Swim eye to eye with sea lions

Exploring the wonders of California's Farallon Islands.
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Searching for Sunken History

The hunt for the wreck of Clint Eastwood's crashed Skyraider.
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Exploration of the Antarctic Sea Floor, Underwater Images of Icebergs and Sampling Phytoplankton in Antarctic Fjords

This expedition will use a variety of tools, including the Trident, to study phytoplankton in Antarctic Fjords, photograph glaciers and icebergs, and to search for new species on the Antarctic sea floor.

Recent Observations

Teens of Chicago Unite Around the Aquarius Project Recently, teens from across Chicago, involved in teen programs from The Field Museum, The Shedd Aquarium, and The Adler Planetarium's Far Horizons Program came together to collaborate with like minded teens and professional scientists to tackle The Aquarius Project. Nathaly, a member of the Field Museum's Youth Council blogged about the experience, click the excerpt below to read the entire piece: "As people continued their inquisitiveness, one of the answers that often came up was, “I don’t know.” Very often, I don’t know is not an acceptable answer, because it means that there is something that is yet to be found, and science is supposed to have the answers to everything. But this time, I don’t know meant something different. It inspired curiosity. It made us want to find out more. And, from the looks on our awed faces as the scientists from the Adler Planetarium, Field Museum, and Shedd Aquarium talked about the various aspects of the Aquarius project, I don’t know was enough....(more)"

Since 2009 Mote Marine Lab scientists and collaborators have been studying the biology, life history, population structure, diet and movement patterns of spotted eagle rays off Southwest Florida and in areas around Mexico, Cuba and east coast of Florida. This research has produced several publications to help better inform fisheries management and has provided important information on this data deficient species (see Bassos-Hull et al. 2014, Newby et al. 2014, Sellas et al. 2015, Flowers et al. 2016, Cerutti-Pereyra et al. 2017). We are excited about the possibilities of how a Trident ROV will augment and enhance our research, specifically looking at spotted eagle ray aggregations and habitat and prey availability.

Operation: Battle of Egadi is part of a big underwater archaeological project located in Sicily with the aim to create the first digital underwater map of the cultural heritage. The project started more than 12 years ago and during this time we have explored and documeted several shipwrecks and archaeological sites all around the sicilian sea. In the last three years we focused our effort to develop innovative underwater surevy techniques like 3D photogrammetry and 3D modelling of the artifacts. Testbed location are Aeolian and Egadi islands. Currently we are working on three Greek shipwrecks from 80 to 135 mt depth around Panarea island and in the Batlle of Egadi site.

The weather system that has driven the Southern California firestorms has also smoothed the ocean and calmed the northwesterlies so we will be departing for the last trip of the year under fairs seas and sky. This expedition will be a wet exploration diving two spots at SEFI. With the winds out of the east we will be likely taking refuge on the west side near Mirounga Bay (named after the genus of the Northern Elephant seal) aka shark alley.Our team of four will be collecting observational data to add to the MPA Watch data base. Along the way we will be looking for whales. The California Gray Whales are migrating south, there should be a few more humpbacks out, and you never know what you will experience out in the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Follow updates on Facebook and Instagram @sharkstewards.

So much excitement in the house!! Look what arrived this week! Getting it all charged up and ready for its maiden voyage to investigate the cove 2 stormdrain. Also working on outfitting my OceanKayak to be the best Trident platform EVERY! :)

We have some theories on the ID of this barge, sitting in 53msw just beyond Cook Island on the Tweed Coast, Northern NSW. Having spotted some stacked cargo with the appearance of railway track segments, we plan to return with tools to remove some encrustation and take accurate measurements of the cargo to check against shipping manifests. We've made a few dives, however due to conditions on the wreck, we've been unable to make a positive ID as yet. Some sources call it the "cane barge" but we're not sure the profile fits.

OCEANS 360: Part of this expedition will be to gather high resolution 360 degree underwater footage of the Antarctic oceans. This sill be done as part of the Oceans 360 project. The problem: The world’s oceans and the living creatures that inhabit it continue to deteriorate. Coral bleaching is spreading at an alarming rate, vast plums of floating garbage are continually being discovered, and once abundant fish stocks are disappearing. When oceans are in trouble, humans are too. Millions of people around the globe depend on the oceans for food. Fifty percent of the oxygen we breathe comes from the photosynthesis of phytoplankton. As the oceans warm, phytoplankton populations will be significantly affected and the populations of creatures that depend on phytoplankton will decline. Educating people: It is imperative that we help people understand the issues involved in a way that engages them. Showing people the beauty and the fragility of the oceans, and using awe-inspiring technology, will leave them with a better appreciation of the issues involved and a desire to conserve the world’s oceans. The plan: The Lions of Gir Foundation (named after the near extinct Asiatic lions of the Gir Forest of India) plans to produce very high resolution, short duration, 360 videos shot underwater by scientists and underwater photographers for use by STEM programs, classroom science education programs, museums, and aquariums around the globe. The videos will be provided at no charge to educational institutions to be seen by as many people as possible. The camera will be loaned to scientists and photographers at no charge for this project. The 360 videos can be viewed online, on mobile devices, or by using inexpensive 360 viewers.

We plan to explore beneath the current borders of Bonaire National Marine Park (60m depth) for high densities of invasive Lionfishes.We want o localise high densities of Lionfishes and apply traps in favorable locations to catch them. We'd inspect the substrate and scout for fishess with help of a submersible ROV before deployment of traps.

