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West Coast Artist Finds Symbolism in Form & Movement of Orca Whales

By Courtney Mattison
Every city Claire Brandt lived in as a child overlooked the water. When you grow up in the Pacific Northwest as she did, you come to recognize orca whales as a daily presence in the collective imagination, from indigenous art to the mainstream media. When young Brandt looked out over the water, she says, “I always wondered if the whales were there. They represented mystery, possibility, and awe.”
It’s no surprise, then, that after years of working as a professional artist in San Francisco and Seattle following her 2005 MFA in painting at the San Francisco Art Institute, Brandt has turned to the orca as a muse for her work. Until around 2010, most of Brandt’s inspiration came from land-based animal and human subject matter, including her own body.…

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Benchley Awards honor ocean heroes

By Courtney Mattison
During the 6th Annual Peter Benchley Ocean Awards at the Carnegie Institution for Science last week, the word excellence was not used lightly. From the bold actions of Senegalese President Macky Sall expelling foreign fishing vessels for over-exploiting Senegal’s waters to young Sean Russell’s work to mobilize youths over marine plastic pollution, the ocean conservation efforts celebrated Wednesday night were truly exceptional.
Noting that until recently there were no high profile awards to celebrate achievements specifically within the ocean and coastal community, the Blue Frontier Campaign began honoring ocean leaders at its 2004 Blue Vision Conference in Washington, D.C. After Peter Benchley – author of Jaws and keynote speaker at that initial event – passed away, his widow and fellow grassroots environmental activist Wendy Benchley agreed to let the Blue Frontier Campaign title the annual awards in his honor.…

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Blue Vision Summit spurs ocean conservation on Capitol Hill

By Courtney Mattison
On Wednesday, members of Congress met with what was likely the largest ocean advocacy group to ever visit Capitol Hill during “Healthy Ocean Hill Day” – part of the fourth biennial Blue Vision Summit organized by the Blue Frontier Campaign in Washington, D.C. Groups of multi-generational ocean lovers ranging from two to 20 members met with over 100 Congressional offices and represented a growing constituency to turn the tide for our public seas. Called “seaweed rebels” by Blue Frontier founder David Helvarg, this empowered group was comprised of marine conservationists; businesses; scientists; recreational ocean users; youths; communicators; artists and others from dozens of states and overseas to help advance marine conservation and U.S. ocean policy.
The Blue Vision Summit began in 2004 as a way for ocean lovers and stakeholders to unite to address opportunities and challenges facing the health of our ocean and coasts.…

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Free Ride

“We gotta do better, it’s time to begin. 
You know all the answers must come from within…. Come on and take a free ride….”
From where I write, on the coast of California, I can look out and see dolphins swim gracefully through forests of ocean kelp. But I know that on the other side of the Pacific, it’s a very different scenario. Ric O’Barry is in Japan monitoring the dolphin hunt in Taiji, famously exposed in the movie “The Cove.” In picturesque Hatajiri Bay, the dolphins are being forced into a cove and trapped, then sold or slaughtered, in one of the worst drive-capture fisheries on the planet. Even though a horrified international public expressed outrage after seeing the brutality unleashed on these innocent sentient creatures in “The Cove,” the drive continues there and in other parts of Japan.…

Posted in mission blue |


Mission Aquarius Training Underway in Key Largo

By Deb Castellana

(c) Aquarius Reef Base

Training has begun for Dr. Sylvia Earle and her team of aquanauts in Key Largo, Florida in preparation for Mission Aquarius. On Sunday, July 16th, the team will undertake a saturation dive lasting until July 21st to the Aquarius Reef Base, sitting in 63′ of water in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. It’s the last remaining underwater laboratory in the world, and Mission Blue will be there both to celebrate 50 years of underwater exploration, and also to bring awareness to the looming funding cuts ahead. This may well be the last mission of Aquarius.

Since 1993, the Aquarius undersea lab has supported 114 missions, with over 550 peer-reviewed scientific publications produced, numerous educational programs and television pieces.…

Posted in Aquarius Reef Base, DJ Roller, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Hope Spot, Liquid Pictures 3D, Mission Aquarius, mission blue, One World One Ocean |

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Canadian Diver Broadcasts Mission Blue’s Message

For Canadian diver Mavis McRae, having the chance to join with Dr. Earle on May’s Bahamas Hope Spot Expedition was a dream come true. Fourteen years ago, McRae picked up ‘Sea Change: A Message of the Oceans’ in the University of Manitoba bookstore. The book changed her view about our ocean planet, and she determined that someday she would meet her hero, Dr. Earle in person.

McRae’s wish came true in May of this year when Mission Blue invited members of the public to join in a Bahamas Expedition to the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park.
Even before joining the expedition, McRae queried Mission Blue about how she might help to spread our message of throughout Canada. Engaging the services of a public relations consultant to create a campaign, she has just now finished a tour of Canada from Winnipeg to Calgary, including radio and television appearances, newspaper articles and visits to several schools.…

Posted in Dr. Sylvia Earle, Mavis McRae, mission blue |

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Onward and Downward!

Dr. Sylvia Earle © Kip F. Evans – Mission Blue

Today, the wind picked up making the waters quite choppy. The Sea Hunter delayed heading out to Hannibal bank but once there was able to achieve one spectacular survey, despite the weather.
STRI Director Biff Bermingham and Sylvia Earle led the rest of the Mission Blue team on two dives today. “Washing Machine” was the name of the first site and was a set of submerged rock peaks off Isla Jicaron. Before we descended, we saw what looked to be 6 recreational fishing vessels within the park. How can the few fish schools that remain (as far as what we’ve seen) have much of a chance against such pressure?
As we descended into the deep, Philippe rang a bell of sorts by clanging a whistle to get our attention.…

Posted in Coiba National Park, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Google Ocean, mission blue, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute |

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Coiba – Today was a magnificent day in Panama!

By Jenifer Austin Foulkes, Oceans Program Manager, Google and Mission Blue Board Director
Tuesday, March 6, 2012

© Kip F. Evans – Mission Blue

Kip Evans and Shari Sant Plummer left early in the morning to rendezvous with the Undersea Hunter support ship for the DeepSea sub.  Shari and David Shaw made a 350 foot (120 meters) dive in the sub to explore Hannibal Bank, where they saw numerous stomatopod Mantis shrimp, who mate for life. Kip and Biff did a 120 foot dive to photograph the sub descent. They saw a dead fish carcas at 300 feet being eaten by crabs. They also saw pink coral with white fringes, and a coral that looked like a taco-salad in a flour tortilla bowl.…

Posted in Coiba National Park, mission blue, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute |


Mission Blue Expedition to Coiba, Panama Launched

Coiba National Park, located off the southwest coast of Panama, is made up of Coiba Island, 38 smaller islands and the surrounding marine areas within the Gulf of Chiriqui. Protected from the cold winds and effects of El Niño, Coiba hosts exceptional diversity on the land and under the ocean. Considered a precious jewel of the Pacific, Coiba is a critical part of the Eastern Pacific Seascape, a broad ocean area within the waters of Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama and Ecuador.

Photo: Hector Guzman, STRI

Coiba Island is the biggest island in Central America and is also the largest uninhabited island in all of Latin America. It was declared a World Heritage site in 2005 and it provides a key ecological link to the Tropical Eastern Pacific for the transit and survival of pelagic fish and marine mammals.…

Posted in Coiba National Park, Dr. Sylvia Earle, Hector Guzman, hope spots, Kip Evans, mission blue, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute |


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