Posted by: luisginillo | April 27, 2013

Coming to a close

Our month long expedition is unfortunately coming to an end. This week in Menorca has been a great success with deployments of the experimental lobster trap of Alnitak, developed with the technical support of the HYDRA Institute. Boris and Christian accomplished a robust innovative device that combines modern underwater filming technologies with traditional lobster catching methods, with the aim of improving the efficiency of lobster traps.  We worked directly with Pedro Marqués, the only fisherman in the Spanish Mediterranean integrated in the “Slow Fish” network. The design is user friendly and utilizes affordable technologies allowing local people to set up the traps independently and benefit from them after we leave. This collaboration between KAI Marine Services, the OASIS project and the HYDRA Institute, allowed us to supporting traditional fishing methods, work with the community and help achieve long term sustainability.

Upon arriving in Mahon, we held another press conference, this time entirely on the boat, promoting the work achieved already by the OASIS project, our work over the last month and the exciting research to be continued.

Christian Lott about to take a dive to observe and film the lobster traps.

Christian Lott about to take a dive to observe and film the lobster traps.

Christian filming the lobster traps in Cara Macarella.

Christian filming the lobster traps in Cala Macarella.

Ricardo giving a presentation at the press conference on the boat in Mahon, Menorca.

Ricardo giving a presentation at the press conference on the boat in Mahon, Menorca.

A video of the OASIS project put together by Christian highlighting the beauty and richness of the Mediterranean.

A video of the OASIS project put together by Christian highlighting the research methods and the beauty of the Mediterranean marine ecosystems.

The last month has seen a unique team of international scientists collaborating together to the benefit of marine wildlife. During the first two weeks of April, a research team from KAI Marine Services, Alnitak, NOAA, Hopkins Marine Station and National Geographic worked in the southwest Mediterranean, where loggerhead turtles aggregate to feed during their transoceanic life cycles. The research NGO ALNITAK participates in this survey developing the loggerhead turtle tracking study in collaboration with National Geographic, in the context of the OASIS project funded by Fundación Biodiversidad.

We successfully deployed the latest model of National Geographic’s Crittercam®, the first deployment of Crittercams® on loggerhead turtles in the Mediterranean, which will allow us to study their diving and swimming behaviour, as well as interactions with their environment and other species. Working together with Boris Unger and Christian Lott from the HYDRA Institute, Franḉoise Claro, director of Groupe Tortues Marines de France from the Paris Museum National D’Histoire Naturelle, and Jeppe Dalgaard Balle, a bioacoustician from Denmark, we surveyed, set up and used hydrophones, took blood and skin samples and shot beautiful underwater footage of loggerhead turtles. This opportunity has been very unique; bringing together researchers from a variety of scientific backgrounds from across the world, which  heightens international collaboration in science and benefits marine conservation.

The crew (with origins in Spain, Denmark, USA, France, Argentina, Belgium ad the UK) together on board the Luis Ginillo in Torrevieja.

The crew (with origins in Spain, Holland, Denmark, USA, France, Argentina, Belgium ad the UK) together on board the Luis Ginillo in Torrevieja.

Francoise and Ricardo working together to take blood and skin samples from the turtle Ella Maillart.

Francoise and Ricardo working together to take blood and skin samples from the turtle Ella Maillart.

The benefits and outcomes of this project are twofold. First the benefit to scientific research, which enhances our understanding of loggerhead turtles and thus encouraging informed marine conservation management proposals and decisions. Loggerhead turtles originating from the nesting beaches off the east coast of the US enter the Mediterranean following the last meanders of the Gulf Stream to find ideal conditions for their first phase in life. They drift passively as small oasis aggregating algae, invertebrates and small fish. This “fish aggregating” effect is one of the main questions the Fundación Biodiversidad “OASIS Project” is looking at. For the conservation of sea turtle populations, the experiments to be conducted here are of special relevance. A better understanding of foraging, habitat use, diving patterns and sensorial biology should allow researchers to find new solutions to the threats of bycatch in fisheries, debris pollution and ship-strikes.

Livio - our first TORTUGA!

Livio – our first TORTUGA!

A beautiful image captured by Christian Lott of a loggerhead turtle off the coast of Mallorca.

