Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Beginning the Indonesia Expedition at Raja Ampat

It's February 27 and the expedition team is gathering in the town of Sorong, West Papua, Indonesia for a trip through the islands to the west, known as Raja Ampat.

Raja Ampat Islands (Hobe, Wikipedia)

Our expedition leader, Dr. Greg Stone, is Senior Vice President and an overseer of the New England Aquarium, but his principal job is Senior Vice President and Chief Scientist for Oceans of Conservation International (CI). Greg has come from his home in Christchurch, New Zealand, having fortunately come through the terrible earthquakes there unscathed.

Dr. Greg Stone

Brian Skerry, underwater photographer for National Geographic Magazine, is here to take the images that will be part of the article that Greg and Brian are preparing for the magazine about seamounts, underwater extinct volcanoes (examples of seamounts in the Phoenix Island are shown in this post, and there's more information on seamounts in this BBC article). As chair of the Aquarium's board of overseers and a lifelong scuba diver and ocean conservationist, I'm along as a utility diver.

Brian Skerry (left) and Alan Dynner

We are joined on a 164-foot private expedition ship equipped with a helicopter and an ROV (an underwater remotely controlled vehicle equipped with cameras), by Dr. Mark Erdmann, Dr. Bruce Robison and Mark Talkovic. Mark Erdmann is the Senior Advisor to CI's Indonesian Marine Program, having lived and worked in Indonesia for 20 years and having an encyclopedic knowledge of Raja Ampat. Bruce, the Senior Scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), is a legendary marine scientist with over 40 years experience studying deep-sea life using ROVs and other high-tech equipment. Mark Talkovic is an ROV pilot at MBARI. Jeff Wildermuth, an underwater cameraman and Brian's assistant, was delayed and will join us in a few days.

As soon as we are on board we leave Sorong for Raja Ampat for two weeks. We will be joined there by another vessel with six other scientists from our Aquaium (Dr. Randi Rotjan), from CI and from MBARI. We hope that you will enjoy sharing our adventures on this website.

Alan Dynner


  1. This is a really exciting trip and I can't wait to see how it unfolds!

  2. Have a great trip and collect some ctenophores for those poor researchers left behind at MBARI!

  3. Glad you made it through the quakes and made it on the expedition, Greg! Best of luck on this cruise. Find some cool stuff.

  4. Amazing trip you are on. Best of luck to all of you.

    John and Sally Reynolds
    Paso Robles, CA