilot project curriculum. We are engaged in applying "spark" based learning to diffuse STEM. During the three day program we will introduce the students to cutting edge technology, take them on a field trip and encourage the scientific method. At the end of the program the students will present their passion based project to the classroom. Pilot Project Team: Hiruni Senarath Dassanayake; Sophia Deady Hiruni's bio: Hiruni Senarath Dassanayake is an early career planetary scientist and a recent graduate from SUNY Buffalo State. She researched and discovered a possible “crater lake” in Margaritifer Terra, Mars through the 2015 Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship Award at SUNY Buffalo State. Hiruni interned with National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC where she researched geomorphology of distal deposits related to the formation of Hale crater in Margaritifer Terra, Mars. Hiruni’s research follows the theme of water related geology and habitability in the solar system, focused on Mars. The other planets and moons she has studied so far include Earth and Europa. She is a Geological Society of America (GSA) On To the Future (OTF) scholar and the founder of Global Mars. When she is not occupied by scientific research she can be found working on education and outreach. Sophia's bio: Sophia Deady is a current Fulbright Fellow in Sri Lanka (November 2016-August 2017) where she teaches six and seventh grade English in Matara. Before coming to Sri Lanka, she studied psychology, chemistry and poetry at Smith College in Massachusetts. She is passionate about teaching, women's health, and improving access to health knowledge and services for communities across the world. Her career goal is to work as an Obstetrician/Gynecologist and health educator in underserved areas.
Two Wisconsin middle school teachers and two of their students are planning to join NOAA researchers onboard the R/V Storm on Saturday, June 10, 2017, as they use multibeam sonar to map the northern lakebed of the proposed Wisconsin-Lake Michigan National Marine Sanctuary. The teachers previously participated on a Center for Great Lakes Literacy Shipboard Science Workshop aboard the S/V Denis Sullivan, the world's only re-creation of a three-masted 19th Century Great Lakes schooner. While onboard the R/V Storm, the teachers and their students will use an OpenROV Trident to document lakebed habitat and explore one of the shipwrecks located within the proposed marine sanctuary. One of the teachers, Lynn Kurth of Prairie River Middle School in Merrill, Wis., is working with Wisconsin Sea Grant and the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board to create a free ROV loan program for Wisconsin teachers using the OpenROV Trident. Overall Project Background: Mapping, Environmental, and Socioeconomic Assessments to Support the Proposed Wisconsin-Lake Michigan National Marine Sanctuary The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science are working with NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and state and local partners to compile data and map important lake resources and historic shipwrecks of western Lake Michigan, and also to improve our understanding of the relationships between these resources and coastal communities. Data and assessments will support the management of the proposed Wisconsin-Lake Michigan sanctuary. Why We Care In December 2014, the state of Wisconsin nominated an 875 square mile area of western Lake Michigan as a national marine sanctuary. This is a special nomination because there haven’t been any new sanctuaries designated since 2000. This proposal was made through a new community-based Sanctuary nomination process, and it is only the second sanctuary to be proposed within the Great Lakes. The proposed Wisconsin-Lake Michigan National Marine Sanctuary has deep ties to nearby communities since it encompasses a key portion of an early transportation corridor that was critical to the expansion of the United States and the development of the agricultural and the industrial core of the Nation. The nominated area contains an extraordinary collection of 37 known shipwrecks, 18 of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and a reported 80 which are yet to be discovered. Designation of a national marine sanctuary will expand the legacy of Wisconsin’s maritime archaeology preservation program, help conserve the largest freshwater system in the world, expand recreational and tourism opportunities, and provide education opportunities and job skills for the next generation. What We Are Doing This three-year project includes mapping, ecological and socioeconomic assessments that, together, will improve our understanding of the nominated region’s maritime heritage, ecology and coastal communities. This project will locate shipwrecks and important habitats, characterize water quality and living resources, document which of Lake Michigan’s resources and ecosystem services are most valuable to communities, and identify the conditions of environmental and social parameters linked to the successful management of maritime heritage resources. Some of these data will come from existing sources and will be synthesized for interpretation. Other data, notably remotely sensed lakebed data and socioeconomic data, will be newly acquired. The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science are coordinating this project with NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and local partners, including local municipalities, the Wisconsin Historical Society and other state agencies, Wisconsin Sea Grant, the University of Wisconsin, and the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. Additional Information NCCOS Project Details https://coastalscience.noaa.gov/projects/detail?key=285 Proposed NOAA Wisconsin-Lake Michigan National Marine Sanctuary http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/wisconsin/ Wisconsin's Great Lakes Shipwrecks http://www.wisconsinshipwrecks.org/ NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory https://www.glerl.noaa.gov/
We have been so busy lately but we did not forget about our rover. We have plans for our first real dive in the next couple weeks. We are going to go dive in front of a dam and look for sturgeon. At this point we are finishing our depth sensor.