I'm very excited to update everyone that I'll be taking my beta Trident to Maine in just a week. My friend, Ned, a fellow Explorer's Club member, will help me pilot the Trident through the chilly waters off the shores of Peaks Island, ME. Ned has seen the development of submersibles for decades. In 1965, he worked with Captain Jacques Cousteau's submersible Soucoupe. I'm thrilled that Ned will get to fly my Trident as we do some test dives before I head with the Trident back to Kachemak Bay and Tutka Bay in Alaska. Imagine how different it will be to control a tiny ROV much smaller (and in many ways, more capable) than the saucer that he first explored the depths of the ocean with!

As part of our lionfish survey with REEF.org, we were talking with Lad about the lionfish in Florida, how underwater drones can be used to look for them and what you can do to mitigate their impact!

Whale Shark Diaries was started in 2015 with the intention of helping to conserve whale sharks, an endangered species, through collaborative reseach, awareness and education facilitated by responsible tourism around the species.Through running excursions to swim with these gentle giants, we are presented with the opportunity to gather information to help us identify individuals which can aid in tracking their movements and general condition. As well as this we have the opportunity to observe the behaviour of whale sharks both engaged in interactions with humans and in undisturbed situations to try to better understand our impact on their behaviour. This type of information can be used to help develop the management plan of the species here in La Paz, Mexico and elsewhere, to make tourism around whale sharks more sustainable.

It appears that Victor and his team at Reef Explorer Fiji (https://www.facebook.com/Reef-Explorer-Fiji-Ltd-1655531604714267/) share some common interests and might just know of some interesting places to visit on the Coral Coast of Fiji... Take a look at some of their work on the reef here (https://www.facebook.com/1655531604714267/photos/a.1656687344598693.1073741829.1655531604714267/1954609818139776/?type=3&theater)

This is an Urban expedition centered around Guadalajara.

We have been planning this expedition for over a year now. We have been training hard for the physical aspect of the expedition. Spending up to 8 days traversing the At-Bashi range at altitudes of >4000m will be very physically challenging. We have been working hard studying maps and previous trip reports to determine appropriate routes and to find out if anyone else has attempted anything similar in the past. The At-Bashi range is an area which had previously been explored very little. We've also been working hard to research the area's town, connect with some of the local residents and begin to investigate how climate change is affecting this mountain community.

This was our first fill day in Guadeloupe. We spend the morning touring the facilities of the science department at Université des Antilles's Guadeloupe campus; they are doing some really exciting things with lubricants, polymer aging/durability, sickle cell research....very diverse and extremely interdisciplinary. We really enjoyed the electron microscopy labs, where they showed us the chemosynthetic bacteria you see in the picture below. The host these microbes live in is a small clam. Although it is in shallow water, this similar to the microbes living in the Riftia worms of hydrothermal vents. In the afternoon, we drove OpenROV 3536 in the test pool of the university. We placed a plastic target in the tank and practiced retrieving it from the bottom....a neat way to 'game-ify' the process of practicing ROV piloting.

Everyone that saw the Trident was excited by what we are doing with it; however, conditions on board did not allow others to interact much with it except as observers.

Our team of marine science graduate students have dived the Aquatic Park Cove to look for presence of eelgrass and map it. Using the Trident we were able to verify some eelgrass although the heavy influx of freshwater appears to have greatly reduced the abundance. Although in very low visibility- and difficulty navigating along the bottom in the current, we were able to identify several invertebrates and three species of marine algae using the drone. These will go into the species list we are collecting and onto the iNaturalist platform already started by our Bio Blitz this year. We plan to use the ROV in clearer water this winter. We have seen several species of small sharks and hope to verify presence absence using the drone, fishermen interviews and direct observation. Last year we did recover one moribund leopard shark and provided the sample to the Dept. Fish and Wildlife pathologist (which came up positive with M avidus, the ciliated protozoan associated with the shark die off in 2017.) We are hoping to potentially restore and protect eelgrass beds in the Aquatic Cove Park and continue monitoring for the health of sharks and rays and benthic habitat.

Due to popular demand, here another view of the shark encounter of Trident. Thanks Jack Woods for the outside video!

We've identified our local conservation partners for each target species and have developed draft methods that we'll be fine tuning over the next few weeks. We've tested our robots in the field; we're currently using an OpenROV 2.8 and a DJI Phantom 3A, but plan to expand our collection of robots to include a home-made fixed-wing aerial robot and the new Trident ROV. We'll be documenting our work on the OpenExplorer blog and on social media. The scientific outcomes of this set of projects will be disseminated through both peer-reviewed journals and popular science publications.

The Indian River Lagoon is in trouble. Once described as the most biologically diverse estuary in the United States its water quality has been deteriorating for years and wildlife is in decline - fishing, shellfish, sea grass, dolphins, bird life - by any measure you want to use - are in decline. At the Ocean Research & Conservation Association (ORCA) we have been documenting many of the lagoon's problems by creating pollution maps. One of the most exciting things about these maps is not the bad things they reveal, but rather the good things. There are stark contrasts with areas of unpolluted blue right beside bright red and the thing that has become increasingly obvious is those clean areas are associated with what are called living shorelines. These are places where there is a natural gradient of plant life that serves as both a biological filter and a very effective means of shoreline stabilization. We believe that the creation of living shorelines is low hanging fruit in terms of things that can be undertaken immediately to improve the health of the lagoon. For this reason our Living Lagoon project is restoring impaired areas of the Indian River Lagoon, while also exposing local students to the world of “living shorelines” through a newly developed school program. This is a community based effort carried out in collaboration with the Indian River Land Trust. Using plants that the students are growing and will help plant we are restoring Land Trust owned properties which they have identified as suffering from environmental degradation. We will also create before and after pollution maps which will have impacts far beyond our local community as they will provide a critical missing piece in the science of coastal habitat restoration and will hopefully provide the basis for expanding such projects into other impaired estuaries around the world. OpenROV represents a breakthrough in terms of providing an affordable and safe way for students to conduct the underwater surveys that are a critical part of the science.

