Marine Technology Reporter Blogs

Climate Change to Blame for Venezuelan Fishery Collapse

October 22, 2012

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Researchers have found that even small increases in temperature can cause climatology shifts that are harmful to ocean life. A new paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science shows small changes in temperature have significantly altered trade wind intensity in the southern Caribbean. This process reduces the supply of phytoplankton, a key food source. The paper is the product of nearly 15 years of observations in a highly collaborative NSF-funded effort between researchers at USC, Stony Brook University, the University of South Florida and several Venezuelan institutions. Since late 1995, monthly observations of a range of variables…

Arctic Sees First Underwater Observatory

October 12, 2012

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Scientists received the first data stream Tuesday from the sea floor observatory, a five-meter-wide frame equipped with instruments to measure temperature, pressure, oxygenation and ice thickness was installed last weekend at the hamlet of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. The University of Victoria’s Ocean Science Network commissioned observatory. The observatory is a smaller version of units designed and operated by UVic-based Ocean Networks Canada. ONC operates NEPTUNE, a cable-connected 800-km deep ocean network of observatories off the west coast of Vancouver Island and VENUS, a 50-km network in the Strait of Georgia. The Cambridge Bay observatory is connected to an onshore monitoring station that relays data to ONC scientists in near real time via the Internet.

Ancient Temperature Record Found in Deep Ocean Sediment

October 12, 2012

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Researchers have developed a new method that lets them draw on natural temperature records. In the past there have been difficulties in interpreting what the Earths ancient climate was like. Scientists have relied on measuring the Earths temperature and amount of water held in glaciers and ice caps. The new technique gives a much more detailed view of fluctuations during warm and cold periods in the climate. The Mid-Pleistocene is an important turning point in climate history. Between 1.25 million and 60,000 years ago the planets ice age cycle changed from 40,000 to 100,000 year cycles. This was due to recurrent changes in the planets orbit around the Sun. The changes were small changes, but little was known about what happened during this transition.

Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vents may be Window into Life on Other Planets

October 10, 2012

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Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution recently ran an expedition lead by geochemist Chris German to explore hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. Researchers originally found the vents on an expedition in 2009 aboard the research vessel Atlantis using the ROV Jason. During the expedition samples were collected using specialized sampling equipment in an effort to study biology, chemistry, and geology on the vents. The Mid-Cayman Rise is part of the mid-ocean ridge mountain range. Volcanic eruptions create new oceanic crust that pushed tectonic plates apart. Seafloor spreading can also happen without volcanic eruptions, and in this area are spreading apart along faults allowing one plate to slide under another resulting in a convergent boundary.

Rio Oil&Gas 2012 – Great Outlook for New Business

June 15, 2013

A major opportunity for new business and new joint ventures was the prime result of the 2012 edition of the Rio O&G. Brazil’s National Petroleum Organization (Onip) believes the event may have been a catalyst for R$ 152,8 million (US$76,4 million) in new business for the next twelve months. A study made by Onip with companies present and the Rio O&G 2012 showed that 84% of these companies expected to undertake some for of new business opportunities in the near future. A total of 13 foreign and 17 local O&G companies negotiated to form joint ventures in the industry, of these 13 expect to close a deal on new joint ventures in the near future. These include local companies and companies from Canada, U.S, England, Argentina, Italy and France.

Petrobras Pressuring Shipyards to meet Deadlines

June 16, 2013

Petrobras, the Brazilian national O&G operator, is putting pressure on local shipyards to meet deadlines for rig modules and drillship and FPSO hull construction in order for the company to be able to reach 2020 with a daily production 4,2 million barrels boe. Graça Foster president of Petrobras has been personally visiting shipyards such as the Rio Grande shipyard in south Brazil in order to make sure that all is being done to meet the deadlines set by the company. Equipment suppliers for shipyards are also under pressure by the national operator to deliver equipment and services on time. These suppliers are strung all over Brazil and in some cases are based in other countries…

