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

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On Monday, February 6, 2017, around 1:30 a.m. CST, a sonic boom shook residents of the Midwest as a bright green fireball streaked through the night sky. The sound was that of a meteor, nearly the size of a minivan, entering our atmosphere. After its fall to Earth, radar spotted the end of its journey over Lake Michigan, approximately 10 miles off the coast of Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Teen explorers from Chicago, led by scientists from the Adler Planetarium's Far Horizons program, The Shedd Aquarium, and The Field Museum, team up to take on this Underwater ROV Meteorite Hunt. Interested explorers wanted!
80posts
Hawksbill sea turtles are particularly threatened in the Eastern Pacific ocean, with only 500 nesting females left in the whole region. We have discovered that a small population of juvenile hawksbill sea turtles uses the rocky reefs around the waters of Costa Rica to feed and grow. Join me as I explore the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, studying these animals, following their movements, and working with the local communities to ensure the survival of this species.
28posts
The Strategic Mobilization of Autonomous Research Technologies for Bay Assessment, Restoration, and Conservation. This pilot project will address the need for a program that combines technologies with persistent outreach and education, focusing on citizen scientists and students, engendering community involvement and activity. This approach supports a road-map towards a Chesapeake bay holistic 4D assessment such that restoration and conservation can better support the ecology and economy of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. This program is designed such that it fulfills this need and lays a foundation for continual outreach and community engagement by bringing together technology subject matter experts from public and private sectors as educators and infuse development and deployment skills needed to continue restoring the Chesapeake Bay to a vibrant and strong economically sound biologically diverse ecosystem.
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In August 2019, Riparia will bring 10 diverse young Canadian women on a five-day canoe expedition to the Poisson Blanc Regional Park to learn about freshwater science, and help document the status of local freshwater ecosystems.
3posts
Utilizing a collaborative-participatory approach to map and explore remote mountainous areas of Armenia.
10posts
We're excited to study the habitat and other ecosystem services provided by restorative ocean polyculture and explore ocean polyculture as a vehicle for kelp restoration and conservation.
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Equatorial Guinea: The Waters at the Middle of Earth
WCS have been working in a one of the pristine places on earth, Equatorial Guinea, since 2007. The only spanish speaking country in Africa, it is a singular arrangement of islands and continent with 92% of seas.