With Schmidt Marine Technology Partners our new FUTURE FOCE system is being tested and will be deployed off of the Scripps pier very soon. We are working to develop new technologies for testing multiple-stressor climate change impacts in the marine environment. We previously built the CP-FOCE which we deployed on the Great Barrier Reef at the Heron Island Research station for over 8 months and found some really exciting results about how coral reefs will respond to ocean acidification. The FUTURE FOCE will be a portable multiple stressor system that will allow us to understand how marine animals and ecosystems respond to environmental stress. We plan to Open ROV and the Trident a critical part of our team that can check on and maintain our experiments when divers can't get in the water.

The Expedition Dates are being moved to early 2018. This is to ensure that we have the 100 meter tether and can provide a richer experience. In the meantime we are starting another San Diego Expedition: "Discover Citizen Science" with the Trident OpenROV, San Diego, CA https://openexplorer.com/expedition/discovercitizensciencesandiego

To test how OpenROVs perform at high altitudes, as a precursor to the eventual expedition to Ladakh, I took Matsya up to the Himalayas this past weekend. It was a long holiday because of the Diwali break, and with rising pollution levels here in Delhi, it was the perfect time to get out of the city and head up to the wilderness. We'd chosen Bhrigu Lake in Himachal Pradesh as the dive site; it's a small glacial lake at 4200m asl, and anecdotal evidence (from Wikipedia and TripAdvisor) suggested that it never freezes completely over. Pre-trip, I re-wound the wire onto a new spool, charged the 6 batteries, made sure the OpenROV was working perfectly and then sealed the main and battery tubes. I did this for a few of reasons; firstly, it gets dusty up in the mountains, and I wanted to expose the electronics to the minimum of dust. Secondly, I've worked at high altitudes before, and fatigue sets in quickly; I wanted to have as little technical work as possible at the dive site itself. And finally, I wasn't sure how deep the dive would be, so I preferred to play it safe and have the tubes pressurised at sea level, as opposed to at 4200m, where the atmospheric pressure is approximately half that at sea level. I also charged my laptop completely then sealed it in a plastic bag. I use a 15" MacBook Pro (early 2011), in which I'd replaced the hard disk drive (HDD) with a solid state drive (SSD) a few years ago. Using HDDs above 3000m is not recommended, because the low pressure means that there isn't enough of an air cushion for the disk to spin. If you do try starting up an HDD at high altitudes, apparently what you're most likely to hear is a crunch as the reading head tries to eat the spinning disk. For most treks up to the mountains, I usually pack a 2-man tent, a sleeping bag and a petrol stove, along with cold-weather clothing and supplies. This time, I also had the OpenROV and the MacBook, which quite honestly I never thought I'd be lugging up a mountain. We took the overnight bus from Delhi to Manali, and then a taxi up to the start point of the trek on the Leh-Manali highway, a few kilometres before the Rohtang Pass. We walked uphill for about 6 hours to the first base camp at Rola Khuli at 3650m asl, where we pitched tents, made a quick dinner of instant noodles and cheese, and then settled in for the night. The next morning, we left most of our equipment behind in the tents, and headed off, through light snowfall, for the trek to the lake itself. We got up to Bhrigu Lake by 1pm; the weather had completely cleared up, so I unpacked my rucksack. I unwound a little bit of the wire and put Matsya into the water to check that the tubes were still sealed, which they were. I then started up my laptop and plugged the cables in; the lights on the top-side box started blinking, and Chrome started up. The laptop battery reading was 92%, so everything seemed great. I hit my bookmark for the OpenROV Cockpit on Chrome, and we had data! Visual and telemetry were coming in, and everything seemed great; I was about to start up the motors to actually begin exploring the lake when my laptop died. The battery discharged completely. We sat around enjoying the view for some more time and then headed back to Rola Khuli, where we packed up camp and then heading back to Manali. While not being able to actually explore Bhrigu Lake was a bit disappointing, we did have a great trip, and accomplished our primary purpose, which was to make sure the OpenROV worked well at high altitudes. The MacBook charged as usual, and is functioning normally; I'm actually typing this post on it right now. It was either the extreme cold up at Bhrigu Lake or the low pressure, or a combination of both that affected the laptop battery. The maximum operating altitude for a MacBook Pro, as per Apple, is 3000m, so for the expedition to Tso Kar, the main lesson learnt is that we're going to need a sturdier laptop. The OpenROV, though, is ready for that dive. (With thanks to Raghav, Siddharth and Aditya for being great trek partners! We left Delhi on the 18th, were at Rola Khuli on the 19th, at Bhrigu Lake on the 20th and back in Delhi by the 22nd of October 2017.)

Today David, Kate, and I kayaked from SeaQuest through the anchor-outs, to Strawberry point to scout eel grass, and see how the Trident would function in the shallows of Richardson Bay. The Three of us took 2 kayaks, a one seater and a two seater (sit on tops) form the Sausalito shoreline with with David Piloting the Trident in the two seater. We stopped at three locations : 37.87903 N - 122.494877 W 37.882132 N - 122.493509 W 37.881799 N - 122.483156 W Each location the Trident was sent below to inspect Eel Grass and check for any anomalies. David commented that at several locations he spotted what he thought were Sea Cucumbers Overall the tide, visibility, and depth made for a pleasant day on the water, but resulted in low visibility. Findings: *In shallows the, a slack tide is best for bottom viewing to avoid silt disturbances If you attempting to take samples in strong currents or tides, go 'with' the tide, not against it. *Eel grass can be acquired via the Trident's propeller

