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In Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique, there are stories of hope and revival after ecological devastation. After 20 years of poaching during and after the Mozambican Civil War, the Gorongosa Restoration Project is bringing wildlife back. Resource hotspots, like watering holes, fruiting trees, and even piles of dung play a critical role in the restoration of this ecosystem. However, since the wildlife remains shy in the wake of the war, the park’s recovery isn’t always obvious to a casual observer sitting at a watering hole. So, I'll tell this story by photographing resource ‘oases’ using a novel way of visualizing ecosystems and their biomass: by stacking individual frames of animals that visit each hotspot over the course of one day into a single image, I'll show the hidden diversity of wildlife that relies on these critical habitats. I plan to publish the resulting composites digitally and in print, and to create an online educational platform to teach adults and children about species interactions.
Leif’s Rock There has been a debate in New England as to who were the first visitors to our shores. Centered in this debate are over 20 inscriptions in stone that were found in the Narragansett Basin. These inscriptions were suspected to have been left by per-colonial visitors. They have inspired many theories concerning possible pre-colonial visitors. Such theories suggest Vikings, the Portuguese, the Chinese, the Phoenicians and even Irish monks were possibly the first people to set foot in the northeast. One of the inscriptions involved in the debate can be found on the west shore of Mount Hope Bay. It was claimed the early English settlers knew of it and its inscriptions in an unknown tongue. In 1835 a Bristol historian proposed that the inscription had been made by Norsemen in the eleventh century. He thought that the mysterious text found below etched image of a boat were Viking Runes. One translation of the text asserted that it said, "Haldor strays himself and is lost here". The rock soon was called Northmen’s Rock by the locals. In the 1700s and 1800s the public was infatuated with the idea of Viking visitors to New England. With the discovery of the Northmen's Rock, it was now believed that Leif Erikson landed at Mount Hope. The popular theroy claimed that Leif and his crew landed and built houses and wintered at the very beginning of the eleventh century. In 1874 Professor Rasmus Bjørn Anderson would attributing Norse ancestry to various Indian languages in New England, linking Mout Haup of the Indians, and Mount Hope of the English to Mon Top of the Norsemen. In 1919 the RI Citizen’s Historical Society felt the Northmen’s rock was an important historical landmark. They held a ceremony at the rock and christened it with corn, wine and oil. During the ceremony they renamed it “Leif’s Rock”. This upset Edmund Delabarre, a Brown University psychology professor who believed the evidence suggested the inscription was no older that the 1700s or 1800s. This would inspire Edmund to do a detailed study of the stone inscriptions in Southern New England, which he later published. Leif’s Rock had been on my list to find for over 10 years. I knew of its general location but had not enough details to pin point it. With the recent interest in hunting down inscriptions, and a bit of digging through the archives, I eventually uncovered not only where I could find it, but also many old images and illustrations of the inscription. We headed out to the shores of Bristol and it didn’t take long to find the Leif’s Rock. The rock was in the tidal zone and has been weathered extensively. In addition, more modern inscriptions have been made on its irregularly colored surface. All these factors made it almost impossible to see the inscription of a boat and Viking Runes. Having recently had a great deal of success in using photogrammetry to bring forward details that normal photography will miss, we decided to make a return to Leif’s Rock and see if we might be able to reveal the original inscription. On Feb 19, we hiked out to the rock, and took a series of high resolution photographs, and built a 3D model from them. At first, we could not see much more detail with the 3D models than we had seen in our original images. So we used a Matcap view of the model, which removes the images, revealing only the detailed shape of the object. As we rotated the model to encourage shadows in the shallower marking, we then saw the inscription of a boat and the markings that were thought to be Viking runes. After over 200 years of weathering and twentieth century graffiti, the inscription barely holds a grip on its corner of the stone. Fortunately, modern imagery technology was able to coax it out of the noise in which it remains hidden.
Him: How was your trip to the Badlands? Me: Good. Hot. Sage Creek campground is different; more organized. The campground now has proper sites marked by posts with numbers and picnic tables. I think there are something like 30 sites. The dirtbag vibe is still maintained by having an open area in one section but by bringing some organization to the facilities it’s more campground and less, as one friend called it, Woodstock. I was able to get out pretty early on Saturday morning. Even at that early hour I could tell it was going to be a hot day. I had a site in mind that I thought was a mile away per the requirements of Adventure Scientists. I found out later that it was a mile and a half. Hiking in the Badlands is slow business. Between the grass hiding the uneven footing and the up and down of hills and the ever constant vigilance for rattlesnakes I don’t make great time. In fact I don’t even make good time. It doesn’t help that I stop frequently to look at things like tumblebugs aka dung beetles or bumblebees. As I walked I kept an eye out for butterflies, doing pre-monitoring scouting. I was curios. What was there? What kinds of plants were they using? And most important, how easy were they to photograph? The most common butterfly I saw was an Orange Sulfur. They frequently fluttered by in their loop de loopy way, never alighting for very long. Since I was hiking mostly through grass with the occasional prickly pear cactus (another reason to look at your feet regularly) and not much in the way of flowering plants I can see why they never settled for long. My guess is that when they did they were just taking a tiny rest break. I tried to take a few practice photos and even with the coaching from Adventure Scientists about start taking photos as soon as you see a butterfly and continuing as you moved closer I could not get anything that resembled an identifiable photo. Was this going to work out? I passed through a draw or a tiny valley between two hills filled with thistle. Draws are micro-ecosystems with different plants communities than what you find elsewhere because the draws receive more water than the surrounding uplands. Bison had thoughtfully made a pathway through this draw so I was able to walk through the thistle without too many scratches. As an aside I always and by always I mean always hike in long pants, closed toes shoes and starting recently long sleeve shirts. Sun and bugs and scratchy plants make this a necessity. Anyway, I was happy to see numerous butterflies on the thistle. Some had gone to seed but there were still many plants with flowers. The butterflies alighted and nectared long enough for me to observe and take photos. All I had to do was find a similar patch near the spot I had in mind. However. Micro-ecosystems are weird. They can vary from location to location. A little more sun here or a little less water there, some strange alchemy of soil and wind will cause small differences that you will not notice until you are depending on the thistle to still have flowers in a particular location and they don’t. Such was the case for the thistle patch near my site. There may have been flowers still deep within the patch since I saw a few butterflies but mostly all I saw were flowers gone to see. I was not motivated enough to push my way in to inspect more closely. There was poison ivy around wound through the edges of the patch. Even if I could pick my way past that thistles are well armored and I do not have the hide of a bison to break a path. These patches provide a lot of cover and food for little critters which in turn provides food for snakes. I did see a snake, a gray one not a rattler, not in that draw but a different one. We each startled by the other. I should know by now that anything you do in the outdoors requires you to be flexible with at least one contingency plan, preferably two. Three is actually not a bad idea. But I hadn’t anticipated that my preselected site wouldn’t be useful so I didn’t have a Plan B let alone Plan C and D. I spent the next hour wandering around in the increasing heat, fixed on finding the perfect site. This fixation is actually a bad place to find yourself in when in the outdoors. You become inattentive to details, you may take risks that you shouldn’t. It’s easy to make a poor decision. The one good decision I did make was that I decided to head back towards the campground by a different route rather than press forward to new territory. I considered and rejected several sites, trudging on until I pulled myself up short. I did some calculations. It was getting hotter. The monitoring itself took a half hour for plants and an hour for butterflies and there was the return walk on top of that. I checked my water. I had a good supply but it wouldn’t last all day. I had to get started. Good enough really is good enough, I told myself. I breached a hill and there it was, the good enough site that actually turned out to be pretty darn close to perfect. In the draw there were stands of different kinds of flowers including thistle and a scattering of other species on the hill. I saw butterflies. There was no poison ivy. This was it. After half an hour of plant monitoring and half an hour of working the draw for butterflies I climbed the hill where I had seen a few gayfeathers with butterflies. I plopped down next to it, ready to sit for a while. My plan was to sit quietly and wait for the butterflies to come to me. After about ten minutes of waiting with no butterflies I did what anyone with a camera phone and time on their hands does. I took a selfie, mentally captioning it “Oh nothing, just sitting here on the prairie waiting for butterflies. You?” Within a minute the first butterfly arrived. For the remaining 20 minutes I observed and took photos of butterflies including one gray one that I had not seen in the draw. When the alarm sounded indicating that my hour was up I felt the monitoring was successful. I documented six different species of flowering plant and three different kinds of butterflies, the Orange Sulfur and two others I still have to ID. I had a return walk ahead of me so I shouldered my pack, set my hat and headed back to the campground. I arrived about an hour later red of face and perspiring but still with water in my bag which means I didn’t wait too long. If you come in dry that means you broke into your emergency supply. So that was my inaugural pollinator monitoring. As always I learned something new and consistent with my past experiences with the outdoors it wasn’t just about nature.