According to myths and written records, a magnificent city of "Seven Pagodas" or Mahabalipuram flourished in the 7th and 8th centuries on the shores of the Bay of Bengal in Southern India. "Before the December 2004 tsunami, evidence for the existence of the Seven Pagodas was largely anecdotal. The existence of the Shore Temple, smaller temples, and rathas supported the idea that the area had strong religious significance, but there was little contemporary evidence save one Pallava-era painting of the temple complex. Ramaswami wrote in his 1993 book Temples of South India that evidence of 2000 years of civilization, 40 currently visible monuments, including two "open air bas-reliefs," and related legends spreading through both South Asia and Europe had caused people to build up Mahabalipuram’s mystery in their minds (Ramaswami, 204). He writes explicitly that "There is no sunk city in the waves off Mamallapuram. The European name, ‘The Seven Pagodas,’ is irrational and cannot be accounted for" (Ramaswami, 206). Anecdotal evidence can be truthful though, and in 2002 scientists decided to explore the area off the shore of Mahabalipuram, where many modern Tamil fishermen claimed to have glimpsed ruins at the bottom of the sea. This project was a joint effort between the National Institute of Oceanography (India) and the Scientific Exploration Society, U.K. (Vora). The two teams found the remains of walls beneath 5 to 8 meters of water and sediment, 500 to 700 meters off the coast. The layout suggested that they belonged to several temples. Archaeologists dated them to the Pallava era, roughly when Mahendravarman I and Narasimharavarman I ruled the region (Vora). NIO scientist K.H. Vora noted after the 2002 exploration that the underwater site probably contained additional structures and artifacts, and merited future exploration (Vora)." Source: Wikipedia
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.
We packed up our gear and did a full equipment test, made sure everything was charged on Thursday night, Apr 20. As we were driving to the dive location, and knew there wasn't going to be a huge amount of hiking involved, we had the luxury of packing excess. Our packing list included the following (excluding camping gear and food, which was an afterthought): Trident ROV Laptop computer Computer and ROV charger Game controller Lighing rigs (we built 4 of them using ROV battery tubes and external light cubes) Multiple battery sets Headlamps Spool of string Headlamps Camera for still shots Tripod x2 GoPro cameras for video Pelican case full of bleach-solution water (for cleaning equipment exposed to water with unknown qualities) Glass vial (for taking a water sample / trophy) Basic electronics tool kit (multimeter, battery-powered soldering iron, needle nose pliers) Gloves and respirators
The Center for Great Lakes Literacy, Great Lakes Sea Grant Network and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will host 15 4th-12th grade teachers andnon-formal educators to work beside scientists performing Great Lakes research July 8-14, 2017. Stops in ports (including the NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary) will include additional science experiences. The workshop will offer first-hand explorations of Lake Huron ecology, geology, geography, weather and biogeochemical processes, with particular emphasis on human impacts. Participants will collect planktonic and benthic organisms as well as conduct water quality data collection and analysis. Part of this research experience will demonstrate to teachers how ROVs can be used for scientific work. One difficulty in assessing fish abundance and distribution in the Great Lakes is sampling on rocky substrates, because bottom trawling isn’t feasible. There is particular interest in assessing round goby abundance on these habitats to get a better idea of what their potential ecological impacts could be and whether or not they have displaced native species, such as mottled or slimy sculpin, for example. The research team is excited to use the OpenROV Trident to examine these areas where typical sampling methods can’t be used.
