Mission Blue

A Commitment To Protect The Ocean
Mission Blue: A Commitment to Protect the Ocean is a marine conservation initiative that was launched when ocean advocate and author Sylvia Earle won the 2009 TED prize and declared her wish "to ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas, hope spots large enough to save and restore the ocean, the blue heart of the planet." TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design is an organization that disseminates "ideas worth spreading" through www.TED.com. With more than 700 talks recorded, including presentations by Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Richard Dawkins, Malcolm Gladwell, Bill Gates, and many Nobel Prize winners, TED's global audience has been growing, now exceeding over 290 million viewings. The fulfillment of Sylvia Earle's wish began in April with the Mission Blue Voyage to the Galapagos Islands - a TED conference at sea with 100 scientists, philanthropists and celebrity activists including Edward Norton, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Jackson Browne, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Glenn Close. During the cruise over $16.7 million was raised to help protect and preserve the oceans from human impacts

Dr. Edie Widder, who was one of the invited scientists on board, lead off her presentation with a quote from Jacques Cousteau - "People protect what they love" - and then proceeded to share what she loves most about the ocean, which is the dazzling panoply of animals in it that make light. You can view her TED talk here. Her talk was such a hit (with more than a quarter million viewings between April and September) that she has been invited back to the main event - the annual springtime TED Conference in Long Beach. She was also a participant in a Mission Blue research cruise to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill site. The mission, funded by Google and National Geographic and led by Sylvia Earle was to examine the impacts of the BP oil spill on surrounding deep-sea ecosystems. One of these regions, which is only 160 nautical miles from the Deep Horizon well head, is near where Dr. Widder discovered a previously unknown species of squid over six feet long. This remarkable discovery was made during an expedition in 2004 where she was testing the Eye-in-the-Sea camera system that she developed to reveal the hidden workings of life in the deep sea by illuminating this mysterious and largely inaccessible landscape with a light that is invisible to most of its inhabitants.

Now she and ORCA Research Associate, Brandy Nelson, have returned with a new unobtrusive observatory called the Medusa, which, unlike the Eye-in-the-Sea does not need to be deployed and recovered with a submersible or a remote operated vehicle, but instead is a "lander" that can simply be tossed off the back of a ship. After sitting on the bottom collecting data for 2 to 3 days it is recovered by sending an acoustic signal that causes it to release its drop weight and float to the surface. The Medusa will be deployed at several deep sea locations in the vicinity of the oil spill to observe possible impacts of the spill on the abundance and behavior of such elusive deep-sea inhabitants as giant six-gill sharks. The Medusa was developed at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI) at Florida Atlantic University as a collaboration between Dr. Widder, Dr. Justin Marshall from the University of Queensland in Australia and engineer Lee Frey from HBOI with support from the Australian Research Council. Dr. Widder's Medusa was paid for by the National Science Foundation. NatGeo Article | NatGeo Blog | Edie's Blog | Nature.com Blog

The Medusa
The Medusa was designed for in situ video documentation of biota and collection of water quality parameters, at an operational depth of 2000m. The autonomous and compact observational instrumentation records video in ultra-low light conditions with a highly sensitive camera and DVR recording system. Epoxy encapsulated LED arrays offer virtually unobtrusive ‘far red’ illumination at a wavelength of 690 nanometers. The submersible data logger records conductivity, salinity, temperature, pressure, depth, and PAR. Versatile deployment options enable the Medusa to be deployed from a small boat or ship and operate in a moored, lander, or drifter mode. Upon completion of the 72 hour operation, a weight is dropped via acoustic release and the Medusa is retrieved with a davit and winch. Invaluable information is obtained through the unobtrusive data recording of the Medusa.

The Medusa to be included in Giant Squid hunt: Read Story Here




Mission Blue Expedition
Dr. Widder's TED Talk


The major causes of coral reef decline are coastal development, sedimentation, destructive fishing practices, pollution, tourism and global warming.

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