diverlaura

diverlaura

99 observations in 10 expeditions


Recent Observations

Over the past decade or so my dive buddy Lamont and I have been filming and putting together a somewhat shotgun approach of projects (storm drains, starfish, visibility project, marine debris, etc...) to help build awareness for environmental issue in Puget Sound. Now with the help of OpenROV and OpenExplorer we hope to bring all these together under one 'roof' so to speak along with a way to involve more citizen scientists and curious individuals and their observations. If you've been interested in observing your local waterways with a ROV but didn't want to build one from a kit, and/or were not ready to buy a TRIDENT sight unseen, we will be running a demo day or two in the not so distant future. We will be looking to document both sides of the story, positive results from restoration projects (things like the kelp bed by the sculpture park) and negatives (increasing underwater garbage patch off Alki) and straight observations via video transects (seastar wasting syndrome and biodiversity shift follow up). Standard diving, snorkeling, watershed and beach walking observations also wanted! If you want to be a contributor there will be a number of ways to get involved for curious folks of all ages! If you have a smart phone and can # an Instagram picture, we want you! If you can write coherently about your diving observations and your perceived changes over time, we want you! If you just want to cheer us on, and share a sick starfish picture once in a while, we want you! There will also be other non documenting skills needed, from beach mom to crafty to programmer types... This is about everyone finding a way to get involved that suits your needs, skills and availability. If this sounds like something you, your friends or family, your students , etc.. might want to be involved in, please follow our micro-expedition here. If you have an idea for a ROV survey in the vicinity of Puget Sound please let me know via the comment section and it may take a bake sale to pay for gas money, but I'll see what we can do.

Hi, my name is DiverLaura and I love Puget Sound Over the past decade we've been documenting the environmental impacts of a dense population surrounding an inland sea. We have been following Habitat destruction and restoration, the sea star wasting syndrome outbreak and tracking subsequent biodiversity shifts at local dive sites, stormwater pollution and marine debris impacting our precious Emerald Sea. It is now time to get more citizen scientists on board and bring the big picture together and grow public awareness on ALL fronts. It is our hope that by utilizing TRIDENT ROVs we can survey and document many more sites and collect more video and data. With these visuals we hope to help support political action that focuses on Protecting and Preserving our precious emerald sea.

Here it is! For best results watch in Youtube at high res. https://youtu.be/-eFcNbQZmeo

And here it is! (watch in Youtube at highest res for best viewing experience)

Proof of concept... #360 TRIDENT as seastar survey tool! Before embarking on any adventure, I like to complete a proof of concept for whatever shenanigan I am up to. In this case, it is testing the OpenROV TRIDENT as filmmakers assistant and #360video survey tool. This Monday I got to do something i've been dreaming of for over a year now! I got to test out shooting 360 video with a TRIDENT ROV! In preparation for the coral bleaching and restoration portion of the film, Cloudbreak, it became clear that being able to survey larger areas of the reef before jumping in with the 360 cameras would be super helpful. So I figured, why not do double duty and do a quick Seastar wasting syndrome survey while we were at it! Last time we surveyed the Passenger ferry pier at Cove 2, we noted basically zero seastars and a multitude of tiny urchins. This time... No stars, and no urchins. I'd chatted with Zack from OpenROV about catching up when he was in town, but we hadn't really nailed down and exact date until last week. I'd been wracking my brain about 'optimal' set up for a 360 flying ROV. Would it be pole out front, would it be the 3 camera array mounted on top, the options were numerous. In the interest of efficiency and utilizing stuff I already had sitting around the house (and limited options on hand for mounting brackets etc) i figured why not give the method that Kodak Pixpro already uses for flying on aerial drones. With the original OpenROV that wouldn't be a real option due to shape, but with the new TRIDENT, its slim and trim design could work. So we opted to use the standard mounts (luckily I found two in my random accessories drawer) one on top, one on the bottom and hope for the best. I knew going into it that the stitch would be a bit of a challenge, considering loss of FOV with the small dome ports and parallax from the distance between cameras (less of an issue on a drone because everything is so far away) but figured if this is just for surveys and not for client footage, that what the heck, why not do a proof of concept! With Zach and Dominic in town, there was no better time than the present! We met up at Cove 2 as the passenger ferry was fortuitously not running, and got started! Introductions to the Trident were made, if you are familiar with the earlier generation OpenROV, this is basically worlds apart. The TRIDENT really is what the Phantom Drone was for aerial, it is stunning. The build quality is top shelf, it is robust and magnificently easy to master the controls. This immediately boosted my confidence. Once the cameras were securely mounted on the TRIDENT we removed the saltwater weights as the Kodak Pixpro's are a little negative and got started! The trim compensation worked well to level the TRIDENT out, even though she was nose heavy from the cameras, in future tests I'll probably make some little syntactic foam floats for the top camera, as although trim compensation worked well, I'd like to keep her floating in trim comfortably as that makes for more stable footage which is necessary for a good 360 viewing experience. We flew the TRIDENT #360 around for a good half an hour which was a blast. Again, if you have only experienced the earlier models of OpenROV, you REALLY need to give this a try, seriously night and day. Sadly my lenses fogged up on the Kodak housings (humidity and all can be a bear in the summer) but luckily I still managed to get a fair bit of usable footage which will be uploaded shortly. While you are waiting, here are a few pictures!