After another 2h 45m you finally made it to Galapagos, Baltra airport.There is only one run-way and no taxi way, but there aren't too many flights anyway. Once you get to the terminal, you get your National Park permit (100USD) and get your carry on bags checked for food, just in case. Just a short stroll away is the Baggage Claim. There aren't any conveyor belts, just tables with rolls that the workers use to push your luggage onto. Once everyone's luggage is there and the official gives a sign, everyone storms forward and grabs their luggage. As if the island is going to errode while you wait. You're getting out of the airport and depending on your style of travel, either get herded towards one of the tour busses or the public one. I was traveling idependend so it's public bus. Once it's full (read: very full, no standing room) you start your 10 min drive along the winding road. You cross lava plains, see lots of cactus and you get the first glimps on why Darwin called at least parts of the islands desolate. You arrive at the little channel that seperates Baltra and Santa Cruz island, unload from the bus and get on the ferry. The luggage goes on top and you inside (not that there are windows). The fare is $1 and the ride takes 5 min. On the other side you choose your next mode of transport. The public bus (I think around $4) takes you to town or you take one of the taxis. Taxis here are white pick up trucks. I was a bit constrained for time so I choose the taxi ($25) to make it to my ferry to go to Isla Isabela. The road to Puerto Ayora is fairly smooth and most traffic is from the taxis and busses coming from the airport pick up. Congratulations, you made it in time to get a ticket for the ferry to Isabela. The ferries are speedboats aka little yacht type runabouts with 3 x 200hp susukys in the back. The return fare is $55. Get to the port 30 min before your departure (there is a 2pm boat and I think one in the early morning), get your bags checked and sealed again (inter island transport of fruit and vegetable is prohibited) and registered for the transport. There are Navy officials present at all times and make sure the lists are handled correctly. The speedboats don't land at the pier, you have to take a little panga water taxi. Luggage goes in the front, passangers in the back, the fare is 50ct. When you get to the speedboat, choose your seat. I heard the front can be with little air, the back is most stable but noisy. Also, take a wind/rain jacket, it can be cold and windy on the ocean. The ride takes about 2 - 2 1/2 hours and can be bumpy at times. Also remember, Not throw trash the sea

We are a group of marine ecologists exploring the diversity, productivity and ecology of seaweed dominated rocky reefs from Baja California to Alaska. We focus our studies on the rich kelp forest communities and the services they provide. Our team members are investigating a variety of questions related to how changes to these rocky reef communities impact the important services they provide, and how we may better inform resource managers, stakeholder, school groups and the public about the deleterious effects of climate change, overharvesting, disease outbreaks, and winter storms on these vital communities. ARREE’s goal is to bring our work to the public's attention. One way we do this is to involve K-12 classrooms with hands-on exploration of these underwater habitats through the use of ROVs. With the help of OpenROV, we will bring students into the field with us and use a Trident ROV to allow students to experience the undersea world in real time. Our first of many planned expeditions will take place this summer (2017) on Catalina Island, off the coast of southern California. With the help of funding from CA SeaGrant, we will explore the impacts that vessel moorings have on shallow water benthic communities. Aside from diving and surveying the effects these moorings may have on these communities, we will let groups of students from the mainland "fly" our ROV while we are working underwater. With the help of two-way communication masks we will be able to communicate with the surface, and share our research with a wide and diverse audience.

The "San Pedro Alcántara", built in 1788 in la Habana (Cuba) was the most powerful ship to visit the Venezuelan coast during the Independence War. It was equipped with 74 cannons, and was sent by Fernando VII to support the Spanish expedition under Pablo Morillo lead, in Venezuela and Colombia. Since its sinking in 1815, due to an explosion of unknown causes and motivation, there have been at least seven expeditions from private treasure hunters and a couple of institutional expeditions, which recovered important elements of the wreck. However, it still remains as one of the most important wrecks in the South Caribbean, without any detailed information about its current status, nor a detailed plan of the wreck site.