A beautiful image captured by Christian Lott of a loggerhead turtle off the coast of Mallorca.

The second key outcome of this project is working directly and collaborating with local people to the benefit of both the community and the research. By collaborating with local fisherman in Torrevieja and in Menorca, as well as by holding local press conferences, the expedition stands out in its ability to link the world of applied science with the general public. Apart from scientific institutions, such as IMEDEA – SOCIB, IEO and the Hydra Institute, the project counts on the collaboration of the Spanish longlining fleet, the Spanish General Secretariat of Fishing and the fishermen association CEPESCA. Work in collaboration with this fishing sector dates as far back as 1986 and has recently solved the important problem of the bycatch of over 20,000 loggerhead turtles per year in this region occurring in the swordfish fishery.

Ricardo giving an interview post press conference in Torrevieja.

Ricardo giving an interview post press conference in Torrevieja.

Working with Pedro on the design of the lobster traps.

Working with Pedro Marques on the design of the lobster traps.

KAI Expeditions is continuing to work with the general public and is offering volunteers a once in a lifetime experience this summer to become Jacques Yves Cousteau. Volunteers and interns are required to participate in the LIFE+ Migrate project in Malta, undertaking turtle and cetaceans surveys. Expeditioners will actively contribute to the design of marine protected areas in the Mediterranean and conduct research, which will develop tangible solutions to the challenges our marine environment is facing. You can learn more about this work and the volunteering program at www.kaiexpeditions.com.

Striped dolphins seen this month will also be surveyed for in Malta.

Striped dolphins seen this month will also be surveyed for in Malta.

Sunrise from the bridge just prior to starting on lookout for the day's survey.

Sunrise from the bridge just prior to starting on lookout for the day’s survey.

Our last month has been a huge success for the OASIS project, bringing together scientists and crew members from over 10 countries, working with the local community and performing critical research on marine wildlife in the Mediterranean. This success could not have been achieved without the fantastic Luis Ginillo. The Luis Ginillo has not just been our office, but also our home. It has been the perfect platform for conducting research and we are very grateful for this unique experience of working and living on such an amazing vessel.

The Luis Ginillo off the coast of Mallorca.

The Luis Ginillo off the coast of Mallorca.

A photo of the Luis Ginillo taken from the RIB off the Costa del Blanca.

A photo of the Luis Ginillo taken from the RIB off the Costa del Blanca.

The view down to the deck  of the Luis Ginillo whilst on mast lookout.

The view down to the deck of the Luis Ginillo whilst on mast lookout.

Victor on the bridge at the end of day's work.

Victor on the bridge at the end of day’s work.

The crew in full survey mode on the Luis Ginillo.

The crew in full survey mode on the Luis Ginillo.

The Luis Ginillo.

The Luis Ginillo.

And finally, the people that have made this all possible…

Ana Tejedor, coordinator of the Luis Ginillo campaign.

Ana Tejedor, coordinator of the Luis Ginillo campaign.

Ricardo Sagarminaga, scientific director of the Oasis project.

Ricardo Sagarminaga, scientific director of the Oasis project.

Walter Daxer, captain of the Luis Ginillo.

Walter Daxer, captain of the Luis Ginillo.

Esteban Poggi, joint stand-in captain of the Luis Ginillo.

Esteban Poggi, joint stand-in captain of the Luis Ginillo.

Victor Gonzalez, first mate and engineer.

Victor Gonzalez, first mate and engineer.

Franḉoise Claro, director of Groupe Tortues Marines de France from the Paris Museum National D’Histoire.

Franḉoise Claro, director of Groupe Tortues Marines de France from the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris.

Jeppe Balle, marine mammal bioacoustics specialist.

Jeppe Balle, marine mammal bioacoustics specialist.

Eilidh Siegal, equipment and cetacean survey specialist.

Eilidh Siegal, equipment and cetacean survey specialist.

Christian Lott, cofounder of the HYDRA Institute for Marine Services.

Christian Lott, cofounder of the HYDRA Institute for Marine Services.

Boris Unger, cofounder of the HYDRA Institute for Marine Services.

Boris Unger, cofounder of the HYDRA Institute for Marine Services.

