Thursday, March 17, 2011

Signing off from Indonesia

This post is written by Indonesia Expedition team leader Dr. Greg Stone. He is a Senior Vice President and Overseer of the New England Aquarium and Senior Vice President and Chief Scientist for Oceans at Conservation International (CI).

Our wetsuits are dry, the hard working able ROV is packed away, most expedition members have made the long trip home, and we now begin the process of pouring over pictures, video, specimens and vast amounts of data to understand what we have learned about ocean life and seamounts, from shallow, to very deep in Raja Ampat. This expedition was blessed with a wonderful Ship, ROV, Helicopter, scientists and crews on both vessels (PLAN B and PUTRIPAPUA).

Looking up at the Plan B from 80 feet, with a skiff to the side and the ROV teather leading to the surface (Photo: Greg Stone)

Because of these remarkable assets and people being deployed in a remote and also remarkable part of the world, we made great progress in conservation and science: discovering several new species and recorded new location and depth records of many more species, especially during the multiple ROV dives to over 900 meters—we revealed a new new world in the deep waters of Raja Ampat.

Brian Skerry photographing the ROV (Photo: Greg Stone)

This expedition may result, or at least support, the creation of a new MPA, as described in Crissy Hufford’s post. Brian Skerry and I made progress on the seamount story for National Geographic Magazine, especially a seamount we named it “spoon mountain.” We also did a flight to document illegal logging in the region, which really helped the terrestrial conservation efforts of CI.

Giant clam on seamount (Photo: Greg Stone)

This was an amazing expedition of exploration, research and conservation, one that I will never forget. I want to acknowledge the wonderful crew under the leadership of a consummate captain, David Passmore. No request was too small or too large. Everyone on PLAN B and at the Waitt Institute made sure this was a very successful endeavor. The crew really worked hard, 24 hours a day. Thank you, thank you, It was great to work with PLAN B and the Waitt Institute.

Frog fish at 2,000 feet taken by ROV (Photo: Greg Stone)

Finally, my thanks also go out to the New England Aquarium, Conservation International staff in Washington DC and in Indonesia, Alan Dynner and the New England Aquarium's Akiko Shiraki Dynner Fund for Ocean Exploration and Conservation, Ted Waitt and the Waitt Institute, National Geographic Magazine, The National Geographic Committee for Research and Exploration, the Monterey Bay aquarium Research Institute, and all of you who have read this blog and care about the oceans.

-Greg Stone

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