Proof of concept... Before embarking on any adventure, I like to complete a proof of concept for whatever shenanigan I am up to. In this case, it is testing the OpenROV TRIDENT as filmmakers assistant and #360video survey tool. With Zach and Dominic in town, there was no better time than the present! We met up at Cove 2 as the passenger ferry was fortuitously not running, and got started! Introductions to the Trident were made, if you are familiar with the earlier generation OpenROV, this is basically worlds apart. The TRIDENT really is what the Phantom Drone was for aerial, it is stunning. The build quality is top shelf, it is robust and magnificently easy to master the controls. This immediately boosted my confidence. Once the cameras were securely mounted on the TRIDENT we removed the saltwater weights as the Kodak Pixpro's are a little negative and got started! The trim compensation worked well to level the TRIDENT out, even though she was nose heavy from the cameras, in future tests I'll probably make some little syntactic foam floats for the top camera, as although trim compensation worked well, I'd like to keep her floating in trim comfortably as that makes for more stable footage which is necessary for a good 360 viewing experience. We flew the TRIDENT #360 around for a good half an hour which was a blast. Again, if you have only experienced the earlier models of OpenROV, you REALLY need to give this a try, seriously night and day. Sadly my lenses fogged up on the Kodak housings (humidity and all can be a bear in the summer) but luckily I still managed to get a fair bit of usable footage which will be uploaded shortly. While you are waiting, here is a screen grab!

This Monday I got to do something i've been dreaming of for over a year now! I got to test out shooting 360 video with a TRIDENT ROV! In preparation for the coral bleaching and restoration portion of the film, Cloudbreak, it became clear that being able to survey larger areas of the reef before jumping in with the 360 cameras would be super helpful. I'd chatted with Zack from OpenROV about catching up when he was in town, but we hadn't really nailed down and exact date until last week. I'd been wracking my brain about 'optimal' set up for a 360 flying ROV. Would it be pole out front, would it be the 3 camera array mounted on top, the options were numerous. In the interest of efficiency and utilizing stuff I already had sitting around the house (and limited options on hand for mounting brackets etc) i figured why not give the method that Kodak Pixpro already uses for flying on aerial drones. With the original OpenROV that wouldn't be a real option due to shape, but with the new TRIDENT, its slim and trim design could work. So we opted to use the standard mounts (luckily I found two in my random accessories drawer) one on top, one on the bottom and hope for the best. I knew going into it that the stitch would be a bit of a challenge, considering loss of FOV with the small dome ports and parallax from the distance between cameras (less of an issue on a drone because everything is so far away) but figured if this is just for surveys and not for client footage, that what the heck, why not do a proof of concept! Video coming shortly!

There is some good news where coral is concerned for a change. “A new study found that Caribbean staghorn corals (Acropora cervicornis) are benefiting from "coral gardening," the process of restoring coral populations by planting laboratory-raised coral fragments on reefs. The research, led by scientists at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and partners, has important implications for the long-term survival of coral reefs worldwide, which have been in worldwide decline from multiple stressors such as climate change and ocean pollution. "Our study showed that current restoration methods are very effective," said UM Rosenstiel school coral biologist Stephanie Schopmeyer, the lead author of the study. "Healthy coral reefs are essential to our everyday life and successful coral restoration has been proven as a recovery tool for lost coastal resources." Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-07-coral-gardening-benefiting-caribbean-reefs.html#jCp

OpenROV Trident + 360 'spherical' video One of the most important preliminary parts of filmmaking is scouting. For topside productions this is key to getting exactly the shot needed. This is tenfold the case when shooting 360 video. When it comes to scouting and surveying the underwater portion there are not a ton of options, we can use drop cams to see what is directly under the boat, but if you want to see 'more', the thing to do up until now is drop a scuba diver or free diver into the water, take a look and maybe some quick survey footage, and report back. A down side of this for deeper locations that require scuba is that unless you have a second team ready to jump in the water for the actual filming, your diver needs a surface interval, full tanks, footage review time, etc. Enter OpenROV Trident. The option to use a small, stable, fast moving ROV with on board streaming video for the initial site survey will be key to scouting underwater sites. This will ensure that our underwater filming team can make the most of each and every excursion beneath the surface. It is our hope to utilize a Trident ROV for the underwater scouting phase. We will also work on devising a mount for 360 camera array the will allow some 360 footage to be filmed with the ROV when looking to cover large areas of coral bleaching events and restoration areas quickly and efficiently.

