Swim eye to eye with sea lions

Exploring the wonders of California's Farallon Islands.
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Searching for Sunken History

The hunt for the wreck of Clint Eastwood's crashed Skyraider.
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Exploration of the Antarctic Sea Floor, Underwater Images of Icebergs and Sampling Phytoplankton in Antarctic Fjords

This expedition will use a variety of tools, including the Trident, to study phytoplankton in Antarctic Fjords, photograph glaciers and icebergs, and to search for new species on the Antarctic sea floor.

Recent Observations

Aquarius Project Teens Get Innovative Ever seen an underwater magnetic meteorite dredge? Yeah, neither have we! Inspired by gold mining techniques, these high schoolers from Brother Rice High School have been working on a brand new way to retrieve and sort submerged meteorites in Lake Michigan. Watch them explain their critical thinking and initial design below!

Hi team, I'm happy to join you in the Aphrocallistes garden in the deep! - Ruby

This is it, folks. Our last chance on this expedition to the Gulf of Thailand to collect the imagery needed to reconstruct a MASSIVE 3D model of our study site and to use it for....SCIENCE! Specifically, by creating a 3D map of this massive coral reef, we can extract data that describe the shape of the habitat, and we can see how well this habitat could be used to predict the behavior (including social feeding behavior) of ecologically critical coral reef fish. Check out more of our videos to learn more about our research, and about marine biology (in action ) in general.

I am an avid diver, having explored underwater sites who has dived 7 seas. I have done marine conservation work through helping to found and grow the Sustainable Ocean Alliance, as well as supporting Marine Conservation Institute's Global Ocean Refuge System-- an initiative to help incentivize strong protections of 30% of the world's oceans. I also write about ocean issues as a contributor to Huffington Post and will publish about my OpenExplorer expeditions: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/sebastian-nicholls Past expeditions have resulted in video and photo assets used for raising awareness, driving political engagement, and encouraging greater protections of marine ecosystems.

So aside from a couple nights at Bay of Islands and a lovely lunch in Havelock North that pretty much wraps up this expedition. Kind regards Jason

The key goals of the research mission will cover these areas, and include:GIS mapping for seven islands Drone Lidar, IR, NIR image acquisition Coral Reef monitoring and decline WFCRC (and partners) methods for reef assessments to ensure the data has the widest applicability Coastal morphology A feasibility and needs assessment on each island for a coral nursery time permitting. Previous experience has shown that to involve residents in actions that effect their own wellbeing could achieve the long lasting results needed for sustainability now and well into the future. With that in mind the ESRI GIS software and data base information gathered along with training to monitor and survey each island will be donated to a representative of the Cook Islands to continue and duplicate the data gathered as a base line for comparison over time. Participation from local constituents as well as an understanding of local traditions and life styles are paramount in how the program will be executed. It is not our effort to reinvent the wheel in our executions but to use existing local and digital knowledge and previous work for a seamless project delivery. The data model we create will provide a single, user friendly resource to monitor and manage local resources. Previous research on the islands will be merged into with our GIS database as much as possible and is a common format to be used by other researchers and we encourage interdisciplinary data sharing. WFCRC Major Objectives and Key Goals: Research and report the causes of, and solutions to coral reef decline Implement strategies to promote conservation and sustainable use of coral reefs locally and internationally. Capture hi res 4k drone visual, Lidar and NIR geo referenced imagery of entire coastal areas along with various other island locations Establish control points around each island for survey which will allow for follow up surveying covering the exact same transects to be performed at given time intervals. Create a GIS base map to contain all data gathered Turtle nesting surveys and in-water observations where time allows Locate turtle nesting sites and identify restricted areas on gis base map and by mobile WFCRC Mobile application. Shark population surveys using remotely deployed camera arrays using geo referenced photos with possible ARGO tracking for GIS base map.

The Noyo Center for Marine Science is located in Fort Bragg, California, on the rugged and beautiful North Coast in Mendocino County. With a mission to advance ocean conservation through education, exploration and experience, our non-profit engages in critical research and offers a rich array of hands-on science programs for all ages. A fully independent non-profit for only two years, the Noyo Center has already established itself as a significant center for marine mammal studies. In addition to being part of the nation-wide mammal stranding network, we have successfully articulated the skeletons of sea lions, an adult female elephant seal, and most recently, a complete adult male Orca, which at 26 feet is the largest articulated Orca on display in the world. And we have a 73-ft blue whale skeleton yet to go! Most recently, the Noyo Center for Marine Science has begun collaborating with local commercial urchin divers, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and other NGOs in a Help the Kelp campaign. Local kelp forests have been devastated by a combination of warming seas, toxic algae blooms and the decline in sea stars due to wasting disease, which has resulted in an explosive increase in kelp-eating purple sea urchins. The result has been a 93% decline in kelp forests with massive impacts on the environment and marine life. Red abalone, an important local species, are starving and dying in record numbers, prompting the recent closure of the fishery. And without the kelp forest, small fish no longer have protective habitat in which to grow, so aren't there to feed shore birds or larger fish. Seals and sea lions have to travel farther to find the fish they need to survive. All of this impacts our local fisheries and the eco-tourist industry so necessary to our small, rural community.

I hope to join Adventure Canada and The Explorers Club on an October expedition circumnavigating Newfoundland onboard the Ocean Endeavor. The adventure will begin and end in St. Johns and travel along the historic and rugged coastline. I plan to explore the underwater landscapes of this unique island using an OpenROV from Zodiacs (inflatable boats), pier-side, and perhaps even from the ship! Dive sites are not yet decided, but near the top of the list has to be the remarkable geology of Gros Morne National Park. The expedition will also have an extensive land-based exploration component. Sites along the Newfoundland coast will include Red Bay’s Basque Whaling Station (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), learning about Viking history in North America at L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site, and enjoy a taste of the Mi’kmaq culture in Miawpukek First Nation (Conne River). I look forward to experimenting with the types of storytelling I can add to an expedition by opening up a window to the undersea world. For this adventure, I'll be leaning on my extensive background in telling adventure stories honed working on Exploration Vessel Nautilus, the world's largest passenger submarine, and as North America's Rolex scholar. The decision if I have a spot onboard will be made by late March. Cross your fingers! I would love to share this adventure with all of the OpenExplorer community! [Image by the Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism Board]