Recent Observations

ANALYSIS Often, where we hardly see anything, a small graphic analysis reveals what time has hidden. Due to the limited field of vision it is difficult to understand what the camera shows, in this small exercise we gather in a single image the content of the clip, and the result is spectacular. What appears are fragments of a construction, by the separation between the blocks and the inclined position of one of them it is easy to suppose that there were violent movements at some point. Nor do we know exactly how many blocks there are or what size, what appear to be large blocks could be smaller blocks uniformed by the incrustations. Or maybe, as it seems to be everything is built by blocks different from each other . ANALISIS A menudo, donde apenas vemos nada, un pequeño análisis gráfico revela lo que el tiempo ha ocultado. Debido a lo limitado del campo de visión resulta difícil comprender lo que la cámara muestra, en este pequeño ejercicio reunimos en una sola imagen el contenido del clip, y el resultado es espectacular. Lo que aparece son fragmentos de una construcción, por la separación entre los bloques y la posición inclinada de uno de ellos es fácil suponer que hubo violentos movimientos en algún momento. Tampoco sabemos exactamente cuantos bloques hay ni de que tamaño, lo que aparentan ser bloques grandes podrían ser bloques más pequeños uniformados por las incrustaciones. O quizá todo esté construido por bloques diferentes unos de otros como aparenta.
Ready, set..... Open Explorer provides a great platform for sharing a project from start, through execution and to completion. We were concerned that people may tire of hearing about preparation without seeing some movement to the ‘in the field’ stage. On that basis there has been a slow down in posts and a focus on getting the equipment we need to start exploring. The truth is we would have loved to have been ‘in the field’ and executing after our first post, but that is not the reality for most projects. Many projects will start as concepts or ideas looking for support or a backer. The S.E.E Initiative from Sofar Ocean (formerly OpenROV) and other sponsors, is one way to potentially receive equipment that could allow a project to get started. We have self-funded our first ROV and should be receiving it in the next week or two. We have also started ‘ROVwith’ which will be a place and brand we can share more information from. We can also get more engagement with local pier, shore and waterway stakeholders and users. You can start following us on twitter @rovwith. True to the projects origins and intent, we will be looking to educate, raise awareness and interest. We aim to achieve this by looking for extraordinary things in ordinary places. That is not entirely fair to some of the places we will visit, some of the piers and iconic shore locations are extraordinary in their own right and have been proven to contain some extraordinary views and inhabitants. With the assistance of a ready to dive ROV we hope to dive in some unique locations as well as the iconic ones. At first our investigations will be motivated by places that are easily accessible (nearby) and that we are interested in exploring. One such place is the inlet off of Charles Bates Reserve in Williamstown. The photos below show this body of water which is right beside a very popular running/walking/cycling path and is part of Port Phillip Bay and the mouth to the Yarra River. We have always imagined that under the surface here there will be a big shallow dish with a silt and mud bottom and a bit like an underwater lunar landscape with little marine life. The signage in the area does warn of a ‘Drop off’ so it will be interesting to see if our predictions are correct and if there is a ledge, how deep the water is in this area. Visibility could be an issue here as well, we will do some of our test and practice dives in clearer water before dropping in here. One we commence diving we will start capturing temperature and depth data as well as observations. Like the other projects deploying ROVs we look forward to sharing the footage (good and bad) and piloting experiences (good and bad) to allow others to learn, as we have been from those who have gone before us.
Meet the Browns, a Puerto Viejan family with traceable roots in the area that extend back to the mid-1800s, and possibly even further. The Browns, who live in this small enclave of Costa Rica, are a unique Corleone/Kardashian-hybrid-like family with a seemingly endless brood of relatives (200+ and counting) who look out for each other, and who come in a great variety of skin hues - even within the same family unit. One of the family matriarchs is Irma. Irma with the sweet smile and the quiet voice and the complicated history that stretches to Jamaica (her grandfather came from Jamaica to Costa Rica to work on the railroad) and on her ex-husband’s side to West Africa. The family stewards are brothers Kevin, Andy and Esteban, 19, 21 and 22, and cousin Pete, 18. Four young men who are connecting the family’s present to its past through their search for slave ships reported to have wrecked in the nearby Cahuita harbor. You see, stories passed down over the years, whispered in the dark and over campfires, say that the first Brown ancestor in these parts was on one of those ships. How do they know for sure that slave ships made their way to Costa Rican shores? Historians, researchers, divers and most recently, archaeologists have been able to gather evidence that suggests that artifacts in an archaeological site near Cahuita Point might belong to two Danish slave ships. These ships set sail from Denmark in the early 17th century, heading to the Danish colony of St. Thomas after raiding and enslaving Africans in West Africa. But the ships, traveling closely together, were blown off course by bad weather and eventually, might have landed in the Punta Cahuita harbor of Costa Rica instead. The documented archives show that the crews on both ships mutinied and wrecked the ships after taking the Africans to shore. The trail goes lukewarm afterward, a disappearing line of breadcrumbs that fade into the hills, now reconstituted with a few faded images and tales that family elders pass down orally to their descendants. Sonia, one of Irma’s daughters and Pete’s aunt and guardian, shares one tale: “My uncle showed me an old picture of a man with a long, white beard. He said this is your great grandpa. His father came to Jamaica in a slave ship. And he, in turn, came to Costa Rica to work the railroad, but he ran away to work in the highlands of Talamanca and eventually, he reached the indigenous territory.” She looks up, incredulous, “I said, ‘What? I never knew this!’” Kevin continues, “We heard he ran to the mountains and met the BriBri [the largest indigenous community in Costa Rica], where he was welcomed and could make a new life start.” Records indicate that Kevin's great-great-grandfather married a Bribri woman and that there are likely others of mixed heritage in the Bribri highlands whose ancestors came directly from the slave ships wrecked on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. The family thinks a member of Irma's ex-husband's family stood on one of those ships. And they wonder if their Jamaican ancestors, who originally came from West Africa, too, may have found commonality and mixed easily with the descendants of the escaped Africans. It’s a tangled web that will take much more time to uncover. But the artifacts on the seafloor - bricks, cannons, anchors, fragments of bottles and pipes - clues that Centro Comunitário de Buceo Embajadores y Embajadoras del Mar are being trained by archaeologists and researchers to verify, just may provide more concrete missing links. Plus, fishermen in Cahuita reported that scuba divers searched the remains and found smoking-gun items like shackles. Centro is in talks with a family that has some of these items and is encouraging them to release them for further study. Pete, Kevin and Esteban, all Sea Hunters, all members of Centro, all with the exact same thick and perfectly arched eyebrows, believe wholeheartedly in this work. They are clear that by understanding and embracing these ties to the past they will more powerfully shape their own journeys to manhood. Esteban, who is bold and rather dashing, is also super handy. He can fix and jerry-rig almost anything. For Centro, he created a way to help its divers use nature (the mountains and the shoreline) to “trilaterate” the distance between points in order to mark artifacts under the water. He is also certified as a PADI-rescue diver, has completed two levels of the Nautical Archaeological Society (NAS) and serves as an assistant in the PADI-intro course to help get youth rethinking and strengthening their connection to the ocean. Pete is smaller in stature than his cousins. He used to be very shy, according to his family. But over the years he has gained confidence. Now, he is a partner with two other young divers in a social venture supported by Centro called the Puerto Viejo Old Town Tour. He and his partners guide visitors around town and in the water for short scuba or snorkel dives, providing them lessons about the town’s historical and underwater archaeological sites. And Kevin, soft-spoken and laid-back, but clearly a leader in Centro as the others gravitate and defer to him, comes alive in the ocean. He swoops and laughs and plays when we dive. The joy on his face is infectious. He also has his PADI and NAS first level certifications and helps train new divers in the PADI intro course. All three of them train children in Centro’s Children’s Snorkeling Camps. Whether this family finds incontrovertible evidence about their ancestral connection to slave ships or not, the search process has already changed them for the better, giving them access to opportunities previously unimaginable and igniting passions that now burn deep. “Since I was five years old, I was going fishing with my cousins and my friends,” says Pete. “We were fishing on the seashore. We fished all day. But to know you can breathe underwater … and you can learn about sunken ships … the first time I dived, I felt like I was coming out of my heart.” “We have to be proud to be Afro-Costa Rican,” he adds, referring to the often suppressed acknowledgment that many Costa Ricans have African ancestry, a fact that rarely makes it into the history books. “I want more people here to support this project because this is the root of many of us - this work is part of us all.” “We live along the coast of Puerto Viejo,” says Irma. “We love the ocean. And my grandchildren love this project. What they are finding is so interesting. Wow. Part of my blood may have been coming in those ships.” She sighs, “I am so proud of all of them.” (Pics below: Irma, Esteban, Kevin and Pete.) *Andy is not pictured - he was not in Puerto Viejo when I visited.

Pristine Seas

Exploring and protecting the last wild places in the ocean