A project like this takes a village... From kickstarter donations and campaign shares to collaborators and everyone in between. The planning stage of any expedition/production is a tremendously exciting and at times epically exhausting but we'd like to take a moment to highlight some of our amazing collaborators. https://www.facebook.com/Reef-Explorer-Fiji-Ltd-1655531604714267/

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/711821063/nakuru-kuru-discovering-cloudbreak In 1972, yachtsman John Ritter set sail in search of raw moments of solitude and serenity. Six years later it would lead to one of the greatest discoveries in surf history – the now-famed wave Cloudbreak in Fiji. Nakuru Kuru: Discovering Cloudbreak documents Ritter’s untold story by retracing his original passage throughout the South Pacific; along the way providing this true pioneer the opportunity to give back to the ocean environment that has given him so much. Viewers are immersed in this extraordinary journey of inspiration, risk and exploration, as past and present are connected in a modern-day expedition like no other. John has spent a lifetime in and around the water and witnessed drastic environmental changes first hand. As our oceans continue to rapidly deteriorate, there is no better time to share a positive message of stewardship, and no one more qualified to tell it. Nakuru Kuru recounts John's entire voyage leading up to Cloudbreak, with stops in Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji. Each location serves as a 10-12 minute chapter of the story, examining critical challenges facing these locations and some key objectives aimed at solving them. CHAPTER ONE - AMERICAN SAMOA Challenge: Ocean Plastics Objective: Reconnect with youth at Matafao Elementary (where John taught during his original voyage) to completely restore one designated beach or mangrove. CHAPTER TWO - TONGA Challenge: Overfishing Objective: Showcase Tonga's leading efforts to preserve marine life in hopes of expanding on this success throughout the region. CHAPTER THREE – FIJI Environmental Challenge: Coral Bleaching Objective: Demonstrate how coral gardening and removing invasive species can greatly benefit and restore reefs.

SSWS is still active in Mid Puget Sound. Leather stars are prevalent (they are more resistant to the virus) and there are small sunflower stars but no medium or large. When small sunflowers reach a bit larger than hand size they seem to contract the disease and waste away as seen at the end of this video. The mystery six armed star makes another appearance :)

This little boat wreck "the Honeybear" at cove 2 used to be covered in sea stars of numerous species. Now as you can see there is one lone mottled star calling it's decaying hull home.

I'm testing the use of 360 video as a method of doing Seastar surveys. 360 video can give an immersive experience and allow more time to 'look around' at a site after the initial dive. Please watch in YouTube in 4K for best viewing experience!

As promised, a quick video of taking said wrench to my go pro's so that they would focus on the mini-domes.

Here is a seekbeak snap of the same stormdrain, with information embedded to make it more of an educational experience seekbeak.com/v/dy2qmY4qwOg

It took a bit of time and the help of a bunch of folks (shoutout to www.scubaboard.com and www.copelandred.com) and a lot of scouring eBay and craigslist for used GoPro Hero 3+'s... But without further adieu I give you our fist 360VR storm drain video! This one is slightly blurry due to some focus distance issues on the part of the mini-domes used for the V1 360heros underwater system, but that was solved with a youtube video, some advice from another user and a BIG wrench :) But stay tuned, if it rains tomorrow will be out trying to get some crisper footage!

Great story about a local teen caring about our shared waters and doing something about the litter problem! http://bit.ly/1UliTf3

Curious about what happens to rain gardens and bioswales over time, read this comprehensive article on the subject and learn whether or not they become mini toxic sites (hint: they don't!) http://bit.ly/1Ulivx7

Continuing to explore new ways to communicate the underwater world of the Emerald Sea, we had the opportunity (huge thanks to http://www.scubaboard.com) to test out a www.360heros.com 360VR system to film a recent storm drain excursion and seastar survey. I have not completed stitching the 360 footage together yet but in the meantime here is a short "making of" video for your enjoyment. You will see a couple of Pisaster in the video, but for the most part, we are not seeing recovery of Pisaster or Pycnopodia at my survey sites :(

Continuing to explore new ways to communicate the impact of Polluted Stormwater Runoff, we had the opportunity (huge thanks to http://www.scubaboard.com) to test out a www.360heros.com 360VR system to film a recent storm drain excursion and seastar survey. I have not completed stitching the 360 footage together yet but in the meantime here is a short "making of" video for your enjoyment.

Marine debris, also known as marine litter, is human-created waste that has deliberately or accidentally been released in a lake, sea, ocean or waterway. Floating oceanic debris tends to accumulate at the centre of gyres and on coastlines, frequently washing aground, when it is known as beach litter or tidewrack. Negatively buoyant marine debris makes its way into depressions on the seafloor where it follows natural trenches to the 'deepest points' in an area. There is basically no where we can look as divers and not see human made litter on the bottom of Puget Sound. Our goal with this project is to document the debris fields directly out from storm drains, identify the debris in the field, follow the trash backwards and help build awareness for the problem of litter on the seafloor. Divers and OpenROV pilots with grippers are the last stand for cleaning up this type of trash when it is near shore. In deep ocean NOAA does plastic trawls, but the feasibility at someplace like Cove 2 or Alki beach is limited.

These kids are AWESOMENESS!

Video from our first two sessions to get you all excited for #3 this Friday!!!

Learn more about the floating islands at Hicklin lake http://bit.ly/1BqrLHk

All the boxes are here! So excited to start our build tomorrow!!!

We are getting super close to starting our build! We've had our first planning meeting and Day 1 of foundational skills is coming up fast! Join in on the fun by following @diverlaura on Periscope. Get the Periscope App for your iphone/pad now :)

We are getting super close to starting our build! Earth day is coming up fast and you can tune in to portions of the day at TAF by following @diverlaura on Periscope. Get the Periscope App for your iphone/pad now :)

If you are a scuba diver or OpenROV pilot and notice urchins with their spines falling off, please #sickstarfish #sickurchin or #urchinwasting (any of these will work) to an instagram picture of the beach where you observed it and note in the comments what you observed. Make sure location services is on so that your post will be geotagged. Please continue to report on seastar wasting disease as well, as with summer coming we are expecting to see an uptick in the disease.