One of our primary goals for this expedition was to retrieve offering pots that we discovered on the lakebed in 2012. Sibinacocha’s water level has been dropping in the last few years due to climate change and more recently, from lake water being piped to downstream villages. Subsequently, many of the ruin structures and the pots surrounding them are in shallower water, which allows more light penetration and therefore, more algae and aquatic plant growth. Features that were easily recognizable when I discovered them in 2011 are now completely covered with aquatic vegetation. This not only makes the structures and their surrounding offerings difficult to study, the vegetation growing on the pots also damages their surface. In 2015 our underwater archaeologists realized that the submerged cultural features were being covered and so they stabilized the one pot that we could still locate at that time. The pot was surrounded by sandbags to prevent algae growth on its surface and a buoy was placed next to it to ensure that it could be relocated. It’s also conceivable that the structures and pots could be out of the water in the very near future, which will make them more vulnerable to damage and looting. Therefore, the Peruvian Ministry of Culture granted the Peruvian Center for Maritime and Underwater Archaeology (CPAMS) team an emergency action permit to recover the pots that we could still locate. Underwater archaeology is a relatively new discipline and that is especially true in Peru. The CPAMS underwater archaeology team is the first of its kind in Peru and we were all quite honored to be included in their effort. In fact, I’m told that this underwater artifact recovery was also a first in Peru, which is shocking considering the country’s rich cultural history. The CPAMS archaeologists believe that there must be more submerged sites like this in the Peruvian highlands, they just haven’t been discovered yet (we hope to change that soon!)… Once the gases in our bodies safely equilibrated to the altitude, our dive team made a reconnaissance dive to inspect the state of the stabilized pot and to conduct systematic searches for the other pots. Dense vegetation thwarted our efforts to relocate the missing pots so we focused on recovering the stabilized pot. In recent years strong winds and storms have become more frequent in August, and that pattern was looking the same for this expedition. Concerned that bad weather might prevent us from safely recovering the pot, we chose to recover it with our first good weather window. The day that I had waited years for had finally arrived. On August 20 the dive team entered the water to retrieve the pot. Under the supervision of CPAMS, we rehearsed the recovery effort on land to help ensure that the plan was executed smoothly. Every team member was assigned a specific task — both above and below the water. We were supervised by CPAMS archaeologist, Martin Polo, and artifact conservation specialist, Alexandra Sponza. As I carefully removed the sandbags surrounding it, I was relieved to find the pot was intact and just as we’d left it two years before. We photographically documented its condition and then enacted the plan that we’d rehearsed. One diver removed the vegetation and sediment around the pot until we could tell if the bottom was intact and we were sure that it could be safely removed according to the plan. A sturdy, plastic crate was rigged with strong, kevlar cord and placed next to the pot. On cue, each diver executed their task until we passed the crate to waiting team members on the shoreline (check out the attached video. Password: Sibina). The pot was quickly transported to one of our expedition tents and Alexandra took over. At that altitude, temperatures quickly drop to below freezing after sundown and we had a very old artifact filled with water. If that water were allowed to freeze, the pot could shatter. Alexandra set up a makeshift lab in the tent and a stove was lit inside to stave off the cold. She immediately siphoned off the water in the pot until only a thick layer of loose sediment remained. As the layers were removed we sat tense with anticipation as to what might be at the bottom of the pot. Suddenly she cracked a smile and said, “there’s something here…” We all wondered what, if any, offering would be found inside, but one thing was in the back of everyone’s mind… gold. Golden figurines wouldn’t be too surprising for such a location and the precious metal is certainly the stuff of adventurous dreams. After a few more layers were removed, Alexandra knew that it was something hard and not seeds, coca leaves, or the remnants of cloth, which wouldn’t be too surprising either. She cleared enough of the sediment away from the objects to reveal their shape and photograph their configurations. Then, finally, she reached in and removed one of the objects. I could tell by her expression, it wasn’t gold. The weight of gold is unmistakable. She placed the mud-covered objects on a plastic tray, just as they were positioned in the pot. They were clearly made of stone or some mineral. After a moment she sheepishly said, “what does that look like to you…?” Laughter erupted. The three stones were perfectly placed so that they looked like… well, look at the attached photo. They may have been meant as a fertility offering, and that wouldn’t be too surprising considering the potential significance of where we were. Regardless of what the stones were meant to represent, finding stones in such an offering was a first for all of the Peruvian archaeologists that we work with — just another ‘first’ for Sibinacocha. Alexandra still had more work to do to ensure that the pot was stabilized and conserved for future study, so the next day, we had a truck meet her back at the end of the road and she returned to Cusco to work in the lab that we’d set up there. All of the sediment from the pot will be analyzed by Neal Michelutti, a paleolimnologist from Queen’s University. Since the pot acted as a catchment basin for sediment as soon as it was submerged, its makeup could teach us more about the historical environmental conditions in the lake, as well as the timeline for when the pot was submerged. As you can see from the attached photo, the algae had indeed pitted the surface of the pot and a section of the lip was broken out. Since we couldn’t find the missing piece in or around the pot, it’s possible that it was broken prior to being placed at the site. I took a stab at generating a 3D model of the pot using a series of orthophotos. The bottom wasn’t redendered in the model because I wasn’t able to photograph the bottom at the time. You can check it out the model at this link: https://sketchfab.com/models/a6d60614bfde4fef84ea4f8932ee7011 Password: Apacheta We haven’t identified the origin of the stones inside the pot yet, but they don’t appear to be from rock that is native to the area surrounding Sibinacocha. Understanding where the stones came from will reveal something about the people who made these offerings. Initial analysis of the pot, based on its construction and shape, supports the archaeologist’s initial hypothesis that it was constructed in the mid-1400s. In the future, I hope to bring a technology that will see through the vegetation and sediment to locate the missing pots and recover them, and perhaps even map out the submerged structures without having to excavate the site. But we still had work to do at Sibinacocha on this expedition, and two days later we broke camp and hiked around the lake to survey the area around the base of the rocky peak of Yayamari and hopefully, to search for sites on its 18,500-foot summit. I’ll report what we found there in the next post. Password for the attached video: Sibina

I am honored to announce that we received grant funding from the National Geographic Society for our expedition. Noam Argov - the expedition PI - received the Early Career Grant from NGS to see this project through. The official project start date is scheduled for Jan 27, 2018. We will be embarking to Kyrgyzstan on that date to document horse-backcountry-skiing and the preservation of nomadic culture through extreme sports. Stay tuned!

The two-phase restoration of Yosemite Slough will create the largest contiguous wetland area in the County of San Francisco. The project will help restore essential wildlife habitat, improve water quality, and prevent erosion along the shoreline of the City of San Francisco—an area of the bay where tidal wetlands have been most impacted and suffered the greatest loss due to urbanization. According to our partner agency the California State Parks Foundation – Goals and objectives of the proposed restoration are to Increase the area subject to tidal influence by excavating three areas that were formerly part of San Francisco Bay Restore habitat diversity by adding 12 acres of tidally-influenced wetlands and marsh area and remove chemically-impacted soils from upland areas to improve the quality of existing habitat Improve habitat for special status species (e.g. western snowy plover and double-crested cormorants) by a nesting island along the north shoreline Improve the quality of life for the surrounding community by creating a clean, beautiful local park for viewing wildlife habitat Create an environmental area that local schools can use for field trips Connect to the Blue Greenway, an important effort to build 13-miles of Bay Trail along the southern waterfront of the San Francisco Bay Trail.