Many hand drawn maps of local dive site have been created however nothing is available with the amount of accuracy and details needed. This project is still in the planning stages and has yet to physically begin. Personal Background - Courtney Cicoria Working in professional diving since 2011, currently PADI Specialty Instructor, TDI Full Cave Diver and Technical Diver, Diploma in Geographical Information Systems. In collaborations with a local dive center here in Bayahibe, the original idea is to create detailed 3D dive site maps for the local area and working with our local NGO to help us and help them with both our on going expeditions. Making our Coral Reefs healthier, happier and trying saving the local ecosystem In my early teens and 20’s I had a career in the Oil and Gas sector in Canada mainly working in the Geomatics field designing many large scale projects. At the age of 26 I put my career on hold and set off on a new path, always having a passion for the ocean and seeking a new way to merge my love for it and my current career, some say I went from zero to hero. After finding diving in Thailand, following my very first open water dive I knew I found my path, within 6 months I was Divemaster and a PADI Tec 50 diver. As the years past many more certification came including my TDI Full Cave and leading me to where I am now. My personal passion is Caving Diving and Technical Diving as I aim for new levels I bring my experiences and outstanding training into all my work. My main focus, given my training background, is safety, safety, safety teaching people properly the first time. My students learn to not only appreciate our aquatic world but excel in all future endeavors. FUNDEMAR SUMMARY REEF RESTORATION PROGRAM - The Dominican Foundation of Marine Studies, started the evaluation of the health of reefs in 2006, but it isn’t until 2011 when it strengthens and starts the reef restoration project. The program begins with funding from USAID-TNC (2011-2013), and the support of the Punta Cana Ecological Foundation, who, to date, FUNDEMAR still maintains a collaboration agreement with. Even after the completion of the USAID_TNC project, the program continues to expand and growing daily thanks to the strategic partnerships established with the tourism sector, and surrounding communities. All hotels that are part of the Romana-Bayahibe Hotel association as well as their respective dive centers, have their own nursery, or are in the process of building it. Hotels and dive centers actively support the FUNDEMAR coral restoration project, as well as the Small Grants program (PPS) (2015-2016), and the Brugal Prize fund. With this aid, FUNDEMAR has been able to expand the number of coral gardens they manage from 2 to 8, with more than 60 structures in total; thus, increasing the number of coral fragments in the nurseries. Currently, there are about 3000m of coral growing on our coral nurseries and transplant areas. The program's success lies in its long term maintenance, and its integration within the program of coral reef conservation that is kept by FUNDEMAR, which is composed of several components, such as. Community Integration and continuous training: all these actions are accompanied by ongoing training to employees of the dive centers, and a team of five young individuals from the community of Bayahibe, responsible for carrying out periodic maintenance to nurseries and transplant areas. Community Campaigns: As part of the program, several parallel awareness activities are held throughout the year, which is highlighted by the annual environmental agenda held jointly with the Association of Hotels and Tourism Cluster La Romana-Bayahibe and the lionfish Fishing Tournament. In 2016, the fifth edition of the tournament will be held, with an average catch of 500 lionfish per event, and the participation of over 40 fishermem/divers. AGRRA Monitoring: Since 2011, the monitoring of reef conditions is performed (AGRRA ) in 3 key reefs of the area. In 2015 the number of stations (monitored reefs), went from having 3 stations to 10 stations, with the aim of having a greater representation of the reefs in the southeast region of the island. Development of nurseries and transplant area, ensuring, through research, their functionality (Annex 1 location and map): one of the major success of the program was recorded on September 5, 2015 and August 24, where it was observed and recorded for the first time in the Dominican Republic the mass coral spawning of Acropora cervicornis in the FUNDEMAR nursery (see images). The process involved the collection of gametes, assisted fertilization and breeding of embryos, larvae and recruits. Reproduced coral polyps are currently in the FUNDEMAR nursery growing successfully NEXT STEPS This year, FUNDEMAR will continue the restoration program, and continue to work on it’s research on the sexual reproduction of corals growing in nurseries, by developing improved techniques for breeding and maintenance of embryos, larvae and coral off springs. In addition, FUNDEMAR, will train the local dive centers to take part in this research and expand its reach. It is important to not that, the success of the program lies in the strategic alliance with the hotel industry and surrounding communities, combined with the technical assistance of the FUNDEMAR researchers. Coral nurseries are part of a more extensive reef conservation program, and it is necessary to have all parts in check: assessment of reef condition, nurseries, and transplant areas, as well as research and ongoing training to achieve a significant impact on conservation of future reefs. We have our coral reef conservation video available at: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evALlM9NbTo)) For more information we have our website: (http://www.fundemardr.org)) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/FUNDEMAR /?fref=ts)

So much excitement in the house!! Look what arrived this week! Getting it all charged up and ready for its maiden voyage to investigate the cove 2 stormdrain. Also working on outfitting my OceanKayak to be the best Trident platform EVERY! :)

The Pillar and Capistello BayAfter Panarea III we moved back to Capistello and this is the result of a great summer work discovering the site where the Roman fleet was moored.

