Monthly Archives

May 2014

Help Make a Birthday Wish Come True with a Dock at the Paint Factory

By | jun14, Ocean Alliance News, Paint Factory Headquarters | No Comments

If you have had any dealings with Ocean Alliance in the last twenty years then you have probably crossed paths with Kim Marshall Tilas. Beginning as Iain Kerr’s assistant, she has worn many hats with charm, exuberance and energy that shouldn’t be allowed in one individual. Most memorably, she was the diver in the IMAX film “Whales” who was captured in a magical swim with a southern right whale. More recently she has battled breast cancer and faced a double mastectomy with the humor that only Kim could. To know Kim is to love her and we are honored that she would make the following request:

Kim Marshall Tilas on the OdysseyI, Kim Marshall Tilas, am turning 50 on July 24th, 2014. To celebrate and honor my wonderfully exciting and fortunate life thus far I want to invite you to be a part of the Dolphin Dock Project. I will raise $9250.00 so that a floating dock can be built at Ocean Alliance’s home at the Paint Factory in Gloucester, MA.

My goal is to toast the new dock on my birthday with friends and family. Every dollar given goes to the Dolphin Dock in my honor. You can designate your donation to Kim’s Dolphin Dock or send a check to Ocean Alliance at 32 Horton St., Gloucester, MA 01930.

Please Hurry! Thank you for helping me celebrate my milestone birthday with a porpoise!

 

Odyssey Gains Night Vision to Track Whales

By | Ocean Alliance News, Odyssey, Technology | No Comments

We track whales using a piece of equipment called an acoustic array. This is a line of underwater microphones called hydrophones that we drag behind the RV Odyssey to give us a bearing and approximate range to animals night and day, good and bad weather. The best-case scenario for us is to be with a group of whales when the sun rises so that we can work with them all day. Read More

Roger Payne is Guest Moderator at FiRe Technology Conference

By | Ocean Alliance News, Roger Payne, Technology | No Comments

This past week Ocean Alliance President and founder Roger Payne was in Laguna Beach, California as a guest moderator at the 13th Annual Future in Review (FiRe) Conference. Called “The Best Technology Conference in the World” by The Economist, FiRe brings together leaders from technology, energy, the environment, education and the economy to forge new partnerships and new ideas for a better future. Speakers included executives from Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Oracle, journalists, scientists and environmentalists. Read More

A Happy Discovery from our Southern Right Whale Program

By | jun14, Ocean Alliance News, Southern Right Whale Program | No Comments

If you’ve ever been on a whale watch, you’ve no doubt seen a naturalist busy snapping photos of the whales encountered. Far from taking pretty pictures, in most cases the naturalist is taking shots to identify and record the sighting of individual whales. With whales who are recurring visitors, they can track their life histories–their health, births, and wounds, and by comparing photographs with those of other organizations they can track migration patterns. Read More

First-Ever Paper on the Toxicity of Chemical Dispersants in Whales Comes from Our Gulf Expeditions

By | Gulf of Mexico, jun14, Ocean Alliance News, Pollution, Whales | No Comments

In 2010 the RV Odyssey headed to the Gulf of Mexico with a team from Ocean Alliance and our partners at the Wise Laboratory of Environmental and Genetic Toxicology at the University of Southern Maine. The Deepwater Horizon well had been capped, but the Gulf wildlife and people were now challenged with coping with the oil and dispersants that remained. Our specific concern was the potential effects of this disaster on the population of sperm whales living in the Gulf in the deep water where the disaster occurred, and having sampled hundreds of sperm whales around the world during the Voyage of the Odyssey 2000-2005 we were well-equipped and trained to track and sample sperm whales in the Gulf. Our global data set gave us a unique opportunity to put what we found in the Gulf into a global context. We’ve been back every year since the disaster and this week those expeditions have produced a new study. Read More

One Voice, a Thousand Voices of Justice for the Whales

By | Commercial whaling | No Comments

Guest Post by Dr. Mariano Sironi–Scientific Director of Ocean Alliance Southern Right Whale Program partner Instituto de Conservación de Ballenas 

9 May 2014

 Centuries of centuries and only in the present

do things happen;

countless men in the air,

on the face of the earth and the sea,

and all that really is happening is happening to me.”

From The garden of forking paths, Jorge Luis Borges

On March 31st, 2014 the International Court of Justice at The Hague instructed the government of Japan to end its “scientific” whaling operations in Antarctica, in response to a demand by the government of Australia. The Court evaluated Japan’s Research Whaling Program in the Antarctic (JARPA II) and concluded that “the special permits granted by Japan in connection with JARPA II do not fall within the provisions of scientific research of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling” and thus, is not science. Read More

New Robotics Lab Coming to the Paint Factory

By | jun14, Ocean Alliance News, Paint Factory Headquarters, Technology | No Comments

When we first started talking with Olin College of Engineering in 2010 about a collaboration, they were very interested in Ocean Alliance providing their students with real world (or applied) challenges. A rapidly growing part of our oceanographic research program is the field of robotics, particularly as it applies to developing benign research techniques (those that cause no harm). SailBot, SnotShot and SnotBot are three good examples. As Ocean Alliance CEO Iain Kerr has spoken at different schools and events he has noticed a lot of interest in this field of robotics, so from our work with Olin and this interest came the idea to build the Applied Robotics Research Laboratory and Club at the Paint Factory, our headquarters in Gloucester, MA. Read More

SnotBot and SnotShot Are Coming to Gloucester Harbor

By | Education, Ocean Alliance News, Technology | No Comments

This June we will be moving ahead with SnotBot and SnotShot trials in Gloucester Harbor with our partners at Olin College of Engineering. SnotShot is a device we’ve built to simulate whale blows, SnotBot is a machine that will collect these exhalations looking for viruses, bacteria, DNA and hormones.

In preparation for the trial, Iain Kerr and John Graham recently made a trip to Olin to work with the students of Dr. Andrew Bennett. We sat down as a team to talk about how we could best fine tune the instruments to represent all that we might encounter when we work with wild animals. For example, the SnotShot will sit in a small kayak with a hydrophone in the water to record any propeller noise, a small camera with a microphone to record airborne noise and video the drone approach, a vertical anemometer to check ambient maximum wind speed, and a horizontal anemometer to check maximum vertical wind speed from the drone. Before taking the drones out students at Olin will be flying over a pressure plate to get accurate measurements of downwash created by the drone.

Andrew Bennett and John Graham in front of 3-D printers at work

Andrew Bennett and John Graham in front of 3-D printers at work

The purpose here is not just to do trial flights and collect simulated whale blow data, but also to collect all the info we can about what a whale might hear, see and feel when approached by a drone.

When we move on to animal encounters we will bring the SnotShot with us, as in this type of experiment you always need control data. We need to be able to compare what’s in the water with what’s in the whale blow since a large part of the whale blow is seawater.

Thanks to the students of Olin for all of your hard work—we look forward to seeing you in Gloucester!