Almudena Garcia-Atance, KAI Expeditions Logisitics Manager.

Almudena Garcia-Atance, KAI Expeditions Logisitics Manager.

Greg Marshall, Vice President of National Geographic’s Remote Imaging Department.

Greg Marshall, Vice President of National Geographic’s Remote Imaging Department.

Kyler Abernathy, Director of Research for National Geographic’s Remote Imaging Department.

Kyler Abernathy, Director of Research for National Geographic’s Remote Imaging Department.

Barrett Foster, Director, Technical General Services of National Geographic’s Remote Imaging Department.

Barrett Foster, Director of Technical General Services of National Geographic’s Remote Imaging Department.

Our most important crew member: The Luis Ginillo.

Our most important crew member: The Luis Ginillo.

Posted by: luisginillo | April 22, 2013

Cala Marcarella

On the morning of the 19th we sailed for two hours to the beautiful bay of Carla Marcarella, where Boris and Christian set about testing their lobster trap mechanisms. The setup involves a welded metal surround for the lobster trap, a lighting device and a high definition camera. The camera takes footage from a separate pyramidal cage, which is attached by ropes to float just above the trap. By equipping the camera with extra battery packs and setting the camera to take one photo every 10 seconds the camera can film for over 40 hours.

The following morning we sailed out of the bay to meet KAI’s sister ship: the Toftevaag, a 103 year old Norwegian fishing boat expertly restored and a flagship boat for marine conservation and expeditions in the Mediterranean. That afternoon we met with Pedro, a local fisherman, who is a keen leader of sustainable lobster catching in the area to test the lobster trap camera device. Pedro has previously made several modifications to his traps to improve their efficiency and limit bycatch. The collaboration allows Pedro to accurately see the behaviour of the lobsters reacting in the traps. On Saturday evening we successfully launched a trap for two hours and after recovery, Boris and Christian were to make any final adjustments before they launch the trap for the full 40 hours.

Christian and Boris attaching the camera to the lobster trap surround.

Christian and Boris attaching the camera to the pyramidal surround, which is attached by ropes to the lobster trap and will float just above it.

Christian adjusting the camera prior to the first test in Cara Marcarella.

Christian adjusting the camera prior to the first test in Cala Marcarella.

The Luis Ginillo in the beautiful bay of Cara Marcarella.

The Luis Ginillo in the beautiful bay of Cala Marcarella.

Victor, now taking charge of the Toftevaag, doing maintenance and painting.

Victor, now taking charge of the Toftevaag, doing maintenance and painting.

Using the crane to release the lobster trap with camera and light attachment off the port side of the Luis Ginillo on Saturday evening.

Using the crane to release the lobster trap off the port side of the Luis Ginillo on Saturday evening.

Christian and Boris work from the RIB to slowly lower the trap to the sea floor and secure a buoy and light to float above so that we can find and collect the trap in two hours time.

Christian and Boris work from the RIB to slowly lower the trap to the sea floor and secure a buoy and light to float above so that we can find and collect the trap in two hours time.

After the successful launch of National Geographic’s Crittercams, we spent two nights in Torrevieja. The crew were all systems go: Francoise worked on the turtle samples in the lab, repairs to the zodiac, fixing the ship’s autopilot, office work, restocking of supplies, a full complete clean of the ship interior and exterior, and a press conference! The press conference started with Ricardo giving a presentation on Fundacion Biodiversidad’s OASIS project at the port offices and ended with us hosting the press for lunch on the Luis Ginillo.

We set off on the evening of the 16th for Menorca, sailing via the north coast of Ibiza and Mallorca. Our 200 mile trip has been nothing short of incredible. We woke up yesterday morning with a sperm whale close to the boat and shortly after by a fin whale. Never a bad way to start the day! We had flat calm mirror-like waters for the entire trip making ideal spotting conditions. Yesterday afternoon we saw five loggerhead turtles, very close to the boat, with Christian getting underwater footage of two of them.

We are now in Menorca at Cap de Banyos, with maintenance on the go and preparations in full swing for the upcoming experiment: the use of cameras on lobster traps to study their behaviour, to improve the efficiency of lobster catching methods and help mitigate bycatch.