Heavy winds, large swells, great white sharks. Not many people visit the Farallon Islands, mostly biologists and a few curious adventurers joining us on our fall Sharktober expeditions, and even fewer dive the islands. One notable exemption of the latter is Pt. Reyes urchin diver cum underwater cameraman Ron Elliot, featured in the film Sanctuary in the Sea. Now in his 70s, Ron has likely had more white shark encounters in the water than anyone on earth, still living that is. Our last trip out in 2017 took place under fire stained skies, calm seas and the water as clear as it gets. Our dive team of two splashed near Saddle Rock at the entrance to Shark Alley hoping to document and record the local white sharks. Sea lions barked from the barren rocks of the marine terrace in Mirounga Bay and a few greeted us as we scouted with the Trident. The bottom of SEFI is granitic, littered with large aggregations of red urchins and smaller clusters of purple urchins and anemones. Several species of urchins color the rocks and at sixty feet the water is a surprisingly warm 59 degrees F., welcome on this wetsuit equipped expedition. Pairs of China rockfish (sebastes nebulosous) nestle in rocks and the males display the large poisonous primary spines on their dorsal fins as the females nestle in to the crevices. Two huge lingcod (ophiodon elogatus) slither through the sea and take refuge from the seals. The water is clouded with larvae and the energy of this place is remarkable. The presence of these relatively large fish is a testimony to the marine protection in place. Several rockfish populations plummeted due to overfishing from the 1970s to the 1990s. NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service closed large areas to fishing in 2002 under special closures, called Rockfish Conservation Areas (RCAs) all along the U.S. west coast, from the Canadian border to Mexico. The rockfish closure (RCA) is helping the Canary rockfish (sebastes pinniger) to recover and the fishery is again open to anglers under special conditions and limits set by California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Like sharks, the Sebastes are slow growing and long lived and more vulnerable to overfishing but the combinations of management and the no fishing zone under the California Marine Life Protection Act are helping these fish recover. Rockfish specialists Dr. Rick Starr (Sea Grant) and Dr. Mary Gleason (The Nature Conservancy) examine and evaluate rock fish assemblages and help State fisheries managers make decisions on RCAs and catch. Biologists like this frequently rely on underwater cameras to collect data, and with the Trident, data may be shared by citizen scientists. In white shark feeding areas like the Farallones, perhaps cameras are a more prudent form of exploration. We didn't see any sharks on our dives this year, but the use of the Trident will he helpful in examining species make up and populations inside MPAs such as Southeast Farallon Island, and will be part of our underwater MPA Watch program under the Golden Gate MPA Collaborative Network. Learn more about the Farallon Islands Expedition 2018 and our Borneo expedition on Open Explorer and on Sharkstewards.org, and support it by donating on the link below.

Packing for this expedition is a daunting task. I knew form the beginning that I would greatly exceed baggage allowances so I asked some of my fellow expedition members of they would kindly take one bag for me. That still left me with too much. But, oh well, that is part of getting everything there! I weighed all the bags and they came about to around 325lbs. The remotely controlled surface vessel takes up almost three of the bags, plus I have 8 cameras including lenses, chargers, extra batteries etc. Here is a list of cameras: Canon 1Dx Canon 5D Mark III Canon 5D Mark IV Sony A7r II Sony RX100 III Sony RX100 IV GoPro 4 GoPro 5 Boxfish Research 360 camera (almost 30lbs in its case!) Rylo 360 camera Now, let's add the Trident with the 100m spool of cable, tools for assembly and fixing, camera clamps for attaching cameras to various thing, spare hardware such as nuts, bolts, etc., tape/glue. Just use your imagination on the "support' stuff you need to pack, there is no Home Depot in Antarctica! And, I'm bringing a DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone, extra batteries, case, etc. And, BTW, all of the batteries, all 8lbs of them, must be carried as carry-on luggage since they are lipos. Oh yes, I almost forgot clothes. After all, this is Antarctica I'm talking about! Jackets, heavy and well insulated boots, layers of shirts and pants, hats, more layers of clothes. Every medicine and first aid items..... I have a surfboard bag containing the two custom flotation devices for the surface boat. They are made out of surfboard foam but with the metal support pieces it starts to add up. So, nine bags total. Am I nuts? Yes. Will I have a blast? Yes!

12/14 2017San Diego, CA Project Pegasus: Rise of the Machine We know it’s been awhile, but as promised, here is our long overdue Project Pegasus update: The end of our construction phase was a little bit more hectic than anticipated. While Pegasus performed swimmingly in its first saltwater test in Mission Bay, we were dealing with a phantom issue just three weeks before the Edwards Lab was due to depart for the Aleutian Archipelago. After much back and forth we ended up sending our little robot to the good folks at OpenROV, who immediately identified the issue; a faulty controller board in the e-chassis. With hours to spare they shipped Pegasus back me to just a day before I jumped on a plane for Alaska. But, the trouble didn’t stop there. Tragically, water found its way into the e-chassis on Pegasus’s first dive on Amchitka Island. After all of our hard work, I was pretty devastated. But hey, that’s the price you pay for bringing experimental equipment into the field. And I’m still incredibly proud of the teamwork and dedication displayed by Project Pegasus team members. But, don’t think for a second that we didn’t try our best to troubleshoot in the field. I owe a big thanks to MarTech Croy for taking time out of his busy schedule to help me identify the actual issue with Pegasus while aboard the Oceanus. However, we had our hands full in Alaska; unfortunately, little Pegasus had to sit tight until we got back. Things really ramped up this semester; the team and I weren’t able to meet until December to try and get Pegasus back online. After several months, I was incredibly impressed at how easily the team picked up the slack. We had a big job ahead of us: rebuild the controller board. Plus, we had to rebuild and reattach the starboard battery tube; the limited connective wires meant we were working in a tight space. In no time the team was soldering and solvent welding as if it was second nature. What I had originally anticipated to be a six-hour repair ended up taking just over two hours! So, that’s it for now. Pegasus is rebuilt, and patiently awaiting our return from the winter holidays to get it back online. I have no doubt that we’ll be flying Pegasus once again in no time! Cheers, -Pike

Nota de prensa Laboratorio de drones Press release Drone Laboratory

Since 2009 Mote Marine Lab scientists and collaborators have been studying the biology, life history, population structure, diet and movement patterns of spotted eagle rays off Southwest Florida and in areas around Mexico, Cuba and east coast of Florida. This research has produced several publications to help better inform fisheries management and has provided important information on this data deficient species (see Bassos-Hull et al. 2014, Newby et al. 2014, Sellas et al. 2015, Flowers et al. 2016, Cerutti-Pereyra et al. 2017). We are excited about the possibilities of how a Trident ROV will augment and enhance our research, specifically looking at spotted eagle ray aggregations and habitat and prey availability.

We have some theories on the ID of this barge, sitting in 53msw just beyond Cook Island on the Tweed Coast, Northern NSW. Having spotted some stacked cargo with the appearance of railway track segments, we plan to return with tools to remove some encrustation and take accurate measurements of the cargo to check against shipping manifests. We've made a few dives, however due to conditions on the wreck, we've been unable to make a positive ID as yet. Some sources call it the "cane barge" but we're not sure the profile fits.

We plan to explore beneath the current borders of Bonaire National Marine Park (60m depth) for high densities of invasive Lionfishes.We want o localise high densities of Lionfishes and apply traps in favorable locations to catch them. We'd inspect the substrate and scout for fishess with help of a submersible ROV before deployment of traps.

