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Space-Age scuba suit enables divers to go deeper

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A space-age scuba suit that enables scientists to dive and stay beneath the water’s surface at depths of 1,000 feet or more will have its first test this summer in the ocean off Nantucket.

The suit, known as an Exosuit, is on exhibit until Wednesday at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. Scientists there say it will bring ocean exploration to a new level, going beyond the mini submarines that have been used to explore deep unchartered waters to collect marine life from its natural habitat.

The 530-pound aluminum alloy suit has rotary joints at the hands, elbows and knees and a bubble helmet mask. The suit’s handgrips enables scientists to touch and grab marine life and provides a 50-hour life-support system with communications with a surface vessel.

“For the first time, I will be able to get out into the water and experience marine life and actually touch it,” said John Sparks, 50, a curator at the museum’s ichthyology department. Sparks, who is not a diver but has been training for the excursion, said he is especially excited about the suit’s foot power thrusters that will help maneuver him through the ocean waters.

Scientists this summer will test an Exosuit off the coast of Nantucket where waters plummet 10,000 feet. “This is blue water. There is no bottom,” said Michael Lombardi, 31, the museum’s diving safety officer and marine biologist who will also test the suit.

“We are at a crossroads of diving technology,” said Lombardi. “This is a form fitting space suit. You are in a shell with all this technology that works with you.”

Scientists hope to gather a new jelly fish species with a visible luminescent light they hope to reproduce for medical research in helping to track cell movements in the human body.

Using Exosuit to collect these bioluminescent species in their natural environment will allow scientists to freeze them for research at the lab.

“Our access to these deeper waters [up until now] has restricted our ability to investigate the behavior and flashing patterns,” said Sparks. Before Exosuit, divers could only see them when they emerged in shallow waters, when their luminescence is not as intense.

Now with Exosuit, scientists can study them for several hours watching and documenting their lighting patterns with video and high-definition images, all in their environment, said Sparks.

Ultimately, the suit will give divers the chance to work in some places where no human has gone before. “Underwater exploration gives opportunities to be the first person in that environment and that is a very humbling experience,” Lombardi said.

 

Source: www.newsday.com

Marine Life & Conservation

Join us in supporting Dive Project Cornwall Crowdfunder Project

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Do you have a moment to help protect our oceans?

We’re on a mission and have partnered with DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL to help protect our oceans for future generations to cherish and enjoy.

DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL is a unique EDUCATION and EXPERIENCE initiative, reaching over 3,000 schools with their Ocean Education Programme, inspiring the next generation to protect our oceans for everyone to cherish and enjoy.

At the heart of the project is a competition for 400 lucky teenagers to win the EXPERIENCE of a lifetime. They will take the learning from the classroom straight to the shores of Porthkerris on a 6-day, life changing trip where they will learn to scuba dive and be taught the importance of marine conservation. They will become ‘Ocean Influencers’ for the future.

DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL needs our help.

Can you join us with a gift to DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL?

Whether it’s £5 or £50, a gift from you to the DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL Crowdfunder Project will help their vision of protecting our oceans through the innovative experience designed for school children.

Will you join us and pledge to support 400 lucky teenagers learn from and EXPERIENCE the ocean like never before and give them an EDUCATION they can use to inspire others, not forgetting the memories that will last a lifetime?

For more information, you can read the DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL story HERE.

Help us create the next generation of Ocean Influencers with a donation to DIVE PROJECT CORNWALL and ensure our oceans (and planet) are protected for the future.

WWW.CROWDFUNDER.CO.UK/P/DIVE-PROJECT-CORNWALL

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Marine Life & Conservation

Spring jellyfish blooms bring turtles to UK shores

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Marine Conservation Society’s wildlife sightings project asks beachgoers to share their discoveries and contribute to research

The Marine Conservation Society’s long-running wildlife sightings project focuses on two key species which arrive on UK shores: jellyfish and, as a result, turtles. Both species are vital in supporting ocean biodiversity and are indicators of climate change while being at risk from its impacts.

The charity is asking beach and seagoers to share when they spot either of these marine animals to support ongoing research.

During spring and summer, jellyfish arrive in the UK’s warming waters to feed on plankton blooms or, in fact, anything small enough to get caught. To that extent, jellyfish feed not only on plankton, but also the array of eggs and larvae of fish, crustaceans, starfish and molluscs which rely on plankton as a stage of reproduction.

With healthy fish stocks and rich biodiversity, jellyfish quickly become part of an effective food chain. Everything from tuna to turtles will feed on jellyfish of various sizes, so the population is well controlled. Supported by a rich and diverse ocean ecosystem, jellyfish link the microscopic world of plankton to larger marine animals and the ocean around them.

Jellyfish are especially appealing for marine turtles. Six of the world’s seven marine turtle species have been spotted in UK seas as a result of jellyfish blooms in spring and summer.

The largest sea turtle, and the most common in UK seas, is the leatherback which has a ‘vulnerable’ conservation status. Reporting sightings of these incredible creatures will support the Marine Conservation Society and others in understanding their movements, potential threats and how to better protect them.

Amy Pilsbury, Citizen Science Project Lead at the Marine Conservation Society, said:“For more than 17 years, beachgoers across the UK have been contributing to scientific research by sharing their wildlife sightings with us. It’s a key part of our work and plays a vital role in better understanding and protecting our ocean.”

In 2014, with partners from the University of Exeter, the Marine Conservation Society published the first paper from the survey data, confirming key information about UK jellyfish and including the first distribution maps of the surveyed species.

Since the 2014 paper, the wildlife sightings project has recorded notable events such as massive and extensive annual blooms of barrel jellyfish and several summers of Portuguese Man o’ War mass strandings.

The charity continues to run its wildlife sightings project to see what happens to the distribution and frequency of mass jellyfish blooms over time. The data will help to explore any links jellyfish blooms have with big-picture factors such as climate change.

Jellyfish can be spotted year-round in UK seas, but larger blooms are more likely to appear in spring, lasting through until autumn. Jellyfish sighting records from 2021 suggest that compass jellyfish are the most common around UK shores, making up 36% of reported sightings.

Jellyfish species Percentage of sightings reported
Compass jellyfish 36%
Moon jellyfish 17%
Lion’s mane jellyfish 15%
Barrel jellyfish 14%
Blue jellyfish 9%
Portuguese Man o’ War 6%
Mauve stinger 2%
By the wind sailor 1%

For more information on how to identify jellyfish and turtles, and to report a sighting, please visit the Marine Conservation Society’s website.

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