Islands have long been celebrated and studied as biodiversity hotspots as well as exceptional areas of endemism. Unfortunately—and most challenging in terms of conservation—61% of recent extinctions were those of island species, with seabirds comprising the majority. Specifically adapted to a life at sea and typically breeding in remote, isolated areas, seabirds are particularly vulnerable to introduced mammalian predators because they lack appropriate anti-predator behavior and response. Invasive rodents are likely responsible for the greatest number of island bird extinctions as well as disrupted ecosystem functions. Rats are usually the focus of island restoration and conservation interventions, yet house mice also cause severe, ecosystem-altering ramifications. Initially thought to pose minimal risk to seabirds, mice recently entered the spotlight of island conservation when they were discovered depredating the chicks of two critically-imperiled seabird species. So severe was this predation by mice that it led to a significant decline in breeding success of these two species on Gough Island in the south Atlantic Ocean. More recently (starting in 2015), house mice were discovered to depredate breeding albatross on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge (MANWR), a subtropical atoll in the north Pacific Ocean. Predation of seabirds and other at-risk wildlife is a direct and alarming impact of mice—but there is more than meets the eye with these widespread rodents. Mice directly and indirectly effect insular ecosystems via consumption of seeds, plants, and invertebrates, both above and below ground. As opportunistic omnivores, mice can significantly change island species distributions, densities, and persistence, which in turn alters or disrupts nutrient cycles, symbioses between species, and other major ecosystem processes. Without taking these impacts into consideration, the continued presence of mice on islands can hamper or possibly prevent the success of attempted restoration or conservation efforts. In conservation biology and restoration of islands, a conspicuous gap remains between pairing theoretical predictions to the actual outcomes of conservation interventions such as eradications. On MANWR, removing mice could consequently aid and greatly increase the rate of recovery of various ecological processes, functions, and dynamics more efficiently than current labor-intensive restoration techniques by hand (such as spraying weeds or hand-planting native plants). Combining research with eradication techniques on MANWR presents an important case study for effective island restoration but also a “living model” in which to implement methods that restore ecological functioning via a “whole island perspective." More broadly, invasive species pose substantial challenges to the stability and sustainability of island nation economies, agriculture, infrastructure, and natural resources. Coupled with climate change, different or ameliorated environmental conditions may lead to greater productivity, higher survivorship, and more variability in population dynamics (such as irruptions) of invasive species. Island restoration science and research focuses on this critical nexus of human development, biodiversity conservation, and the vulnerability of island ecosystems. Therefore, the effects of discreet and understudied species—especially mice—warrant more research and understanding in the context of island ecosystem functioning. I seek to fulfill this gap of ecological knowledge through this project. Select Literature Angel, A., Wanless, R. M., & Cooper, J. (2009). Review of impacts of the introduced house mouse on islands in the Southern Ocean: Are mice equivalent to rats? Biological Invasions, 11(7), 1743–1754. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-008-9401-4. Dilley, B. J., Davies, D., Bond, A. L., & Ryan, P. G. (2015). Effects of mouse predation on burrowing petrel chicks at Gough Island. Antarctic Science, 27(6), 543–553. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954102015000279. Fukami, T., Wardle, D. A., Bellingham, P. J., Mulder, C. P. H., Towns, D. R., Yeates, G. W., … Williamson, W. M. (2006). Above- and below-ground impacts of introduced predators in seabird-dominated island ecosystems. Ecology Letters, 9(12), 1299–1307. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1461-0248.2006.00983.x. Gaston, K. J., Chown, S. L., & Bradley, P. (2002). Invertebrate diversity and endemism at Gough Island and threats from introduced species. Sheffield, England. Howald, G. R., Donlan, C. J., Galván, J. P., Russell, J. C., Parkes, J., Samaniego, A., … Tershy, B. R. (2007). Invasive rodent eradication on islands. Conservation Biology, 21(5), 1258–1268. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1523-1739.2007.00755.x. Jones, H. P., Holmes, N. D., Butchart, S. H. M., Tershy, B. R., Kappes, P. J., Corkery, I., … Croll, D. A. (2016). Invasive mammal eradication on islands results in substantial conservation gains. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(15), 4033–4038. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1521179113. Spatz, D. R., Newton, K. M., Heinz, R., Tershy, B. R., Holmes, N. D., Butchart, S. H. M., & Croll, D. A. (2014). The biogeography of globally threatened seabirds and island conservation opportunities. Conservation Biology, 28(5), 1282–1290. https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.12279. Veitch, C. R., & Clout, M. N. (2002). Turning the tide: the eradication of invasive species. In C. R. Veitch & M. N. Clout (Eds.), Proceedings of the International Conference on Eradication of Island Invasives (p. 414). Gland, Switzerland: International Union for Conservation of Nature. https://doi.org/10.1016/0006-3207(96)00021-3.
Dia 17 Monsoon DayBeginning at 4am today, it rained. I am not talking about your average rainy day. I am talking monsoon type rains. We experienced heavy rains from 4-10am which caused the boiling river to have incredibly high water and sediment levels. What this really means is that none of our expedition groups could complete their tasks today. What is also meant was that the temperature was temporarily low enough that we could swim in Shanay-timpishka. Instead of the pristine-clear conditions that normally are shanay-timpishka, it looked like Willy Wonka’s chocolate river due to sediment washed into the river from the heavy rains. While this was interesting to see what it really indicates is one of the negative effects of the illegal deforestation happening in the area. You see, rain forest and jungle soil is moist however the dense root systems of the plants and trees keep that soil in place, even in heavy rain conditions. When you take away those trees and vegetation, the soil dries, cracks, and is prone to erosion. Although that bleak realization hit us all, probably at the same moment, we decided to make the best of the morning by enjoying the opportunity to swim in the normally boiling water. This was a special treat for so many reasons, one of which being Andres’ first time ever swimming in this section, and we shared it with him! While enjoying some downtime together, bonding, laughing, and just being—we could slowly begin to feel waves of heat returning to the river’s currents. This was actually quite magical in the moment, but none of us wanted to end up like countless animals we had already observed, cooked in this very water at temperature. The team paraded to the shower to clean off, which was another real treat. This shower has a cold water stream leading to it and you bring the hot water with you normally, for your shower. Today, the hot water is dirty, and so we would be dousing ourselves in cold water only which is refreshing, but also quite chilling and almost jarring at times. This is an open shower always, so you always bathe with your swimsuit on, I don’t want any of the readers thinking otherwise especially with my depiction of our happy parade to this area. We were not full on showering in this case anyway, we were merely helping one another quickly rinse sediment off our bodies and get some quick refreshment before changing back to our clothes in the privacy of our rooms for lunch. After lunch, a small group of us returned to Shanay-timpishka which was rapidly warming to temperatures for fish sampling once more. We wanted to return to a few spots from previous trips to see if the rainwater had influenced or allowed and fish species to travel further down river than normal. This was actually quite a treat. The river had a new persona today with its new hue, varying temperatures, and levels. Traversing along it had new and different challenges for us, one of which being, hotter water at higher than normal levels. We had to be creative in how we avoided injury and burns. A few locations included briskly traversing through the warm waters. My biggest fear here was the temperature rising to a degree in the time we would take to return that was higher than we could tolerate. In this case, we would most likely need to travel up and in that moment, I did not see that as a possibility. I guess we would cross that bridge (wait, there isn’t one!) when we came to it later. The good news is that we collected a few more of a particular species we were hoping to find. The bad news is that high waters prevented us from traveling as far as we intended. Nevertheless, I gained a lot of experience here with fish sampling and ID protocols and learned a lot more about a few of my teammates. I think you learn a lot about people when your literal life is in one another’s hands. Here’s to hoping tomorrow is dry enough to return to normal data collection!
Figuring things out I’m beginning to realize how not simple Islam and religious identity are in Kyrgyzstan. Where do I start? Do I bury myself in reading material? Do I start with history? Do I try to contact Imams and mosques? Do I go out and try to talk to people randomly? How do I schedule interviews? What if no one wants to talk with me? The people of Kyrgyzstan did not owe me anything – certainly not intimate details of their lives and why they turned to religion (or didn’t). However, most of the people I encountered welcomed me into their homes anyway, often eager to talk about their lives and relationship with Islam. I found that most people want their stories to be heard. Before starting to interview people, I met with a tutor, so I could brush up on my Kyrgyz and learn new words that would help me clearly introduce myself and my project. I also hired a group of around 20 research assistants to help with translation and transcription. I would eventually rely on only my own language skills to conduct the interviews and then would send the recording to one of my assistants to translate in more detail and transcribe for my records. Here’s what we know so far: Islam is the main religion in Kyrgyzstan A long time ago, the people of Kyrgyzstan were nomadic They practiced Tengriism – which is a philosophy based on the idea of balance with the natural world Between the 7-12th centuries, Islam was introduced to the Kyrgyz people Kyrgyzstan was a republic in the former Soviet Union, during which religion of any kind was prohibited Kyrgyzstan became independent in 1991 and since then, Islam has come back to the forefront of Kyrgyz society People in Kyrgyzstan are trying to redefine what it means to be Kyrgyz in terms of religion after colonization and in the face of globalization
Future of Arctic looks grim, with raising ocean levels it is drowning from north and melting from south due to increasing global temperatures. It harbors some of most remarkable wonders of biosphere and awe inspiring landscapes with magical charm, only one's who have been there can truly relate to. Here me together with similar minded colleagues & friends once again see background story here set off to a remote research station in NE Siberia, in Chaun river delta to document one of most exciting and extraordinary bird migrations on this planet. Changes in seasonal insect abundance in northern hemisphere is strong selection pressure for living beings that primarily eat insects. Evolution has lead to several strategies like mammals or amphibians putting life on pause and going in to complete hibernation till things get better. Birds, as very mobile creatures, have "solved this problem" by moving away . They fly to somewhere warmer, somewhere with more food until it gets better at "home". How they know where to go and when to return is unknown for now. In fact before we start seriously addressing big questions like these we must obtain more descriptive good quality data on exact migration routes from across and within species. Willow warblers breeding in eastern Siberia are clearly one of most exciting song birds to study in this regard!
We are just finishing up photovoice and have been hearing some amazing stories! Here is one in English, Spanish and Maya told to us by a student from Cuncunul, Yucatan, Mexico. This story is about the relationship between the town's church and the cenote (both are seen in the picture). One local myth, re-told by our student's family recounts the tale of a secret passageway connecting them with incalculable treasure. Before a field is burned or on the third of May, according to the tale, if people see the treasure, they will have a good harvest throughout the year. In Spanish (En Español): Según dicen mis familiares que cuentan en al leyenda que entre la inglesia y el cenote hay in pasadizo secreto con in Tesoro incalculable. Y cada 3 de Mayo o una noche antes se quema una casa "La gente cree que hay dinero enterrado en esos terrenos," dice el primer edil, esto si alguien logra verlo tendra Buena cosecha por todo in ano y le ayudara en sus siembras. In Maya (Ich Maya): Ku tzikbatik in laak’obe yetel in yume yan ul p’e tzikbal yok’ol e dzonot yan te u chumukil e kajo, tu kilich najil e k’ujo yan un p’e beej ku bisik takte yanal e dzonoto ichile bejo yan tak’in mukani jach man yaab. Ich u oxpel kinit e uinali e Mayoo ua tu akbil tu kaapel kinnile kana u yele u p’el naj beyo ku yalale yan e takin mukano, kanan u jokol uu p’e chaan k’aak ku tochbal yosal u yilal e takino yetel maax ku yilike ku utztal u kuuxtal tu lakal e jaabo.