I'm very excited to update everyone that I'll be taking my beta Trident to Maine in just a week. My friend, Ned, a fellow Explorer's Club member, will help me pilot the Trident through the chilly waters off the shores of Peaks Island, ME. Ned has seen the development of submersibles for decades. In 1965, he worked with Captain Jacques Cousteau's submersible Soucoupe. I'm thrilled that Ned will get to fly my Trident as we do some test dives before I head with the Trident back to Kachemak Bay and Tutka Bay in Alaska. Imagine how different it will be to control a tiny ROV much smaller (and in many ways, more capable) than the saucer that he first explored the depths of the ocean with!

As part of our lionfish survey with REEF.org, we were talking with Lad about the lionfish in Florida, how underwater drones can be used to look for them and what you can do to mitigate their impact!

Whale Shark Diaries was started in 2015 with the intention of helping to conserve whale sharks, an endangered species, through collaborative reseach, awareness and education facilitated by responsible tourism around the species.Through running excursions to swim with these gentle giants, we are presented with the opportunity to gather information to help us identify individuals which can aid in tracking their movements and general condition. As well as this we have the opportunity to observe the behaviour of whale sharks both engaged in interactions with humans and in undisturbed situations to try to better understand our impact on their behaviour. This type of information can be used to help develop the management plan of the species here in La Paz, Mexico and elsewhere, to make tourism around whale sharks more sustainable.

This is an Urban expedition centered around Guadalajara.

We have been planning this expedition for over a year now. We have been training hard for the physical aspect of the expedition. Spending up to 8 days traversing the At-Bashi range at altitudes of >4000m will be very physically challenging. We have been working hard studying maps and previous trip reports to determine appropriate routes and to find out if anyone else has attempted anything similar in the past. The At-Bashi range is an area which had previously been explored very little. We've also been working hard to research the area's town, connect with some of the local residents and begin to investigate how climate change is affecting this mountain community.

This was our first fill day in Guadeloupe. We spend the morning touring the facilities of the science department at Université des Antilles's Guadeloupe campus; they are doing some really exciting things with lubricants, polymer aging/durability, sickle cell research....very diverse and extremely interdisciplinary. We really enjoyed the electron microscopy labs, where they showed us the chemosynthetic bacteria you see in the picture below. The host these microbes live in is a small clam. Although it is in shallow water, this similar to the microbes living in the Riftia worms of hydrothermal vents. In the afternoon, we drove OpenROV 3536 in the test pool of the university. We placed a plastic target in the tank and practiced retrieving it from the bottom....a neat way to 'game-ify' the process of practicing ROV piloting.

Everyone that saw the Trident was excited by what we are doing with it; however, conditions on board did not allow others to interact much with it except as observers.

Our team of marine science graduate students have dived the Aquatic Park Cove to look for presence of eelgrass and map it. Using the Trident we were able to verify some eelgrass although the heavy influx of freshwater appears to have greatly reduced the abundance. Although in very low visibility- and difficulty navigating along the bottom in the current, we were able to identify several invertebrates and three species of marine algae using the drone. These will go into the species list we are collecting and onto the iNaturalist platform already started by our Bio Blitz this year. We plan to use the ROV in clearer water this winter. We have seen several species of small sharks and hope to verify presence absence using the drone, fishermen interviews and direct observation. Last year we did recover one moribund leopard shark and provided the sample to the Dept. Fish and Wildlife pathologist (which came up positive with M avidus, the ciliated protozoan associated with the shark die off in 2017.) We are hoping to potentially restore and protect eelgrass beds in the Aquatic Cove Park and continue monitoring for the health of sharks and rays and benthic habitat.

Due to popular demand, here another view of the shark encounter of Trident. Thanks Jack Woods for the outside video!

We've identified our local conservation partners for each target species and have developed draft methods that we'll be fine tuning over the next few weeks. We've tested our robots in the field; we're currently using an OpenROV 2.8 and a DJI Phantom 3A, but plan to expand our collection of robots to include a home-made fixed-wing aerial robot and the new Trident ROV. We'll be documenting our work on the OpenExplorer blog and on social media. The scientific outcomes of this set of projects will be disseminated through both peer-reviewed journals and popular science publications.

The Indian River Lagoon is in trouble. Once described as the most biologically diverse estuary in the United States its water quality has been deteriorating for years and wildlife is in decline - fishing, shellfish, sea grass, dolphins, bird life - by any measure you want to use - are in decline. At the Ocean Research & Conservation Association (ORCA) we have been documenting many of the lagoon's problems by creating pollution maps. One of the most exciting things about these maps is not the bad things they reveal, but rather the good things. There are stark contrasts with areas of unpolluted blue right beside bright red and the thing that has become increasingly obvious is those clean areas are associated with what are called living shorelines. These are places where there is a natural gradient of plant life that serves as both a biological filter and a very effective means of shoreline stabilization. We believe that the creation of living shorelines is low hanging fruit in terms of things that can be undertaken immediately to improve the health of the lagoon. For this reason our Living Lagoon project is restoring impaired areas of the Indian River Lagoon, while also exposing local students to the world of “living shorelines” through a newly developed school program. This is a community based effort carried out in collaboration with the Indian River Land Trust. Using plants that the students are growing and will help plant we are restoring Land Trust owned properties which they have identified as suffering from environmental degradation. We will also create before and after pollution maps which will have impacts far beyond our local community as they will provide a critical missing piece in the science of coastal habitat restoration and will hopefully provide the basis for expanding such projects into other impaired estuaries around the world. OpenROV represents a breakthrough in terms of providing an affordable and safe way for students to conduct the underwater surveys that are a critical part of the science.

With Schmidt Marine Technology Partners our new FUTURE FOCE system is being tested and will be deployed off of the Scripps pier very soon. We are working to develop new technologies for testing multiple-stressor climate change impacts in the marine environment. We previously built the CP-FOCE which we deployed on the Great Barrier Reef at the Heron Island Research station for over 8 months and found some really exciting results about how coral reefs will respond to ocean acidification. The FUTURE FOCE will be a portable multiple stressor system that will allow us to understand how marine animals and ecosystems respond to environmental stress. We plan to Open ROV and the Trident a critical part of our team that can check on and maintain our experiments when divers can't get in the water.