Yesterday our school hosted an Earth Day event for students and their families. This provided an opportunity to let people fly OpenROV #3536 and learn about how we're going to be using it in Guadeloupe. We equipped the ROV with a water sampler - a niskin bottle - and let the people take samples. This allowed us to talk to them about types of water pollution and how we test for them....but most of the questions I fielded were about the OpenROV and its capabilities. We had people of all ages and backgrounds using the ROV. Here are some adorable photos of a two year old controlling it. She got pretty good at up and down, but will need practice to get the hang of the left joystick, Niskin Bottle: Oceanography for Everyone
Mid October 2016, the Octopus Foundation returned to the Italian island of Lampedusa to help the "Lampedusa Turtle Rescue". Once again, we decided to attach the Olympus camera (Tough TG-Tracker) on the back of a marine turtle for half an hour. This time, it is a 34kg specimen that takes us for a ride. Link to the Lampedusa Turtle Rescue Link to the TG Tracker camera
Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) operates an Environmental Monitoring Program with stations that include both meteorological as well as water quality instrumentation in Terrebonne Bay. LUMCON’s monitoring stations offer real-time in-situ coastal environmental data that is available to the scientific community and the general public. While stationary monitoring stations are excellent for collecting long-term time-series data sets, an OpenROV Trident carrying a mini-CTD payload would be ideal for conducting transects and collecting pressure, temperature, conductivity, nutrient, chlorophyll and dissolved oxygen data over a larger area within Terrebonne bay. A Trident/CTD can be used in areas that are inaccessible to a conventional motor vessel. Another advantage of a Trident/CTD system would be collection of water quality data in 3 dimensions by combining horizontal transects with an undulating motion of diving and ascending, in effect creating an undulating CTD without the need for a motor vessel to tow the system and create disturbances in the water column ahead of the CTD. Utilizing real time sensor information we can make the data instantly accessible which allows for easy dissemination of crucial small scale events occurring on a bay wide basis in a time frame that allows for immediate action by interested parties.For summer of 2017, LUMCON’s Environmental Monitoring Program has approached YSI/Xylem concerning purchasing or obtaining a demo EXO1 4-port data sonde with pressure, temperature, conductivity, and dissolved oxygen probes. LUMCON would like to design a mount for an EXO1 sonde, experiment with flight patterns to determine the most efficient speed and pattern for covering the water column along a transect, as well as assess the feasibility of mapping hypoxia across all of Terrebonne bay. (Figure 1. from Batker et al. 2010, Earth Economics)
Channelkeeper expedition with our AnacapaROV - Very successful ocean testing after initial testing in the bathtub and a swimming pool. With our connection to the Santa Barbara Channelkeeper we were offered the opportunity to test the ROV in unison with the educational expertise of the Channelkeeper staff with their "human ROV". They sent divers down with live video and sound and we were able to interact with them and ask questions. We then explored the local Santa Barbara Mohawk Reef just south of Mesa Lane beach and had a spider crab attack the OpenROV. The lights, lasers and motors performed successfully.
Our expedition in coastal Louisiana will in many ways be an analog of our deep-sea experiments investigating wood fall communities. In May of 2017 we will deploy 200 wood packages at 5 sites, 2,000 meters deep in the Gulf of Mexico. Identical wood packages will be deployed in a transect from land to open ocean in Terrebonne Bay with the goal of conducting parallel experiments. Using the OpenROV we will gather environmental data at our experimental sites and conduct frequent visual inspections to learn more about the ecology of wood on sea floor ecosystems in the shallow water habitats of Louisiana. The Trident ROV would be used primarily as a tool to conduct site inspections in an effort to create a time series documentation of the biological and physical associations that a food and structure source creates in shallow water coastal communities. Not only would the Trident be an observation platform for the experimental arrays of wood packages but it would also be invaluable for the discovery of natural wood deposits associated with storm events and coastal erosion. Accessibility to wood fall experiments allow for an in depth investigation of several research questions that can only be addressed with regular video surveys. These include multi-species interactions, habitat use by transient mobile fauna, predator-prey dynamics, encrusting habitat enhancement, regular structure associations, and physical enhancement of benthic habitats. The use of a Trident ROV gives us a freedom unknown for these kinds of manipulative ecological experiments. Knowledge gained from the type of work described above would then enable us to plan a larger scale investigation that would seek to tie metabolic energetics along transects of differing community and resources gradients in the coastal marshes of Louisiana. Potential to develop a strong research program using the Trident ROV allows us to couple multiple lines of research that ultimately would answer basic questions of habitat heterogeneity, linkages between ecosystem structure and function and constrain aspects of the metabolic theory of ecology.
The unique and highly productive Louisiana marine ecosystem is made up of vast coastal wetlands of both abandoned and active deltas that meet the Gulf of Mexico. These productive waters in turn create some of the most productive fisheries in the world. The sheer amount and diversity of life in the teeming coastal waters of Louisiana is hard for many fathom. With an OpenROV Trident, we will bring this underwater diversity to students first hand, while engaging them with exploration and data collection that captures fish population structure and behaviors around structures in a variety of habitats and across seasons.
