Saturday, November 13, 2010

Okeanos Explorer returns to San Francisco with data trove

From SFChronicle

After 180 days at sea, the NOAA research vessel
Okeanos Explorer has returned to the Bay Area to be refitted in an Alameda dry dock for new expeditions to Indonesia's fabled "Coral Triangle," one of the richest regions of marine biodiversity in the world.

The scientists and technicians aboard, together with Indonesian colleagues, gathered precious ocean data with their highly advanced, remote-controlled shipboard instruments and transmitted their discoveries directly to researchers ashore for the first time in ocean exploration.

"We just drove the ship and they had all the fun," Robert Kamphaus, skipper of the newest vessel in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's research fleet, said when the ship docked briefly at Pier 30 on the Embarcadero last week.

The team deployed the ship's unmanned submarine, a remotely operated vehicle nicknamed "
Little Hercules," to explore Indonesia's little-known ocean bottom.
The vehicle discovered and transmitted images of intensely hot hydrothermal vents fuming on the flanks of a mile-high undersea volcano named
Kawio Barat, where barnacles, worms, colorless shrimp and other strange creatures thrive in the heat around the smoke-filled steam.
In their high-tech control room, researchers aimed the ship's multi-beam sonar to sound the bottom day and night, gathering precise images of unknown seamounts, ridges and flat plains of sediments laid down, possibly, for untold thousands of years.

The ship also towed a small vehicle called a "continuous plankton recorder" 30 feet below the surface across nearly 6,000 miles from the Sulawesi Sea through the Pacific Ocean to gather tiny plant and animal samples that will reveal much about the sea's varied floating life forms and environment.

For the first time in oceanography, all those undersea images and instrument data were shared instantly with scientists at seven specialized exploration command centers throughout the United States, thanks to the satellite-based broadband technology known as "

Even after the ship left Indonesia, sailing on her final leg between Hawaii and California, biologists aboard described passing across a thousand miles of the notorious "
North Pacific garbage patch," a region where ocean currents trap vast quantities of floating detritus from human sources on land, including chunks of plastic and even larger floating junk.

"For a thousand miles of the open ocean we sampled it all," said Miriam Goldstein, an oceanography graduate student from the Scripps Institute in San Diego.
And while most of the garbage patch is made of microscopic plastic particles, invisible from the air, we did pick up pop bottles, a bucket lid and even a floating junked suitcase."

Stephanie Oakes, an oceanographer with NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service, collected huge quantities of plankton organisms, both in Indonesia and again between Hawaii and the West Coast.

Changes in the density of plankton species and their biology in different areas of the ocean, she said, will provide unique insights into the nature of life on the surface of the ocean as the ship crossed eastward from Indonesia.

Oakes already has examined the collected plankton on board, but she is busy shipping samples to the little-known
Plankton Sorting and Identification Center in Szczecin, Poland, for detailed analysis, she said.

A crucial part of the expedition, Kamphaus said, was the opportunity to join Indonesian oceanographers and work with their research ship, the Baruna Jaya IV.
The Indonesian scientists focused largely on the shallower seafloor - an area known for greater marine biodiversity than virtually anywhere else in the world.

"The voyage revealed that biodiversity runs deep in Indonesia's waters," said Kelley Elliott, a marine archaeologist and the expedition's coordinator.
"Dozens of new species were likely imaged during the voyage - from tiny crustaceans to stalked sponges and deep-sea corals - reminding us all how little we know about our ocean planet and how much remains to be explored."

The Earth's oceans remain virtually unexplored, said Stephen R. Hammond, chief scientist of NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration and Research.

"This voyage has begun a new chapter in the history of ocean exploration that is certain to reveal many new discoveries that will help us to understand why, and how, the oceans are critical to life on Earth."

Links :

Friday, November 12, 2010

Saving the ocean one island at a time

Aboard Mission Blue, oceanographer Greg Stone tells the story of how he helped the Republic of Kiribati create an enormous protected area in the middle of the Pacific -- protecting fish, sealife and the island nation itself (TED).

From TheGuardian

Greg Stone was a key driver in the establishment of the Phoenix Island Protected Area in the island nation of Kiribati.
The second-largest marine protected area in the world -- and one of the most pristine -- PIPA is a laboratory for exploring and monitoring the recovery of coral reefs from bleaching events.

Greg Stone began his career as an ocean scientist, pioneering research in Antarctica on marine mammals and ice ecology where he mastered the art of diving into icebergs.
Today he is well-known for his leadership in the effort to create the world's second-largest marine protected area (MPA), around the Phoenix Islands in Kiribati.