The Expedition Dates are being moved to early 2018. This is to ensure that we have the 100 meter tether and can provide a richer experience. In the meantime we are starting another San Diego Expedition: "Discover Citizen Science" with the Trident OpenROV, San Diego, CA https://openexplorer.com/expedition/discovercitizensciencesandiego

To test how OpenROVs perform at high altitudes, as a precursor to the eventual expedition to Ladakh, I took Matsya up to the Himalayas this past weekend. It was a long holiday because of the Diwali break, and with rising pollution levels here in Delhi, it was the perfect time to get out of the city and head up to the wilderness. We'd chosen Bhrigu Lake in Himachal Pradesh as the dive site; it's a small glacial lake at 4200m asl, and anecdotal evidence (from Wikipedia and TripAdvisor) suggested that it never freezes completely over. Pre-trip, I re-wound the wire onto a new spool, charged the 6 batteries, made sure the OpenROV was working perfectly and then sealed the main and battery tubes. I did this for a few of reasons; firstly, it gets dusty up in the mountains, and I wanted to expose the electronics to the minimum of dust. Secondly, I've worked at high altitudes before, and fatigue sets in quickly; I wanted to have as little technical work as possible at the dive site itself. And finally, I wasn't sure how deep the dive would be, so I preferred to play it safe and have the tubes pressurised at sea level, as opposed to at 4200m, where the atmospheric pressure is approximately half that at sea level. I also charged my laptop completely then sealed it in a plastic bag. I use a 15" MacBook Pro (early 2011), in which I'd replaced the hard disk drive (HDD) with a solid state drive (SSD) a few years ago. Using HDDs above 3000m is not recommended, because the low pressure means that there isn't enough of an air cushion for the disk to spin. If you do try starting up an HDD at high altitudes, apparently what you're most likely to hear is a crunch as the reading head tries to eat the spinning disk. For most treks up to the mountains, I usually pack a 2-man tent, a sleeping bag and a petrol stove, along with cold-weather clothing and supplies. This time, I also had the OpenROV and the MacBook, which quite honestly I never thought I'd be lugging up a mountain. We took the overnight bus from Delhi to Manali, and then a taxi up to the start point of the trek on the Leh-Manali highway, a few kilometres before the Rohtang Pass. We walked uphill for about 6 hours to the first base camp at Rola Khuli at 3650m asl, where we pitched tents, made a quick dinner of instant noodles and cheese, and then settled in for the night. The next morning, we left most of our equipment behind in the tents, and headed off, through light snowfall, for the trek to the lake itself. We got up to Bhrigu Lake by 1pm; the weather had completely cleared up, so I unpacked my rucksack. I unwound a little bit of the wire and put Matsya into the water to check that the tubes were still sealed, which they were. I then started up my laptop and plugged the cables in; the lights on the top-side box started blinking, and Chrome started up. The laptop battery reading was 92%, so everything seemed great. I hit my bookmark for the OpenROV Cockpit on Chrome, and we had data! Visual and telemetry were coming in, and everything seemed great; I was about to start up the motors to actually begin exploring the lake when my laptop died. The battery discharged completely. We sat around enjoying the view for some more time and then headed back to Rola Khuli, where we packed up camp and then heading back to Manali. While not being able to actually explore Bhrigu Lake was a bit disappointing, we did have a great trip, and accomplished our primary purpose, which was to make sure the OpenROV worked well at high altitudes. The MacBook charged as usual, and is functioning normally; I'm actually typing this post on it right now. It was either the extreme cold up at Bhrigu Lake or the low pressure, or a combination of both that affected the laptop battery. The maximum operating altitude for a MacBook Pro, as per Apple, is 3000m, so for the expedition to Tso Kar, the main lesson learnt is that we're going to need a sturdier laptop. The OpenROV, though, is ready for that dive. (With thanks to Raghav, Siddharth and Aditya for being great trek partners! We left Delhi on the 18th, were at Rola Khuli on the 19th, at Bhrigu Lake on the 20th and back in Delhi by the 22nd of October 2017.)

Today David, Kate, and I kayaked from SeaQuest through the anchor-outs, to Strawberry point to scout eel grass, and see how the Trident would function in the shallows of Richardson Bay. The Three of us took 2 kayaks, a one seater and a two seater (sit on tops) form the Sausalito shoreline with with David Piloting the Trident in the two seater. We stopped at three locations : 37.87903 N - 122.494877 W 37.882132 N - 122.493509 W 37.881799 N - 122.483156 W Each location the Trident was sent below to inspect Eel Grass and check for any anomalies. David commented that at several locations he spotted what he thought were Sea Cucumbers Overall the tide, visibility, and depth made for a pleasant day on the water, but resulted in low visibility. Findings: *In shallows the, a slack tide is best for bottom viewing to avoid silt disturbances If you attempting to take samples in strong currents or tides, go 'with' the tide, not against it. *Eel grass can be acquired via the Trident's propeller

After another 2h 45m you finally made it to Galapagos, Baltra airport.There is only one run-way and no taxi way, but there aren't too many flights anyway. Once you get to the terminal, you get your National Park permit (100USD) and get your carry on bags checked for food, just in case. Just a short stroll away is the Baggage Claim. There aren't any conveyor belts, just tables with rolls that the workers use to push your luggage onto. Once everyone's luggage is there and the official gives a sign, everyone storms forward and grabs their luggage. As if the island is going to errode while you wait. You're getting out of the airport and depending on your style of travel, either get herded towards one of the tour busses or the public one. I was traveling idependend so it's public bus. Once it's full (read: very full, no standing room) you start your 10 min drive along the winding road. You cross lava plains, see lots of cactus and you get the first glimps on why Darwin called at least parts of the islands desolate. You arrive at the little channel that seperates Baltra and Santa Cruz island, unload from the bus and get on the ferry. The luggage goes on top and you inside (not that there are windows). The fare is $1 and the ride takes 5 min. On the other side you choose your next mode of transport. The public bus (I think around $4) takes you to town or you take one of the taxis. Taxis here are white pick up trucks. I was a bit constrained for time so I choose the taxi ($25) to make it to my ferry to go to Isla Isabela. The road to Puerto Ayora is fairly smooth and most traffic is from the taxis and busses coming from the airport pick up. Congratulations, you made it in time to get a ticket for the ferry to Isabela. The ferries are speedboats aka little yacht type runabouts with 3 x 200hp susukys in the back. The return fare is $55. Get to the port 30 min before your departure (there is a 2pm boat and I think one in the early morning), get your bags checked and sealed again (inter island transport of fruit and vegetable is prohibited) and registered for the transport. There are Navy officials present at all times and make sure the lists are handled correctly. The speedboats don't land at the pier, you have to take a little panga water taxi. Luggage goes in the front, passangers in the back, the fare is 50ct. When you get to the speedboat, choose your seat. I heard the front can be with little air, the back is most stable but noisy. Also, take a wind/rain jacket, it can be cold and windy on the ocean. The ride takes about 2 - 2 1/2 hours and can be bumpy at times. Also remember, Not throw trash the sea

