Whale Graveyard
Whale Graveyard
On a remote peninsula in Chile, over three hundred sei whales beached themselves. An expedition is setting off to recover some of the bones

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On Monday, February 6, 2017, around 1:30 a.m. CST, a sonic boom shook residents of the Midwest as a bright green fireball streaked through the night sky. The sound was that of a meteor, nearly the size of a minivan, entering our atmosphere. After its fall to Earth, radar spotted the end of its journey over Lake Michigan, approximately 10 miles off the coast of Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Teen explorers from Chicago, led by scientists from the Adler Planetarium's Far Horizons program, The Shedd Aquarium, and The Field Museum, team up to take on this Underwater ROV Meteorite Hunt. Interested explorers wanted!
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A global expedition to find, study, and protect the world's largest and rarest fish before they disappear forever.
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We're on a mission to unveil the secret world of feather stars, from shallow to mesophotic depths, micro-world to voracious predators that feast on them. Enjoy the adventure!
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Returning to Morogoro, Tanzania, I'll be focusing on identifying burrows, censusing residents and monitoring their entry and exits and hopefully figure out if Southern giant Pouched rats move between underground nests.
1post
Through a week-long field-based program, we seek to provide an incredible educational experience for volunteers who will learn how to correctly photograph whale sharks visiting Mexico and share their findings with the scientific community.
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I am a 2019 Grosvenor Teacher Fellow traveling to Svalbard on the National Geographic Explorer. During this expedition, I will be observing ways that humans have impacted this wild environment, from ocean plastics to global warming.
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Annobón, Equatorial Guinea, Mar 5 2007 to Mar 11 2019
Equatorial Guinea: The Waters at the Middle of Earth
WCS have been working in a one of the pristine places on earth, Equatorial Guinea, since 2007. The only spanish speaking country in Africa, it is a singular arrangement of islands and continent with 92% of seas.