Scientists Discover New Microscopic Sea Life

September 30, 2012

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The crew of the research Vessel Tara has recently completed a two-and-a-half year 70,000-mile expedition. The expedition provides a snapshot of life at the bottom of the oceanic food chain. More than 30,000 samples of seawater were taken from locations across the globe, from the North Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, south to the remote Antarctic seas. The expedition's findings reveal the diversity and complexity of the tiny plankton that are a vital food source for fish and whales. In total, 1.5 million species of marine microorganisms were recorded – significantly more than were previously believed to exist. They range from creatures that are one centimeter in length, to tiny life forms that are measured in billionths of a meter.

OCEARCH Docks at Working Waterfront Festival in New England

September 30, 2012

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The ship and crew from OCEARCH are currently tied up at the dock in New Bedford, Ma during the annual Working Waterfront Festival. The research supported by OCEARCH can be seen on the series Shark Wranglers televised globally by History Channel. OCEARCH fieldwork involves the attracting, catching, tagging, and bio-sampling of sharks before they are released. The shark is monitored at all times under expert guidance and maintained on the platform by water over its gills. OCEARCH facilitates research by supporting leading researchers and institutions seeking to attain groundbreaking data on the biology and health of sharks, in conjunction with basic research on shark life history and migration.

O&G Exploration to Increase in Brazil

June 15, 2013

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Brazil has been investing in a major effort to increase its exploratory O&G campaign along the countries coast and also inland where major gas reservoirs have been recently located. Unfortunately, this is still not enough as presently Brazil is exploring only 4% of its areas with O&G potential. Of the 7,5 million square kilometers of sedimentary basins located in the country, only 7% have actually been researched, including all the recent major pre-salt discoveries. This points to major untapped O&G potential in the country, the numbers are impressive and point to a need to increase even more the research and exploration of the huge areas still untouched. This further increase in exploration brings various safety and environmental risks along with it.

United Nations Seeking Pre-salt Royalties

June 15, 2013

The United Nations is preparing itself for a serious dispute with the Brazilian government over royalties they intend to receive from Brazil for all pre-salt plays located between 370 and 648 km (200 to 350 miles) from the coast. These royalties would vary from 1% to 7% of what is explored in these areas. This area is considered to be an extension of the continental platform area belonging to Brazil and has been approved by the UN. This is something that is worrying the Brazilian government and may lead to protracted diplomatic and legal discussions. Although Brazil’s Petrobras has not yet begun to explore this area, known as the extension of Brazil’s continental platform, where Brazil should have full control of economic activities in these locations.

Currents in Brazil’s far North Stop Drilling

June 18, 2013

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Brazilian national operator Petrobras had a scare with one of its drilling rigs off the coast of the state of Amapé, the northernmost state in Brazil, where the mouth of the Amazon River is located. Although the drilling rig did not completely loose from its mooring anchors, it did tip to one side in such a way that Petrobras was forced to abandon the well. This accident occurred in December 2012 but as yet the well continues plugged. With this development Petrobras was forced to ask the national O&G regulator ANP (National Petroleum Agency) for a longer deadline to be approved for its exploratory plan in the block located at the Amapá coast, in order to better study the very strong currents that occur in this region.

Scientists and Engineers Work to Market New Instruments

September 20, 2012

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Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) researchers have partnered with two companies to build and market undersea technology developed at WHOI: the Imaging FlowCytobot, an automated underwater microscope, and BlueComm, an underwater communications system that uses light to provide wireless transmission of data, including video imagery, in real or near-real time. WHOI biologists Robert Olson and Heidi Sosik, creators of the Imaging FlowCytobot, have licensed their instrument to Falmouth-based McLane Research Laboratories, which manufactures and sells a wide range of precision oceanographic instruments. WHOI engineers Norman E. Farr and Jonathan Ware are partnering with U.K.-based underwater acoustics and communications company Sonardyne International Ltd.…

New Studies Show Heat Waves to Move Toward Coasts

September 20, 2012

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A new study by researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, suggests that the nature of California heat waves is changing due to global warming. Climate researchers detected a trend toward more humid heat waves that are expressed very strongly in elevated nighttime temperatures, a trend consistent with climate change projections. Moreover, relative to local warming, the mid-summer heat waves are getting stronger in generally cooler coastal areas. Classic California heat waves have been characterized as interior desert and valley events that are hot during the day and marked by dryness and strong nighttime cooling.