Repairs to the RIB in Torrevieja.

Repairs to the RIB in Torrevieja.

Press conference time! Ricardo does an interview for national radio.

Press conference time! Ricardo does an interview for national radio.

The press enjoy their visit to the Luis Ginillo.

The press enjoy their visit to the Luis Ginillo.

A sperm whale yesterday morning with its characteristic spout emerging diagonally forwards from the sole nostril on the left side.

A sperm whale yesterday morning with its characteristic spout emerging diagonally forwards from the sole nostril on the left side.

A fin whale, second only to the blue whale in size, shows its small triangular dorsal fin as it dives down.

A fin whale, second only to the blue whale in size, shows its small triangular dorsal fin as it dives down.

Loggerhead turtle basking.

Loggerhead turtle basking.

Ricardo watching a loggerhead turtle swimming below him.

Ricardo watching a loggerhead turtle swimming below him.

The Luis Ginillo at Cap de Formentor, off the northwest coast of Mallorca this morning.

The Luis Ginillo at Cap de Formentor, off the northwest coast of Mallorca this morning.

The Luis Ginillo.

The Luis Ginillo.

Walter doing maintenance on the boat this afternoon. He is working in the engine room fixing the salt water to fresh water converter.

Walter doing maintenance on the boat this afternoon. He is working in the engine room fixing the salt water to fresh water converter.

The Luis Ginillo.

The Luis Ginillo.

 

Posted by: luisginillo | April 14, 2013

TORTUGA! TORTUGA!

WOW. We got back to Torrevieja yesterday evening after two days out at sea and what a couple of days they have been. Success came when at last we had calm weather in a high turtle density area.

At sunrise on Saturday we were already well on our way towards a sea mount (an underwater mountain) of known high turtle density five hours sailing from port. After not finding any turtles despite perfect flat calm conditions in the morning, we thought that we were out of luck as the wind began to strengthen in the afternoon. Yet at last, we came across four loggerhead turtles. We successfully deployed National Geographic´s Crittermcams and took skin and blood samples from both. The Crittercams take high definition video footage from behind the head of the turtle allowing us to study its behaviour and interactions with other species. The Crittercams are also able to take depth and temperature measurements. The mechanisms are ingeniously designed so that they can be programmed to release after a specific amount of time, in our case four to five hours, leaving the turtle to continue on its journey.

The last few days have been a fantastic success. The dogged persistence and unstoppable enthusiam of the crew (not to mention the many hours of hardwork) paid off. We can´t wait to see what the first Crittercams deployed on turtles in the Mediterranean will reveal about their life underwater.

Our tradition: sunrise to the sound of the overly catchy Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack being played at high volume on the loudspeakers throughout the ship.

Our tradition: sunrise to the sound of the overly catchy Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack being played at high volume on the loudspeakers throughout the ship.

Mirror-flat waters - a more than welcome sight!

Mirror-flat waters – a more than welcome sight!

Ana, our top turtle spotter, on mast lookout.

Ana, our top turtle spotter, on mast lookout.

TORTUGA! Ricardo and Jeppe go out on the RIB to catch the turtle and bring it back on board.

TORTUGA! Ricardo and Jeppe go out on the RIB to catch the turtle and bring it back on board.

Livio, our first turtle of the day.

Livio, our first turtle of the day.

Our second turtle, Ella, named after Ella Maillart - an inspirational Swizz explorer and olympic sailor.

Our second turtle, Ella, remaining quiet and calm. She is named after Ella Maillart, an inspirational Swizz explorer and olympic sailor.

Francoise and Ricardo work efficiently and quickly together to take the samples.

Francoise and Ricardo work efficiently and quickly together to take the samples.

Both skin and blood samples are taken.

Both skin and blood samples are taken.

The samples are placed into liquid nitrogen for storage.

The samples are placed into liquid nitrogen for storage.

Christian gets some upclose footage for HYDRA.

Christian gets some upclose footage for HYDRA.

Ricardo is hoisted up the mast for lookout.

Ricardo is hoisted up the mast for lookout.

Dolphin sightings were also recorded.

Dolphin sightings were also recorded.

The underwater sea mount shown on the ship's GPS.