The last thing I expected when I visited Thoreau’s famous Walden Pond was to find jellyfish. But small, nickel-sized jellies were teaming in the cold October water, underneath a canopy of red and gold leaves. As a scientist who studies jellyfish, I desperately wanted to learn more about these odd freshwater jellies, so I returned to the pond with my high-tech equipment: a net, collecting jars, and a bright green pool noodle. I floated around, freezing, on the noodle for nearly an hour before I found the jellies. These small, clear jellies weren’t spread evenly over the pond like I’d thought; instead, they were all clumped in a single bay at the surface, not far from the stone remnants of Thoreau’s cabin. Though I collected a number of jellies, they did not breed successfully in captivity, and within a few weeks all the jellies in Walden Pond were gone. My chance to study the freshwater jellies that year had passed. Though freshwater jellies seem elusive, they are all over the United States, often appearing and disappearing with little notice. Even though they’ve been reported in 44 of the 48 contiguous united states, we know very little about these animals. For example, all the animals I observed were grouped together in a small area of the lake. Do they passively concentrate in certain parts of a lake, or like the famous golden lagoon jellies on Palau, do they actively migrate throughout the day? If we can locate freshwater jellies effectively, and in multiple different lakes, we’ll have a much better chance of answering these questions. However, floating on a pool noodle in cold water simply is not an effective strategy for finding and studying freshwater jellies. I propose to study freshwater jellyfish, in collaboration with citizen scientists, using a Trident ROV. We will use the ROV to locate jellies in multiple lakes, and examine their distribution and daily movement patterns. Once we find jellies, I will collect them for further study in the lab. I will conduct this work in conjunction with an outreach campaign with the local community. I will alert citizens to the general presence of freshwater jellyfish through op-eds in local newspapers, flyers, and public talks. Citizens will report sightings to me via email or through our expedition webpage, and I will invite them to join me in the field as we locate freshwater jellies with the Trident ROV. With the aid of a Trident ROV and citizen science, we will be able to study these strange and beautiful animals, and hopefully catalyze interest in freshwater jellies and local freshwater ecology throughout the region. (photos: Number 1: The old "old way" of collecting jellies in a pond with a pool noodle Number 2: A freshwater jellyfish, from Wikimedia commons)
A brief update; we conducted a couple of test immersions in the Baga river, and then tagged along with TerraConscious on one of their eco-friendly dolphin boat rides out on the Arabian Sea, where Matsya was introduced to seawater for the first time. The water was murky, but she dived to the seabed (at a very shallow 10m of depth) and everything worked well. There were no leaks and aside from a few data-glitches on the IMU, all the components worked! I've taken a few segments from the footage recorded by Matsya's camera, and compiled them into a short (~1min) video which should be available below. Next up: Fixing the port motor, finding a source of replacement motors in India, painting the OpenROV frame in a high-visibility colour (so she can be easily located when she surfaces) and getting things in place for future dives.
One of the targets for exploration on our next expedition is a large spring formed by a sinkhole that is located about 600ft/200m above the lake (at 16,600ft/5092m) and at a potentially important location. It's about 30ft/10m deep and such locations were (and are) often considered sacred sites in the Andean cultures. Often called "ojos" or 'eyes', they sometimes received offerings, which were thrown into them. In the photo you see below, the nearly 20,000ft (6100m) mountain of Jatunriti can be seen in the background. The water that flows from its rapidly-receding glacier feeds the lake and, eventually, the Amazon river itself. Since our limited diving gas is precious up there, and our dive gear has to move around on horses, the ROV will be critical for this site. We'll be able to explore the spring to determine if anything might be down there and therefore, if we should even attempt to dive at the site. Diving at these altitudes is serious business. One concern I have are the aquatic plants growing around the edges and walls of the spring. Does anyone have experience with operating an OpenROV around aquatic vegetation? How much of a concern is prop-fouling? If the the propellers do foul, are they easily cleared without damaging the motors?