There’s life at depth, a lot of it too! Our tec team have filmed over 20,000 feather stars in video transects spanning coral reefs in the upper mesophotic zone (between 30-70 m), called ‘mesophotic coral ecosystems’ (or MCE). From these videos we can identify our eight superstars and see how many other feather stars live there. To our surprise, comparisons with transects from shallow reefs (surface to 30 m depth) reveal similarities: feather star communities are equally diverse, but more of them are found in shallow reefs. However, while we do see overlap, some species are rare in the shallows and others are completely unique to MCEs! You might wonder (because we did too): how can a world so rich exist in this deep and dark place? Changing light penetration is key to orchestrating the shift in communities we see from shallow to deep. Whereas shallow reefs receive total light penetration, light struggles to access the mesophotic zone (found at 30-150 m depth; ‘meso’ means middle, ‘photic’ refers to light), and none reachs past this zone to the deep sea (deeper than 150 m; called ‘aphotic’, ‘a’ = no, ‘photic’ = light). Because of this, light dependent coral, algae, other organisms can still be found in MCEs, but not deeper. Note, however, there is life in the deep sea too (even coral reefs spanning several kilometers, like in shallow and mesophotic zones!).
Sarach and Namer cavesTwo more caves where we found the reduced-eyes funnel-web spider. Could these spiders belong to the same species? Additionally, we found cellar spiders (Pholcidae) and pale colored woodlice (Isopoda). To our surprise, these caves were crowded with visitors, some venturing into the cavern without headlamps or lights of any sort.
The First Copper Coins Minted in America In 1737 Samuel Higley minted copper coins in Simsbury, connecticut. His Higley Coppers as they are known today were the first copper coins minted in the colonies. As legend has it Higley would use his coins to pay for a drink at the local tavern. The tavern keeper eventually grew weary of accepting his homemade coins. I need to recreate this scene for our upcoming documentary, Mines and Mysteries so we set my house up to look like a colonial tavern. Marc gets in character as Samuel Higley and Miner Mike as the tavern keeper. The scene is set! Samuel Higley walks in to the tavern ready to purchase a drink with his newly minted currency. We elected to use a good strong ale as Higley’s drink. The shoot gets off to a rocky start, we do take after take to get it just right as our supply of beer dwindles. The shoot ends up being a huge success and we get all the scenes we need for the documentary! Samuel Highey has gone down in history as the first to mint copper coins in the colonies. Higley died shortly after he began minting his coins aboard a ship bound for England loaded with copper ore from the colonies. Even after his death his famous coins continued to be made by a mysterious minter until 1739. Today original examples of his coins are highly sought after with some examples bringing over $100,000 at auction. If only Higley could see what his coins are worth today I think he would be proud!
I guess that sometimes you just don't have the chance to sleep. Since one of my train was too late, I'll spend the night travelling across Danemark. Nevertheless, travelling by train give you the sense of distances ,which is great. Taking the plane give you an illusion of proximity between your own country and your destination and I think that it's quiet sad . I 'll keep you posted with the news but I still strongly believe that travelling by train is a wonderful way to learn, discover and help our planet.
It's always exciting to arrive in a new place and I was delighted to be in Norway for the first time. It's easy to get caught up in the mindset of not wanting to miss a thing; thus, after arriving and walking over to the hotel across from the airport, I met up with my travel mate, showered, did a bit of unpacking, grabbed a sandwich and we headed out. It was Norwegian Constitution Day, a national holiday, and we'd heard that festivities would be happening downtown. We were eager to take it in before we met up with the group for a tour of Oslo. We boarded the a crowded train to the national Theater. People of all ages in traditional, formal dress were on the same journey. It was delightful to observe the charming and elegant clothing, rooted in culture, history and tradition. Off the train, there were so many people! It was a celebration of humanity; a celebration of Norwegians! We were carried by the crowd toward the parade route to see school children singing and playing instruments with such energy, vitality, and joy. We later learned that this day was considered to be a Children's Day (as opposed to a military day, for example) as the reason to celebrate and honor Norway. We rode the train back and I power napped for 10 minutes before we boarded the bus for the 2pm tour of Oslo. Here are a few facts we learned along the way: *There are around 250 types of traditional dress, differing from area to area. This formal wear can be expensive - even up to 10,000 Euros - but it's often perceived as a multi-generational investment as these garments are work for weddings, baptisms, confirmations, and official days. *Between 1820 - 1920, over 900,000 Norwegians migrted to the US *Norway has the second longest coast line, after Canada. *There are over 1,000 fjords in Norway! *Norway is considered to be one of the happiest countries in the world due to its pristine nature and its social welfare system. Our first stop was the Fram Museum to learn more about polar exploration in anticipation of our own polar adventure. Finally, we spent a lovely, albeit quick, afternoon at the Vigeland Park where we encountered crowds enjoying the warm and bright day. It all was a lovely welcome to Oslo.
August 6th, 2018 - part 2 By early afternoon the weather shows signs of cooperating. The whitecaps have abated and the decision is made to go. Kyle and Sarah follow behind in an outrigger canoe. It's their first chance to see the ROV in action. We move into a new position, farther to the southeast of the buoy, in order to approach the Bristol from the starboard side without having to cross over the wreckage itself. The Trident is sent over the side and is quickly at the bottom. This is where the first of our issues occur. A marl (or marl-stone) lake is a stunning sight to behold. From above, the surface the water is usually a vivid emerald green with a light foam that deposits on the shoreline. The lake bottom, however, presents a new set of challenges when using a propeller-driven craft. Unlike clay which, when settled, generally requires physical contact in order to throw up significant debris, marl is almost ethereal, and any rush of water pressure will instantly cause a thick, swirling fog. We had no trouble with the marl on the previous dive as the Trident found the wreck almost immediately. But today we aren't so lucky. The airplane seems to be playing hide-and-seek. We set up a grid search using the Trident's built-in compass and dead reckoning, not an easy task when the nondescript bottom makes it much harder to judge distance travelled. Within a few passes it becomes clear that, although we were careful to stay just within sight of the bottom, the ROV's thrusters have stirred up enough marl to make spotting the wreck nearly impossible. At this rate we would have to literally run into the side of the fuselage to see it, even with the LEDs on. We begin to bring the Trident back to the surface. And that is when we realize the Trident is not moving. The video screen is live, we haven't lost power or control. But the ROV refuses to travel ahead, even at full power. Instead it pitches upwards whenever forward thrust is applied. We're tangled on something. As I mentioned in the previous post, there are several possibilities when discussing entanglement. A buoy line, an anchor line, and the wreckage itself are known hazards. The last of these is our greatest fear. We make a gentle about-face and begin to follow the tether back. The line itself is a bright yellow and extremely easy to spot. To our great relief it doesn't appear to be descending. That rules out being stuck on the bottom. As the water shifts from black to green the culprit appears. Another yellow line, this one marked every few feet with black tape. We recognize it instantly as the anchor. At some point during our grid pattern the ROV's tether has wrapped itself twice around the rope. We retrieve the anchor and manage to separate the two lines. Taking a moment to collect ourselves (and a few deep breaths), we decide to make one more attempt to find the wreck. By now we are running low on battery; towing 150' of tether through the grid pattern and fighting with the anchor line has used up most of it. We stow the Trident and head for the cabin for a recharge. As we watch the Trident's green charging lights blink on - one, then two, then three - nature seems to be taunting us. The wind has vanished and the lake is a picture of glassy perfection. And we're on shore. At this latitude we have plenty of daylight in August. But the same cannot be said for the stillness.
I am now embarking on compiling the first chapter of our global deep ocean ecosystem health assessment, which will be a look at species community composition and biodiversity in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Now I am viewing video footage captured from Malpelo Island, in the Pacific Island off of Columbia. Pristine Seas made an expedition there earlier this year: https://www.nationalgeographic.org/expeditions/malpelo/ As I view the deep sea Dropcam footage to ID species and count their numbers, I also like to stop and draw some of the creatures because with drawing I access a much deeper window into the species biology and ecology. It allows me to spend more time with the creatures encountered, and come up with new questions about them. It takes more time, but I find it to be a really fruitful method of inquiry, as well. This picture is of an uncommon shark, though is seen frequently on the deployments at Malpelo. Its species name is Echinorhinus cookie (or Prickly shark) and it is found to ~1,100 meters depth in the Pacific Ocean. Its body is covered in an armor of thorn-like, teeth known as ‘denticles’ (hence the “Prickly” common name). This shark gets to be quite large (up to 400 cm). It feeds on a variety of fishes, other sharks, octopi and squids. It is classified as Near Threatened by IUCN. It appears to be vulnerable to deepwater trawling and line fishing. With increased fishing activities, this may negatively impact their already small and fragmented populations. Being large and slow-growing, they have limited ability to recover from disturbances. As I drew this picture, I thought about the negative space, the surrounding watery environment under such great pressures - what does it feel like to move through water at 1,000m depth? I too would want those large fins, and to be covered in teeth for armor! For Open Explorer updates from the field of the Dropcam in action now, check out amazing explorers Katy Croff Bell and Diva Amon on a current expedition in Trinidad and Tobago: https://openexplorer.nationalgeographic.com/expedition/trinidadtobagooceanexploration
Mercury is the most complex metal that cycles through our environment. Found naturally in Earth’s crust, solid mercury turns into an invisible gas when heated. Molten lava rising to Earth’s surface releases mercury that’s spewed into the air with volcanic ash and dust. The same process – heat turning solid mercury into a gas – occurs when we burn fossil fuels, especially coal, which is combusted around the globe to generate electricity. Much like increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from human emissions, mercury is also on the rise. And this gaseous mercury can remain in the atmosphere for up to one year; as a result, mercury blankets our planet from pole to pole. No region is spared, not even the most remote corners of our planet. Rain and dust transport mercury from the atmosphere to Earth’s surfaces where the chemistry of this toxic metal continues to change. Mercury is transformed to an organic compound called methylmercury by bacteria found in soil and water. Methylmercury is sticky and would much rather grab on to organic material (like phytoplankton and algae) than stay in the water. This results in bioaccumulation, or increasing concentrations of methylmercury moving up the food chain. Humans are exposed to mercury through consumption of fish, and top predator species (i.e. Tuna, Swordfish, King mackerel) deliver the highest dose. Methylmercury exposure has been linked to lower IQ in children and impaired cardiovascular health in adults. Many populations across the globe depend on fish and sea food as their main source of protein and have no other option than to risk mercury exposure to survive. Plastic debris in the ocean breaks down into tiny fragments called microplastics that fish and sea birds mistake for food. Scientist have recently discovered the broad scope of plastic pollution in the ocean and are working towards solutions. Microplastics are important to the mercury cycle because they absorb mercury and provide a surface for bacterial biofilms. Follow my expedition to Lake Erie and San Francisco Bay to explore the interplay between mercury and microplastics in our environment.
