Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sea anemones, the tornado chasing truck and secrets from the tall ships

In addition to my continuing search for excellent interns and writing grant applications, January was dedicated to presenting about Rozalia Project and soaking up as much info as I could from people at the three conferences I attended. Here are some highlights:
US Sailing National Sailing Programs Symposium, Long Beach, CA
  • Community Boating in Boston said that they successfully launched their environmental program, thanks, in part, to Rozalia Project's visits and marine debris programs!
  • We had our first ROV launch from a tall ship... the Exy Johnson played host so we could show off our equipment and methods. We saw some surprising and beautiful sealife at the bottom of the main channel of the Port of LA - sea anemones galore! The crew were great, the boat beautiful and we are psyched to come back in the fall for full-on programs with the Exy Johnson and other excellent programs in the area: LA Maritime Museum and the Cabrillo Beach Aquarium to name two.
  • Jim Perry from the Positive Coaching Alliance gave us some insight that included some eloquent bits of advice taken from what he called cowboy wisdom:
    • Failure is not fatal. Success is not final.
    • Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.
    • If your horse is dead...dismount.
  • And a fun reminder that the ROV in action is appealing to people of all ages. Thanks to the Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club, we set the VideoRay Pro 4 up on the dock at night and went trash hunting. We found plenty, mostly in the form of beer cans, and recovered some, mostly wrappers on a completely different type of sea floor than what we had right around the corner when on the Exy Johnson.
Underwater Intervention, New Orleans, LA
  • This was a great opportunity for me to connect with Rozalia Project's generous and enthusiastic technology partners: VideoRay, Blueview, Tritech, KCF and Lyyn (we love our tech partners)!
  • The American Meteorological Society was meeting next door and they let us in to their exhibit hall which included an open tour of the tornado chasing truck (right). I asked other geekishly excited take a photo of me and Tom Glebas from VideoRay in it as well (after I did the same for them).
  • I got to meet the people from Shibuya Diving in Japan who have been working very hard since March and the tsunami. They have been using divers, VideoRays and some big equipment to help put their coast back together. I learned that some of the most immediate needs after the earthquake and tsunami were to clear channels and fix docks to allow ships with supplies and equipment to get in and unload. And the next task was to get in and assess then clean up the oyster beds and other fisheries so some vital commerce could continue. All with the same equipment and methods we use to clean up our harbors.
  • People are also using ROVs to spy on turtles in order to reduce the relatively high rate of by-catch from draggers. The ROV let scientists watch the turtles feeding, cruising around, defending themselves against sharks and get hit mid-water column by the ROV (turtle was OK) which revealed that it might be mid water column as well as the bottom where there are troubles for the little guys.
Tall Ships America Conference, Newport, RI
  • If you want to see some breathtaking footage of current exploration happening by NOAA check out NOAA's office of Ocean Exploration and Research and their Okeanos project. It is amazing and includes resources for teachers!
  • Joe Sienkiewicz from a different NOAA office gave a great talk on forecast info. NOAA's various weather offices provide guides on how to interpret everything on their web site, the Ocean Prediction Center produces a unified surface map that has loads of info and COMET has training modules with more resources to keep learning.
  • There were several new program showcases introducing us to great programs from our neighbors in Portsmouth: the Gundalow; a new tall ship for Newport: the Oliver Hazard Perry; and an update on one of my favorite museums as a kid: South Street Seaport in New York (to name just a few).
  • Eric Zettler from SEA talked about how scarce floating substrate is in the ocean (think of substrate as a platform where creatures grow, in the Atlantic, it is usually sargassum weed). Floating plastics are taking on that role with micro-organisms of all types growing on this marine debris. They are calling this the plastisphere.
In addition, as always, much of the value of going to these conferences is the chance to speak with people in the sailing (boats of all sizes) and underwater technology worlds. Last month was no exception, so I want to thank everyone (old friends and new) who shared their experiences and expertise. My to-do lists are shockingly long, but Rozalia Project will be better for it.
Next up: a few weeks hard at work in Vermont then the derelict fishing gear meeting in Portland, ME at the end of the month and just added, a presentation at a big Dive Conference in Boston early March.
Think snow for us!

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