Mr. S. was able to get out for a little bit to Hills Creek Dam near Oakridge, Oregon on the weekend. He was not able to get students out because he needed to test a firmware issue that was going on. (The Arduino decided to erase the flashed image) He saw some fish (One of decent size) and managed to get the ROV tangled on the rocks. We will print off floats to keep the tether off the bottom. Good day of floating other than almost having to swim to get the ROV tangled. Thankfully there was a very long branch that helped to de-tangle the tether and keep him dry!

Baltimore's Inner Harbor is a place of tremendous impacts and profound change. With the combined run-off of over half-a-million people and centuries of industrial development, the Inner Harbor has faced its share of environmental damage. But new initiatives are turning the Inner Harbor around. Solar-powered trashwheels collect plastic and debris before it enters the Chesapeake Bay. Floating wetlands and experimental oyster gardens are slowly cleaning the Inner Harbor's waters. And the Healthy Harbor Initiative is on track to make the Inner Harbor both swimmable and fishable by 2020. Join us for a day on the Inner Harbor with OpenROV Trident as we explore these clean-up efforts and discover the vibrant marine life that still calls Baltimore's Inner Harbor home. Participants will get to fly the new OpenROV Trident, meet with community leaders working to restore the Harbor, and learn a bit more about their local waters. Date is still to be determined, but will happen late this Fall. Follow this expedition for more updates.

This expedition is centered on creating an informative documentary. We'll be highlighting the marine conversation program on the island, including coral reef monitoring and recovery research. We'll be examining the life of sea turtles, and doing daily dives to document the research being conducted. While our main goal is to shed light on this extremely important work, we'll also take a look at the locals and volunteers, to show people that they can also make a difference.

In 2016, Ocean Sanctuaries reached out to the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, South Africa and established a citizen science partnership with Sevengill shark monitoring. See here for more details: https://www.aquarium.co.za/blog/entry/citizen-science-global-sevengill-shark-identification-project Already, we have had almost half-a-dozen photographic submissions from Cape Town into Wildbook, the program which contains the pattern recognition algorithm used to analyse the spots near the face.

So now that we have a model for predicting historical surface currents around Point Reyes, and we have an estimated time for the ditching, what does our model tell us? We take the estimated ditching time of 6:25pm, and add 2 hours and 15 minutes to get the time (8:40pm) that we will use on the September 21 2017 surface current charts. Posted here are the surface currents for 9pm around Pt Reyes. As was earlier guessed, the current flow is pretty much all south. If coupled with a wind generally from the north, then the ditching spot of the plane will be well to the north of the landing spots for Lt Anderson and Private Eastwood. As stated earlier, I'm not sure how accurate this hindcasting of surface currents is. Perhaps its totally meaningless. But the general flow around Point Reyes is southward, so to me this just verifies that we're not dealing with some weird spot in the tidal cycle where the currents reverse and the flow along the coastline is northward.

We currently have an array of sensors deployed around Point Sal. This area of California's Central Coast is notoriously sharky and we are keeping dives to a minimum. With a Trident ROV we can inspect our instruments from our small boat to make sure they are positioned properly and aren't fouled by marine growth or ocean debris. The ocean is a notoriously hard place to collect data, and something is always going wrong. If we are more aware of potential issues with our array, we can then dive to fix them, which increases our chances of collecting high quality data. The better the data, the better our understanding of the ocean temperatures and currents we are measuring!

Sept. 13: Ocean conditions in Laguna today were not conducive to safe diving: surf was high (3 ft. plus) and there was a noticeable rip current, which normally would not have been a problem going out, but on a steep-facing beach like Shaw's Cover, would have presented a difficult re-entry on the way back in, so the decision was made to come back another day when conditions were better suited to scientific surveys.

Little Creek Oyster Farm Tech Challenge: Marine Observation Buoy We propose to spur the best minds out there into action and inspire some of our eager youth to explore how they can contribute to the study of what is happening in our waters. Water quality and specifically the limited resources to monitor our bays, estuaries, oceans, lakes, rivers, creeks and streams is something we take personally. So we are proud to tackle this challenge head on. We seek to build an affordable, open source marine observation buoy. Further we'd like to see these buoys deployed and the data sent to a dashboard/map to give us an idea what is happening in the water. Much in the way that weather stations give us a better, bigger picture of what is happening in the air. We can't do it alone. We are building an advisory panel drawn from scientists, aquaculture farms, gearheads, tinkerers and data junkies to guide, monitor and judge this challenge/tech prize. The Challenge:Build a MOB: Marine Observation Buoy Goals: *Affordability *Durability *Open Source Crafted from available parts (including 3d printed materials as long as files are shared.) Targets: This list is open ended but some ideas include: *water temp *dissolved Nitrogen *dissolved oxygen *salinity *light penetration *color / algal bloom *current/tidal/wave data What about sending data vs logger? More details to be revealed as we get closer to launch date! The Challenge Begins 11/1/17!

