Monday, September 22, 2008

The Next Steps ...

The ARGO returned to La Paz, Mexico on September 18th. The sub is now covered in canvas and secure on ARGO's deck, the SCUBA gear is stored and our expedition members are all heading off, returning home, in different directions. Brian Skerry, Jamie Bechtel and I thank Jeff Gale for the ride home!

Jaime Bechtel and Brian Skerry

This was an enormously successful project and I thank everyone for their contributions. I want to extend a special thanks to the crew of ARGO from the Undersea Hunter Group who were absolutely fabulous is making this a successful project. Everyone on board was superlative in helping us with our every need and providing the highest level of professional service, collaboration and friendship. I would go anywhere with this team!

Shmulik, Wendy, Greg and Avi

We learned a great deal about the ocean life in the sea of Cortez. We were enchanted by pilot whales, intrigued by hydrothermal vents, and thrilled by the opportunity to explore deep within this sea. Sadly, we learned what has happened to the seamount El Bajo over the many years of over fishing.

We hope this work will inform and encourage restoration and conservation of seamounts globally. There is a proposal at the United Nations level aimed at protecting seamounts that are outside of the national boundaries of countries, on what is called the "high seas" from trawling. If these bans are put into place, it would go along way towards protecting remaining seamounts globally. And, then, of course, each country must protect, restore and conserve the seamounts in their waters, which in most cases extends 200 miles from the coastlines in what is called their Exclusive Economic Zones or EEZ.

We are now planning our next seamount expedition to follow up on from this exploration. We now want to find a seamount that is pristine to compare to El Bajo. Avi thinks he knows one about 40 miles from Cocos Island in Costa Rica. We may go there next year with Avi, his team, ARGO, DEEPSEE, and as many members of this expedition who may also be free next year.

Brian Skerry and Greg Stone plan their next move.

So stand by for the next installment ...

-Gregory Stone

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