Working with the government of Kiribati, Stone helped establish the MPA using market-based tools to conserve ocean biodiversity, in order to encourage continued local economic development rather than destruction of local communities livelihoods.
Stone is the Chief Scientist for Oceans at
Conservation International and a prolific author and speaker on the state of the marine environment and how policy can make change.

Links :

Garmin Communicator

Sometimes updates to devices and improvements to the Garmin site may slip past even the most diligent of Marine GeoGarage users.
Today we want to highlight the importance of keeping your
Garmin Communicator Plugin software updated with the latest and greatest, as well as encourage you to keep your device up-to-date with the latest firmware (see below).

Today, Garmin has just released a new version (v.2.9.3) of the Garmin Communicator Plugin :

About The Garmin Communicator Plugin :

The Garmin Communicator Plugin API is a browser plugin and JavaScript support code that allows developers to transfer location data – such as waypoints, track logs, maps and points of interest (POIs) – to and from a website and Garmin device.

"The Garmin Communicator Plugin lets you connect your Garmin GPS with your favorite website. Once the plugin is installed, just connect your Garmin GPS device to your computer, and you're on your way.
The Garmin Communicator can send and retrieve data from any supported website."

The benefit of this service to the retail consumer is that the API will simplify loading location data created with the Marine GeoGarage to a Garmin GPS.

Compatible computers and Internet browsers:

IBM-compatible PCs running Windows® 7, XP or Vista operating systems with Internet Explorer 6+ or Firefox 1.5+
Intel-based or PowerPC G4 or later Mac OS 10.4 or later with Firefox 2.0+ or Safari 2.0+

Already installed the Garmin Communicator Plugin?

Visit the
test page to see if it’s properly installed.
If the test page says your Communicator is successfully installed, but it's not detecting your device, download and install the latest
Garmin USB drivers.

Garmin & Marine GeoGarage :

For the moment, our website doesn't support data import from the GPS to the Marine GeoGarage : only waypoints and routes export from the website to the GPS.

This listing provides information about supported read and write GPS formats for different Garmin device models.
Connection issues :

  • test with Google Maps at first :
Google Maps also includes the possibility to download POI into Garmin GPS : google-sendtoGPSHelp
-> see video : in
English / in French

1/ connect your Garmin device to your PC or Mac using the original USB or serial cable that came with your Garmin device
2/ visit the Google Maps homepage, enter the address, business or point of interest (POI) you would like to transfer to your Garmin device in the search field, and then click on "Search maps."
3/ click on the "Send" link located at the top right-hand corner of the Google Maps screen. A Send dialog box appears. Click on "GPS" from the left pane, select your GPS brand (Garmin in our case), and then click on the "Send" button.

If it works with Google Maps, it should work with Marine GeoGarage.
If not, see below.

  • I have downloaded Garmin Communicator software and tried to establish contact between Garmin GPS and the Marine GeoGarage. It starts with "looking for GPS" and the I get a message "sorry can not unlock Garmin plugin"
Select in your browser :
now ensure that http://* is a trusted site and also uncheck the require server verification option.

  • Garmin GPS firmware : keep your operating software current
It's possible your GPS firmware is not updated : so use WebUpdater to automatically keep your GPS firmware updated
-> see :
current products version

  • Garmin and Linux users : use of GPX export
Because the Communicator API is currently limited to Windows (Internet Explorer and Firefox) and MacOS but not Linux, GeoGarage also supports online waypoints and routes to the GPX format.

Garmin forum : threads for Communicator Browser Mac PluginGarmin forum : threads for Communicator Browser Windows Plugin

If all this information is not sufficiently valuable to solve your problems with the Garmin Communicator, don't hesitate to
contact us or directly Garmin International support :
Product Support Specialist , 2nd Shift Garmin Mobile Team
Att: Eric Rosa, Associate #6957
P : 913-397-8200 / US Toll free 800-800-1020 / Canada 1 866 429 9296 /
EuropeF : 913-440-8280Email :

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Vietnam demands China removes illegal EEZ dotted line on online map

From DZTime & GISLounge

Political uproar over depicted boundaries on map servers isn’t just a
Google Maps issue.

Vietnam on Friday asked China to remove a “U-shaped” line showing its claims to over 80 percent of the East Sea from its map on a newly launched online mapping service.