White shark season occurs every September to late January here in our 3 national marine sanctuaries. Some white sharks remain here all year round, and the larger migrate to the white shark cafe. The ROV will be used on our tagging vessel at Ano Neuvo, the Farallon Islands, and Tomales Point. In addition, we plan to use the ROV in Santa Cruz due to the recent increase in juvenile white shark sightings around Sea Cliff Beach. Understanding habitat utilization and physiological limits of these top predators is important for understanding ecological roles and conservation biology to protect them. The information obtained by the ROV will help us achieve these goals.
and dislike scientists because it is our job to stop them. As a result I was a little uneasy the first time I went to sea as a scientist on a commercial fishing vessel. However, since then I have only had good experiences working with fishers. Most of the time everyone is helpful and interested in the science. This is very much the case in Taiwan. The fishers are excited for the project and unreasonably nice. They have been very accommodating, showing us around the boat, explaining the fishing process, currents, and tides. They even prepare meals for us. Not only does the friendly relationship make the work easier, but they have been willing to share a wealth of their fisher knowledge with us. I am a firm believer that to future of our ocean depend not only upon responsible management, but cooperation between fishers, scientists, and policy makers. Working with the locals out here has been a lot of fun, and assures us that they would be open to reasonable policies protecting or limiting Megamouth catches if it was cased on solid data. Data that we hope to get during this trip.
The Giant Freshwater Stingray Earlier this week, we distributed cameras to fishermen in the Kratie area in the hopes that they would document their catches of giant freshwater stingray. Based on our preliminary observations, the upper Cambodian Mekong seems to be a hotspot for the giant freshwater stingray. But the Mekong is not the only place where the giant freshwater stingray occurs. It is found throughout Southeast Asia. This seems like a good opportunity to provide background information about the giant freshwater stingray, introduce concurrent ongoing research in Thailand, and place the giant freshwater stingray in the context of large stingrays in other parts of the world. The giant freshwater stingray (Urogymnus polylepis) is one of the world's largest freshwater fish. It can grow to over 500 pounds and reach a length of over 15 feet from nose to tail. Listed as Endangered by IUCN, populations of giant freshwater stingray have suffered from overexploitaiton and pollution. In 2016, as many as 70 giant stingray were killed by an suspected pollution event in the Maeklong River in Thailand (https://www.ecowatch.com/stingray-die-off-2089381293.html)..) Similar die-offs have reported in other rivers, such as the Chao Phraya River that flows through Bangkok. Researchers in Thailand (Dr. Nantarika Chansue and her team from Chulalongkorn University), supported by a grant from National Geographic, have been studying the giant freshwater stingray in central Thailand for the past several years. Working in partnership with local fishermen, researchers tag and release the giant stingray to better understand their population status and movement patterns. Despite its status as contender for the title of world's largest freshwater fish, very little is known about the ecology of the giant freshwater stingray. The giant freshwater stingray is one of three species of stingray that grow larger than 200 pounds. Other giants include the freshwater whipray Urogymnus dalyensis in Australia and the short-tailed river stingray Potamotrygon brachyura (which is likely endemic to the Paraná-Paraguay River drainages in southern South America). All three giant stingrays possess a barb at the base of their tail. This barb, used as a defensive weapon, is reverse serrated and coated in a toxic slime. While potentially very dangerous, humans are unlikely to be hurt by the barb unless they handle or step on a ray. In fact, humans pose a much greater threat to rays (through over-harvest, pollution, and habitat degradation), then rays to humans. Luckily for the rays, their size, behavior, and distribution makes them difficult catch. A full-size giant stingray can weigh more than 500 pounds and will move immediately to the river bottom when hooked. They can easily bend hooks and break fishing line. The largest stingray can drag boats up and down river, and potentially flip a boat with a quick tug on the line. Thus, a full size stingray is unlikely to be caught unintentionally or as by-catch. They also often occur in large, murky, and remote aquatic habitats. These areas, such as the mainstream Mekong and Parana River, and the crocodile infested wetlands of northern Australia, can be difficult to access and fish. Video by Stefan Lovgren
I'm Abby McBride, a sketch biologist and Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellow. I'm spending the better part of a year in New Zealand, writing and illustrating stories about penguins, prions, shearwaters, shags, gulls, gannets, albatrosses, and all sorts of other birds that spend their lives on the ocean. Seabirds are declining faster than any other group of birds in the world, which is very worrisome indeed. Besides being beautiful and fascinating in their own right, these birds play an indispensable role in connecting marine and terrestrial ecosystems and act as coal mine canaries to warn us about problems in the environment. Why study them in New Zealand? This small island country has the most diverse and endangered seabirds in the world—and also happens to be a global leader in solving the plethora of problems afflicting seabirds, caused by humans past and present. Take the New Zealand storm petrel, one victim of the rats that followed human colonists to New Zealand. So scarce it was thought extinct for the entire 20th century, this tiny seabird recently showed up nesting on an island 50 miles from Auckland. It owes its second chance to New Zealanders, working hard to control predators throughout the country. I aim to capture a sense of this seabird-saving grit and gumption and help pass it on. So I'm roaming the New Zealand coastline for nine months with my not-so-trusty station wagon, my coffin-sized tent, and my inflatable kayak. I'm hitching rides on boats to offshore islands. I'm sketching seabirds and taking part in seabird conservation and telling stories about it all.
Our pilot project is designed to provide ocean access and increased technological capacity in Trinidad and Tobago, a small island developing state. This approach will have three aims:1) Access to emerging ocean technology that can be used from any platform 2) Training for an in-country scientist, student, and communicator to enable use and dissemination of findings from that technology 3) Provision of a MSc scholarship for a student This three-pronged approach will build long-term in-country capacity for ocean exploration, detailed below: Aim 1: Technology: We will utilize innovative technology developed by OpenROV, National Geographic, and others. The tech can be used in a multitude of ways, including to determine species presence, check bathymetry accuracy, revisit sites over time, explore new locales, or image sites of interest (e.g. shipwrecks). Data collected may necessitate knowledge of species, habitats, image analysis and statistics. Aim 2: (a) In-country technology training: An engineer and another team member will travel to Trinidad to deliver the National Geographic Drop Cameras, and other technology to train a group of scientists, engineers, students, and communicators in their use. The OpenROV Trident will be delivered before so that exploration and training can start as soon as possible. Technology will then be left in-country with plans to deploy them at least ten times before (b). (b) In-USA analysis and media-products training: Following (a), we propose that three representatives from Trinidad and Tobago (a scientist, a student, and a communicator to be identified during (a)) travel to the USA for further training in data analysis and creating outreach materials. We envision that the scientist and student will collaborate to analyse the captured imagery, whereas the communicator will generate media products to disseminate information in-country, in whatever format they deem culturally-appropriate. Outreach and artistic materials will be created at the MIT Media Lab. This trip will coincide with the National Ocean Exploration Forum, so it is expected that partners will share their experiences and results there. Aim 3: Masters-level training: The OpenROV Trident will remain in Trinidad and Tobago, so that local scientists and students can continue to explore their own backyards, however, the interpretation and use of data will require higher capacity. For example, how will a country know if a new species has been discovered without taxonomic or ecological expertise? To enable lasting scientific capacity, we propose to have a student matriculate in a masters program at Boston University, which will enable students to engage more fully in the global community of benthic marine experts. MSc-level training is part of our program to ensure that Trinidad and Tobago has the necessary tools to put their exploratory findings into the relevant scientific context. The appropriate student will be identified during Aim 2 via a scholarship RFP in-country. Applicants will be evaluated by the team and asked to apply to the appropriate graduate program; if accepted, the scholarship will be applied towards their degree. We plan to visit Trinidad in early August 2018 to start the deep-sea journey with the Drop Cameras, but exploration and outreach using the OpenROV Trident will begin in July 2018. Project collaborators: Randi Rotjan, Diva Amon, Brennan Phillips, Alan Turchik, Katy Croff Bell, Rafael Anta, Gerard Alleng, Kristina Gjerde, Gil Montague, Kate Furby, Alexis Hope Trinidad and Tobago collaborators: University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, SpeSeas, National Institute for Higher Education, Science and Technology (NIHERST) and the COAST Foundation/Offshore Innovators. This project will have a twin pilot in Kiribati, which you can read here: Kiribati Ocean Exploration Stay tuned for updates coming soon! This post was written by Diva Amon of SpeSeas, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Natural History Museum, London, UK.