We will now also be keeping an eye out for Urchin wasting bit.ly/1bURSLp

Got out with TAF teacher Omar to do a pre-survey of Hicklin Lake before we start the build.

Super excited to get our expedition started with the kids from TAF! This map is showing the Hicklin Lake Drainage area. As our micro-expedition progresses we hope to document the flow from Hicklin Lake during high stormwater runoff events into Puget Sound, specifically a stormwater outfall near the mouth of Salmon Creek. In doing so we hope that our team can be instrumental in encouraging the county to put in aerators which will enhance the efficacy of the floating islands and possibly even add additional floating islands to reduce the toxics load being discharged into Puget Sound.

The collection containers have arrived and now I'll start making the net for my OpenROV 2.7... This is gonna be AWESOME!

Because kids love UW robots and Lasers! OpenROV helped me share this project with kids from Summit Academy and it seems to have made an impression... Thank you OpenROV, OpenExplorer and Mr. Spencer!

A recent dive at The Alki Junkyard... thinks may be looking up!

Makes everything worth it 100 fold to get letters like this in the mail.... Thank you OpenROV for allowing me the opportunity to be a part of something this amazing!!!!!!

Short 'week in review' when I got out with Summit Academy students. We saw and measured a couple mottled stars in the 4" size.

More diving less talk :) Surveying the Alki Junkyard nearshore for Sea Stars... Verdict... No stars on the shallow pilings :( No sunflower stars in the eelgrass beds. (we used to see them here and there)

A really quick week in review!

Visited the Alki Junkyard in West Seattle spent a fair bit of time investigating a set of pilings from an old pier that used to be covered in Sea Stars. No sea stars on the pilings and no sunflower stars or mottled stars in the eelgrass bed or on the top of the shelf before the slope. There was a fair bit of current and i had almost all my cable out which had a bit of drag. Looking forward to getting back out during or closer to slack.

Seastar wasting disease has hit Constellation Park (Alki Point) in West Seattle very hard. In 2011 beach naturalists counted >600 pisaster in a set transect within the park boundaries down to a -2 tide. This fall their counts were showing all time low at 28 pisaster counted within the park boundaries. It is no wonder that I found zero Pisaster on the intertidal rocks on my first exploration of this site with my OpenROV.

Went out to shoot more outfall video today at Cove 1, but had to abort due to waves crashing on the beach. I've learned that for my sanity and the health of my OpenROV that waves = headache and broken bits if you are not careful. Additionally it was a high tide and the wind was blowing debris into the beach. As we learned a couple weeks ago, it is very important to survey your intended site before setting up. Due to the wind direction, I packed it in and headed to Alki Point for hopes of a wee bit of protection from the wind. As it turns out, Constellation Park on Alki Point was in the beautiful leeward side of the point, and I was able to readily deploy and investigate. There is a very large outfall pipe at this site but it is approx 1/4 mile off shore (a long shallow slog in dive gear on the low tide or a long long swim/short scooter ride on the hight tide) so I did not have the tether length to reach the end of it. This would be a perfect test site for a Kayak deployment as soon as the iPad interface is completed.

I'm watching the weather like a hawk and hoping to get out to Hicklin lake for an investigatory dive tomorrow! (waiting because i didn't need the added challenge of breaking the ice to get into the pond) It has been a cold and mostly dry couple weeks so I'm expecting the lake visibility to be reasonably clear. Stay tuned!!

After a long week or two of freezing weather and a big bad norwester storm passing through I finally got out to survey a new site! Because we have topside data on Constellation park, I decided to survey the large rocks and boulders in the near shore. I knew I wouldn't find much, but I was more interested in "could I find the boulders and investigate them" to which the answer was a resounding YES! With the repairs completed I was able to hold a steady course today which helped when running a grid pattern. I was able to find large rocks and descend on them and visualize a lack of sea stars, where there once would have been numerous individuals. I deployed at the base of the ramp that leads to the beach. I did not make it over to the rocky reef to the left (which leads to the opening of a large pipeline) but still was able to visit a nice rocky area approx 200' off shore and to a max depth of about 15'.

Camera problem solved! It turns out the same wee bug that was solved by zero depth/calibration is now fixed by going to the extra cool "OpenROV Dashboard" and stopping the "OpenROV cockpit" and then Restarting it, then reloading cockpit. and Voila! Camera restarted! Next little issue I started tinkering with that turned into a bit more work, but at end of day solved a few things, was the power inequality issue in my thrusters. As I tracked down the problem, it turns out one of my ESC's had some pinched wires which were shorting out and making it go a bit haywire. That may have also accounted for some of the other random issues that popped up but then went away. I proceeded to replace the ESC and so far everything seems to be on a more even keel. When they say to be careful with mounting your lasers please take heed. If they stick out and are not flush, they WILL scratch the inside of your tube, and they WILL bind up a bit putting undue stress on the servo and sooner or later it may stop working. Since i was ordering up little widgets, i replaced the servo was well as it had bound up one time too many. My recommendation: The bottom line with building your OpenROV is don't try to get all clever until after you've already built it to specifications, following the directions (written) to a t. THEN feel free to upgrade and make things better or whatnot, but many of my issues were from trying to make improvements without actually making sure they needed to be done. Bathtub RE-trials re done with new ESC, 8 cells instead of 10, and the Joystick. Control is very deft with the gamepad controller. Looking forward to getting it out to the water tomorrow!!

