August 5, 2014

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August 11, 2014

For those seeking to find balance during Shark Week, Francesca von Habsburg and her foundation, TBA21 Academy hosted a groundbreaking science and advocacy based symposium, Pelagic Research & Conservation Project for Isla del Coco & Shark Conservation Initiatives in the Eastern Pacific, at UCLA in Southern California last week.

Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21,) was founded in 2002 by Francesca von Habsburg. It pioneers experimental programs that don’t fit into traditional categories. Their mission is to be “a fellowship organization bringing artists, scientists and thinkers together at sea and on land. We commission projects that compliment the itinerary of our flagship vessel Dardanella – (within) unique geographical contexts that raise ecological, economic and social issues. TBA21 Academy is an adventurous institution exploring critical geographies.”

Title shot

Leading up to the symposium, Francesca von Habsburg and her crew on the 121 foot, Vitters built yacht Dardanella spent several days shark diving off Catalina and the Channel Islands. Their fortunate guests were an interdisciplinary group of scientists, advocates, artists and photographers, including Mission Blue’s Director of Photography and Expeditions, Kip Evans who also spoke at the Symposium.

Earlier this year, Dardanella served as a platform off Cocos Island in Mission Blue’s Eastern Pacific Seascape Hope Spot, where Habsburg hosted scientists and advocates working to protect the sharks in this pristine wilderness. Far offshore from Costa Rica, Cocos Island is one of the most biodiverse marine areas in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. It’s also an area with multiple threats to it’s future, especially those from illegal fishing interests, including shark finning operations that are in a constant presence in these waters. The ships are known to hover just outside of the protected areas during the day, and move in under cover of darkness to fish undetected. This is just one of the many issues that TBA 21 seeks to expose, and ultimately put an end to.

Illegal fishing is a serious problem for Costa Rica, which in many respects has an enviable environmental record. The country has a number of marine protected zones around the coastline. Authorities like the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Oceans of Costa Rica (MINAE), and NGOs such as Pretoma, are constantly working to protect these areas but they have been overwhelmed by the size of enforcing the problem. Combatting the threat of illegal fishing was a primary reason for Coco’s designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. 

The Pelagic Research & Conservation Project for Isla del Coco was founded by TBA21 Academy in collaboration with Costa Rican partners including FAICO (La Fundación Amigos de la Isla del Coco) in May 2014 to bring attention to the difficulties faced here – in their own unique and powerful way, including the burial of a contemporary treasure chest, The Treasure of Lima in a secret location on the island. TBA21 brought together forty artist-contributors, including Ed Ruscha, Marina Abramovic, Olafur Eliasson, Doug Aitken, and the New York architectural firm of Aranda/Lasch who designed the modern treasure chest itself.

Francesca & Treasure of Lima
von Habsburg & The Treasure of Lima (c) TBA21 Academy

The exact location of the Treasure of Lima was recorded and encrypted – with the resulting code 3D printed in steel, creating a contemporary “map.”  The map will be sold to the highest bidder at the Contemporary Art Evening Sale of Phillips auction house in New York, on November 10, 2014.  TBA21 will use the funds raised to support shark research and the marine protected areas of Isla del Coco. During Monday’s program, Markus Reymann’s presentation included a trailer for the documentary on the Treasure of Lima: A Buried Exhibition.

The Treasure of  Lima (c) TBA 21 Academy
The Treasure of Lima (c) TBA 21 Academy

TBA 21 points out that, “Currently, there is no scientific research into local movements and migrations, habitat use and behavior of pelagic species around Isla del Coco. Answering this need, our project aims to collect baseline information over a three-year period. The resulting data will be incorporated into recommended management strategies for the marine park and its buffer zone, as well as providing an educational service to local communities.”

“By bringing together leading shark researchers, conservationists and thought leaders during this symposium, TBA21 Academy helped organizations pursuing similar goals. Shark conservation is not a local challenge but an international one. By joining forces we will strengthen our commitment to saving sharks throughout the Eastern Pacific region and beyond.”

Dardanella (c) TBA 21 Academy
Dardanella (c) TBA 21 Academy

Speakers during the day-long symposium ranged from advocates like Ocean Ramsey and Pete Bethune to scientists like Pretoma’s Randall Arauz and shark scientist Dr. Chris Lowe from California State University. The TBA 21 Symposium celebrated the synergy between art, science and conservation, with a special emphasis on shark protection. Please see below for a full list of speakers – it was a day not to be missed. Mission Blue hopes that TBA 21 will host more groundbreaking events such as this in the future and we hope that readers will consider supporting TBA-21 Academy and their programs!

Ocean Ramsey Swims with a Great White (c) Caters News, Juan Oliphant
Ocean Ramsey Swims with a Great White Shark (c) Caters News, Juan Oliphant

Being the first to bury a treasure on Cocos in at least 150 years draws attention to the question: “What is the real treasure? What do we value most?” I started diving when I was very young, and I have seen the oceans change dramatically for the worse. I want to design projects that bring not only the urgently needed funding and attention to the ocean’s plight, but also the humor and the sense of adventure back to it. We need to use our imaginations when battling against the current.”

Francesca von Habsburg, Chairwoman and Founder of TBA 21 Academy.

SYMPOSIUM PROGRAM

Moderated by: Dr Dayne Buddo, University of the West Indies (Jamaica)

UNDERWATER FILMING STUDY GROUPS
Kip Evans (National Geographic)
Ocean Ramsey, Juan Oliphant (YouTube)
Nico Ghersinich (BBC, Discovery)

RECOVERY OF THE WHITE SHARK POPULATION IN US WATERS
Dr Chris Lowe, California State University

MIGRATORY TRENDS OF SHARKS TAGGED IN THE EASTERN PACIFIC
Dr. Maurizio Hoyos, Pelagios-Kakunjá A.C.

THE SOCIAL BEHAVIOR OF SHARKS AND SHARK-HUMAN INTERACTIONS
Ocean Ramsey, Water Inspired / International Shark Project, Hawaii

PROTECTION OF NURSERY GROUNDS FOR SHARKS IN COSTA RICA & PELAGIC PROJECT FOR COCOS ISLAND
Mission Tiburon, Costa Rica

CONSERVATION NEEDS FOR SHARKS IN THE EASTERN TROPICAL PACIFIC.
Randall Arauz, PRETOMA

HOPE SPOTS IN THE PACIFIC
Kip Evans, Mission Blue, USA

COCOS ISLAND IS THE REAL TREASURE
Carlos Uribe, FAICO

THE TREASURE OF LIMA – EXHIBITION PROJECT
Dr Nadim Samman, TBA21–Academy

THE HARD EDGE OF CONSERVATION
Pete Bethune, Earthrace and Chris Wade, Sea Watch

WHY ART MATTERS AND HOW IT CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Francesca von Habsburg, Chairwoman & Founder of TBA21–Academy
Markus Reymann, TBA21–Academy

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Feature Photo: Jose Alejandro Alvarez

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