We are a group of marine ecologists exploring the diversity, productivity and ecology of seaweed dominated rocky reefs from Baja California to Alaska. We focus our studies on the rich kelp forest communities and the services they provide. Our team members are investigating a variety of questions related to how changes to these rocky reef communities impact the important services they provide, and how we may better inform resource managers, stakeholder, school groups and the public about the deleterious effects of climate change, overharvesting, disease outbreaks, and winter storms on these vital communities. ARREE’s goal is to bring our work to the public's attention. One way we do this is to involve K-12 classrooms with hands-on exploration of these underwater habitats through the use of ROVs. With the help of OpenROV, we will bring students into the field with us and use a Trident ROV to allow students to experience the undersea world in real time. Our first of many planned expeditions will take place this summer (2017) on Catalina Island, off the coast of southern California. With the help of funding from CA SeaGrant, we will explore the impacts that vessel moorings have on shallow water benthic communities. Aside from diving and surveying the effects these moorings may have on these communities, we will let groups of students from the mainland "fly" our ROV while we are working underwater. With the help of two-way communication masks we will be able to communicate with the surface, and share our research with a wide and diverse audience.

The "San Pedro Alcántara", built in 1788 in la Habana (Cuba) was the most powerful ship to visit the Venezuelan coast during the Independence War. It was equipped with 74 cannons, and was sent by Fernando VII to support the Spanish expedition under Pablo Morillo lead, in Venezuela and Colombia. Since its sinking in 1815, due to an explosion of unknown causes and motivation, there have been at least seven expeditions from private treasure hunters and a couple of institutional expeditions, which recovered important elements of the wreck. However, it still remains as one of the most important wrecks in the South Caribbean, without any detailed information about its current status, nor a detailed plan of the wreck site.

One of our primary goals for this expedition was to retrieve offering pots that we discovered on the lakebed in 2012. Sibinacocha’s water level has been dropping in the last few years due to climate change and more recently, from lake water being piped to downstream villages. Subsequently, many of the ruin structures and the pots surrounding them are in shallower water, which allows more light penetration and therefore, more algae and aquatic plant growth. Features that were easily recognizable when I discovered them in 2011 are now completely covered with aquatic vegetation. This not only makes the structures and their surrounding offerings difficult to study, the vegetation growing on the pots also damages their surface. In 2015 our underwater archaeologists realized that the submerged cultural features were being covered and so they stabilized the one pot that we could still locate at that time. The pot was surrounded by sandbags to prevent algae growth on its surface and a buoy was placed next to it to ensure that it could be relocated. It’s also conceivable that the structures and pots could be out of the water in the very near future, which will make them more vulnerable to damage and looting. Therefore, the Peruvian Ministry of Culture granted the Peruvian Center for Maritime and Underwater Archaeology (CPAMS) team an emergency action permit to recover the pots that we could still locate. Underwater archaeology is a relatively new discipline and that is especially true in Peru. The CPAMS underwater archaeology team is the first of its kind in Peru and we were all quite honored to be included in their effort. In fact, I’m told that this underwater artifact recovery was also a first in Peru, which is shocking considering the country’s rich cultural history. The CPAMS archaeologists believe that there must be more submerged sites like this in the Peruvian highlands, they just haven’t been discovered yet (we hope to change that soon!)… Once the gases in our bodies safely equilibrated to the altitude, our dive team made a reconnaissance dive to inspect the state of the stabilized pot and to conduct systematic searches for the other pots. Dense vegetation thwarted our efforts to relocate the missing pots so we focused on recovering the stabilized pot. In recent years strong winds and storms have become more frequent in August, and that pattern was looking the same for this expedition. Concerned that bad weather might prevent us from safely recovering the pot, we chose to recover it with our first good weather window. The day that I had waited years for had finally arrived. On August 20 the dive team entered the water to retrieve the pot. Under the supervision of CPAMS, we rehearsed the recovery effort on land to help ensure that the plan was executed smoothly. Every team member was assigned a specific task — both above and below the water. We were supervised by CPAMS archaeologist, Martin Polo, and artifact conservation specialist, Alexandra Sponza. As I carefully removed the sandbags surrounding it, I was relieved to find the pot was intact and just as we’d left it two years before. We photographically documented its condition and then enacted the plan that we’d rehearsed. One diver removed the vegetation and sediment around the pot until we could tell if the bottom was intact and we were sure that it could be safely removed according to the plan. A sturdy, plastic crate was rigged with strong, kevlar cord and placed next to the pot. On cue, each diver executed their task until we passed the crate to waiting team members on the shoreline (check out the attached video. Password: Sibina). The pot was quickly transported to one of our expedition tents and Alexandra took over. At that altitude, temperatures quickly drop to below freezing after sundown and we had a very old artifact filled with water. If that water were allowed to freeze, the pot could shatter. Alexandra set up a makeshift lab in the tent and a stove was lit inside to stave off the cold. She immediately siphoned off the water in the pot until only a thick layer of loose sediment remained. As the layers were removed we sat tense with anticipation as to what might be at the bottom of the pot. Suddenly she cracked a smile and said, “there’s something here…” We all wondered what, if any, offering would be found inside, but one thing was in the back of everyone’s mind… gold. Golden figurines wouldn’t be too surprising for such a location and the precious metal is certainly the stuff of adventurous dreams. After a few more layers were removed, Alexandra knew that it was something hard and not seeds, coca leaves, or the remnants of cloth, which wouldn’t be too surprising either. She cleared enough of the sediment away from the objects to reveal their shape and photograph their configurations. Then, finally, she reached in and removed one of the objects. I could tell by her expression, it wasn’t gold. The weight of gold is unmistakable. She placed the mud-covered objects on a plastic tray, just as they were positioned in the pot. They were clearly made of stone or some mineral. After a moment she sheepishly said, “what does that look like to you…?” Laughter erupted. The three stones were perfectly placed so that they looked like… well, look at the attached photo. They may have been meant as a fertility offering, and that wouldn’t be too surprising considering the potential significance of where we were. Regardless of what the stones were meant to represent, finding stones in such an offering was a first for all of the Peruvian archaeologists that we work with — just another ‘first’ for Sibinacocha. Alexandra still had more work to do to ensure that the pot was stabilized and conserved for future study, so the next day, we had a truck meet her back at the end of the road and she returned to Cusco to work in the lab that we’d set up there. All of the sediment from the pot will be analyzed by Neal Michelutti, a paleolimnologist from Queen’s University. Since the pot acted as a catchment basin for sediment as soon as it was submerged, its makeup could teach us more about the historical environmental conditions in the lake, as well as the timeline for when the pot was submerged. As you can see from the attached photo, the algae had indeed pitted the surface of the pot and a section of the lip was broken out. Since we couldn’t find the missing piece in or around the pot, it’s possible that it was broken prior to being placed at the site. I took a stab at generating a 3D model of the pot using a series of orthophotos. The bottom wasn’t redendered in the model because I wasn’t able to photograph the bottom at the time. You can check it out the model at this link: https://sketchfab.com/models/a6d60614bfde4fef84ea4f8932ee7011 Password: Apacheta We haven’t identified the origin of the stones inside the pot yet, but they don’t appear to be from rock that is native to the area surrounding Sibinacocha. Understanding where the stones came from will reveal something about the people who made these offerings. Initial analysis of the pot, based on its construction and shape, supports the archaeologist’s initial hypothesis that it was constructed in the mid-1400s. In the future, I hope to bring a technology that will see through the vegetation and sediment to locate the missing pots and recover them, and perhaps even map out the submerged structures without having to excavate the site. But we still had work to do at Sibinacocha on this expedition, and two days later we broke camp and hiked around the lake to survey the area around the base of the rocky peak of Yayamari and hopefully, to search for sites on its 18,500-foot summit. I’ll report what we found there in the next post. Password for the attached video: Sibina

