In 2007, Greenpeace launched a groundbreaking expedition to explore the two largest underwater canyons in the world, in the heart of the Bering Sea. It was the first time manned submersibles ever entered these canyons and human eyes gazed directly upon their treasures. The expedition revealed an extraordinary tapestry of life thousands of feet below the surface, including beautiful, brightly-colored deepwater corals, sponges, anemones, octopus and fish and resulted the discovery of new species and species ranges.
The expedition also revealed the terrible damage being done to these intricate ecosystems by trawling nets, even more than 1,000 feet below the surface. Coldwater corals are the oldest living animals on the planet, some of which are roughly 4,000 years old and still alive today. But what may take decades, centuries or millenia to grow can be wiped out in the blink of an eye by a factory trawler net. [Read more...]
December 27, 2010:
It’s our end-of-the-year party and retrospective where we count down your top 10 favorite episodes of the year and enjoy highlights from each of them. If you’ve missed any past episodes of “The Ocean Doctor,” here’s your chance to catch up and discover shows you?d like to hear in full. Find them all at oceandoctor.org/radio
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The ExpeditionCasts podcast is back! The series returns with the video version of the Ocean Doctor’s popular blog post, “Attacked by the Giant Squid’s Cousins.” (You can access the video version below.) That’s big news. But the GINORMOUS news is that ExpeditionCasts returns along with a new version of Google Earth. Version 5.0 of Google Earth allows you to explore the other 70 percent of the planet — the world’s oceans — and access stunning underwater video content from around the world. We have been privileged to be a contributor to this enormous, er, GINORMOUS project, and you’ll find five ExpeditionCasts videos among the others Google Earth 5.0. Look for them in Alaska’s Bering Sea and off the northwestern coast of Cuba.
BERING SEA, Alaska — On August 1, 2007, Kenneth Lowyck took his tiny sub to one of the expedition’s “shallower” dives, to about 700 feet into the Bering Sea’s Pribolof Canyon, where he extended the sub’s manipulator arm and collected rock containing a tiny, unassuming white sponge. Months later, there would be no doubt: This was a new species, named Aaptos kanuux, the word “kanuux” being the Aleut word for “heart,” in honor of the Bering Sea’s canyons, considered to be the heart of the Bering Sea. It was the first time the genus Aaptos has ever been documented in the Bering Sea. The discovery comes on the heels of Earth Day and will likely herald future announcements of new species discovered during last summer’s Greenpeace expedition to the Bering Sea’s two largest canyons. [Read more...]
It’s hard to get a big smile out of Ken Lowyck, Greenpeace’s capable Action Unit Coordinator (and sub pilot) based in Toronto. I snapped the photo to the right and captured Ken’s pre-dive excitement last summer on August 1, just minutes before he was launched on the dive to 700 feet in Pribilof Canyon in the Bering Sea that resulted in one of the expedition’s most important discoveries. I imagine the modest smile that appeared on his face has returned today as Greenpeace has announced that the tiny, unassuming white sponge he retrieved on that dive was never before documented by Homo sapiens, and may well herald future announcements of other new species from the expedition. [Read more...]
See new Bering Sea footage while cruising on the Potomac River in Washington, DC
To celebrate the Marine Fish Conservation Network’s 15th anniversary, Dr. David Guggenheim will be the featured speaker aboard a cruise along the Potomac River in Washington, DC on May 7, 2008. As the first human being to pilot a submarine into the Bering Sea’s two largest canyons he will show rare footage from Greenpeace’s recent scientific expedition to these extraordinarily beautiful and mysterious ocean depths. [Read more...]
BERING SEA, Alaska — This past summer, the Greenpeace ship M/V Esperanza carried two manned submersibles, a remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) and an international research team to the Bering Sea for a three week survey of Zhemchug and Pribilof Canyons,to map and document deepwater corals living at depths of more than 1,000 feet. The expedition was conceived of and was led by Greenpeace. 1planet1ocean president David E. Guggenheim participated as a sub pilot and scientific consultant. Pribilof and Zhemchug Canyons revealed diverse and complex ecosystems, rich with corals, sponges, fish and other marine life. They also revealed striking human impacts from trawlers, damage that was documented during the expedition. More than a terabyte of video data and numerous biological specimens are now being analyzed and results are being shared with a range of decisionmakers and decisionmaking bodies, including the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council.
I awakened at 4am in my bunk to something strange. The ship was still. After enduring two days of pounding seas and gale-force winds, we had at last arrived at the island of Unalaska and were nearing the port of Dutch Harbor. A few hours later, juggling my cameras, I tried in vain to capturethe profound tranquility of that early Alaskan morning as dawn’s gentle glow painted small swaths of green across the surrounding mountains atop a canvas of deep blues and grays.An incredible journey was nearing its end, and I was reluctant to let go. So was the wildlife. In a moment, the morning silence was replaced by shrieks from the deck below. They were shrieks of joy as once again we were surrounded by whales as a pod of humpbacks divided itself evenly and passed closely along both sides of us, filling the morning air with their spouts and flukes. [Read more...]
With a Terabyte (1,000 Gigabytes) of high-definition video, photographs and other data, along with numerous biological samples, now making their way around the world to scientists, policymakers and public forums, new insights and perspectives are emerging as the hard work of reviewing this vast volume of new data moves forward. The science team and sub pilots have departed Esperanza, which is continuing west along the Aleutian Island chain, continuing important outreach to local communities. The ship will eventually continue west to Japan.
Before departing Dutch Harbor, the science team/sub pilots made the first public presentation of its findings, including imagery and videos, to the community of Unalaska. The following day, members of the community were invited aboard Esperanza during an Open House to meet with the crew and see the ship up close.
Though the at-sea portion of the expedition has concluded, much work lies ahead in the analysis and review of the information collected. In addition, planning is underway for events to bring the new imagery and insights to the public, so stay tuned. Also, the team continues to review chart data regarding the pinnacles reported to be in the Zhemchug Canyon area which purportedly rise within 20 feet of the surface. Such features would certainly be biologically important, so the search will continue.
Pribilof and Zhemchug Canyons revealed diverse and complex ecosystems, rich with corals, sponges, fish and other marine life. They also revealed striking human impacts from trawlers, damage that was documented during the expedition. For a reflection on the conclusion of the expedition, read David Guggenheim’s latest OceanDoctor blog post entitled, “A Sea Turtle is Born in Alaska.”
The Esperanza carried two manned submersibles, a remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) and an international research team to the Bering Sea for a three week survey of Zhemchug and Pribilof Canyons,to map and document deepwater corals living at depths of more than 1,000 feet. The expedition was conceived of and was led by Greenpeace. [Read more...]