The China’s State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping has critically violated Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (
Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes by presenting the map with the nine-dotted line on the two websites and, said spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Source: Press release from the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The statement from the Vietnamese government expressed their objection to the presence of “the nine-dotted line” on the map service.
The nine-dotted line first appeared on Chinese maps in 1947 and “encloses the main island features of the South China Sea: the
Pratas Islands, the Paracel Islands, the Macclesfield Bank, and the Spratly Islands.
The dotted line also captures James Shoal which is as far south as 4 degrees north latitude.” The journal article, ”
The Dotted Line on the Chinese Map of the South China Sea: A Note” quoted Professor Zhao Lihai of the Law Department of Beijing University

It has also violated Vietnam’s sovereignty rights and jurisdiction in its Exclusive Economic Zone (
EZZ) of 200 nautical miles, she added.

Under the
United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea an island can generate its own EZZ of 200 nautical miles. A state has the right to use resources in the EEZ and regulate the behavior of other states in that area.

According to NGA, the act also violates the declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), which China and ASEAN member states signed in 2002.

Vietnam objects to this act and demands that China promptly removes violating data from the websites, she stressed.

China needs to follow the shared awareness of the two countries’ high-ranking leaders about maintaining peace and stability; and not complicate or extend disputes in the East Sea, the spokeswoman said.

According to Bloomberg, China’s new state-sponsored online map service, launched last month, aimed to offer the most comprehensive geographic data on the country.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Route du Rhum - Franck Cammas takes transatlantic solo victory

From Sail-World

Route du Rhum victory to Franck Cammas

It was at 15 hours 16 minutes 47 seconds (GMT) yesterday that the skipper of Groupama took victory in his first solo transatlantic race!
Beneath the glorious sunshine of Guadeloupe and surrounded by a horde of spectator craft, Franck Cammas couldn't conceal his happiness and his emotion.

He covered the 3,539 miles in 9 days 3 hours 14 minutes and 47 seconds, at an average speed of 16.14 knots...
Franck Cammas' achievement is a sizeable one on a trimaran spanning 31.5 metres in length and 22.5 metres wide!
In fact she is the biggest boat that has ever competed in the Route du Rhum la Banque Postale! Hearty congratulations to Franck for expertly helming his Groupama 3.

After a triumphant departure from Saint Malo where they took the lead of the fleet from the off, Groupama 3 and her skipper led the Ultimate fleet virtually from beginning to end, only conceding their leadership during the first 24 hours.
Since 31st October 1202 GMT, Franck Cammas hasn't once eased off the pace aboard Groupama 3. After a series of tack changes, gybes and brainstorming sessions with his routers Jean-Luc Nélias and Charles Caudrelier, the 38 year old skipper takes victory on the highest step of this much coveted podium thanks to his southerly route.

This solo victory was all that was lacking in the list of achievements racked up by this passionate and talented sailor.

Groupama and Franck Cammas have been together for 13 years now.
Loyalty and commitment form the backbone of the insurance and banking group and they unquestionably play a large part in this success.

Jean Azéma, Genereal Manager of Groupama summed up the company's reaction: 'I am very happy for Franck as it's a fabulous victory, which tops an impressive list of achievements with one of the finest solo races there is, the Route du Rhum. All the group's representatives and colleagues, who have followed and supported Franck for the past 13 years, are proud of this victory.

I'd also like to thank the shore crew and the sailing team for their commitment in fine tuning Groupama 3 over the past 4 years, through the various record campaigns and the ambitious gamble to configure our trimaran for one man alone.

Today's victory is a reflection of a solid partnership between the Team led by Franck and Groupama, which is constantly seeking to combine the sporting aspect and the business aspect.

Groupama and Franck will now continue the adventure on another type of boat (
VOR70), right around the globe, marking our commitment to sailing and the loyalty of this partnership.

Our shared adventure, which is expressed in the joy of victory, but also sometimes in the more difficult times, will remain based on reciprocal trust which enables ambitious projects to be built upon.

I am delighted that this victory has come just days before the start of the Banque Postale IARD, which Groupama is partnering. It augurs well for our future success.'

In a hour's time, Groupama 3 will be tied up in the harbour basin of Pointe à Pitre, Guadeloupe, in front of the Place de la Victoire!
All that remains is for Franck to fully savour his achievement.

Links :

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Offshore wind cable plan highlights grid bottleneck


Without a "backbone" to shuttle megawatts of power, the offshore wind resource on the U.S. Atlantic coast will remain undeveloped, according to one of the architects behind the
Atlantic Wind Connection offshore transmission line project (AWS).