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Playa de Balandra As the only non-Mexican on this project, and also the blog writer, I have the scary prospect of describing the uniqueness of the primary field site we will be working at - Playa de Balandra. I hope I can do it justice. Located on the southern side of the northern tip to the north of La Paz, it is close to Isla Espirito Santo, another well known natural wonder that harbors a huge array of marine life, both above and below the water. Balandra is a coastal bay that includes a spectacular and healthy mangrove forest and beautiful sandy beaches. It is located within one of the main hydrological basins of La Paz. Both of these amazing places are protected from fishing and sites recognized of outstanding natural beauty and wonder. Frequently recognized as one of the worlds most beautiful beaches, Balandra is visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists each year, it has parking facilities, toilets, and snacks for sale. It even has an emergency health service, something I was extremely grateful for when I ignorantly got stung by a stingray. Dear God that hurt. With tourists so wonderfully catered for how is it so pristine? Why kind of future could it possibly have? How can you conduct field science there? The answers to these questions come down to a simple but unbreakably strong will of the local people and a great example of the power of social collectivism. I have just got back from spending two weeks in La Paz and it clear from the outset that people are deeply in love with nature and in particular marine life. Everywhere you go there are incredible murals that mix ancient culture with modern stories of struggle but all feature animals, and nearly always a whale shark, octopus, turtle or other charismatic marina fauna. From seeing this first hand the remarkable story of how the local people have saved, and now 'own' Balandra is not all that surprising. For decades rumors of outside investment in the region brought warnings of mass development to the area - think mega hotels, golf courses and worse. In 2007 the Colectivo Balandra (see here: http://balandraesnuestra.org/)) was formed to give a voice to local people, a voice of at least 18,000 citizens, of all ages and social groups, to request the authorities to protect Balandra. This social movement generated many great achievements, not least the publication of a state law that allows municipal governments to protect key terrestrial habitats within their territory; the creation of the first municipal protected natural area in this area that protects the hydrological basins that surround the wetland from urban development; the inclusion of Balandra in the Ramsar List of wetlands of international importance; and the beginning of the process to create a complementary natural area of ​​federal protection in the waters surrounding the municipal protected area. What is really striking is not that the movement was formed, many people around the world would want to protect their natural beauty, but that they succeeded to such a high degree! This has resulted not only in an area of outstanding beauty being protected from urban development AND fishing, but it has created an immensely powerful feedback loop. Despite the very busy day, I was there, there was little or no rubbish of any kind lying around, even though plastic wrapping was being sold everywhere. It was much cleaner than many areas of 'beauty' I have visited around the world. It seemed to me that once you establish something and work hard to own it, it gives you a reason to take care of it. I was so impressed, but that is the wrong word, patronising even: I am in awe of what has been achieved here. At a time when my own country (the UK) is in political disarray, it is rejuvenating to see the people put aside differences to unite against overdevelopment. So that is why we are working there, to start with. Such ideal conditions, without fisheries interference, allows us to test behavioural ecology hypotheses on animals that are not unduly influenced by 'artificial' selection for those who can avoid being caught or disturbed by human fishing. Of the two shelling dwelling octopuses we know reside there, one seems to be a lot bolder (sassy even!). In 'equal' times perhaps they coexist by dividing the shell occupancy niche, who knows (yet!) but when we have a natural baseline we can then see how these species with different 'behavioural syndromes' (not individual personality, but species-wide temperament) manage within areas without the same level of protection. This knowledge may then be used all around the world where the 'sassy-ness', or otherwise, of a species might influence how animals may coexist with humans. Just another testable hypothesis brought about by this expedition. Must read: http://balandraesnuestra.org Dr Gavan Cooke
Here is an example of what we have been seeing in changes to the underwater world of the Great Lakes. The two images are of the same shipwreck and the same location on the shipwreck. The first image was taken before zebra and quagga mussels started to invade the Great Lakes. This first image was take by a good friend of ours about 18 years ago when the shipwreck was first discovered. You can see how everything was well preserved in the cold, dark, fresh water bottomland. The rigging block is as perfect as the day the ship sailed. The second image is one that we took last dive season (2018). As you can see, the water clarity has dramatically increased, however, the artifacts and shipwreck are now covered in many inches of mussels obscuring the detail of the artifacts. The rigging block seen in the first image is still there, it is just the round lump of mussels that we see today. As the mussels grow and die, the thickness of them continues to build year after year. We have seen evidence that the weight of these mussels starts to break down the shipwrecks over time. It will be very interesting to see how this continues to progress and how it continues to change our shipwrecks...
Top Side The whole culturing season hinges on our ability to collect forams from the surface ocean to bring back to the lab. Without these careful collections our fancy optically inverted microscopes would have nothing to observe and our culture station under ocean-like LED lighting would sit empty. The success of our field season is based on the catch. Sitting top side, we watch as the divers kit up nearly as much as astronauts and drop off the boat. Our diving crew is Oscar, Spider, Winnie, Henry, and Danial, all scientists and crew trained for this kind of collection. We’ve been lucky to have calm flat seas this past week, but we’ve prepared for a strong Kuroshio Current that could drag the divers away. We rope off and drop two buoy off the backside. Each stream down a line, one with a collection bag of empty jars and one with a trapeze with several tethers. Once in the water, the divers attach themselves to each tether so they can collect at a safe range of the boat. In a 6 knot current like that of last week, the divers dangle at the end of their tethers for a nice rest from fighting the current. Holding an open jar, they scan the water like predators for tiny bits of fluff sailing by. Once identified they gently raise the jar and cap it, locking their delicate prey inside. While tiny, the divers can identify which species of foram floats by and select optimal ones for culture. For about 50 mins the divers work hard. As their air starts to run low they surface, with a fresh bag of nearly 70 samples! It’s back to the lab to put these beautiful beasties in culture.

Pristine Seas

Exploring and protecting the last wild places in the ocean