Debrief The ice has now melted on Collins Bay, and the ground is starting to thaw out. It will soon be time for more shoreline explorations, but without ice! Some improvements to make on the robot are: Ensure there is threadlock on the set screws Use a longer rope for tether Add flotation devices to robot (just in case) Make a waterproof battery box (just in case) Take still photos on the camera in addition to video; sometimes the footage was a little shaky to get a sharp screen grab Have a handle on the robot for carrying (already done!) Have a smoother pan up/down option instead of directly controlling with joystick Custom wheels for ice A key item we noticed was we should really use the robot's point of view to its advantage. This means taking more photos and videos of the ground underneath, as well as the plants and stunning horizon view. Also, it would have been better if we started out earlier in the day. By the time it was the end and I recorded the outro, it was so dark you couldn't see me. Bringing a tripod next trip is necessary to capture another view point and reduce shake... especially when it's cold outside. All in all, it was an interesting journey to bring the robot into such cold weather and operate it on ice! We can almost dream of glacier explorations... Maybe one day! Special thanks to the Open Explorer community for following this expedition and commenting. It's been nice to share the journey with all of you Here's how you can be a part of Robot Missions! Join in your local shoreline cleanup Support our continuing efforts on Patreon Like us on Facebook for upcoming Field Tests Follow us on Twitter for news
Through subtidal survey we are surveying key eelgrass (Zostera marina) habitat in distinct areas of the San Francisco Bay, critical for many species of invertebrates, fish and marine animals. Applying data acquired by LIDAR and direct survey we will evaluate changes in densities of eelgrass densities and direct impact as a measure of benthic health and changes in Bay and ocean conditions. A combined public outreach and education project with the National Park Service and Romberg Tiburon Center will help communicate the importance of benthic ecosystems in the Bay, and better understand elasmobranch natural history and movements inside the estuary.
It's a race to confirm the new theory! "Beyond Grand Marais, the Brule River splits at the Devil’s Kettle waterfall. Half of it tumbles down and continues on its way. The rest pours into a dark deep hole in the hill ... and disappears. For years, people have tried to figure out where that water goes. Logs and Ping-Pong balls tossed into the churning cauldron seemed to simply vanish, fueling speculation that the lost branch of the river might flow for miles underground, carrying bobbing debris down to the distant shores of Lake Superior or off to some underground cavern. Now, finally, a researcher from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) thinks he’s cracked the riddle of Devil’s Kettle. “It’s a beautiful optical illusion,” said DNR mapping hydrologist Jeff Green, who first marveled at the wandering waterway during a family trip to Judge C.R. Magney State Park years ago. The disappearing half of the river, it turns out, reappears pretty quickly downstream." http://www.startribune.com/scientists-think-they-ve-solved-the-mystery-of-devil-s-kettle-falls/414996694/
According to a report by the United Nation Food and Agricultural Association, Malaysia is the 9th largest shark fishing nation and has risen to become ranked 3rd globally for shark fin imports. This small nation is having a serious impact on global shark populations in the Coral Triangle, as well as overfishing as much as 90% of its own shark population. However, a strong local movement centered in Sabah Borneo Malaysia is speaking up for sharks and increasing protection. Shark Stewards is supporting this work on the ground in Malaysia helping assess shark fishing, the shark fin trade and conduct a shark survey to determine impacts on sharks and rays. With the Sabah Shark Protection Association, we are striving for increased shark protection, stopping the flow of shark fins and creating marine protected areas for sharks and other species in Malaysian Borneo. Our Shark Shepherd collaboration with marine artist Ben Von Wong working for a no shark and ray fishing policy in Malaysia and supporting dive ecotourism with support from the Ministry of Tourism. Sign the petition. Shark fin soup is widely consumed in the major cities of Malaysia, and Sabah is the major destination for cheap and endangered seafood for Chinese tourists. Shark fins are sold on the streets and in the alleys and finned sharks are evident in all the large fish landings. The fins are sold first, although the meat is generally unpalatable and rendered into lower grade products like fish meal and fish balls. Read an excerpt from our National Geographic Ocean Views blog. Now in the fourth year, the project also is filming a series called Borneo From Below, an online “Funservation” program on marine life produced by the local media production company ScubaZoo. With host Aaron “Bertie” Gekoski the series is adventurous, humorous, and at times like this, dead serious. As part of the series, we are continuing a fish market survey we assisted with the Malaysian non profit Tropical Reef and Conservation Centre (TRACC) to determine how common sharks and rays are being caught here. We are also diving and filming sharks and following the shark from the reef to the plate. This episode is about coral catsharks, but we are finding it more challenging to find them alive than dead. There is increasing concern that Malaysia is adding shark fins to the top of the list of the country's record of wildlife trafficking and trade of illegal wildlife parts like rhino horn, elephant tusk and bear and tiger products. However, media attention is supporting champions in the country and helping bolster Sabah's interest in protecting the environment and supporting dive tourism to save sharks. Restoring and Protecting Reef Habitat Protecting