Monthly Archives: July 2013

Big Things Come from Small Beginnings: The Mystery of the Sick Sea Lions

By Shari Sant Plummer, Mission Blue Board Director, President, Code Blue Foundation On a cold, foggy morning along the Malibu coast, a small brown lump emerges from the sea and waddles ashore. I spot it from 100 yards away, but already my dog, Cooper, is at a full run toward the baby sea lion. I scream at him to stop, but it’s too late: The thin, frightened sea lion pup is heading back into the ocean. I finally catch up to Coop and pull him back, and we watch as the pup swims out through the waves. Though Cooper hadn’t touched him, the timid pup was easily threatened; animal lovers with cameras approaching other pups have been met with the same result.…
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Photo of the Day – King Penguins Cozy up in South Georgia

King Penguins, Aptenodytes patagonica, are one of the key iconic Antarctic species that we are working hard to protect as we continue to fight for the Antarctic Ocean.  King penguins have been equipped with depth recorders and have been found to regularly dive to 500m (1600ft).  Deep dives tend only to occur during the daytime with only shallow dives being recorded at night. Photo Courtesy of David Neilson…
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Marie Tharp’s Big Map for a Big Ocean

What’s the tallest mountain in the world? Without the seminal work of Marie Tharp, this question may have remained unanswered. In the first half of the 20th century, Tharp worked together with Bruce Heezen to bring definition to the world of the deep blue, a topographic map of the world ocean. At a time when acoustical mapping techniques were extremely basic, Tharp brought the seafloor to life by illustrating the dramatic geographic features of the ocean for all to see. The tallest mountain in the world is, of course, Mauna Kea in Hawaii, which beats Everest’s height when you consider that the mountain extends from the ocean floor. And speaking of revelations about ocean topography — known as bathymetry — we can’t discount the amazing work of Google in creating Google Ocean.…
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A Few Words from Google Earth founder John Hanke on Sylvia Earle

“I first met Sylvia in Spain when she publicly goaded me at a press conference for not giving the ocean fair treatment in Google Earth. From the moment I met her I was inspired by her conviction and energy. I have met very few people who can compare to Sylvia in terms of her velocity of work, travel, and speaking. She can move from an underwater dive to an international red-eye to a stage on the other side of the world in front of thousands of people without batting an eye. In fact she does this dozens of times per year. And she’s always perfectly composed and passionately articulate about saving the world’s oceans from environmental destruction. She’s remarkable and is truly one of my heroes.” Take a quick tour with John and Sylvia through the Explore the Ocean layer in Google Earth!…
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Stakeholders Gather in Panama to Discuss Protections for the Central American Dome

By Lance Morgan, Marine Conservation Institute for Mission Blue Originally published at National Geographic Ocean Watch Last week an alliance of conservation organizations took a big step forward towards protecting the Central American Dome. Also referred to as the Costa Rica Dome, this highly productive region of the eastern tropical Pacific is home to abundant marine life including critically endangered leatherback sea turtles and blue whales. The term Dome refers to an oceanographic feature that results from cold, deep ocean water rising near the surface. The water itself doesn’t dome, but a cold water band shaped like a dome comes up from the bottom. As this nutrient rich water enters depths where sunlight can penetrate it unleashes enormous plankton blooms, fueling the entire ecosystem. …
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DOER’s Sub-Ice Rover Tested in Tahoe

It almost feels like science fiction: a 28-foot long, 2,200-pound robotic submarine that can fit through a 30-inch ice borehole. But observers in Tahoe this past week can attest to the realness — and world-class engineering — of the Sub-Ice Rover (SIR) created by DOER Marine of Alameda for North Illinois University. The craft is designed to explore the ocean underneath the half mile of frozen water known as the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica. To clear the borehole, SIR is designed to collapse to a diameter less than 30 inches.  Once beneath the ice, SIR expands and produces an array of high tech sensors and cameras which blast terabytes of data up the 2-mile cable to the control center. These instruments will ultimately seek to collect data about ice melt beneath the Ross Ice Shelf to better understand conditions at the interface between seawater and the base of the glacial ice, as well as investigate the sea floor and layers of sediment beneath. …
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Bremerhaven Didn’t Go Our Way, But Hope is Alive

What a shame that proposals at the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) meeting in Bremerhaven for the two largest ocean sanctuaries in the world in the Antarctic Ocean were blocked by the Russian delegation. Instead of losing hope, let’s redouble our efforts and fortify the belief that we can protect these pristine waters for future generations. Our next big opportunity to apply positive pressure to the fate of the Antarctic will be in Hobart this October. Let’s pounce on the opportunity. We at Mission Blue were blown away by the energy and dedication of the Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA) in their campaign to influence CCAMLR to create this important Marine Protected Area — Hope Spot — to build a healthy Antarctic Ocean for the future.…
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Photo of the Day ~ Flamboyant Cuttlefish

The Flamboyant Cuttlefish, Metasepia pfefferi, also known as Pfeffer’s flamboyant cuttlefish, is a species of cuttlefish occurring in tropical Indo-Pacific waters.  This particular fellow lives in Mission Blue’s Coral Sea Hope Spot, at Tubbataha Reef,  a coral reef atoll and a Natural Marine Park in the Sulu Sea, Philippines. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993, the huge atoll has been under protective management for twenty years. Recently it has been discovered that the Flamboyant Cuttlefish’s muscles contain a highly toxic compound that is yet to be identified. Research by Mark Norman with the Museum Victoria in Queensland, Australia, has shown the toxin to be as lethal as that of a fellow cephalopod, the Blue-ringed octopus. Another interesting thing about this animal is that it walks as often or even more than it swims. …
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Exploring the Gulf of Mexico Deep Reefs with Megan Cook

By Megan Cook, Mission Blue Young Explorer Megan will rejoin the E/V Nautilus in the Gulf of Mexico in late July further exploring hydrocarbon influx sites.  Participate as the team explores the Gulf of Mexico Deep Reefs Hope Spot by sending in questions to www.NautilusLive.org or by following on Twitter or Facebook. ~ Ed. Where is your favorite coral reef? I’m willing to bet you answered somewhere tropical and warm, where the sunshine glitters into clear, shallow water bathing polyps and divers alike.  Nearby there might be a beach scene where drink umbrellas wouldn’t be out of place. That would have been my answer too, until last month…  Descending to the seafloor took the ROV Hercules over an hour. From the control van of the E/V Nautilus, I sat with my watch team from the Corps of Exploration as HD video poured in from the ROV Hercules.…
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Photo of the Day ~ Nudibranch Feast

A nudibranch, Flabellina nobilis: Coryphella nobilis feeding on a hydroid Tubularia indivisa in the chilly waters off Norway this spring. The nudibranchs chow down on these hydroids by climbing up the stalks and munching down on the business end of the cnidarian! Location: Gulen, Norway Photo (c) Alexander Mustard…
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