On my last outing with the OpenROV, I noted that steering seemed a bit wonky. I attributed it to my poor piloting skills but as luck would have it, it seems it was not my fault (this time). After attempting to re-callibrate and re-program the starboard ESC I noted it acting glitchy. Even my minimal knowledge of electronic-y type stuff knows that glitchy acting stuff can mean a wire that has a bad connection, or too much connection to something it shouldn't. Luckily I have an iFixit set which has exactly the right size driver for the ESC, and i had it open in no time flat. What to my wondering eyes should appear but two of the wires had bare spots. I pulled out the liquid electrical tape and sealed them up and voila! all better! Of course now my servo is giving me a bit of grief but I'll leave that for another day :) To help my steering and also in the case of letting kids drive I picked up a Logitech F310 gamepad. So far its been plug and play, i spent a bit of time after the fixing of the wiring to sort out this new fangled accessory. Talk about gamification!

For comparison we went out later in the day on scuba with our cameras, here is same sea star. Its not a fair comparison really, as I shoot with a Sony EX1 in a Gates housing with a Fathom dome port, and my OpenROV was a bit fogged up. In general though, the ROV did a good job. I found one other large Pisaster on scuba that i did not manage to see with the ROV, but that is due to some steering problems I encountered due to a wire short in my starboard ESC. (problem now fixed)

Screen grab of video shot with OpenROV at one of our transect sites.

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/11/12/1416625111.full.pdf+html seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2025043554seastarvirusxml.html#.VGpgCdzos8.facebook http://bit.ly/11esURw

I hope to get out as soon as the weather warms up a bit (no huge desire to break ice) and do and investigation dive at Hicklin lake with my current OpenROV. I will make a video of the fun and if it turns out well, hopefully get the TAF kids interested in the project (and anyone else who happens to be walking by at the time) Additionally my friend Neal C has developed a neat stand for growing and studying algae. Perhaps we could utilize this type of device to house collected lake water and study the algae blooms and techniques to reduce the nitrogen and/or inhibit the blooms in the mean time.

#sickstarfish is still working it's magic. Last night after our Whale Trail monthly Guest Speaker Series, one of the long time volunteers who has been doing sea star counts out at Constellation park in West Seattle for many years gave me an update. The news wasn't so good, there are fewer and fewer pisaster and they are still showing signs of wasting disease even though the weather and water has cooled off dramatically. There are some sunflower star and mottled star recruits but they still don't seem to be maturing past about 4-5 inches in diameter. On the bright side, when I sent the data in to Dr. Harvell not only was she very grateful for the observations, but she said that the paper we've all been waiting on with baited breath should be published next week!!! Finally, some answers are coming... I don't expect we'll have solutions, but answers will help... I'm hoping to get out to the same site and investigate with my OpenROV in the next few days to investigate the sub-tidal. Then will compare with scuba at same site to judge efficacy of sea star surveys with OpenROV.

bit of a setback yesterday, heading out to shoot more video of a known outfall, but somehow I must have buggered up the latest firmware update. I can get everything working except the camera, unless i put the SD card in the slot on the beagle bone and then everything seems to work, but it takes a long time to start up. Hoping there is an easy fix :) Changed my floats around a bit, now have one 1/2 cork hot glued on every 6-8' and that seems to work really well. I realize that i need to do that to the whole tether because there is still the risk of catching the portion of tether without floats on rocks/pilings etc. I will be adding more cork's today and then hopefully testing it out just for buoyancy.

Visibility has been pretty good lately, i think we've made it to our 'winter vis' month. This means that the plankton pickings are a bit sparse but that's why we have our little robot buddy! Testing is going well, i'm getting the tether pretty sorted out. I'm starting to sketch out ideas for the plankton net, i'm thinking of something pretty light weight that i can string out underneath the robot. I'd like to catch enough of the bioluminescent plankton that I can fill up a mason jar and show people our amazing green fire bioluminescence.

More Sea Trials and looking for Baby Sea Stars... Sadly none to be found in the nearshore at Cove 1

Searching for baby sea stars in the nearshore at Cove 1. No luck. None on the pilings either.

Searching for baby sea stars in the nearshore at Cove 1. No luck. None on the pilings either.

Was able to do a bit of investigating on a rocky reef that covers a stormwater outfall which used to have numerous sea stars on it. Still learning to drive the ROV and sorting out buoyancy of the tether, but was able to visualize a few sea small sea stars.

Sea Trial #2 became our first successful operation. After a bit of tinkering with buoyancy and trim I was able to follow the rock reef out to a known storm drain outfall and video it. I learned that I need more corkies on the tether to keep it off the rocks. I also learned that the tether is quite strong as was able to tug tug and drive the OpenROV the opposite direction and free it up.

