Monday, July 18, 2016
TEAM SEARCHES FOR NATIVE INSECT SPECIES ON EASTER ISLAND
Today, Rapa Nui (Easter Island) is quite different from what the first Polynesian navigators experienced. As moai were carved and these impressive statues reached nearly 1,000 in number, an island-wide extinction event was underway. Due to a combination of factors including a fragile, fire-intolerant ecosystem, and an extended drought that occurred as the Rapanui society flourished, a catastrophic ecological shift occurred.
Palm-dominated scrub forest yielded to grassland. As this occurred, all native terrestrial vertebrates and most of the native plant species became extinct. Only 43 native plant species remain today, according to Dr. J. Judson Wynne, Ph.D., an Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research, Northern Arizona University. Wynne is leading a 3-1/2 month expedition to the island this month to conduct an island-wide survey for native insects.
Sebastian Yancovic Pakarati and Jut Wynne search for endemic insects in fern-moss gardens in the entrance of a cave on Rapa Nui. This same habitat has yielded 10 endemic species during Wynne's earlier work.
Nearly 400 insects have been documented on the island. However, only 31 are considered endemic (known to occur on Rapa Nui and nowhere else). Of these, 21 species have not been seen since they were first discovered several decades ago.
Recognizing the seemingly blighted ecological landscape, Wynne first ventured to Rapa Nui in 2008 to search for native insects. This reconnaissance was expanded to a multi-year project from 2008 to 2011. Through this work, Wynne's team identified 10 native insect species. Of these, eight species were new to science and endemic to Rapa Nui, while two species were considered endemic to both Rapa Nui and greater Polynesia. These 10 species may be some of the only native insect species remaining on the island.
Jut Wynne places a temperature and relative humidity data logger within the entrance of a cave on Rapa Nui.
Wynne is currently on Rapa Nui for the 2016 Expedición Rapa Nui. Working with local community members and Parque Nacional Rapa Nui personnel, his team is focusing on areas minimally impacted by humans, and thus most likely to support endemic insects.
By targeting areas likely to be relatively intact, he is optimistic the team will at least double the number of native insect species that are presently known to occur on the island.
Wynne's Rapa Nui research is funded through the Fulbright Visiting Scholar's Program, the National Speleological Society's International Exploration Fund, and Parque Nacional Rapa Nui.
To follow the expedition:
Learn more about Wynne's work at:
This surface buoy will enable scientists to remotely listen for whales. The buoy will detect the calls and songs of several species of whales as they swim and feed in the waves just beyond New York City. (Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher for WCS)
Whale of a Study in New York
Scientists working for WCS's (Wildlife Conservation Society) New York Aquarium and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) now have an "ear" for the New York region's biggest "voices and singers": the whales of New York Bight.
Last month, the WCS New York Aquarium-WHOI team successfully deployed a hi-tech acoustic monitoring buoy in New York waters that will enable scientists to eavesdrop on some of the world's largest animals.
The digital acoustic monitoring buoy now floating in New York Bight will listen for whale vocalizations and other noise, and will relay information about the sounds it collects to a shore-side computer at WHOI where it will be reviewed for whale calls.
The buoy itself is four feet in diameter and its mast stands six feet above the sea surface. It is connected with patented "stretch hoses" to a weighted frame that sits 125 feet below on the sea floor. The frame carries a unique acoustic instrument that records and processes sound from an underwater hydrophone. Information from detected sounds is transmitted from the instrument to the buoy through the stretch hoses, and to shore through the Iridium satellite system.
The buoy is located between two major shipping lanes entering New York Harbor, 22 miles south of Fire Island's west end.
"This technology allows us to monitor the presence of several species of baleen whales in near real time, and to use that knowledge to better study and protect these endangered species in the extremely busy waters of the New York Bight," said Dr. Mark Baumgartner, a marine ecologist and co-lead of the joint WCS New York Aquarium-WHOI project.
Read more about it here:
Artifacts Discovered on Return Expedition to Antikythera Shipwreck
An international research team has discovered spectacular artifacts during its ongoing excavation of the famous Antikythera shipwreck (circa 65 B.C.) last month. The shipwreck is located off the Greek island of Antikythera in the Aegean Sea.
Antikythera team members inspect small finds from the shipwreck while decompressing after a dive to 165 feet. (Photo by Brett Seymour, EUA/WHOI/ARGO)
Led by archaeologists and technical experts from the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the team recovered 60 artifacts including gold jewelry, luxury glassware, a bronze spear from a statue, elements of marble sculptures, resin/incense, ceramic decanters, and a unique artifact that may have been a defensive weapon to protect the massive ship against attacks from pirates.