Trans-Elect Development today detailed an ambitious project to lay underwater cables to carry electricity generated by offshore wind turbines along the eastern seaboard from Virginia to New Jersey.

The group said that an initial group of investors, including
Google and Good Energies, have put in tens of millions of dollars each into the project, which they hope to begin construction of in 2013.
During a press conference today, executives said the capital just for procuring the equipment and engineering is on the order of $5 billion. The initial, three-year phase will require $1.8 billion.

If fully built, the 350-mile backbone could support 1,600 giant offshore wind turbines, which are larger than on-shore turbines, and generate enough to power 1.9 million homes, executives said. The group hopes to complete the network by 2020.

The plan calls for the use of direct current transmission lines and relatively new sea-based converter stations, which would act as a switch to direct hundreds of megawatts of power on and off the transmission cable, said Trans-Elect CEO Robert Mitchell.
This relatively new technology makes it easier for new projects to plug in as they come online, but the developers said that the engineering should not pose insurmountable challenges.
"This is not rocket science. We're going to lay a cable," Mitchell said. "The real technology factor that's never been done before is that fact that there will be multiple points going on and off (the backbone). That's not been done before."

If they don't build it, will they come?

Executives said they are confident that the transmission line will attract offshore wind farm developers because it addresses one of the most significant hurdles--and costs--to offshore wind.
This project is starting off the coast of Delaware and New Jersey because offshore projects there are farthest along.

Without transmission lines, many large-scale renewable-energy projects get scuttled. T. Boone Pickens, for example, had to shelve plans for a giant wind farm in Texas in part because a lack of transmission lines.

A wind farm off the coast of Long Island would have required upgrading the terrestrial grid with costly and controversial transmission lines, Mitchell noted.
"Once you got to shore, the upgrades would have cost $415 million and I don't know any wind farm can absorb that kind of cost," he said.

Approvals for the plan will require cooperation of both the federal and state governments, which include a barrage of permits and environmental impact studies.
Mitchell noted that the Obama administration supports developing offshore wind on the East Coast, though Congress has not yet been able to pass energy and climate legislation favorable to clean-energy technologies this year.
Gaining initial investors to get the project off the ground is the most difficult part of financing the entire operation, Mitchell said.
When the project is ready for construction, the group will rely on traditional project finance.

Regional transmission operator PJM, which serves the Mid-Atlantic states, will also play a key role in financing as it will need to assess the benefits, such as improving grid reliability, and get approval for paying for the infrastructure investment through ratepayers, executives said today.

Without a backbone transmission line, only a handful of offshore wind developers will be attracted to the Atlantic coast and ultimately those efforts will founder, Mitchell predicted.
One of the advantages of an offshore cable is that it will allow turbines to be placed as much as 18 miles offshore, where they would not be viewable from shore.
"There will be no offshore wind industry in this country if we as a team are not successful in getting a backbone transmission line going," he said.

Links :
  • NewYorkTimes : Offshore wind power line wins backing
  • Reuters : Google's wind investments just keep getting bigger - and more strategic

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bluefin on the edge - inside the tuna black market

The Documentary
ICIJ teamed up with London-based tve
to produce a companion documentary on BBC World News.

From The Center for Public Integrity

Twelve days before regulators gather in Paris to decide the fate of the endangered Eastern
Atlantic bluefin tuna, a new documentary launching on BBC World News this weekend reveals a sorry saga of illegal over-fishing that has led to plummeting tuna stocks worldwide.

Co-produced by tve with the Washington-based
ICIJ (the International Consortium for Investigative Journalists), ‘Looting the Seas’ shows how a decade of fraud involving Mediterranean fisheries, European governments and foreign dealers has helped push Atlantic bluefin stocks to the brink – and how the rules put in place to conserve them still don’t work effectively.

Bluefin tuna sit near the top of the marine food chain. If tuna stocks collapse, it could affect the entire marine ecosystem. Spawning stocks of Eastern Atlantic bluefin – the kind caught in the Mediterranean – are widely estimated to have shrunk by around 75 percent in the last four decades. As the global appetite for sushi spreads beyond Japan, ‘Looting the Seas’ asks if it’s now too late to rescue one of Nature's most noble fish, prized by the Romans – and today often worth thousands of dollars each.

According to the UN, 25 percent of the world fisheries are fished out, while 50 percent are fished to their biological maximum. No fish today better exemplifies the dire state of the seas than the prized Eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna.

Prized for its fatty, red flesh, bluefin tuna is considered a delicacy among sushi lovers in Japan and worldwide.

