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 thousand years ago, the ancient Maya of the Yucatan Peninsula in modern-day Mexico built towering pyramids and beautiful palaces. They charted stars and planets in the heavens and kept elaborate calendars and histories related to these celestial beings. The earth itself was also a sacred place filled with divine presence. Perhaps most sacred were the cenotes, natural wells of life-giving fresh water. These openings into the earth's surface were places where underworld deities and rain gods dwelled. Today, many cenotes function as tourist attractions. People from all over the world can venture into the Maya underworld among stalactites and stalagmites and swim in the deep blue waters of cenotes. Unfortunately, however, many cenotes have become increasingly polluted with trash and other waste. Our expedition seeks to preserve cenotes as an important part of Maya culture. We are a partnership of both Mexican and U.S. faculty, university students, teachers, and affiliated professionals. Together, we are developing curriculum for students in Mexico ages 11-14 surrounding the science and history of cenotes. Ultimately, it is our goal that young people in Yucatan will be the voice and stewards for these precious sources of freshwater and Maya heritage.
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A team heads to natural whale cemetery composed of over 300 sei whale skeletons in a remote area of the Taitao peninsula in Chile. Once enough bones are secured, Explorer Isaí Madriz will set off on his own to the Northern Patagonian Ice Field in search of new insect species.
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Vietnam has been part of one of the worlds largest ancient maritime trade routes. Now two recently discovered sites, a group of 9th to 19th-century shipwrecks and Neolithic island burials, will help tell us more about this unknown history.
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During this expedition I study the changes in human physiology and psychology in response to living in an underwater habitat, at 60 feet deep, and explore the ocean, as part of the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO).
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Scientists believe that St Helena could be the only place in the world where mature whale sharks aggregate to breed. We hope to capture this on film and incorporate this data into future management decisions within the island's vast MPA.
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Unknown 9, 794300, Huyện Côn Đảo, Sóc Trăng, Vietnam, Oct 20 to Dec 20 2018
The Untold Tale of Dugong & Seagrass in Con Dao Archipelago
Little is known about the charismatic dugong (Dugong dugon) in Con Dao Archipelago of Vietnam. Few available literatures confirmed the presence of dugongs in this national level protected area. But it is unclear if the observed dugongs were passing through the area, or if Con Dao Archipelago is an important habitat for the species’ life cycle. Such uncertainties expose potentially important habitat of dugong to anthropological activities and disturbances. This uncertainty motivated me and my colleagues to explore spatial and temporal distribution of dugong in this beautiful archipelago. We use multidisciplinary approach, which includes systematic land-based surveys, seagrass bed and dugong feeding trail monitoring and interviews with local communities to gather multi-dimensional information related to dugongs in the study area. Our project will provide holistic data on dugong distributional patterns in Con Dao, which helps shape recommendations for conservation management.

Recent Observations

For over a decade Vietnam Maritime Archaeology Project, VMAP, has been involved with training Vietnamese archaeologists to become maritime archaeologists and help establish their Department of Maritime Archaeology. VMAP has initiated a variety of projects including the search for a 13th-century Mongol invasion fleet sunk by the Vietnamese to trying to find shipwrecks involved in the Maritime Silk Route trade. In 2019 two teams of self-funding volunteers will investigate sites recently found by VMAP. The first is a Neolithic site on an outer island of Ha Long Bay that may show that the people occupying this site were part of early island migration. The second is a bay in central Vietnam that has five shipwrecks from the 9th to the 19th that were carrying cargos of exquisite Chinese Ceramics.
Italy - The Human Journey “I love forests. Forests are not just the trees, it’s life, it’s peoples way of life, it’s the complexity of all life together.” – Sergio Baffoni, EPN – International Sergio coordinates the Indonesia Rainforest Campaign with a goal to support and amplify the work of local communities and protect the bio-diverse and carbon-rich Indonesian rainforests from destructive exploitation by the pulp and paper industry. The campaign is convened by the Environmental Paper Network and is working with around 50 national and international organisations. *My new Climate Listening Project photo series "Voices of Hope for Forests" features humans of the world – all working together to protect forests and communities as part of the Environmental Paper Network. Why are they building an international movement to match the scale of the problem? What are the sources of inspiration that sustain them? Is there hope? The recent IPCC climate report shares a grim forecast for the future of humanity, but these individuals are undeterred, and are bringing forward collaboration and solutions that deliver the forest protection and restoration needed to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Just getting back from my first trip of 2019 to Tropic Star Lodge, Piñas Bay, Panama and it did not disappoint! The goal of this trip was to complete our satellite tagging work of the 2018-2019 billfish season by tagging two more black marlin, and I can happily say it was a success. The black marlin were there in force, with 35 being released by the Tropic Star fishing fleet in 6 days (changes daily, but roughly 10 boats fishing/day). Given those numbers, I was able to deploy the two satellite tags in my first two days there, so we now have a total of 30 billfish (10 blue marlin, 10 black marlin and 10 sailfish) swimming around the Eastern Tropical Pacific carrying a tag on their back. These tags (pictured in previous posts) record depth, temperature and light levels (sunrise, sunset & time of midday so we can reconstruct where the fish went once the tag comes off) for the entire time the tag is on the fish, which will hopefully be a full year from now. With this information, we hope to determine if these fish are year-round residents, performing an annual migration, or if the waters off Panama are just a pit-stop on a much larger trek. In addition, we can learn about their habitat preferences or environmental drivers of movements with the depth and temperature information, as well as how much of their time they spend in areas with high amounts of commercial fishing activity.In addition to my tagging work, I was also taking muscle biopsy samples and fin clips from as many marlin and sailfish as I could (you can see the muscle biopsy pole in some of the photos). The muscle samples will be used for what is called stable isotope analysis (or SIA), which can give us an idea of where these predators are feeding in the food chain compared to one another, and if they are getting most of their energy from food that lives close to shore or very far offshore. We hope to determine if these three top-level predators are all foraging on the same things, or if they are ‘partitioning’ the food they are going after, which would be predicted to reduce the amount of competition. Fin clips will also be used for SIA, in addition to population-level genetic analysis. If you look closely at the short video clip, you can see a pod of spotted dolphins, or buffeo (boo-fay-oh; as they call them in Panama), jumping in the background while we are fighting the blue marlin, right next to shore! The amount of life in this region is amazing. Cheers, Ryan

Pristine Seas

Exploring and protecting the last wild places in the ocean