I am honored to announce that we received grant funding from the National Geographic Society for our expedition. Noam Argov - the expedition PI - received the Early Career Grant from NGS to see this project through. The official project start date is scheduled for Jan 27, 2018. We will be embarking to Kyrgyzstan on that date to document horse-backcountry-skiing and the preservation of nomadic culture through extreme sports. Stay tuned!

The two-phase restoration of Yosemite Slough will create the largest contiguous wetland area in the County of San Francisco. The project will help restore essential wildlife habitat, improve water quality, and prevent erosion along the shoreline of the City of San Francisco—an area of the bay where tidal wetlands have been most impacted and suffered the greatest loss due to urbanization. According to our partner agency the California State Parks Foundation – Goals and objectives of the proposed restoration are to Increase the area subject to tidal influence by excavating three areas that were formerly part of San Francisco Bay Restore habitat diversity by adding 12 acres of tidally-influenced wetlands and marsh area and remove chemically-impacted soils from upland areas to improve the quality of existing habitat Improve habitat for special status species (e.g. western snowy plover and double-crested cormorants) by a nesting island along the north shoreline Improve the quality of life for the surrounding community by creating a clean, beautiful local park for viewing wildlife habitat Create an environmental area that local schools can use for field trips Connect to the Blue Greenway, an important effort to build 13-miles of Bay Trail along the southern waterfront of the San Francisco Bay Trail.

Mr. S. was able to get out for a little bit to Hills Creek Dam near Oakridge, Oregon on the weekend. He was not able to get students out because he needed to test a firmware issue that was going on. (The Arduino decided to erase the flashed image) He saw some fish (One of decent size) and managed to get the ROV tangled on the rocks. We will print off floats to keep the tether off the bottom. Good day of floating other than almost having to swim to get the ROV tangled. Thankfully there was a very long branch that helped to de-tangle the tether and keep him dry!

Baltimore's Inner Harbor is a place of tremendous impacts and profound change. With the combined run-off of over half-a-million people and centuries of industrial development, the Inner Harbor has faced its share of environmental damage. But new initiatives are turning the Inner Harbor around. Solar-powered trashwheels collect plastic and debris before it enters the Chesapeake Bay. Floating wetlands and experimental oyster gardens are slowly cleaning the Inner Harbor's waters. And the Healthy Harbor Initiative is on track to make the Inner Harbor both swimmable and fishable by 2020. Join us for a day on the Inner Harbor with OpenROV Trident as we explore these clean-up efforts and discover the vibrant marine life that still calls Baltimore's Inner Harbor home. Participants will get to fly the new OpenROV Trident, meet with community leaders working to restore the Harbor, and learn a bit more about their local waters. Date is still to be determined, but will happen late this Fall. Follow this expedition for more updates.

This expedition is centered on creating an informative documentary. We'll be highlighting the marine conversation program on the island, including coral reef monitoring and recovery research. We'll be examining the life of sea turtles, and doing daily dives to document the research being conducted. While our main goal is to shed light on this extremely important work, we'll also take a look at the locals and volunteers, to show people that they can also make a difference.

In 2016, Ocean Sanctuaries reached out to the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, South Africa and established a citizen science partnership with Sevengill shark monitoring. See here for more details: https://www.aquarium.co.za/blog/entry/citizen-science-global-sevengill-shark-identification-project Already, we have had almost half-a-dozen photographic submissions from Cape Town into Wildbook, the program which contains the pattern recognition algorithm used to analyse the spots near the face.