"Our new technologies extend capabilities for marine science," said Brendan Foley, a marine archaeologist with WHOI. "Every new dive on the Antikythera shipwreck delivers gifts from the ancient past. The wreck offers touchstones to the full range of the human experience: from religion, music, and art, to travel, trade, and even warfare."
The Antikythera shipwreck, the largest ancient shipwreck ever discovered, was possibly a massive grain carrier. It was discovered and salvaged in 1900 by Greek sponge divers. In addition to dozens of marble statues and thousands of antiquities, they uncovered the Antikythera Mechanism - an astounding artifact known as the world's first computer.
The Mechanism is an ancient analog computer used to predict astronomical positions and eclipses for calendrical and astrological purposesas well as the Olympiads, the cycles of the ancient Olympic Games.
Found housed in a wooden box, the device is a complex clockwork mechanism composed of at least 30 meshing bronze gears. Its remains were found as one lump, later separated in three main fragments, which are now divided into 82 separate fragments after conservation works.
The project is supported by corporate partners Hublot, Autodesk, Cosmote, Costa Navarino Resort and others.
Learn more about the discovery at:
The Explorers Museum 2016 Film Festival and Exploration Achievement Awards
Dr. Lorie Karnath, president and founder of The Explorers Museum, based in Ireland, announced the recipients of the 2016 The Explorers Museum Film Festival:
* Jens Jensen The Living Green, by director Carey Lundin
* The Search for Michael Rockefeller, by director Fraser Heston
* Ireland's Ocean-Life in the Shallows, by director Ken O'Sullivan
Captain Norman Baker
* The Explorers Museum's 2016 Exploration Achievement Award went to Captain Norman Baker, celestial navigator on Thor Heyerdahl's Ra Expeditions. The expedition crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a papyrus boat in 1969 and 1970 to prove that the balsa log rafts used along the South American Pacific coast were capable of reaching Polynesia centuries ago.
For more information: Dr. Lorie Karnath, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.explorersmuseum.com
New York Wild Film Festival Seeks Entries
The New York WILD Film Festival, Feb. 23-26, 2017 at The Explorers Club in Manhattan, is the only documentary film festival in New York to present powerful exhilarating films about the wild world around us. Carefully selected films from around the world will cover a spectrum of wild topics, from exploration and adventure to wildlife, conservation and the environment.
Filmmakers are invited to submit their work by logging onto:
View the NYWFF's two-minute sizzle reel and learn more at:
Two Women Attempt 50 State Peak Bagging Feat
Zamst, makers of sports prevention and protective equipment, and Eddie Bauer, the active outdoor brand, are sponsors of an attempt by two women to achieve the first female team ascent of 50 U.S. high points within 50 days. Melissa Arnot, six-time Everest summiter and first American woman to ascend Everest without supplemental oxygen, is an Eddie Bauer guide who will be joined by college senior and guide in training, Maddie Miller.
At press time they had bagged 24 peaks in 14 days and were making Eddie Bauer store appearances along the way.
The Fifty Peaks Challenge officially began on June 27, when Miller reached the summit of Denali in Alaska, and was supported and mentored by Arnot, who was finalizing plans and logistics for the rest of the 49 climbs. The women then jumped on a plane to Florida where a crew met them with the necessary gear to complete the tour of the highest points in each mainland state. The two aim to complete the adventure with a final flight to Hawaii.
It's not necessarily a new idea: to climb to the top of all 50 can take a lifetime, only 253 people have done it as of 2014. In 2008, Coleman sponsored an attempt by two men that broke the 50 Summits record at the time of 45 days, 19 hours and 2 minutes.
Watch the Eddie Bauer promotional video and read more at www.fiftypeaks.com and www.eddiebauer.com/50peaks.
Canadian Arctic Expedition Raises Red Flag About Sedentary Children
This month two young families are attempting to paddle the length of the Mackenzie, Canada's largest and longest river. The Paddle to the Arctic expedition is designed to challenge the current childhood trends of a sedentary lifestyle dominated by television and computer time.
Less screen time means less sedentary children.
On average, children spend 35 hours a week in front of a screen and less than 25 percent of school-aged children participate in daily physical activity, according to the expedition. Paddle to the Arctic will challenge these trends as three youngsters document their experience in the rugged wilderness through blogs, videos and photographs, read by - wait for it - other children sitting in front of their screens.
But you get the picture.
The expedition is lead by one of Canada's most renowned adventurers, Kevin Vallely. His wife and two daughters, ages 12 and 10, will be joined by Vancouver intensive care physicians Craig Fava and Carole-Anne Yelle and their 11-year-old son. They will document their expedition experiences through the British Columbia Medical Journal.