In the last decade, the financial cost of conducting marine research has declined by several orders of magnitude and tools once restricted to the most well-funded institutions have become affordable to grass-roots organizations as well as individual stakeholders. One of the most dramatic examples of this is the production of the OpenROV, a low-cost observation-class ROV (remotely operated vehicle). OpenROVs have been used to conduct studies on marine invasive species, establish marine protected areas, and survey historic shipwrecks. Saipan and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands are uniquely situated near the Mariana Trench and surrounding Marianas Trench Marine National Monument. Despite access to vibrant and diverse marine resources, the capacity to conduct community-driven scientific research, ocean conservation, and fisheries resource management is relatively limited. While national and international research teams use advanced underwater robots to study and explore the regions around the CNMI, there are no marine robotic assets within the Commonwealth dedicated solely to community-driven ocean research and education. While not capable of diving to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, a small fleet of accessible observation-class microROVs can be of significant benefit to scientists, citizen scientists, managers, and other ocean stakeholders in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The OpenROV 2.8 ships as a kit to be assembled by the end user. This presents a tremendous opportunity for STEM education programs that teach robotics, electronics, soldering, and coding, as well as marine science. OpenROV Trident is a more advanced ROV which can be used to supplement and expand research projects conducted using OpenROV 2.8s. In conjunction with a long-term management plan, this offers the potential to create a holistic marine robotics education program that not only trains students to use underwater robots but introduces them to careers in marine technology and provides the technological capacity to pursue those careers. This structured capacity-building workshop model was tested in Papua New Guinea in October, 2014. Twenty-three undergraduates from the University of Papua New Guinea joined two marine ecologists, two robotics technicians, and several faculty members from UPNG at the Nago Island Research Facility in Kavieng, New Ireland, to construct 6 OpenROV 2.6 microROVs and learn how to design and implement marine ecologic surveys. Robots from that program were then donated to various stakeholder groups where they were used to survey coral reef biodiversity, monitor garbage accumulation in local lagoons, and track sea cucumber recovery following a national fishing ban (personal communication with W. Saleu, our PNG organizer for that program, and P. Minimulu, director of the Nago Island Research Facility). Similar, though less intensive workshops were conducted with high school students in Gloucester Point, Virginia, in conjunction with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and Virginia SeaGrant and, most recently, at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium in Chauvin, Louisiana. We also recently completed a series of educational ROV experiences throughout the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam, where we presented recent discoveries from the Mariana Trench to local student groups and then invited them to join us at local beaches and harbors to learn to fly ROVs and get a hands-on experience in how research is conducted using underwater robots. Project Goals and Objectives The goals of this project are to: Conduct two intensive workshops in marine ecology via remote observation in which community leaders and students learn to build, maintain, and operated observation-class microROVs and develop the skills to design and implement a marine research or education program using ROVs. Provide a minimum of 4 OpenROV 2.8 microROVs and 1 OpenROV Trident for community-driven research in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. To achieve these goals, we will: Identify 2 to 3 community leaders in Saipan and conduct an intensive ROV-building workshop with a focus on teaching, facilitation, and long-term management. Host a second ROV-building workshop in which students, under the direction of Thaler and community leaders from the first workshop, and one additional technician construct at least 3 OpenROV 2.8 observation-class microROVs. Use the ROVs to conduct student-designed marine ecologic surveys under the supervision of mentors and local community leaders. Deliver the ROVs to local community groups for use in community-driven research and education program. We don't ship out to Saipan until Spring 2018, but there's plenty of work to do on identifying community leaders, preparing hardware, and perfecting lesson plans in the lead up to this adventure. This grant was funded by the NOAA Marine Education Training Mini-Grant program.

This is a very late post (like 2 years late). On another trip to this lake another survey was done. After spending time searching, the tether came into sight and we were able to trace that to the ROV. This video is the story of the entire search and recovery effort!

I took the ROV out for a few trips this summer, with the new LED pack, and some other minor improvements. This time I also used an external GoPro to record video, which has much higher fidelity. I saw the usual, but gathered some more user experience to put into the next iteration. The major problem I'm having now is reduced mobility due to the tether. The boat I'm in will often drift with the current, whereas the ROV remains in one place near the bottom. This puts tension on the umbilical cable, which prevents the ROV from turning around. If anchoring the boat doesn't work I'll need to think of something new. The other issue is the LEDs, which weren't placed very well. Most of the light is cast directly in front of the ROV, which limits visibility in dark water.

The idea was to investigate on several location the water quality of the "grachten" in Amsterdam.More about the Project can be found under: Summer Academy Project link here

The longest fjord in Greenland After a few days of drone training and a long cycle to film the Greenland Ice Cap at Russel's Glacier, we were ready to meet Breskell and start our sail North. We met Edgar, Vari, Olivier and Malik at the harbour at Kangerlussuaq, and found an anchorage for the night. The next day we did a test sail, practiced launching the drone from the deck of Breskell, and met the last member of our crew, Dominik (a film-maker from the UK - check out his work here ). Finally we were set to go. What came next was the longest fjord in Greenland, an endlessly beautiful sail to the open sea. I'm not going to write too much about it, except to say that we estimated the peaks to be from 600-1000m in elevation, punctuated by a series of glaciers spilling down the valleys from the ice cap above. Hopefully the images will speak for themselves.

We made a trip many years ago. It was the first expedition on OpenExplorer, in fact: https://openexplorer.com/expedition/seaofcortez Our goal was to follow the steps of John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts, who had made a similar trip almost 75 years earlier. Their trip was an expedition of curiosity, a group of friends sampling and collecting species down the coast of and up through the Gulf of California. The results of the trip became, in addition to the scientific work, a book: The Log from the Sea of Cortez. The book is one of my favorites. Our first trip was something different. We wanted to test out the emerging citizen science tools that we and our friends had built. It wasn't a serious scientific expedition. This trip has similar goals: we want to show just how far these tools have come in the past few years. We'll go back with the team, including Walt, Eric and Mac. "For many little errors like this, we have concluded that all collecting trips to fairly unknown regions should be made twice; once to make mistakes and once to correct them." - John Steinbeck, The Log from the Sea of Cortez