Have you been thinking about getting a microscope so you could fuel your curiosity and get a closer look at the world around you? Look no further! If you have a smart phone, a local hardware store, and a little tiny bit of skills with tools, then make one of these!! http://bit.ly/1E9pEng

Education in an environmental setting encourages students to think critically and creatively and effectively guides them in learning about the relationship between human actions and their impact on the natural world. Our school programs are based on curricula aligned with Washington State Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs) and Environmental and Sustainability Education Standards. ESC strives for a ratio of one instructor for every 13 students in the field in order to provide high quality instruction and personal attention for every student as well as to meet teachers’ requests for specific curriculum emphasis. Typically, a one hour classroom session is followed by a 1.5- or 3-hour inquiry-based field program at a location such as Seahurst Park or the Normandy Park Cove.

Seahurst Park Shoreline Restoration The Puget Sound shoreline is vital to life for many plants and creatures. Salmon and other species depend on marine nearshore habitat for food and shelter. The success of salmon is a good indication of our ecosystem’s health, which effects everyone in our community and generations to come. Seahurst Park on Puget Sound in Burien has had a seawall since the 1970s. Beach elevations have dropped three to four feet due to wave action and a disconnect between the beach and sediment sources. These changes have been detrimental to habitat quality for salmon and the organisms they depend on the marine nearshore habitat. In addition, the stone bulkhead was failing, spilling stones onto the beach. The SRFB grant funded a feasibility study of bulkhead removal and bulkhead alternatives the early 2000s. The feasibility study confirmed the value of bulkhead removal and beach restoration.

Help is on the way for Hicklin Lake – the small lake with big water quality problems in King County’s Lakewood Park. In addition to the ongoing work of finding and eliminating illegal and inadvertent sewer connections that discharge pollutants into the stormwater system that flows into the lake, this year King County will experiment with technology that uses floating “islands” of vegetation to capture excess nutrients in the water that lead to Hicklin Lake’s water quality problems. Thanks in part to a $50,000 grant from the Washington Department of Ecology Algae Control Program, King County will install four floating islands in Hicklin Lake this summer and measure their effectiveness. Each floating island is 250 square feet in size and built of a durable polycarbonate, anchored in place. The islands are perforated with dozens of holes that are planted with a variety of native wetland species. The plants’ roots will reach into lake as they grow, where they will take up excess nutrients. A bio-film of microscopic organisms that forms along the bottom of the floating islands and the plant roots will also take up nutrients from the water. King County staff will take monthly water quality samples from locations throughout the lake to test the islands’ effectiveness at absorbing pollutants for three summers. The project is expected to start this spring and will be completed by June 2015 at a total cost of more than $86,000. Hicklin Lake water quality has been a concern for years, with elevated levels of fecal coliform bacteria and phosphorus, as well as a history of harmful algae blooms that have posed potential health threats to people, pets and wildlife. The lake has been treated twice with alum to reduce phosphorus levels – first in 2005 and again in 2011. It is hoped that the floating islands will prove to be effective and will help to reduce the need for alum application or types of in-lake nutrient controls.

Up and down the Pacific Coast, starfish are dying by the tens of thousands and no one knows why. Special correspondent Katie Campbell reports from Seattle on how researchers and citizen scientists are investigating the spread of the mysterious and distressing syndrome. http://bit.ly/1oIKZ1G Citizen Scientists in Seattle are exploring the benefits of doing video transect surveys with the help of OpenROV. By doing this, we believe that citizen scientists can be even more useful in helping the scientists studying the syndrome. Currently the data reported is either via scuba divers or beach walkers. We envision an army of ROV's in the hands of curious citizen scientists no longer limited by the barriers of entry to scuba diving, no longer limited by the dividing line between land and sea. Now the citizen scientist can follow their interest beyond the intertidal range and collect relevant data beneath the surface.

Puget Sound is alive. Every drop. The pollution that runs into Puget Sound is flowing into the base of the food chain. If you like sea critters, forage fish, salmon, orcas, sea birds, etc... then you like plankton! Plankton captures the energy from the sun and makes it bio-available to every thing up the food web.

Come join me on the beach and see these storm drains for yourself! This is a large storm drain off Alki Beach.

What's happening in your waterway???? kingcounty.gov/environment/wastewater/CSOstatus/Overview.aspx Sewage Overflow Prevention Protecting Seattle’s Waterways Every year, rain washes millions of gallons of untreated sewage and stormwater into the city’s waterways, threatening human and aquatic health and our quality of life. Each year, on average, more than 300 sewage overflows send millions of gallons of raw sewage and stormwater into Seattle’s creeks, lakes, the Ship Canal, the Duwamish River, and Elliott Bay. These combined sewage overflows (CSOs) create significant health and environmental risks. Because of the chance of Raw Sewage, I don't dive around them during rain storms. This means I don't have any good video or photo's of CSO discharges. Hopefully, with the help of my OpenROV "Curiosity", I can sent her out in my place and investigate the CSO's during rain storms and perhaps capture a discharge in action. here is an image of me investigating a CSO at Lowman Beach on a dry day, photo by Adrian Collier.