"The perspective of a child will be a refreshing change to the often monotone voice of adventure dialogue," said Vallely.
Paddle to the Arctic will cover 1,087 miles from Great Slave Lake to the Arctic Ocean, one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world.
The paddlers will be using Kokatat apparel and PFDs throughout the expedition. Other outdoor companies are supporting the effort along with DeLorme InReach which is tracking their progress online.
Learn more at www.paddletothearctic.com
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
"A mountain like Everest is a huge challenge, and climbing it reduces life to its essentials. You concentrate on staying warm, on having shelter, on getting food and water. It gives you a sense of being one with nature. So when you do that, and then you come back to the rest of the world, you don't worry so much about deadlines or being late for meetings. You realize what's really important in your life, so it's very rewarding."
- Dr. Kenneth Kamler, 68, a doctor on Everest during the deadly 1996 storm that killed eight and served as the basis for 1997 bestseller, Into Thin Air. Source: New York Daily News, May 27, 2016. Read the entire Kamler interview here:
Trip Report: Searching for Ground Truth in the Canadian Arctic
By Ulyana N. Horodyskyj, Ph.D.
Science in the Wild
Ulyana N. Horodyskyj, Ph.D., a 30-year-old Boulder scientist, traveled to the Canadian Arctic last spring to study the difference between satellite images of Baffin Island glaciers, and the so-called "ground truth" research they gather by direct observation at the same sites seen from space (see EN, April 2016). He trip report follows:
"On April 11, we set off for the Great North - the Canadian Arctic. After removing a few seats and packing it to the gills with expedition gear, we were off in a Cessna 210 for a five-day journey. Our flight plan took us along the eastern part of Canada until we ran out of ground and had to turn north towards Baffin Island. In such a small plane, weather and icing patterns are important to track. Even if it means that it will take longer to get to our destination, it is important that we get there in the first place.
"Our 'base camp' was in the small Inuit town of Qikitarjuaq on Baffin Island, population: 500. We spent a few days here, repacking, getting oriented with Parks Canada, and speaking with locals in town who could provide insights to route conditions. As it turned out, early slush did not make it possible for us to access the Penny Ice Cap via our original plan (Okoa Bay). Instead, we were routed through nearby Coronation glacier, a 25-mile outlet glacier with a 100-foot calving (collapsing) front of beautiful (but dangerous) blue ice. Even getting there proved challenging, as one of the snowmobiles broke down in the slush after dropping us off.
The team credits some of the success of the trip to Starbuck, a sled that was sole survivor of the plastic-breaking morainal rocky terrain that did the other two sleds in. It functioned as a mini-fridge, a couch for sitting, and a foe when encountering uneven terrain. "I gave Starbuck a big bear hug near the end of its journey, but that was to stop it from crushing me as I guided it down the last steep slope," Horodyskyj tells EN. (Photo courtesy of Ulyana N. Horodyskyj)
"Moraine from the side of the glacier left big boulders in our track. Coupling that with deep snow and heavy sleds made for some arduous trail breaking - and, in fact, two of the sleds broke. It took a week to find a safe route for our team and the 80-100 lbs. sleds, as large crevasses with questionable snow bridges led me to take a longer and conservative approach to get us on the flatter and cleaner ice.
"During this time, we saw a mix of weather: from heavy wet snow, to wind, to beautiful blue skies. Fortunately, the later coincided with satellite overhead passes, so we were able to make ground-truth measurements, though an order of magnitude smaller (hundreds versus thousands of measurements) than we had planned, given the relentless post-holing in the snow overlying the ice. So it goes in the realm of field science.
"We reached the ice cap proper days later on skis and encountered the fiercest winds of the trip. A weather report from our meteorologist Chris Tomer stated that a storm was coming our way, so we made the decision to stop there and sample snow all the way from the ice cap back to town to track natural (dust) and anthropogenic (black carbon/soot) impacts, covering nearly 100 miles from 5,000 ft. back down to sea level.
"Despite slushy conditions, warmer than usual temperatures, some fierce winds, unexpected terrain hazards, and longer than expected transit times, we stayed safe, completed our science work, and tagged the ice cap.
These results are forthcoming later in the fall when I will have access to the lab instruments needed to make the measurements."
Follow Horodyskyj's work here:
Ski mountaineering legend Kit DesLauriers ascends Mt. Isto, the new highest peak in the Brooks Range (Photo by Andy Bardon)
After 60 Years, An Expedition Determines Highest Peaks in U.S. Arctic
Glaciologist Matt Nolan and ski mountaineer Kit DesLauriers tested a new mapping system to end uncertainty about the highest mountain in the Brooks Range.