Our research, in the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia, Canada seeks to aid in uniting ecological science and Indigenous knowledge towards achieving conservation goals and national recognition of Indigenous management rights. As part of the Central Coast Rockfish project, I partner with Dr. Natalie Ban at the University of Victoria, Dr. Alejandro Frid, and the combined force of the Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance, alongside the Kitasoo/Xai’Xais, Heiltsuk, Nuxalk and Wuikinuxv Nations, to explore the traditional ecological knowledge of First Nation fishers and knowledge-holders, and assisted in on-going ecological surveys. Our work is supported first and foremost by Central Coast First Nations and empowered by their knowledge, vision, and collaboration. It is additionally sustained by the National Geographic Society, and The Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response Network (MEOPAR) of Canada. I am of course supported by the tireless work of my many academic collaborators, friends, family, and colleagues. My research is reinvigorated daily by my experiences in the beautiful world that is BC’s Central Coast and Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest.
Located just 25 miles from the coast of Los Angeles, Catalina Island feels world away. The cliffs of Catalina are brown and barren, but the ocean is bluegreen and rich. Looking down into the waters of Emerald Bay, part of the Arrow Point to Lions Head State Marine Conservation Area, my polarized glasses detect several shadows sliding over the white sand bottom below. We are at the Pennington Marine Science Center at Emerald Bay on Catalina Island diving and using the Trident ROV to look for sharks and determine how effective the ROV might be to film and recognize individual sharks through pattern and scar recognition. (Video) Sliding the ROV into the waters of the bay, our seventeen year old intern Alice drives the underwater drone into the shadows. Minutes after dropping the ROV into the water the monitor shows several Leopard sharks (Triakus semifasciata) milling in the shallows. We pilot the ROV to the sand and watch as the sharks approach the Trident undisturbed. These shy sharks casually circle the ROV and barely move when it approaches slowly, but quickly return. We also surprise a very large shovel nose guitarfish, a type of ray. Each year, mature leopard shark females enter the shallow warm waters to gestate. Generally found at Big Fisherman’s Cove next to the University of Southern California’s Wrigley Marine Science Center, the word is a preying sea lion have displaced the leopard sharks. Fortunately for us, the sharks are right where we are staying at Camp Emerald Bay. A graduate student of Dr. Chris Lowe of the CSU Long Beach Shark Lab is studying the movements of these sharks along temperature gradients. We are able to film at least ten separate sharks, and hope that a new algorithm being developed will be useful in identifying individuals. A few days later we enter the kelp beds near the Blue Cavern SMCA, another State Marine Protected in search of other sharks. Area, Large male sheepshead fish, scores of blacksmith and kelp bass swim among the fronds. The Pennington Marine team have reported seeing Soupfin sharks (Galeorhinus galeus) in the kelp and we decide to dive while Alice films from above with the Trident. These lovely houndsharks bear the unfortunate name of their favored appendage for shark fin soup, but are also called School shark or Tope sharks. In the early morning light we spy the sharks sliding along the far side of the fronds: it's like peeking at deer pass behind trunks in a forest. Our bubbles make the sharks wary and unless we are at the bottom holding our breath, the sharks twend to avoid us. Topside, Alice has captured several long clips of the sharks. The Trident, when steadied at a constant depth can hover in the light current, and pan with the onboard camera as the shark passes. The small electric current from the drone does not appear to attract the sharks like that of bigger video cameras I have used, where the electronics stimulate the shark's sensitive electro-receptor organs called the Ampullae of Lorenzini. One shark has a strand of monofilament and a hook, having escaped an anglers capture, but fearlessly passes the ROV time and again. The experiments were fulfilling and hopeful for surveying species and habitat in the marine protected areas. We are taking the ROV north and testing the ROV in the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary as part of our MPA Watch project. Follow the adventure, or join us aboard one of our education trips to the Golden Gate offshore MPAs with SharkStewards.org.
Meet seal E352, a third elephant seal pup out on her very first migration! She was born in late January 2018 at Año Nuevo State Park and was first seen without her mom on February 28th, 2018. Her mom, seal GU256, was born in February 2007 and has been seen a total of 98 times since then! She is 11 years old now and was last measured to beat 289 cm long (which is about 9.5 feet!) long and weighed to be 449 kg-- that’s about 990 pounds! In 2013, researchers wanted to study this seal mom’s migration and tagged her with a time-depth recorder (also called a TDR), a satellite tag and a jaw accelerometer tag. TDR tags help us find out when and how deep a seal dives, whereas and satellite tags show us where she went during her migration. A jaw accelerometer is a small tag that goes right under the chin and measures jaw motion-- this can help us figure out when and where GU256 feeds and what she’s feeding on! You can check out our previous posts for actual TDR dive data and satellite tracks from other seal moms, GT19 and X58! Have you ever wondered what it might be like to dive and feed in the ocean? Deep dive with U256 and explore where she went in 2013 with this fun 3D dive track! If you look closely in each picture below, you can see some of her individual dives throughout her migration!
For this shift, the interns shared their different experiences piloting the ROV Jacks Perspective Today, myself and two other interns took on the challenge of learning how to correctly assemble/disassemble, as well as operate, an ROV. After a few attempts of piloting the instrument in a straight line, everybody involved was able to navigate it through the intended transect. Field specialist Jesse De Vos taught us the history behind why the Open ROV Trident was invented and how the intended implementation of the instrument into the field of marine biology is important. With proper testing and correct piloting, the device will help further the knowledge of biodiversity within Mossel Bay and hopefully ecosystems around the world. Although the device was challenging to pilot at first, once I got the hang of how to navigate it I began to acknowledge the importance that the device could potentially have. While having humans go down and experience the world that lies underwater is a great method for research, there are certain situations that would not allow for a human to be present. The presence of a precise, accurately piloted device like a ROV is more suitable for certain research situations in regard to size and maneuverability. On top of the size advantage that a ROV possesses, it also possesses an advantage in regard to financial burdens. While the fields of marine biology/ecology and conservation biology/ecology are very important, the financial restraints that are coupled with them are often inhibiting. Finding techniques and using devices like the ROV are imperative for researchers because money and sponsors are not always promised. Finally, the discussion of safety is always one that should be present as people are the individuals that facilitate research. Being able to cut out dangerous situations like underwater diving is something that should be acknowledged and talked about if replacement methods, such as a ROV, can be used effectively. Jess and Sara’s Perspective Sara’s first ROV trip wasn’t as bad as it could have been. While the controls are sensitive, it wasn’t very hard driving it forward and backwards through the transects. I did have some trouble keeping the ROV deeper so it was easier to control but that was because of the strong surge, so this was out of the user’s hands. By learning to use this new type of technology here at Oceans Research, I hope to be able to bring this skill home to study fish diversity and population sizes in the Chesapeake Bay. Jack, Jess & Sara
Sunday, August 12th, we had a great little expedition. Lake Merritt Observatory's first. Katie Noonan organized the day bringing out her usual array of sampling equipment. Adrian Cotter set up the OpenROV (named RV Grebe, RV for research vessel :-) and after a little bit of worry and a couple of restarts, had it in the water and exploring for the next hour and a half. Raven, Davonte, and Angela were out to help: having a go at the ROV controls, helping with various sampling efforts, checking out what the ROV dragged up (at one point the tether brought up some seaweed, which we scooped up and poked around to see what might be living there), and Raven filled out our Lake Merritt Observatory whiteboard for the day (see photos). We had some learnings: an umbrella or some sort of sun blocker would come in handy turn off the HUD when you record! We still have to take some time to go through the video and catalog all that's on there: anemones, mussels, various little fish, seaweeds, tunicates, a crab hanging from the pylon, and more! We're looking forward to exploring some different parts of the lake, and figuring out how best to use the ROV.
