3 observations in 2 expeditions
Expeditions Contributed to
This Saturday in Jupiter, Florida, we had the privilege to meet with two amazing individuals. Dr. Stefan Harzen and world-renowned whale and dolphin researcher and conservationist Barbara J. Brunnick. She started her career in the late 1970s and was among the very first people to study wild killer whales, while Dr. Harzen continued his research for more than 25 years in Portugal and the United States. In addition to being an accomplished scientist, Dr. Harzen is a writer, photographer, musician and explorer. In 2011, they published An Ocean of Inspiration: The John Olguin Story, a true account of John Olquin's inspiring story as an influential American who rose from poverty to play a critical role in advancing marine science and creating the world's first whale watching program. They are also the founders of the Taras Foundation, a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. Since 1998, this organization is dedicated to advancing marine science and the long-term survival of both people and the oceans. The Taras Foundation’s mission aims ‘’to play a leadership role in preserving the marine environment and implement the principles of sustainability in Florida and the Caribbean through a unique international and multidisciplinary program of collaboration between the science and business communities’’. This is accomplished through a combination of research and outreach programs. The Taras Foundation also operates the Palm Beach Dolphin Project (PBDP) and is a leader in creating highly precise digital maps of coral reefs and other critical habitats… which is the reason why we had this meeting. As we are trying to customize the OpenROV platform to monitor coral reef in South Florida, we are connecting with experts in coral reef preservation who can provide guidance regarding data collection, measurements and devices we would have to take in consideration in order to make our custom-built efficient and reliable. We had the opportunity to introduce OpenROV and our project Dr. Stefan Harzen and Dr. Barbara J. Brunnick. They were very interested and we've learned a lot. We are now working on a very exciting partnership with their foundation. To learn more about the Taras Foundation, please visit taras.org Here is also an overview of one of their groundbreaking works: esri.com/news/arcuser/0609/coralmap.html
Two weeks ago we had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Scott Viguie and briefly introduce our work in non-invasive archeaology. Dr. Scott Viguie holds two doctorate degrees and is an archaeologist, author, and the creator of Dr. Geek’s Lab, a STEM outreach program which explores the concepts found in science fiction and relates them to cutting edge scientific breakthroughs. In addition to scripting and acting in the show he also gives lectures on science found in fiction throughout the year. Scott created Dr. Geek’s Lab Science Fair which blends elements of a traditional science fair with a science fiction convention. Scott has written the non-fiction book Archaeology in Fiction exploring the tropes of archaeology in the media and how they compare to real archaeology. From Jules Verne to the Abyss, underwater exploration have been part of science fiction. OpenROV is a perfect illustration of popular culture meeting innovation. To learn more about Doctor Geek and Dr. Scott Viguie, visit www.drgeeklab.com/
Sad news! According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the number of threatened Coral Species jumped from 2 to 22. The good news is that these 22 species are now protected un the Endangered Species Act (nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/laws/esa). A small victory considering that 83 species of coral have been proposed for listing. This is essentially the result of ocean acidification, rising temperature and pollution. Since the industrial revolution, the oceans have absorbed betwen 1/4 to 1/3 of all carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. A frequent symptom of damage is 'coral bleaching'. An entire reef may turn white as the corals expel the symbiotic algae that live inside them. As they bleach, their immune system gets weaker and they become prone to disease. The Florida Keys are no exception. Data shows this summer was the warmest on record and this year's bleaching event may be the worst ever in the region. Five of the recently protected species are located in the Caribbean, around Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico which makes our project even more relevant. ROVs are non-invasive and could be considered for coral reef monitoring. Scientists are currently taking surveys to determine the extent of the bleaching and will be documenting incidence of disease and mortaility when the heat-stress subsides. This will take several months. The use of ROVs could make this task less time-consuming and would not required as many divers. Specific sensors and measurement devices can be added to OpenROV, new data collection processes can be invented, it can be deployed quickly and perhaps it can follow a pre-determined path autonomously... With the help of technology and creativity, each and everyone of us can contribute to save our Oceans. The time is now!