The fishing and trade in bluefin is regulated by
ICCAT - the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, with headquarters in Madrid. ICCAT’s international panel of scientists advise on sustainable fishing levels but, as ‘Looting the Seas’ reveals, they say that for years their recommendations have been ignored.

Fisheries consultant Roberto Mielgo told ICIJ reporter Kate Willson: ‘Cheating was part of the game and a business necessity in order to survive.’

After years of underreporting from ICCAT-registered vessels, and a lack of enforcement by member countries, the European Union has only recently begun to crack down on its fleets. But as the film reveals, there’s evidence some of the measures in place are still not working as they should.

How Overfishing, Fraud, and Negligence Plundered the Majestic Bluefin Tuna

OVERVIEW: The Black Market in Bluefin
How a decade of rampant fraud and lax oversight threatened tuna stocks and created a $4 billion black market.

PART I: A Mediterranean Feeding Frenzy
Mediterranean fleets engaged in massive overfishing while governments stood by.

PART II: Diving into the Tuna Ranching Industry
Sea “ranches” for fattening tuna became lucrative centers for “laundering” bluefin.

PART III: Bluefin, Inc.
With no questions asked, Japanese traders fed a ravenous demand for high-quality sushi.

Key Findings
Highlights of ICIJ’s seven-month investigation into the bluefin trade.

About this Project
ICIJ’s multinational team scoured public records and interviewed sources in ten countries.

Links :
  • AFP : Tuna black market worth billions of dollars
  • LifeOnLine (TVE) : to read more about ‘Looting the Seas’
  • BBC News : feature article by Life on the Edge series editor Steve Bradshaw
  • BBC : Bluefin tuna protection system 'full of holes'
  • YouTube : National Geographic, tuna matenza

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Kelly Slater wins his 10th surfing world title

Kelly Slater : two decades of perfection (Surfer Magazine)


Kelly Slater claimed his record 10th ASP world title Saturday at the 2010 Rip Curl Pro Search in Puerto Rico.

In clean, contestable 3- to 4-foot surf at Middles, Slater advanced out of his quarterfinal heat over Brazil's Adriano De Souza to mathematically eliminate world No. 2 Jordy Smith from the world title race.

Since his previous title, in 2008, there had been a great deal of speculation as to whether Slater would go for a 10th, and after an uncharacteristic ninth-place finish at the
Quiksilver Pro this year, questions about his motivation surfaced.

But Slater, 38, went on to win the second event of the year, the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach, Australia. From that point, he gained momentum and went into Puerto Rico on a tear, having finished third, first, second, and first in the previous four contests.

Had Slater failed to advance through the quarterfinal, Smith could have kept the title race alive by winning the event. But Slater caught his first wave within seconds of the heat's start, fading deep into a barrel and emerging with a 9.00 out of a possible 10.

Minutes later, Slater caught a second wave -- this one providing two separate barrel sections that he cleared with ease. The wave earned him a 9.87 and, just like that, De Souza faced a nearly insurmountable hill to climb. It was never even close.

"I'm just really relieved right now. It's not one maneuver or one wave, it's a year-long thing. I'm so tired of worrying about my boards, my food and everything. This comes as such a relief," he told ESPN after his heat today.

Slater's professional career spans nearly 20 years. Hailing from Cocoa Beach, Fla., he first exploded onto the scene in 1992, when he won his first world title at age 20. By 1998, he had six world titles to his credit.

"This is the closest world tour event we've ever had to where I grew up, and there are a lot of familiar faces and old friends here. It's been 25 years since I first came here, and it's nice to have so much support around me for this," Slater said.

He unexpectedly walked away from tour life in 1999, only to return to competition in 2001.
His 2008 title came at the Billabong Pro Mundaka in Spain, when he held off a very on-point Joel Parkinson.

Slater holds the distinction of being the youngest and oldest ASP world champion.
He has a record 44 world tour wins, as well as six
Pipeline Masters victories.

Slater's win comes after finding out Tuesday that three-time world champion
Andy Irons was found dead in a Dallas hotel room.

As Slater was returning to competition from his hiatus in 2001, it would be Irons who emerged as his fiercest, most determined adversary.
Their battles in the water since have become the stuff of legend.

A medical examiner said a ruling on the cause of Iron's death could take several weeks, but said there were no signs of trauma or foul play. A police report stated prescription anti-anxiety and sleeping aid medications were found in Irons' hotel room.

More than
100 surfers had paddled out on Wednesday to honor Irons, including Slater.
They clasped hands and formed a circle, as tradition dictates, to honor a surfer who dies.

Links :