marine habitat is also critical to help save sharks and marine ecosystems here in the Coral Triangle. Dynamite fishing is one of the prevalent factors causing reef destruction. Our work with our partners at TRACC on Pom Pom island is restoring coral reefs, assessing fish populations and reintroducing ground shark species as a pilot conservation project. Students from the University of San Francisco and volunteer divers are helping rebuild reefs with artificial reef structures, and conducting fish surveys to determine efficacy. Preliminary Results During 2015 & early 2016, the local village community divers and the TRACC international volunteers have built a wide range of different reefs at a variety of different sites on Kalapuan island in the Semporna district. In 2016 367 bottle reefs were constructed and installed with approximately 3500 hard and soft corals. The bottle reef system is composed of reef friendly cement, sand reinforced with mild steel, and recycled bottles to provide a solid substrate for coral settlement, reef stabilization and coral planting. As part of the trial we also constructed 12 large turtle reefs; 2 igloos; 12 deep reefs planted with gorgonians and sea fans and over 1500 corals in the nursery. We also built several large bommie / tetris reef structures as a trial of techniques. Many of the bottle and turtle bommie reefs were built and positioned on the Kalapuan community reef site during the Kalapuan environmental and coral planting days. Please support our work so we can help our partners fight for their vanishing sharks and coral reefs. Shark Stewards is a non profit project of the Earth Island Institute.
Better late than never, right? Sometimes work gets in the way of fun. In my last post, I was hoping to have nice weather for tossing the drone up in the air. Well...nope. Turns out it got really cold and windy instead. But we're all intrepid explorers, right? We push on. Despite the lake being choppy and stirring up a lot of silt, I was able to accomplish part of my goals for the day. The hope was to orient using some previous GPS waypoints, and see if we could locate any structures underwater. That obviously was not possible. However, I was able to shoot a lot of photos, and re-orient to the new topography. This was the first time I had been up to the northern(ish) end of the lake since it had flooded and refilled last summer. Turns out, catching 12-15 ft of water can really change the way things look (the northern end of the lake is flatter and shallower, so the water really spreads out). I realized my original plan of hauling gear out in my 17ft canoe, and anchoring on site, will probably not work. The town's location is out in a highly trafficked area, and no longer near the bank...more right out in the middle. I am considering hauling the stuff out to the island and putting that 300ft tether to work. We'll see. Dive time is here. Just need a free weekend with some good weather. Coming soon. (In the photo below, the bridge site should be about 100 yards towards the camera from a point directly between the two islands)
This time I didn't design everything from scratch, but used the OpenROV design for the mechanics (Electronics and software I did myself however). And for a change the ROV is still in good shape after it's maiden voyage! I plan to perform some upgrades in time for this summer vacation, and hopefully be able to do some proper exploring. During the testing of this ROV I saw cod, cuckoo wrasse, star fish, and sea urchins.
Vacuums, bathtubs and missile silos... That was our sequence of testing. Using an Automotive vacuum test pump we connected to the main electronic cylinder and pulled as much of a vacuum as we could-- roughly 80kpa-- not sure what that translates to in terms of depth. But, importantly it held that measure for 30 minutes without lessening. (I read that stability is more important that vacuum pressure in this kind of test.) Next, we submerged the rov in the bathtub and learned about the keyboard and gamepad controls. Wow is the video nice. The clarity of our and a razor we more than we could have hoped for! More importantly, after an hour of soaking we found no evidence of leaks or other issues. (In retrospect...) Finally, this morning at 8:30, joined by good friends, we trekked off to what is purported to be an unfinished and flooded missile silo, essentially a small quarry, for our first dive. The water was crystal clear, and the weather was beautiful. My expectation was that it would be a conservative first dive, but all of our secret hopes were to find wrecked cars or castoff bicycles and such, given that this place is a favorite hangout of the local teens in summer. Admittedly though, I had my doubts about the selection of our first location when I first surveyed the area and saw the gentle slope of shore turn into a stark horizon line not 15 feet away and I assumed that like any good missile silo the walls were vertical and that horizon line was a sheer drop. On the other-hand, we were in a pretty good position to find out. Not to mention-- what would we see? Like any first-run, we had our issues. Sequentially we were challenged by boot up issues, tether management and buoyancy problems capped off by the somewhat "spirit crushing" loss of our vertical thruster prop discovered as we were heading over the precipice fighting a descent I felt was too rapid for a first dive. (Clearly the blade was not properly counter-tightened during the build). But, not to be deterred we pulled off extra ballast, enough to make the ROV fully buoyant and practiced our navigation and camera work. We even managed to drive the ROV under a sheet of ice and capture some interesting footage (relatively speaking) of bubbles trapped under the ice sheet. In all we logged 45 minutes on our first dive and despite the setback of losing the prop I must admit, I am quite pleased. We are steep on the learning curve and loving every minute of it. Next steps: New prop, fine tune ballast, video footage management (extraction for playback and sharing) and set a date to head back to the silo.