The underwater sea mount shown on the ship’s GPS.

A screen shot from Christian's underwater footage of Livio.

A screen shot from Christian’s underwater footage of Livio.

 

 

 

Posted by: luisginillo | April 11, 2013

A swell few days

We returned this evening after two days at sea to Torrevieja. We sailed early yesterday out into the Alboran sea into a high density turtle hotspot. The team spent the day in full survey mode and despite no turtles sightings as of yet, we did have several sightings of cetaceans. After a rather bumpy night at sea, the team battled on this morning to survey in less than ideal conditions. Unfortunately as the wind rose above 25 knots by the early afternoon and despite brave efforts to keep surveying out in the cold with over a metre of swell, we had to eventually surrender to the elements. Tomorrow the forecast is promising good weather – we continue to keep our fingers crossed!

Boris ascends high up on to the mast to keep on lookout.

Boris ascends high up on to the mast to keep a lookout.

The view of from the mast to the lookouts and Christian taking video footage from the RIB.

The view of from the mast to the lookouts and Christian taking video footage from the RIB.

 

The crew mid-survey.

The crew mid-survey.

Esteban and Francoise entering survey data into the database.

Esteban and Francoise entering survey data into the database.

 

An evening visit from a playful group of striped dolphins.

An evening visit from a playful group of striped dolphins.

Victor on lookout this morning.

Victor on lookout this morning.

 

As the sea state creeps up the conditions make for fantastic sailing but not for turtle surveying!

As the sea state creeps up the conditions make for fantastic sailing but not for turtle surveying!

Striped dolphin playing by the bow earlier this evening.

Striped dolphin playing by the bow earlier this evening.

Land ahoy!

Land ahoy!

Posted by: luisginillo | April 9, 2013

Transects continue

Yesterday evening we were very happy to have once again increased in crew size, with Boris Unger and Christian Lott from the HYDRA Institute based on the Isle of Elba jumping aboard, as well as Ana Tejedor from KAI joining us. We began our day with a very early start but were treated once again to a beautiful sunrise an hour or two out from Cartagena. The day was spent on transect heading west, unfortunately as predicted the wind came up this afternoon and we were unfortunate not to see any turtles. The team however remained in high spirits and were extremely productive, now having our data collecting system run in a very tight operation. We are currently anchoring in Aguilas and will be off bright and early again on the hunt to find some turtles!

Boris and Christian from the HYDRA Insitute begin to load their equipment for sampling the turtles on board in Cartagena yesterday.

Boris and Christian from the HYDRA Insitute begin to load their equipment for sampling the turtles on board in Cartagena yesterday.

Sunrise to the soundtrack of Jack Sparrow.

Sunrise to the soundtrack of Jack Sparrow.

 

On turtle watch from mast and deck.

On turtle watch from mast and deck.

Going through the procedures involved in catching and sampling the turtles to minimise the time spent handling an individual.

Going through the procedures involved in catching and sampling the turtles to minimise the time spent handling an individual.

 

Ana on watch from high up on the mast.

Ana on watch from high up on the mast.

Hyrdophone system being set up by Jeppe.

Hyrdophone system being set up by Jeppe.

 

Esteban showing Ana and Eilidh how to tighten the ropes for the sails using the winch.

Esteban showing Ana and Eilidh how to tighten the ropes for the sails using the winch.

Posted by: luisginillo | April 8, 2013

Turtle transect time

An early morning wake-up, a beautiful sunset and a two jars of nutella got the day off to a fantastic start. We picked up anchor and quickly set off to start line transects today. The team got to grips with the busy rota as everyone worked shifts on lookout and data collection. Although unfortuately the wind came up we battled on with the surveys. No turtles as of yet due to the rough conditions but we were followed into Cartagena port by an exciteable pod of bottlenose dolphins. Tomorrow morning another early start and a calm weather forecast should have us on course to find some loggerhead turtles.

The bow at first light.

The bow at first light.

Jeppe securing the RIB to port side.

Jeppe securing the RIB to port side.

 

Kyler filming Ricardo as he takes watch.

Kyler filming Ricardo as he takes watch.

A bottlenose dolphin.

A bottlenose dolphin.