www.tox-ick.org Puget Sound is sick. Polluted runoff* from hard surfaces like paved streets, sidewalks and rooftops is the number one source of toxins entering Puget Sound each year. This toxic mix threatens human health, the economic vitality of the region, and the survivability of the Sound’s most emblematic wildlife including salmon and killer whales. *Polluted runoff includes: toxic runoff, urban runoff, stormwater pollution, and pollution consequent of combined sewer overflows. The Solution: The good news is that we can all adopt behaviors that will reverse the damage to Puget Sound and restore it to health. Our citizens are the stewards of the same streets, sidewalks and rooftops that convey 14 million pounds of pollutants into Puget Sound each year. Pollutants include motor oil, pesticides, fertilizers, grease, paint, heavy metals, and bacteria. Strategies to stop feeding the Tox-Ick Monster The most important things we can do to stop polluted runoff are to: Pick up Pet Waste Properly Dispose of Waste Use Car Wash Facilities Instead of Washing Cars on Driveways Walk, Bike and Ride Public Transit Plant and Protect Native Evergreens Practice Natural Yard Care Keep Water in Your Yard with Rain Barrels, Rain Gardens, and Porous Surfaces

Ordered up a TP-Link TL-MR3040 portable AP wireless router so for less convenient sites can just use my iPad for investigation. Some storm drain outfalls will likely be best accessed by Kayak or small boat, and the idea of my laptop on the boat makes me nervous I already have a waterproof bag for my iPad so its a no-brainer. read more about setup: http://bit.ly/1uoDO4F

The Clean Water Act turned 42 this year. When it first took effect, stormwater pollution was not the top priority. What’s known as “point source pollution” — dumping of toxic pollutants from a particular, often industrial site — was the first focus. But in the decades since, stormwater pollution, also known as “non-point source pollution,” has taken the lead when it comes to carrying the most contaminants to U.S. waterways. About 40 percent of U.S. rivers, lakes, and estuaries are not clean enough for fishing or swimming because of pollution from runoff. And it’s not so surprising, considering the burst in urban development in recent decades. In Washington state alone, the number of people living in the counties that border Puget Sound has more than doubled since 1960. Throughout the United States so much land has been paved that the total amount of impervious surfaces would cover an area about the size of Ohio. Every time water washes over hard surfaces, it picks up pollutants. Even an area the size of the average homeowner’s roof contributes about 35,000 gallons of runoff each year in the Northwest. And that runoff ends up in the nearest waterway — not the nearest water treatment facility. “Approximately 50 percent of the region believes that stormwater is treated, is captured and conveyed to a treatment plant of some type. When in fact, this doesn’t take place. Nearly all of this water goes off totally untreated,” says Giles Pettifor, who is part of the municipal stormwater permit team for King County’s Department of Natural Resources and Parks. Utilizing my OpenROV "Curiosity" Hull #1265 I hope to continue to build awareness for the storm drain outfalls and CSO's that discharge into Puget Sound.

Ordered up a TP-Link TL-MR3040 portable AP wireless router so for less convenient sites can just use my iPad for investigation. read more about setup: http://bit.ly/1uoDO4F I won't be using a pelican for now but do have some laying around so may go that direction

Difference between fresh and salt?

syntactic foam floats for buoyancy...

Glued some bits of syntactic foam to my @OpenROV to help counteract the slightly larger, denser batteries... (went with NiMH's vs LiPO) two of the StiX's arm floats work perfectly and the inner inserts (for my ultralight arms that hold them in place seem to make the difference between salt and fresh (or I can stuff a couple corks in the holes) :)

Took hull #1265 out for a quick dip in Puget Sound (aka Saltwater) to see how she floats/sinks. Juuuust neutral to slightly negative in the top 2' of water (which is pretty fresh right now, so i suspect at depth she'll be perfect.

Best line management system yet. Sometimes clever = simple. Doubles as a rinse bucket, keeps car dry, etc...

She's ALIVE!! Hull #1265 is alive!!!!

Our voices have been heard in Washington D.C.!!! For Immediate Release September 18, 2014 Puget Sound Recovery Caucus proposes bill to find solutions to sea star wasting syndrome and other marine disease emergencies Congressman Denny Heck unveils Marine Disease Emergency Act to establish official emergency process through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration WASHINGTON, D.C. – To address the sea star wasting syndrome and other major marine disease emergencies, this week Representative Denny Heck (WA-10) and the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus introduced the Marine Disease Emergency Act. The proposed legislation would establish a framework for declaring and responding to a marine disease emergency, and to provide the science community with the resources to proactively protect marine ecosystems from being irreparably damaged by cascading epidemics. The Marine Disease Emergency Act establishes a declaration process for the Secretary of Commerce, acting through the Administrator of NOAA, to declare a marine disease emergency. The proposed bill outlines the factors needed for a 120-day rapid response plan, including the necessary engagement of individuals and entities at federal, regional, state and local levels to assist in a coordinated and effective response aimed at minimizing the impacts and preventing further transmission. The legislation also requires a post-emergency report detailing current disease status and providing recommendations for improving responses to future marine disease emergencies. The Marine Disease Emergency Act establishes a national data repository to facilitate research and link different datasets from across the country, as well as a “Marine Disease Emergency Fund” under Treasury in order to accept donations from the public and the industry. “Sea stars do not function underwater in a vacuum,” said Representative Denny Heck, who represents the South Puget Sound area. “They are in fact a keystone species vital to the ecosystem. When these species face an epidemic, we must engage the scientific community in an organized, rapid-response approach to determine what can be done to halt the damage to our oceans. This could be a sign of a deeper problem.” Professor Drew Harvell of Cornell University, who studies the ecology and evolution of coral resistance to disease, expressed support for the new policy, saying "Disease outbreaks of marine organisms are predicted to increase with warming oceans and so it’s very welcome to see legislation like the Marine Disease Emergency Act introduced." "When you pierce the surface of our picturesque water vistas, what's underneath is not OK. We have sea stars that are wasting away, pulling themselves apart and limbs disappearing from their bodies. That is not OK. And it's only getting worse," said Sheida Sahandy, executive director of the Puget Sound Partnership. "We need the ability to respond to these kinds of emergencies as quickly as we would an earthquake or a hurricane. This action creates the support for the kind of nimble response that is required in order to react to fast-acting threats to our ecosystem." Representatives Heck and Kilmer co-founded the Congressional Puget Sound Caucus last year to reflect their commitment to preserving the Puget Sound. The caucus is the only Congressional working group devoted exclusively to promoting Puget Sound cleanup efforts, and builds on the legacy left by former Congressman Norm Dicks, a longtime advocate for the health of the Puget Sound. The caucus continues to be focused on promoting the three region-wide Puget Sound recovery priorities: preventing pollution from urban stormwater runoff, protecting and restoring habitat, and restoring and re-opening shellfish beds. ### CONTACT: Kati Rutherford, 202-226-4013