So now that we have a model for predicting historical surface currents around Point Reyes, and we have an estimated time for the ditching, what does our model tell us? We take the estimated ditching time of 6:25pm, and add 2 hours and 15 minutes to get the time (8:40pm) that we will use on the September 21 2017 surface current charts. Posted here are the surface currents for 9pm around Pt Reyes. As was earlier guessed, the current flow is pretty much all south. If coupled with a wind generally from the north, then the ditching spot of the plane will be well to the north of the landing spots for Lt Anderson and Private Eastwood. As stated earlier, I'm not sure how accurate this hindcasting of surface currents is. Perhaps its totally meaningless. But the general flow around Point Reyes is southward, so to me this just verifies that we're not dealing with some weird spot in the tidal cycle where the currents reverse and the flow along the coastline is northward.

We currently have an array of sensors deployed around Point Sal. This area of California's Central Coast is notoriously sharky and we are keeping dives to a minimum. With a Trident ROV we can inspect our instruments from our small boat to make sure they are positioned properly and aren't fouled by marine growth or ocean debris. The ocean is a notoriously hard place to collect data, and something is always going wrong. If we are more aware of potential issues with our array, we can then dive to fix them, which increases our chances of collecting high quality data. The better the data, the better our understanding of the ocean temperatures and currents we are measuring!

Sept. 13: Ocean conditions in Laguna today were not conducive to safe diving: surf was high (3 ft. plus) and there was a noticeable rip current, which normally would not have been a problem going out, but on a steep-facing beach like Shaw's Cover, would have presented a difficult re-entry on the way back in, so the decision was made to come back another day when conditions were better suited to scientific surveys.

Little Creek Oyster Farm Tech Challenge: Marine Observation Buoy We propose to spur the best minds out there into action and inspire some of our eager youth to explore how they can contribute to the study of what is happening in our waters. Water quality and specifically the limited resources to monitor our bays, estuaries, oceans, lakes, rivers, creeks and streams is something we take personally. So we are proud to tackle this challenge head on. We seek to build an affordable, open source marine observation buoy. Further we'd like to see these buoys deployed and the data sent to a dashboard/map to give us an idea what is happening in the water. Much in the way that weather stations give us a better, bigger picture of what is happening in the air. We can't do it alone. We are building an advisory panel drawn from scientists, aquaculture farms, gearheads, tinkerers and data junkies to guide, monitor and judge this challenge/tech prize. The Challenge:Build a MOB: Marine Observation Buoy Goals: *Affordability *Durability *Open Source Crafted from available parts (including 3d printed materials as long as files are shared.) Targets: This list is open ended but some ideas include: *water temp *dissolved Nitrogen *dissolved oxygen *salinity *light penetration *color / algal bloom *current/tidal/wave data What about sending data vs logger? More details to be revealed as we get closer to launch date! The Challenge Begins 11/1/17!

In the last decade, the financial cost of conducting marine research has declined by several orders of magnitude and tools once restricted to the most well-funded institutions have become affordable to grass-roots organizations as well as individual stakeholders. One of the most dramatic examples of this is the production of the OpenROV, a low-cost observation-class ROV (remotely operated vehicle). OpenROVs have been used to conduct studies on marine invasive species, establish marine protected areas, and survey historic shipwrecks. Saipan and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands are uniquely situated near the Mariana Trench and surrounding Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. Despite access to vibrant and diverse marine resources, the capacity to conduct community-driven scientific research, ocean conservation, and fisheries resource management is relatively limited. While national and international research teams use advanced underwater robots to study and explore the regions around the CNMI, there are no marine robotic assets within the Commonwealth dedicated solely to community-driven ocean research and education. While not capable of diving to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, a small fleet of accessible observation-class microROVs can be of significant benefit to scientists, citizen scientists, managers, and other ocean stakeholders in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The OpenROV 2.8 ships as a kit to be assembled by the end user. This presents a tremendous opportunity for STEM education programs that teach robotics, electronics, soldering, and coding, as well as marine science. OpenROV Trident is a more advanced ROV which can be used to supplement and expand research projects conducted using OpenROV 2.8s. In conjunction with a long-term management plan, this offers the potential to create a holistic marine robotics education program that not only trains students to use underwater robots but introduces them to careers in marine technology and provides the technological capacity to pursue those careers. This structured capacity-building workshop model was tested in Papua New Guinea in October, 2014. Twenty-three undergraduates from the University of Papua New Guinea joined two marine ecologists, two robotics technicians, and several faculty members from UPNG at the Nago Island Research Facility in Kavieng, New Ireland, to construct 6 OpenROV 2.6 microROVs and learn how to design and implement marine ecologic surveys. Robots from that program were then donated to various stakeholder groups where they were used to survey coral reef biodiversity, monitor garbage accumulation in local lagoons, and track sea cucumber recovery following a national fishing ban (personal communication with W. Saleu, our PNG organizer for that program, and P. Minimulu, director of the Nago Island Research Facility). Similar, though less intensive workshops were conducted with high school students in Gloucester Point, Virginia, in conjunction with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and Virginia SeaGrant and, most recently, at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium in Chauvin, Louisiana. We also recently completed a series of educational ROV experiences throughout the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam, where we presented recent discoveries from the Mariana Trench to local student groups and then invited them to join us at local beaches and harbors to learn to fly ROVs and get a hands-on experience in how research is conducted using underwater robots. Project Goals and Objectives The goals of this project are to: Conduct two intensive workshops in marine ecology via remote observation in which community leaders and students learn to build, maintain, and operated observation-class microROVs and develop the skills to design and implement a marine research or education program using ROVs. Provide a minimum of 4 OpenROV 2.8 microROVs and 1 OpenROV Trident for community-driven research in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. To achieve these goals, we will: Identify 2 to 3 community leaders in Saipan and conduct an intensive ROV-building workshop with a focus on teaching, facilitation, and long-term management. Host a second ROV-building workshop in which students, under the direction of Thaler and community leaders from the first workshop, and one additional technician construct at least 3 OpenROV 2.8 observation-class microROVs. Use the ROVs to conduct student-designed marine ecologic surveys under the supervision of mentors and local community leaders. Deliver the ROVs to local community groups for use in community-driven research and education program. We don't ship out to Saipan until Spring 2018, but there's plenty of work to do on identifying community leaders, preparing hardware, and perfecting lesson plans in the lead up to this adventure. This grant was funded by the NOAA Marine Education Training Mini-Grant program.

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