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Day 7 – Good Bye to Conception

By Kip Evans Bottlenose Dolphin (c) Kip F. Evans/Mission Blue An early sunrise cast a warm hue over Conception Island this morning, setting the stage for what was to be our final day exploring the warm waters of the Bahamas.  With only hours remaining, we set off early to sneak-in a dive before our impending departure.  We rolled off the boats, kicking hard to avoid being swept away by the current. As we descended to 95 feet, we were greeted by a single Caribbean Reef Shark and a small school of goatfish.  Everyone was at ease this morning as we slowly drifted toward the edge of the wall.  Along the way we took images of sponges, sea fans and each other as we contemplated our last moments underwater together.  …
Posted in Ann Luskey, Bahamian Reefs Hope Spot, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Eleanor Phillips, Kip Evans, The Nature Conservancy |

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Hope for Comebacks in Conception Island National Park

By Mavis McRae and Kip Evans Ann Luskey with Stingray (c) Kip F. Evans/Mission Blue Sirenuse headed back into open water on Friday night for the 10-hour journey north from Hawksbill Cay to Conception Island.  After a somewhat bouncy night, we awoke to sunshine and gin-clear blue water. The island is home to one of the newer marine protected areas in the region, Conception Island National Park. Covering over 25,000 acres, the park is an important sanctuary for migratory birds, nesting sea birds and green turtles. As it became evident that the weather was going to hold, we loaded our equipment and boarded the tenders, excited to experience the Bahamian reefs in bright sunlight. The first dive took us to the wall, a stunning drop off with colorful corals, sponges and sea fans. …
Posted in Ann Luskey, Bahamian Reefs Hope Spot, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Eleanor Phillips, Kip Evans, The Nature Conservancy |

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Tropical Storm Beryl Hampers Expedition

Tenders in the Storm (c) Kip F. Evans/Mission Blue By Mavis McRae and Kip Evans After being out of the water yesterday, we were anxious to dip our flippers back into the beautiful blue water, but the weather had other plans for us.  As we examined the ships radar and local weather reports, all we could see for miles were bands of thunderstorms – bright red blotches moving ominously towards our position. Tropical Storm Beryl, which made landfall in Northern Florida and is now moving up the East Coast was forming up over us. By mid-morning, lightning lit up the dark cloudy sky above us, as claps of thunder shook the boat.  It wasn’t long before someone called out that a waterspout was forming and the team did what came naturally – grabbed our cameras and prepared to get wet. …
Posted in Ann Luskey, Bahamas, Bahamian Reefs Hope Spot, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Eleanor Phillips, Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, Kip Evans, The Nature Conservancy |

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Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park Explorations

Sylvia Earle – (c) Kip F. Evans/Mission Blue By Mavis McRae The team’s visit to Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park began with checking in at  Park headquarters where the group met Andrew Kriz, Park Administrator and his team.  In an open discussion on the park deck overlooking the blue Bahamian  waters and golden sand of this protected park, Andrew spoke of the natural beauty of the park and the challenges he and his team face enforcing this no-take marine protected area.  “Our biggest challenge is protecting the beauty and natural resources of the park while at the same time providing an inviting experience for the thousands of visitors we have each year.”  Visitors to the area can find-out more about visiting the park by going to http://www.exumapark.info/. …
Posted in Ann Luskey, Bahamian Reefs Hope Spot, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Eleanor Phillips, Kenred Dorsett, Kip Evans, The Nature Conservancy |

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Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park and Thunderball Cay

By Mavis McRae Dr. Sylvia Earle (c) Kip F. Evans/Mission Blue Created in 1958, the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park was the first of its kind in the world and is famous for it’s pristine beauty, outstanding anchorages and breathtaking marine environment. Established and maintained by the Bahamas National Trust, it was the first marine fishery reserve to be established in the Caribbean. The  limestone islands of Exuma have been created through a build-up of calcium carbonate from the rise and fall of sea levels, wind and deposits over thousands of years.  The wind and rain that built up the islands over the years have eroded the limestone into pits that surprisingly allow plants to establish roots and thrive. This same erosion has created grottos and caves like Thunderball Grotto, made famous in Hollywood films including ‘Splash’ and ‘Thunderball.’ Eleanor Phillips (c) Kip F.…
Posted in Ann Luskey, Bahamian Reefs Hope Spot, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Eleanor Phillips, Kenred Dorsett, Kip Evans, The Nature Conservancy |

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Mission Blue Bahamas Expedition: Nassau & Staniel Cay

By Kip Evans ​   (c) Kip F. Evans/Mission Blue After dragging hundreds of pounds of equipment from the United States we finally arrived in the Bahamas yesterday afternoon.  Looking a bit ragged and feeling a bit beat up from our flights, we were excited to meet with our team near Staniel Cay, but we made a short stop in Nassau first to meet with the Minister of the Environment, The Honorable Kenred Dorsett.   Team member Eleanor Phillips (The Nature Conservancy) picked us up at the airport and whisked us off to a packed office filled with the Minister, his aids, and members of the Bahamas National Trust; the equivalent of the US National Park Service.  After introductions, Dr. Earle gave a 10 minute talk about the state of the ocean, “The next decade is critical to preserving what’s left of the ocean, we can’t continue to act as if we are not harming the ocean. …
Posted in Ann Luskey, Bahamian Reefs Hope Spot, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Eleanor Phillips, Kenred Dorsett, Kip Evans, The Nature Conservancy |

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