Check out this great video by award winning filmmaker Michael Werner on DiverLaura's citizen science work on behalf of the Sea Stars... http://bit.ly/1uVA5aD

A video from our day! Video and editing by Laura James

I'm giddy with excitement, i just got the tracking number for my rechargeable batteries (ordered from battery space) and it looks like they may be arriving TOMORROW!!!!!!!!!! I <3 Fed Ex!

Tomorrow I will be meeting up with Erika Bergman and Christine Spiten to see how an ROV survey compares to a diver survey. Additionally i'm very excited to shoot some video of the OpenROV's underwater whilst they run transects. We will be meeting at the site i've been documenting for the past year (Seacrest Cove 1) which as of the last couple weeks has been showing an uptick in wasting disease in the mottled sea star recruits.

An article I co-authored with the AMAZING Dr. Drew Harvell last year about sick sea stars and starless nights. blog.nature.org/science/2014/02/04/sea-star-wasting-disease

My ROV is SO CLOSE to being done. Just doing pressure testing to the e-chassis and battery tubes over the weekend. Ordered some sweet NiMH cells (and made battery tubes to fit them) so just waiting for them to arrive and then we can commence with Sea Star Wasting Syndrome Surveys. Went out on Scuba a couple days ago and noticed that although there were lots of baby mottled stars, that they are dying before they reach full size. :(

Moar images uploaded! diverlaura.smugmug.com/OpenROV-26-build testing electronics and programming motors today! Wish me luck!

Spaghetti anyone? Wirepoluza started tonight. Got four wires of the IMU moved over into the 4 inch tube, but used THE WRONG CONNECTOR... Male vs. Female. oops. Not an issue, just fifteen minute redo.

The sea star wasting syndrome has now been observed all the way out to Neah Bay. Waiting to hear back of Tatoosh is impacted. Tatoosh island is where Dr. Paine's original keystone species work was carried out. Read more about that here: washington.edu/alumni/columns/dec05/island01.html

Yesterday I persevered soldering the ESC's to the board. My mentor and electronics teacher decided that the wire used in them was not ideal and the solder actually needs to be on the top of the board as opposed to underside, as the connection to the circuit is what needs to be soldered. These little motors are high draw so having best connection possible is ideal. So I get to do more soldering today :). I'm not complaining mind you, I'm delighted for opportunity to learn and improve... Here is the latest update... I'm heading back over in a bit to resolder.. The craptastic wiring on all three ESC's has been replaced with Mil-Spec. silver/copper Teflon coated wire and low temperature (normal 60/40) solder. They used a low lead solder witch raises the melt temps. to very high levels, which is very bad for electronics. Good for home water pipes....... In addition to that the little PCB's are thick copper for high heat transmission, so they were a handful to rework. The three units are ready to be soldered back on to the main board.

More images uploaded! diverlaura.smugmug.com/OpenROV-26-build

Soldering today, and a bit of electronic testing...

We started first round of testing electronics today... servo motor, check! lights, check! motor controller, Check! Also looking at some ways to improve the design and potential longevity of the system. 1) brass adaptors for prop <-> shaft interface 2) removed the steel ball bearings and replaced with brass bushings (puget sound is saltwater) 3) treating the motors with light coat of varnish to help environmentally seal them a bit more 4) making some centering plugs instead of using the syringe bits 5) plugging one end of the e-chassis by swiveling some of the parts around, no need for potting the second hole 6) making an actual pressure relief plug that is o-ring sealed (tomorrow's project) photo album of work so far here: diverlaura.smugmug.com/OpenROV-26-build Note in the image, counter-rotating props FTW!

Since the kitchen counter is not the best place to build an OpenROV, getting kit together to take to my friend Neal Chism's workshop for the build...

Ding Dong goes the doorbell! Ohmigosh its here! A box has arrived!!! headed over to the hardware store to pick up the necessary adhesives and such...