A Tale of Two Cities: Trash By Land: Land management is crucial to sustainable development but few of us think about the management of garbage. Cuenca is a growing, affluent middle class city of over 300,000 citizens is breaking new ground with the installation of a community landfill which is generating clean energy. 428 tons of trash are collected a day, and collected in trucks which are weighed at the landfill's entrance. The landfill is run by the municipality and has negotiated an agreement with the surrounding community, to compensate them for the environmental impact . Private companies are charged a fee based on how much their trash weighs, and 5% is paid to the community, which adds up to $700k last year. The landfill was started in 2000, and is now in the process of capping off its second hill. It will be resodded with grass to contain any debris. The first heap is already planted; liners contain the runoff, and this liquid output or leachate is treated and sent to the liquid waste treatment plant. Most interesting is the chimneys, which reduce the carbon footprint and smell of the landfill by collecting methane. The methane is piped across the street, to a biogas processing plant which produces clean electricity for the region at a rate of about 22,000 volts a day (fueling 3000 households). In contrast to the 428 tons of garbage in the landfill each day, Cuenca only recycles 120 tons each month. One challenge is public education; awareness campaigns are in the works with plans to encourage sorting. Currently, there is no municipally organized collection of recycling, but individual microentrepreneurs are paid to collect material. There is no recycling facility in Cuenca so collected materials must be sent to Quito for processing, which is costly and discourages companies from stating initiatives. Plastic bags and tetra packs are especially problematic. Plastic bags cost 1 cent to make and 6 to recycle, and so economic incentives to overproduce must be met with changes in social values to advocate for reduced plastic consumption. For more information: Santana.com.ec By Sea: Single-Use Plastics in the Galapagos 8/5/18 Notes from a lecture by Elena Perez, MS, US Fulbright Student on San Cristobal “We've been accustomed to seeing plastic as a modern convenience, as a lifestyle, how easy!” Where does the trash go on an island? Sadly, ven in the protected waters of the Galapagos, at the dock one can easily see small pieces of hitching rope; plastic bags and more small waste floating in the water, on a sea turtle's back, or caught in mangrove roots. On our first evening in Puerto Ayora, the largest town in the Galapagos, with a growing population of 12,000, we watched a gecko walk across the powerpoint and discussed potential solutions to management of waste plastics in island ecology. The islands, a National Park and Marine Researve, used to hold a population of 0-5,000 inhabitants but recent economic booms are pushing population closer to 20,000. Ms. Perez is working with a team of local researchers to conduct citizen science seeking to determine the origin of the plastics found on the beach. Survey methods for collecting include simple beach walks with time constraints; but individual differences in vision, mobility, bias, or even time of day relevant to tide can make results challenging to disaggregate. Smaller pieces and microplastics, which make up the bulk of plastic on most beaches, are almost impossible to sort or id origins; and may difficult to detect among grains of sand. So Elena's local research hasn't been published in scientific journals yet but has been disseminated. Much of her work is focused on raising awareness and educating the population. She usually begins with a very brief survey: Please circle on a map: Where is your favorite place to connect to nature? 2) Where do you think the litter and trash is coming from? While the first impulse may be to blame tourists for litter, solutions include encouraging sorting of recycling to increase efficiency so that recycling can be transported off of the island. Local water is not potable and can be high in salmonella, so most people on the islands rely on bottled water, and in an unfortunate loop, plastic inevitably ends up in the water. Education for toursits is important too. Tourists often don't don't know there are alternatives – but alternatives to plastic bags and bottles are usually available if one asks. So the 3Rs become the 4Rs: “Reduce, reuse, recycle, reject” Elena uses of environmental pscyhology to investigate what influences our behaviors around plastics. Behaviors can change with attitudes, perceived responsibility, motivation, social norms, educational levels, experience/frequency of noticing litter, and values. She works a lot with local youth, and recently developed a series of various activities for “Shark day” to educate about whale sharks, microplastics, and interdependence. It's difficult for humans and nature to just catch the plastic material. Just as the mangroves stabilize beaches and prevent shoreline erosion by catching sand, they also catch plastics. There are also some areas of potential confusion. Some areas such as the boardwalk seem to have less plastic litter, but it may be that workers are cleaning streets to promote business, or that plastics are blowing into the ocean more easily because of wind. The Darwin Research Center is planning to kick off a larger plastics education campaign next year, including community beach cleanups and large scale public sculpture. Even though I brought my own refillable water bottle and tried to keep it filled from the large jug at my hotel, I probably used a dozen or so disposable bottles during my short stay in the Galapagos, many handed to me by guides. We all need to shift attitudes away from the convenience mentality of throw away plastics. There is no “away” to throw unrecycled waste – all results in the land or the sea.
A Tale of Two MPAS. Good-bye Borneo, hello California! We are leaving Pom Pom Island home to the Tropical Research Conservation Centre (TRACC) and the coral recovery and shark reintroduction programmes.Located in a region of high human impact including blast fishing that has destroyed the reef, the TRACC team has planted thousands of coral fragments and installed hundreds of reef blocks to stabilize the reef crest and recolonize this once healthy ecosystem. This example of citizen-driven and volunteer conservation is a signal of hope for other marine areas in need of restoration or protection. Our final day we flew the Trident over the reef crest from a kayak, searching for the sharks reintroduced to the reef in 2016. Stretching the limits of a curfew imposed by the marine militia to protect citizens and visitors from kidnappers, we cannot search for the nocturnal sharks at night. However, the LED lights on the ROV, combined with our baited underwater go pros have the potential to determine if the sharks are still swimming along the area where fishing is prohibited. The Sharkstewards.org adopt a shark program is helping support this conservation and research, and we hope to see one of the tagged and released bamboo or coral cat sharks we released. On this last flight, I didn't see a shark but I did see a shy Green sea turtle flying along in the blue. A protected species here, the green sea turtles are recovering and nesting along the beach on the island. Let's hope the sharks will also thrive in this safe harbor and the reef will one day return to the vibrancy and biodiversity of before. For now, I'm reeling in the cable and flying home to California to continue using the ROV looking for sharks and surveying benthic species and habitat in our state MPAs. Follow us on our Unsettled Waters Expedition and sharkstewards.org
This is the halfway point of interviews! We have successfully conducted ten interviews with wonderful New Orleanians who are passionate about their city and its survival. Some of the biggest points are: -Tourists should not expect a city to accommodate their specific tastes and needs -Please ride a bike only if you are okay with how New Orleanians drive -Eat as much as you can: it's cheaper than most places, it's much more delicious than most places, and it's all New Orleanians talk about. Stay tuned for more updates.
A second successful run with some guest drivers. I came down to the Lake Merritt Sailboat House again with Katie Noonan's Lake Merritt Observatory project and got in the water again.This time I had a new screen capture system ready, and off we went. I had some guest student drivers 6 to 17. We decided for next time we could do with some sort of umbrella -- it was very difficult to see what was on the screen in the bright sun. There was some funny things going on with the camera. It seemed to freeze at various points in a way that has not happened before whenever I took a picture or tried to move the camera. I rebooted in the water several times to get it back, but that was the only hiccup. I've also decided that I will install the depth control compass so that I don't necessarily need to see the ROV to know where it goes. Or at least give me a better clue. It made getting under the docks a little fraught. The stars of the video are mussels at work, but there are also anemones, a crab on the dock piling, and various little fishes darting about. And some etherial looking lights as we drove under the docks.
In 1927, William Beebe, Director of the Department of Tropical Research, began diving in Bermuda using a copper helmet and an air hose. Though typical at the time, this method limited how deep Beebe could descend before pressure would limit his ability to return to the surface. Standing on a precipice and staring into the vast ocean depths, Beebe was filled with an insatiable desire to find out just what kind of creatures were living farther down. Photo by John Tee-Van.
Today, we share the amazing 3D bird's eye view of the Fort of São Sebastião. Built on the Northeastern tip of the Island of Mozambique by the Portuguese sailors of the 16th century, it is a marvel to visit from the land and from the air. Will you be able to find the Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Baluarte, oldest European building in the Southern hemisphere ?
Diver Profile: Meet Chris Honeyman! If there are three things Chris Honeyman wants you to know about him, it's that he's 6'5, outfitted for all outdoor activities, and "would rather be diving," as announced by his license plate frame. Since graduating from UCSB last year, Chris stepped up from undergraduate lab manager to full-time lab technician. He's a NAUI Divemaster who said he relates to the uniform point contact category "bare rock" because "my jokes tend to fall flat. Get it?" (Please disregard that and try to enjoy the rest of this interview.) Why did you decide to study marine biology? I think the ocean is a fascinating place facing a variety of change and challenge, both natural and anthropogenic. Working to study, understand, and protect such differing and diverse ecosystems via a variety of exciting means was something that attracted me as a young scientist. Plus you can practice it anywhere in the world! What advice would you give to someone who wants to get involved in diving and marine research? What are you waiting for? Just do it! Many institutions offer discounts on courses and rates for students and staff members, so take advantage of it while you can. The sooner you start the sooner you can get where you want to be! If you weren't a marine biologist, what would you do instead? Probably some sort of outdoor adventure guide. Or something similar that would grant me the opportunity to explore and enjoy nature. I’ve been trying to explore new forms of enjoying the outdoors: trail running, rock climbing, and stand up paddle-boarding have recently been a focus of mine. What does the future have in store for the "Honey Badger?" Eventually I’ll return to school in pursuit of a graduate degree, but for the time being, I couldn’t be happier with the exciting mix of lab and field work I’ve been exposed to. My experience has been nothing short of awesome!