There's no question that at 20,310 feet, Denali is the highest peak in North America. The identity of the highest mountain beyond the Arctic Circle, however, was disputed for almost 60 years, Ria Misra at Gizmodo reports. Now, the matter has finally been resolved thanks to technology created by Matt Nolan, a glaciologist from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
"Historically, measuring a mountain has been pretty difficult," writes Jason Daley in the June 27, 2016 post on Smithsonian.com.
"In the past, trigonometric methods were used, but they are often inexact compared to modern methods. Today, measuring a peak down to the nearest inch means getting an instrument to the top, usually a GPS receiver. But climbing to the summit of some peaks, like those in the remote mountains of Alaska's Brooks Range, can be incredibly difficult, time-consuming and costly."
Nolan decided that determining the highest peaks in the Brooks Range would be the perfect way to test his new fodar setup, which uses a DSLR camera connected to a GPS unit to collect data for accurate 3-D maps of an area. "It's not like no one could measure this before it was just way too expensive to do so," Nolan tells Misra.
To put his fodar to the test, Nolan enlisted the help of Kit DesLauriers, one of the world's greatest ski mountaineers and the first person to ski down the Seven Summits, the seven highest peaks on Earth. Her job was to make it to the tops of Chamberlin and Isto and use a differential GPS system to measure their heights. At the same time, Nolan would use his fodar to map the peak, allowing them to test the accuracy of the new technology.
The fodar method was accurate down to about eight inches, according to results, which were published in the latest issue of the journal The Cryosphere. The study reveals that Mt. Isto is the highest peak in the American Arctic at 8,975.1 feet. In a surprising twist, Mt. Hubley edged into second place with 16 feet on Mt. Chamberlin, which came in third at 8,898.6 feet.
DesLauriers, based in Jackson, Wyoming, tells EN, "I'd very much like to participate in more studies where I can merge my mountain skills with science but at this time I don't have any specifics planned."
Read the team's Cryosphere paper here:
The Whole Tooth
Explorers are legendarily anal about reducing weight on their journeys. They use the pages of books as toilet paper, rip washclothes in half, trim the corners off freeze-dried food packets, and cut toothbrushes in half. But what happens if they forgo the toothbrush altogether?
Forget your toothbrush on your next expedition and you won't have to buy Billy Bob teeth for Halloween.
Dr. James Fischer, a Westminster, Colo., dentist, explains in icky detail what happens when you "forget" to pack your toothbrush and paste in the June issue of 5280 Magazine.
He says that after just one day teeth begin feeling a little furry. That woolly sensation is plaque-bacteria that feed on sugar and other food leftovers - beginning to stick to your teeth
After three to six days: plaque begins to leave stains on your teeth and harden into tartar.
After a week without a good scrubbing, your mouth becomes a petri dish of horrors. Bacteria begin eating into tooth enamel (read: cavities!) and gingivitis - mild gum disease caused by too much plaque - could begin to set in.
After a month of no brushing? Massive plaque buildup leads to decalcification, a scenario in which little white spots on your teeth indicate that your choppers are losing nutrients like calcium and phosphate and becoming susceptible to decay, according to Dr. Fischer.
Read the whole tooth here:
Scorpions in your boots? If you can't beat 'em, eat 'em. Photo by Craig Chesek
Overcoming the Yuk Factor
Appetite for Invasives is a short film about eating marine invasive species, created by Explorers Club ECAD co-chairs Emily Driscoll, Nancy Rosenthal and Gaelin Rosenwaks. It premiered June 15 as an Editors' Pick on TheAtlantic.com. This rare, behind-the-scenes look provides insight into the sustainable-themed reception menu for the 112th Explorers Club Annual Dinner last March titled OCEANS: Current of Life! It stars Gene Rurka, an exotic foods specialist, who hopes people will try other kinds of fish products such as invasive lionfish and Asian carp.
See it here:
Get Sponsored! - Hundreds of explorers and adventurers raise money each month to travel on world class expeditions to Mt. Everest, Nepal, Antarctica and elsewhere. Now the techniques they use to fund their journeys are available to anyone who has a dream adventure project in mind, according to the book from Skyhorse Publishing called:
Get Sponsored: A Funding Guide for Explorers, Adventurers and Would Be World Travelers
Author Jeff Blumenfeld, an adventure marketing specialist who has represented 3M, Coleman, Du Pont, Lands' End and Orvis, among others, shares techniques for securing sponsors for expeditions and adventures.
Buy it here:
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