The Anchovy is a simple, long range, deep sea R.O.V. costing (hopefully) under 200 dollars to make and build. It consits of a single piece of pvc with two end caps, 2 motors, a livestream video camera, a gopro, a ballast, some floodlight leds and a thether atached to a buey housing the rf module. Later versions may include depth sensors, gas sensors and other added electronics. Keep in mind this is all in the development stage so feel free to contact me with any questions or ideas at email@example.com
Having updated the firmware, I was totally expecting my initial powering on of my OpenROV 2.8 to be only 75% functional based on my lack of experience with acrylic bonding and soldering. I was elated when Ioaded that batteries after assembly and it lit up! I was even able to connect to the cockpit with very little trouble as well having had some experience with IP networking. The only issues I noticed at first was that I had installed the camera upside down (the forum advised simply removing it and flipping around which was not too hard) and the starboard LED lights are dimmer on one side. I suspect my rookie soldering to be the root cause and I will look at this later. For a test run, I put the ROV in a 300 gallon hot tub (unheated) and was amazed that it flew as expected. It soon became apparent that my piloting skills will need some honing.
Back at the lab, been doing work troubleshooting my engines... One of my engines wasn't working right. Support suggested I update all the software and firmware and all that goodness in case there was something buggy. For good measure, I ordered some new engines along with SD card with the latest and greatest. The update process was less fraught than I expected, and I had the ROV back up and running pretty quickly. But alas it was to no avail, so I began the slightly tricker task of replacing the motor. In stripping wires, I managed to to rip one wire off of one engine -- luckily the order comes with a couple to spare. I much more carefully stripped the wires down and set up to solder the engine on. The starboard engine has the shortest wires, so the least slack to work with. Which was problematic because with my now rusty soldering skills, I managed to blow it on one connection (soldering quickly on those wires is important, because it's easy to overheat the wires and melt the plastic sheathing -- or, as it turned out in my case, one end of the plastic shrink tube that was to protect the connection). But it's on and back in place. And to my relief, the engine sounds more or less the same as the other -- so hopefully I'll be running in straight lines from here on out. I still can't tell why the original motor was bad. It doesn't appear to have any defects or anything stuck inside, so who knows. Now, I just need the rain to clear up a bit -- and I'll be out on the lake.
It's about time! If you didn't want to sit through hours of raw dive footage, here's the highlight video from our incredible adventure.
Our time in a Brazil with a fantastic group of students ended about a year ago, but we've been busy evaluating the program, improving the curriculum, and finding ways to tell the kids' stories. The highlights: 1) Our partners at USC's Rossier School of Education conducted an analysis of students' pre- and post-tests to show statistically significant educational gains following the Mars Academy program. Not only did the students learn about the scientific process, the ocean, and outer space, but they also demonstrated a greater sense of purpose and agency in improving their communities through science. 2) Hank and our film team have been hard at work on a feature-length documentary. Check out the extended trailer below! 3) We're planning future Mars Academy experiences for children around the world, so stay tuned for our next journey of exploratory education!
An interesting note. We've discovered that there is a Geocache hidden in the depths of the Lake that, until now, only certified scuba divers have been able to locate. Though we are divers as well, I am pretty sure no one has done geocaching with an ROV before. This is now an exploration target after we've checkout out our gear. From Blue Octopus Scuba: http://www.blueoctopusscuba.com/local/lake-phoenix** **"Certified Divers headed to Lake Phoenix for fun or skills practice should stop by the Admissions Desk and obtain a laminated map of the lake. There is a hidden underwater Geo Cache only reachable with SCUBA equipment, if you can find it. You'll have to plan your dives carefully to reach the Geo Cache and the mystery item..." One thing we didn't design for was salvage. Looks like we may have to rig up a gripper of some kind. Cache #GC2VPD7 From the geocaching.com: Geocache Description: "You must be a certified scuba diver to seek this cache located at Lake Rawlings Quarry in Rawlings, Va. Check in at the quarry. The cache is located at of the Mystery Boat (#11 on the quarry map). The site is not marked by a buoy so it is recommended to reference the map. The cache is a plastic box with DAN stickers on it. When you find the cache, sign the log secured to the top of the inside of the box. Take one of the FTF prizes and leave another trinket for future cache seekers. After you have found this cache, send us a photo of you with it and tell us the story of your adventure! " N 36° 56.984 W 077° 46.003 UTM: 18S E 253639 N 4092873** This is great fun. It also happens to be near the Blast Hole Whatever that is...We will find out!