Bottlenose dolphins just outside of Cartagena port.

Bottlenose dolphins just outside of Cartagena port.

Posted by: luisginillo | April 7, 2013

Great day for sailing but not for turtles

We were sorry to say goodbye to two of our American crew and their spaghetti cooking skills today but promised to send them updates and hopefully some great video footage of the turtles! We left Torrevieja shortly after and set sail towards Cartagena. The wind was with us and allowed us to put up all the sails revealing the true capacity of this vessel, which is so well suited to our expedition. Unfortunately, the wind was too strong for turtle surveying. The forecast is calm for tomorrow so we are keeping our fingers (and toes, and arms, and legs) crossed that an early morning sail to a local turtle hotspot will be a success.

Please check out this link to find out more about turtle bycatch and the hardwork going on to help these endangered species:

http://www.tortugasmarinas.info/apoyo-al-pescador/palangre-de-superficie.html

The crew at Torrevieja.

The crew at Torrevieja.

 

The boat in full sail as seen from the RIB.

The boat in full sail as seen from the RIB.

 

Kyler from National Geographic filming the boat.

Kyler from National Geographic filming the boat.

The Luis Ginillo.

The Luis Ginillo.

 

Repairs in the afternoon including replacing the this corroded zinc anode.

Repairs in the afternoon including replacing this corroded zinc anode.

Victor and Esteban contemplating the height of the mast, which is soon to be climbed.

Victor and Esteban contemplating the height of the mast, which is soon to be climbed.

 

Victor ensuring a safe ascent.

Victor ensuring a safe ascent.

A treat for the birthday boy Esteban! Esteban bravely ascends to the top of the mast taking on a cold wind to do repair work on the genoa sail.

A treat for the birthday boy Esteban! Esteban bravely ascends to the top of the mast taking on a cold wind to do repair work on the genoa sail.

Posted by: luisginillo | April 7, 2013

Interviews and filming

Yesterday part of the team went to Cartagena to interview a local fisherman about turtle bycatch mitigation, whilst the other half of the crew remained behind doing maintenance on the boat. The afternoon and evening was spent 20 miles from Torrevieja in attempt to film the boat in an area of high turtle density and where we hope tomorrow the weather will let us survey the turtles and attach the National Geographic’s Crittercams.

Greg, Kyler and Barrett from National Geographic interview a local fisherman whilst Ricardo from KAI translates.

Greg, Kyler and Barrett from National Geographic interview a local fisherman whilst Ricardo from KAI translates.

Esteban working hard welding and repairing.

Esteban working hard welding and repairing.

Victor and Eilidh watch as the genoa sail catches the strong wind.

Victor and Eilidh watch as the genoa sail catches the strong wind.

Ricardo, Greg, Kyler and Jeppe go out on the RIB in slightly bumpy conditions!

Ricardo, Greg, Kyler and Jeppe go out on the RIB in slightly bumpy conditions!

Enjoying the ride and a slight soaking!

Enjoying the ride and a slight soaking!

Greg, Kyler and Jeppe.

Greg, Kyler and Jeppe.

The office.

The office.

Setting sail back to Torrevieja for the evening.

Setting sail back to Torrevieja for the evening.

 

Posted by: luisginillo | April 5, 2013

Practise makes perfect

After sailing 25 miles out from Torrevieja over night in attempt to be in the hotspot for loggerhead turtles at first light, the weather remained against us. Yet our team of 10 people, representing 8 nationalities, had an extremely productive day practising turtle survey techniques. Each team member was trained to take on the vital roles involved such as logging the data, spotting the turtle, launching and driving the RIB, capturing and releasing the turtle etc. We are now fully prepared to deploy the Crittercams and are keeping our fingers crossed that the weather will allow us!

A break in the sea conditions, allows Gregory Marshall from National Geographic the chance to film the boat from the RIB.

A break in the sea conditions allows Gregory Marshall, from National Geographic, the chance to film the boat.

Almudena, who joined us from KAI in Torreviaje, and Francoise keep a look out for turtles and cetaceans.

Almudena, who joined us from KAI in Torrevieja, and Francoise keep a look out for turtles and cetaceans.

The Luis Ginillo.

The Luis Ginillo.

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