I’ve never really strayed too far from the water throughout my life. In my early years I lived along the lake shore in Oakville only to find myself as a young teen watching the waves crash on the shores of the Atlantic while living across the harbour from Halifax. Throughout my adult life I’ve lived, lounged, loved, laughed and worked on the west coast with the mighty Pacific lapping at my feet. By plane, train, car and bus I’ve traveled the inner bits of our country, but it has always been the margins that have drawn me in; the coasts have always called my name. For the past 23 years, I have been incredibly fortunate to call Vancouver Island my home. Living on an island off the west coast of Canada with the Salish Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west, one would be hard pressed to find a day where the ocean that surrounds us doesn’t make a significant impact on our lives. The daily weather we live with, the transportation of goods and people to and from our island, the industry and jobs we work at, the vibrant, dynamic and unique Indigenous cultures and our collective history on this island, the food we eat, the air we breathe all depend on the Pacific that surrounds us. So, if the oceans are the lifeblood of planet Earth and play such a central role in our lives, one work think that the topic is well covered in our education system, right? Wrong. Now let me state, I’m also at fault here. I am both a physical and human geography teacher for grade twelve and eleven students. Although I do have units on coastal geomorphology, climatology, meteorology, and tectonics in my physical geography class, my coverage of oceanography is marginal at best. In my human geography class, I cover units on development, transportation, agriculture and urbanization and given that about 40% of the world’s population lives within 100 kilometers of the coast the dearth of coverage I give oceanography is wholly inadequate. This is why I was excited when the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (CMOS) and the Canadian National Committee/Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (CNC/SCOR) offered a Canadian teacher the chance to participate in the American Meteorological Society/United States Naval Academy Maury Project workshop. The goal of the Maury Project is to provide teacher enhancement on the physical foundations of oceanography for science teachers. As such, I was prepared to absorb as much information as I could over the two-week workshop at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis Maryland and absorb I did; my brain is figuratively full. The co-coordinators Dr. David R. Smith, retired professor and former chairman of the Naval Academy oceanography department, and Ms. Wendy Abshire, Education Director of the American Meteorological Society, set out an ambitious and detailed itinerary for the 23 American participants and the lone Canadian (me) to follow. Daily work in the classroom included lectures, the examination of teaching modules, and demonstrations for lab work connected to the topics we covered. Commander William Swick (USN), Commander Shawn Gallaher (USN), Commander John Bleidorn (USN), Dr. Joseph Smith, and other esteemed faculty gave fascinating conversations on a wide range of topics including: ocean water column structure; ocean biogeochemical profiles; open ocean circulation and fluid dynamics; ocean acoustics, sound speed variability and detecting objects in the ocean; thermohaline circulation and global heat transfer; and individual ocean overviews. I must admit, being the lone geographer in a crowd full of physics and chemistry teachers, there were moments during the lectures when I did feel a bit lost; mostly when formulas showed up on the overhead, like the simplified linear approximation to the equation of state for seawater or the formula for the transfer of heat across the ocean surface…Having said that the instructors took pains to explain the physics of fluid dynamics and ocean chemistry in a manner that the common layperson could understand, and the general concepts were easily transferable to a variety of subject areas. What I was interested in doing was seeing connections among topics in a geographic perspective. Making connections between open ocean circulation, global heat transfer, ocean biogeochemical profiles, and coastal upwelling allows for a better understanding of natural resource distribution and the cooperation and conflict that arises between competing interests for them. This is where I spent my time in the classroom, furiously scribbling notes about teaching ideas for physical and human geography. What I found, is that I learned a great deal and found ways to apply that learning to the core subject I love, which really was the goal of the Maury Project. We also go to complete some model teaching through cooperative activities and team demonstrations for lab work connected to the set of Maury Project teaching modules. Of course, a day would not be complete without the poetic words of Matthew Fontaine Maury fondly espoused by retired naval oceanographer and instructor extraordinaire Don McManus. Not only did we work on some theoretical physical oceanography in the classroom, we also did some practical work in the field as well. Out in the Chesapeake Bay, on the naval research Yard Patrol Craft YP-686, we deployed a Rosette CTD, to analyze the conductivity, temperature, pressure of a vertical column of seawater, also taking water samples at depth. The CTD was lowered into the bay by a hydraulic winch at the stern of the boat and we analyzed the measurements on a computer graph while the CTD was still deployed. We also used a refractometer to determine the salinity of our water samples that we took at depth. In addition, we deployed a Profiling Natural Fluorometer (PNF) along with a Secchi Disk to measure the depth of the euphotic layer in the Chesapeake. In addition, we conducted a coastal analysis at Matapeake Beach on Kent Island. Using a beach seine, we looked for nektonic organisms (we did find a few small blue crabs). Being a geographer, I was really at home when we used topographic surveying equipment (a grading rod along with a line and transit) to create a beach profile to examine beach morphology. These active field studies allowed us to connect practical experiences to the in-class lecture topics of oceanography that we explored. Along with the active field work, we also made our way to the National Aquarium in Baltimore, NOAA headquarters in Silver Spring, and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center for more learning opportunities. Two big takeaways from the Maury Project for me were connections and knowledge. I already had a basic understanding of ocean topography, thermohaline circulation, shallow water ocean waves, ocean tides, and the processes of coastal geomorphology but the depth of information presented to us was amazing. This was, for lack of a better phrase, a two-week crash course in physical oceanography and we were fully immersed in the subject. I now have a much more complete understanding of ocean dynamics and that bodes well for the geography classes I teach. This is also especially important given the curriculum revisioning process that we are currently involved with in British Columbia. I needed to know more, and this opportunity provided me that; my students will directly benefit from my participation in the Maury Project. So too, however, will those of my colleagues with whom I work in British Columbia. A province that is so fortunate to have such an incredible coastline needs teachers who can nurture student interest in the ocean. The scientific study of the ocean has applications across all studies in school; the opportunities for cross and co-curricular studies, projects and field work are virtually limitless and, as the poster in the NOAA headquarters stated, “All Life Depends on the Ocean”. So now what? As a graduate of the Maury Project, I carry the responsibility to share what I’ve learned and further the understanding of physical oceanography with my colleagues and peers. I have arranged to conduct a professional development workshop on wind driven ocean circulation and coastal upwelling for both Science and Social Studies teachers this August in my school district. I will also be presenting a workshop on wind driven ocean circulation and El Niño at the British Columbia Social Studies Teachers Conference in October this year. Hopefully that’s just the start. I was fortunate enough to attend Project Atmosphere in 2000; eighteen years later I still use the meteorological material I learned then with the students I work with now. In the words of Matthew Fontaine Murray, “The wonders of the sea are as marvelous as the glories of the heavens”. It seems pretty clear to me that the material I engaged with this summer will tumble down my remaining years of teaching both Human and Physical Geography and beyond...ocean and sky. I am eternally grateful for the people and organizations who put together this opportunity. First and foremost, I want to thank the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (CMOS) and the Canadian National Committee/Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (CNC/SCOR) for selecting me as the lone Canadian participant; supporting the opportunity to attend and learn at the Maury Project. Thank you to Canadian Geographic Education (CGE) and the Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS) for promoting this opportunity to its membership. I wish to thank the American Meteorological Society (AMS), the United States Naval Academy (USNA), the California University of Pennsylvania (CalU-Penn), and the United States Navy (USN) for not only maintaining but being champions for the Maury Project. I wish to give thanks to my American teacher colleagues / fellow participants at the Maury Project, y’all were so welcoming and I learned a great deal from you. Lastly, I think I can speak for everyone who’ve gone through the Maury Project when I say that this professional workshop experience is in no small amount the result of the passion of two phenomenal educators, David R. Smith and Don E. McManus. I was lucky enough to catch both together as this was Don’s last year with the program and next year David will take his parting bow as well. Building, growing, maintaining and now transitioning others into this program was no small feat for these two. Just from the participant’s view, the amount of energy required to organize and run the Maury Project appeared to be overwhelming, yet these two dedicated educators transferred their passion for oceanography in what seemed to be an effortless manner. Thank you, David and Don, for building such a rewarding professional development opportunity.
This expedition has been several years in the making as part of my PhD in the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford University. I first encountered the Sama-Bajau fishers in the Banggai Archipelago through a Nat Geo Collaborative Grant documenting the global aquarium fish trade with a team of other Young Explorers (check out reeftoaquarium.com to meet the team and follow Dory's journey from the sea to a hobbyist's home in Colorado). I became interested in why some of these fishers still use cyanide, while others have transitioned to more sustainable practices, which led to my current PhD thesis and questions. This project is now supported by generous funding through E-IPER as well as an Early Career Grant from National Geographic. There are several components to this expedition: 1) Putting Cameras in the Hands of the Community During the first 6 months of the project, l will work with the fishing community on Toropot Island, one of the Sama-Bajau villages and my primary field site, to implement a participatory method known as Photovoice. For this part of the project, 30-50 residents will have cameras in-hand to document their lives. They will be guided by three prompts, each prompt representing a different photovoice session. The prompts include: 1) photograph things that represent the past to you; 2) photograph things that represent the present to you; and 3) photograph things that represent the future to you. At the end of each round, each lasting two months, I will conduct informal interviews in small groups of 2 or 3 community members to discuss why participants created the images they choose to share for each prompt. In this way, the discussion of the images becomes as important as the images themselves. Participants could make the same picture for each prompt, for example, but have very different reasons for doing so that are elicited as the image is discussed, revealing further insights about their experience of time. 2) Daily "Participant Observation" on Fishing Trips Participant observation is a fancy anthropology term for joining the people with whom you're working and being a keen observer and detailed note-taker. In my case, this means going out on fishing trips with the same 20-30 fishers to observe their fishing practices, most often, freediving with them while they are breathing from a hookah line attached to a compressor 3) Collecting Fish Catch Data I will also be training the same 20-30 fishers to record their daily motivations and catch data in Rite-in-the-Rain notebooks over the course of the year. This data will be used to better characterize the fishery and understand what and how much each fisher is catching, as well as what methods they are using. 4) Informal Interviews with Fishers I will also be asking the same 20-30 fishers questions that can help reveal their perception of time and abundance. For example: How do you decide how many fish you will catch each day?; Do you always catch as many as you can?; Does the ocean provide an endless source of fish?; For the fish you eat, do you eat it all right away?; If not, why not and what techniques do you use to save the fish for later?; Do you save money or spend it right away?; If you save money, how much do you save and for how long?; and If you don’t save money, why not?; Do you ever think about the grandchildren you might have in the future?; If so, what do you think about them?; etc. 5) Structured Surveys Finally, I will then use responses from these informal interviews to further refine the questions to make sure they make sense to the fishers and are tailored to their specific context. These questions will form the basis of a more formal survey that I will implement with a larger population of fishers in the Banggai Archipelago across five islands to see if there are any characteristics or factors associated with fishers who have a more future-oriented lens. For example, do fishers who have lived in one place their whole lives think about the future more, or perhaps fishers who have had contact with NGO's? This is the plan as of now, but field work is always full of surprises! I aim to be flexible and nimble to adapt to the reality of the fishers' context as I get to know them and their environment better over the course of the year. Thank you so much for joining me on this journey!
Every journey has a first step, and this is ours. At the heart of the task we set ourselves is what seemed like a simple challenge; getting cameras into the sea. Our real first step is figuring out how to do this. Many questions emerged; what type of cameras do we need? What size should the platform be? How do we make it float? Where do you buy PVC pipes in Dublin? We spent most of this week carefully planning this project. We knew exactly what we wanted to achieve. In the end the construction of the platform took 20 minutes! Planning is key! So now we have our first thing to show for our efforts - a frame with multiple cameras and lighting attached. It might not seem like much yet, but it gives us something to build on (literally). If it works, we'll try getting it moving on the water's surface. And then, hopefully, below the surface... Next week, we'll be testing buoyancy and stability, and hopefully have our first underwater footage. Oh, and a new paint job. Now that is a hard decision! Why are we even trying to make our DIY underwater camera system anyway? We have never built anything like this before. We know that it would be possible to buy an underwater vehicle that would help us answer the questions we have, and that would certainly be easier than doing it ourselves. But we also know that maybe there are others out there with questions like ours, or maybe those who don't have their own questions yet, but just want to be curious explorers of the sea. If we can do this, we show that anyone can do this. Yes, we may be trained scientists, but this is far beyond our usual skill set. We are more comfortable with a microscope and a dish of cells, but we also love the challenge of learning to do and make something new. And making mistakes along the way, so you don't have to!