The past month has been full of excitement. We have been scouring the coast for mesophotic coral ecosystems and have been successful. Explore and you will find! The most exciting element of our study is the prospect of researching and exploring depths that have been seen by a privileged few or no one at all. We were told that there wouldn't be much beyond 30 m here in the Philippines, but we now know that this is incorrect as the coral reefs continue beyond diving limits and tend to be intact and healthier the deeper one explores. Monstrous gorgonians continue to take our breath away. Our wifi connection is very limited here making it difficult to upload pictures (let alone videos), but we hope to upload more pictures of these beautiful environments so you may be able to see the richness we are experiencing every day thanks to OpenROV.
Here's the screenview video that Ingmar captured January 2nd from the cockpit. Cool to watch the controls as it maneuvers and navigates. I think we can ROV around the sculpture, Zoe, and through the reef balls (the cement orbs with holes in them) if we replace all the cable with the buoyant one. Next on our list is to find how and where to get some. Is it here in Mexico?
After a night of discussing forecasts, the collective group of pilots decided to attempt a Hike and Fly of Mt Tamalpais. At 7:15AM I was surprised by frost on my car and had to scrape it off!! in Mt View. I hope people covered their plants! Sail Tactics puts out a 1:00AM 2 day wind forecast and a 7:45AM day of which is ultra-high res at 200meters. The 1:00AM looked like there would be a flyable window from 9AM-2:30PM. I picked up Jon and headed to the Fire Station at Stinson Beach. As Pilots we have to sign in at Pan Toll Station first. Crossing the golden gate the observations matched the predictions with a less 5 knots to Light/Variable. Mt Tam. Offers views of the Farralon Islands, Point Reyes, Pacifica, and the Interior Bay including San Francisco, Angel Island and Mt Diablo. Basically the whole Bay! Over the last week the Area was impacted by a number of Storms, bringing rain and wind. Typically in the days following storms the air mass in unstable and flying conditions can be very good. Free Flight Lab is interested in capturing conservation data of the Lagoon. I plan to monitor and detect any possible Algae blooms and observe changes in the land due to tidal changes. Looking at the new forecast it seemed like the flyable window got shorter and the new wind came in sooner and stronger then the 2-day. The hike is beautiful. At Launch you could see some breeze start to spill over the point and fill in along Stinson beach. I believe in the forecast so I was prepared to Launch. As my friends made fun of my habit to launch early I saw birds and could feel the air. It was about to be time. I took off and was able to soar the faces near launch in the fresh breeze. The breath from the mountain changed and it was time to move on. I aimed for the next ridge, sunny faces, steep terrain, looking for shadows because on the hike we saw that the grass was still covered in frost. Thermal Gradients make for good thermal triggers. I was tricked into turning in a little bubble and the gains did not match the losses. Time to leave the ridge. At this point this line can be nerve racking, I chose to attempt to hook a thermal and now had to glide efficiently over the trees to the next ridge. I made it easily, but... without local knowledge it looks like there is no good way out if you get too low. Actually there is, but it not a great option. It would probably be fine, but not worth taking chances. Arriving at the Main Ridge I worked light bubbles along the shadow lines and tree lines.. Alternating sides as the mountain breathed. Finally at the last moment before pushing out to the beach... I hooked one, not a bubble but a nice continuous source of lift. Coring it to ~2600ft I was able to see the whole bay area. I flew over to where I launched, said Hi then proceeded to play in the sky with friends both hawks and pilots until my fingers froze! I took a flight path north to investigate the Lagoon. Floating along lifty lines I flew over coastal highway 1. For an hour I took to the skies flying on invisible elevators, and after landing on the beach I went up for seconds, this time as a Tandem Passenger to help a friend train, and look at the possibilities of flying passengers and equipment for Free Flight Lab. What a great day exploring a local Microclimate. We Flew from 11AM-2:30pm It ended up being a bit of a blend of both forecasts. The transitions and timing were spot on. Tomorrow Windy Hill.