Welcome to Africa - Not the terrestrial Africa, but the Africa shaped sponge reef we discovered in Howe Sound. We're heading out at one o'clock today to dive on the south west coast of our Africa shaped reef, think Madagascar. Over the past few dives we've been outlining the borders of the reef and it has become clear the that reef is a lovely homage to Africa. What do you think?! Tracking the submarine from above with an acoustic transponder, the crew of Topside (our surface support boat) helps guide the submarine pilot (moi) between waypoints. It has become standard operating procedure now to guide the pilot by telling her bearing and range to different countries on the african continent. Last month was one of our first "cross continent" dives, here's our track! via GIPHY On every dive I take down my own way point map, and a few nautical charts. I keep them in a flight notebook along with emergency procedures checklists, a pen, a red pointer laser, and a flashlight. Here's part of the pilot kit:

Here it is! For best results watch in Youtube at high res. https://youtu.be/-eFcNbQZmeo

Proof of concept... #360 TRIDENT as seastar survey tool! Before embarking on any adventure, I like to complete a proof of concept for whatever shenanigan I am up to. In this case, it is testing the OpenROV TRIDENT as filmmakers assistant and #360video survey tool. This Monday I got to do something i've been dreaming of for over a year now! I got to test out shooting 360 video with a TRIDENT ROV! In preparation for the coral bleaching and restoration portion of the film, Cloudbreak, it became clear that being able to survey larger areas of the reef before jumping in with the 360 cameras would be super helpful. So I figured, why not do double duty and do a quick Seastar wasting syndrome survey while we were at it! Last time we surveyed the Passenger ferry pier at Cove 2, we noted basically zero seastars and a multitude of tiny urchins. This time... No stars, and no urchins. I'd chatted with Zack from OpenROV about catching up when he was in town, but we hadn't really nailed down and exact date until last week. I'd been wracking my brain about 'optimal' set up for a 360 flying ROV. Would it be pole out front, would it be the 3 camera array mounted on top, the options were numerous. In the interest of efficiency and utilizing stuff I already had sitting around the house (and limited options on hand for mounting brackets etc) i figured why not give the method that Kodak Pixpro already uses for flying on aerial drones. With the original OpenROV that wouldn't be a real option due to shape, but with the new TRIDENT, its slim and trim design could work. So we opted to use the standard mounts (luckily I found two in my random accessories drawer) one on top, one on the bottom and hope for the best. I knew going into it that the stitch would be a bit of a challenge, considering loss of FOV with the small dome ports and parallax from the distance between cameras (less of an issue on a drone because everything is so far away) but figured if this is just for surveys and not for client footage, that what the heck, why not do a proof of concept! With Zach and Dominic in town, there was no better time than the present! We met up at Cove 2 as the passenger ferry was fortuitously not running, and got started! Introductions to the Trident were made, if you are familiar with the earlier generation OpenROV, this is basically worlds apart. The TRIDENT really is what the Phantom Drone was for aerial, it is stunning. The build quality is top shelf, it is robust and magnificently easy to master the controls. This immediately boosted my confidence. Once the cameras were securely mounted on the TRIDENT we removed the saltwater weights as the Kodak Pixpro's are a little negative and got started! The trim compensation worked well to level the TRIDENT out, even though she was nose heavy from the cameras, in future tests I'll probably make some little syntactic foam floats for the top camera, as although trim compensation worked well, I'd like to keep her floating in trim comfortably as that makes for more stable footage which is necessary for a good 360 viewing experience. We flew the TRIDENT #360 around for a good half an hour which was a blast. Again, if you have only experienced the earlier models of OpenROV, you REALLY need to give this a try, seriously night and day. Sadly my lenses fogged up on the Kodak housings (humidity and all can be a bear in the summer) but luckily I still managed to get a fair bit of usable footage which will be uploaded shortly. While you are waiting, here are a few pictures!

Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants (EBTSOYP) is a Canadian nonprofit with a primary goal of bringing science, exploration, adventure and conservation into classrooms through guest speakers and virtual field trips. Since launching in September of 2015, we've hosted over 400 Google Hangout events with leading scientists, explorers and conservationists from around the world, reaching tens of thousands of students. What we do is 100% free for classrooms and always will be. With a recent grant we realized our goal of bringing the most remote regions of the planet into classrooms through our BGAN project. BGANs are textbook sized satellite units that allow us to video broadcast through Google Hangouts from pretty much anywhere on the planet. We send them into the field with a scientist or explorer, they broadcast into classrooms and then return them, and we send them out again. Last year we sent units to the Bahamas, Belize, Peru and Clipperton Atoll (most isolated coral atoll on the planet!). In September we’ll have units in the Galapagos, Tahiti and Vietnam. This year, we've set a further goal adding the element of being able to live broadcast into classrooms from the air and underwater. We'll be using a Mavic Pro from the sky and would like to do the same with a Trident from beneath the waves. Another part of this project is having the software created to allow easy transition between different live feeds. There's this silly rumour going around that there's nothing left to explore or discover, this couldn't be further from the truth! New technology is opening up countless opportunities in the fields of science and exploration. We believe these experiences inspire students while exposing them to important issues, amazing places, exciting role models and new career paths. Students won't remember every math or language lesson from school, but they will remember the time they were hanging out in a penguin colony in Antarctica or chatting with someone who just rowed across an ocean. www.exploringbytheseat.com A little more about what EBTSOYP does: Each month during the school year we host 20+ Google Hangout events for classrooms. We host full day events consisting of 20-30 speakers focusing on themes like ocean, biodiversity, women in STEM and space exploration. Follow and connect with various expeditions before, during and afterwards. Last year I started Explorer Classroom with National Geographic Education, several times a month we connect their explorers to classrooms for Google Hangout events. We chase grants and sponsorships to fund satellite time, but we also help fund innovative research, expedition and conservation projects around the world. Last year we were able to donate over $15,000 to various projects.

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Our expeditions have been featured in: New York Times TED Wired FastCompany