About Eelgrass: Seagrass beds provide essential biological benefits to ocean environments, such as the production of oxygen, sediment stabilization, absorption of nutrients and the improvement of water quality. Eelgrass (Zostera marina) is also an important foundation species as it provides habitat and nursery grounds for a number of ecologically and economically important species. Eelgrass Restoration in Orange County: Orange County Coastkeeper and partners have been restoring eelgrass in Upper Newport Bay, Newport Beach, California since 2008. The project was originally conceived to fulfill a need for more research and data on effective restoration and management methods for eelgrass in the bay, which had declined in the upper bay due to poor water quality. Each summer since 2012, Coastkeeper has been joined by partners and hardworking volunteers to bring back more eelgrass to Upper Newport Bay. Upper Newport Bay Living Shorelines Project: Coastkeeper, in partnership with California State University Fullerton and California State University Long Beach are conducting a new restoration project which targets the native Olympia oyster, Ostrea lurida, and native eelgrass, Zostera marina, in an innovative integrated approach in Newport Bay. We plan to harness the sediment stabilization characteristics of each to counteract shoreline erosion and provide other critically needed environmental benefits. Benefits of Living Shorelines: improve water quality by improving natural water filtration provide habitat for diverse assemblages of plants and animals help to increase oxygen levels for fish and other aquatic species return habitat connectivity between terrestrial and subtidal communities About this Expedition: Orange County Coastkeeper seeks to establish a program using a Trident ROV to track eelgrass habitat both in Newport Bay and around marine protected areas in Orange County. Eelgrass has not been extensively surveyed offshore in these areas, and detecting changes in seagrass occurrence and cover using remote underwater video will be very beneficial.
During our 2018 expedition in Greece, we heavily relied on our fleet of aerial drones. With approx. 30min flight time, they are ideal to explore hard-to-access coastlines, spot animals and follow them without bothering their daily habits. While exploring a little island not far from Fiskardo, we spotted two monk seals playing in underwater tunnels. It has probably been their playground since they were pups, as they constantly disappeared only to reappear in odd places. That particular piece of coast must be like Swiss cheese, with holes and tunnels leading everywhere. It was a blessing to see these two seals together, as it's a species that is on the brink of extinction and thus the sightings are very rare.
Day 7th, July 10th: The Bongo River As we cruise down south, we reach the southern part of the Nicoya Peninsula, here is where CREMA (www.cremacr.org ; the organization that I work with) has most of it's research and conservation projects. For the next couple of days, we will be helping Elpis Joan M.Sc in wildlife conservation. She has been studying the movements of juvenile bull sharks that move along rivermouths in this region. One of our theories is that when they grow up, these sharks move to more pelagic waters to feed and reproduce, most likely, the Bat Islands and the area up there. But, how do you track the movements of these animals?? As an organization, CREMA is part of MigraMar (www.migramar.org)) a network of organizations tracking ocean wildlife along the Eastern Pacific. All the organizations in MigraMar use acoustic telemetry to gather data on animal movements in the area. Acoustic telemetry is very simple, you attach a tag to the object of study, this tag emits a sound at a specific frequency. Later, an acoustic receiver that is put in the areas of study will capture that signal, and let us know the time and date when the animal was swimming around that area. Since all the organizations use the same technology, all the data, and the receivers are shared between the researchers. In this area, we have 5 acoustic receivers deployed, we download the data every couple of months and we can know if any animals that we tag where swimming in this area. Cool huh? These are called presence/absence studies, since we can only know if the animal was present or not in the area at a specific time. With this data we can determine the areas of higher activity and therefore, pressure the local authorities to provide a better management of this region. I will show a video where we tag a baby bull shark, i have to warn you that the video can be shocking, however, no animals where hurt during our research and all ethic guidelines where rightly followed. Pictures: Acoustic receiver & Sea turtle with an acoustic tag on its carapace.
On July 12 a window seems to open and a launch for Explorer II is attempted... The giant balloon (a 3,500,000 cubic foot bag) is taken out of its box and inflated with helium gas. The gondola is attached, and flight is about to take place but just at that moment, the balloon rips and collapses , so further attempts are postponed until autumn.
As an undergraduate student studying Integrative Biology in the Harvard Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and under the tutelage of Professor Gonzalo Giribet, I traveled to Florida in June 2018 to collect Bdelloura candida, the ectocommensal planarian (flatworm) found on Limulus polyphemus, the Atlantic horseshoe crab. A previous study (Riesgo et al. 2017) established that the B. candida population in the northern Gulf of Mexico is genetically divergent from the Atlantic population that was sampled from Georgia to Maine. Thus the Florida peninsula serves not only as an area that must be sampled between these divergent populations but also as a natural geographic barrier between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. This is where I come in. Having grown up in sunny southwest Florida nestled between the Gulf of Mexico, Ten Thousand Islands, and Everglades National Park, I desperately wanted to delve more into Florida's marine science and this was my chance to do so. My mission is to sample areas all around the Florida peninsula in order to triangulate the biogeographical barrier demonstrated by the divergent haplotypes of B. candida populations. I'm thrilled to see what this research reveals not only for flatworm-horseshoe crab relationship but also for a variety of symbiotic relationships in which the phylogeography of the symbiont may mirror that of its host.
A Floatarium is a proposed floating, catch and release public aquarium to be located in Horseshoe Bay, West Vancouver, British Columbia! Operating seasonally from June until September annually, the Floatarium will “bring the ocean to eye level” by providing engaging hands-on marine education for an affordable admission rates. This 20-30minute experience is targeted to families with children waiting for the ferry. Ocean to Eye Level (OTEL), the makers of the Floatarium, is committed to a catch-and-release philosophy which aims to make as little impact on the environmental as possible by releasing the locally-collected invertebrates and robust fish back to the sea after a short stay on display. The Floatarium will be the first of its kind, made up of a ~1000 sq. ft. floating platform with a 40' shipping container on top. Inside and outside, there will be 20+ aquarium exhibits with local marine life including stars, crabs, snails, nudibranchs, sponges, shiner perch and juvenile rockfish. Visitors will be given the chance to see the ocean at eye level through live animal displays, touch tanks, underwater cameras, remote operated vehicles, video screens and underwater sound exhibits.
So far we've compared two methods to measure pen shell densities on a shallow ground around the city of Chioggia, based on the counting of animals on a fixed area on the field and performed by a drone.Next two months (august and september) will be dedicated to the study of the pen shell populations in the southern basin of the Venice Lagoon, extending counts and measurements not only to the animals that one or twice a day are exposed to air but also to those individuals that live on the bottom of the canals, by means of a mini-ROV.
Wheelchair Attenborough - From Sky To Sea:This bio style documentary will focus on my life growing up and my passion for the ocean. It will detail the accident that rendered me a quadriplegic and my life moving forward post spinal cord injury. It will detail how I reconnected with the ocean and wildlife again though the use of drone technology. We will embark on a live-aboard charter to the Fitzgerald River national park famous for its wildlife - including, Southern Right Whales, Dolphins, Sea Lions and sharks. Here we will document the species during the day and night. I will utilise the latest underwater drone/ROV technology to capture footage un-atainable to me previously due to my disability. Coupling aerial footage as well as underwater scenes will allow me to tell the full story. The ending of the documentary will involve me traveling to Port Lincoln in South Australia to enter the water again for the first time in over 10 years. This time to film a creature that has evaded the view of my camera. The Great White Shark.
What happens after an expedition? I can't speak for everyone else who organizes an expedition but after I got back from the field I put away the equipment, organized the photos, shared the field notes (as seen on this platform), and updated the project map with field work locations. The iNaturalist observations have been added to this iNaturalist project. I also uploaded the data. Since we have a small data set, it's impossible to draw many conclusions. One of the conclusions that can be made from the data is that water in Sage Creek is very turb*d or cloudy. This is not a surprise as Sage Creek runs through the Badlands, a highly erodible landscape. This data has been added to a story map of water transparency readings that will eventually be populated by water transparency readings from around the state. Using a phenomena based approach, students can conduct a water transparency study on a local water body and then compare their findings with others from around the state. Can they see patterns according to the geology of the state? How about surrounding land use? I am encouraging educators to become trained in GLOBE water transparency protocols to populate this map with their local data. An authentic audience for a school project always adds a level of interest and meaning to a project. I will be collecting data as I travel around the state as well. Even though the work with the data will continue, the actual field session is now complete with this final blog entry. The only thing that remains is set the tentative dates for next year. I have penciled in June 24-27. There will be some exciting additions and updates. Stay tuned!
The Giant Sea Bass (Stereolepis gigas) is the largest bony fish found in California waters reaching a maximum size of 7 feet and nearly 600 pounds. It is an important apex predator of near shore rocky reefs. From the late 1800's to the 1970's there was a commercial fishery in both California and Mexico. However, the Giant Sea Bass was thought to have been fished to extinction in California by the early 80's in part because of their inclination to group together which made it easy to fish out entire populations. California closed the commercial and recreational fisheries in 1981 but it was years before Giant Sea Bass were seen again. There are now thought to be around 500 individuals in California waters and there is much to learn about their habits and reproductive behaviors. Our expedition seeks to help shed light on populations of Giant Sea Bass in and around the Lions Head to Arrow Point Marine Protected Area (MPA) on Catalina Island. Through the use of a Remotely Operated Vehicle or ROV we hope to track and identify the suspected 20 plus individuals that live within the MPA and share this information with the public and network of researchers who study this amazing animal. Photo by Shaun Wolfe