SSR Continues Work on the Port Nicholson

September 17, 2012

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The company Sub Sea research continues work on the Port Nicholson, a wreck found in Boston harbor the beginning of the year. The Port Nicholson was torpedoed by a German U-boat in the summer of 1942. The Port Nicholson is a steel-hulled, 481 ft. merchant ship, coal fired freighter built in 1918 at the Tynes & Wear shipyard. She was carrying two special envoy USSR agents overseeing the delivery of a very important Lend-Lease payment from the USSR to USA. She along with 4 other commercial vessels were being escorted by an unusually high number of military ships. The normal ratio at the time was near 1:10 or less but this convoy ratio was 6:5. Maybe it was the fact they were delivering 1,707,000 oz. troy, in 400 oz. bars of platinum.

The Hunt for the Giant Squid is Underway

September 7, 2012

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A group of researchers on the west coast are on a quest to capture the giant squid Architeuthis dux. Thus far the creature has eluded scientists, and has only been seen dying or dead either washed up on beaches or close to dying at the surface. Several have been caught up in fishing nets. This species of squid is the worlds largest invertebrate growing to lengths of 45 feet in females and weighing in at 600 pounds. Males range in at about half that size. On September 30, 2004, researchers from the National Science Museum of Japan and the Ogasawara Whale Watching Association took the first images of a live giant squid in its natural habitat. Several of the 556 photographs were released a year later.

SeaBotix Collaborates with Canadian Navy at 2012 RIMPAC

September 6, 2012

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RIMPAC, the Rim of the Pacific Exercise is the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise. RIMPAC is held during June and July in Honolulu, Hawaii. With RIMPAC the United States Pacific Command seeks to enhance interoperability between Pacific Rim armed forces, as a means of promoting stability in the region to the benefit of all participating nations. The Pacific faces several potential conflicts, which the United States Department of Defense believes may require naval force-on-force engagements. These include the possibility of the Peoples Republic of China invading Taiwan in the event of its declaration of independence, North Korean aggression toward South Korea, the US, and Japan.

Robots Assist in Re-build of Coral Reefs

September 6, 2012

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A team of researchers from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh has developed a swarm of robots to hand build-damaged coral reefs. The team of 'coralbots', each working individually to simple rules, will piece together damaged pieces of coral, allowing them to regrow. The approach is inspired by the behavior of natural swarms of insects such as bees and wasps, which collectively build substantial and complex structures. Volunteer scuba divers can help assist regrowth by reassembling coral fragments, but they are limited by the length of time they are able to stay underwater and the depths of the coral, which may be too far down for divers to reach. Swarm robots have an added benefit to the project in that they reduce the engineering requirements for extremely robust robots.

Researchers Use Technology to Investigate Ocean Bottom

September 4, 2012

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Researchers are using a bottom crawling rover to travel across the seafloor in an effort to monitor the impact of climate change in deep ocean ecosystems. Climate variation affects surface ocean processes and the production of organic carbon, which ultimately comprises the primary food supply to the deep-sea ecosystems that occupy roughly sixty percent of the Earth's surface. Warming trends in atmospheric and upper ocean temperatures, attributed to anthropogenic influence, have occurred over the past four decades. Changes in upper ocean temperature influence stratification and can affect the availability of nutrients for phytoplankton production. Global warming has been predicted to intensify stratification and reduce vertical mixing.

Stanford Researchers Use Wave Glider to Track Predators

August 30, 2012

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Stanford Scientist Barbara Block is using the Liquid Robotics Wave Glider to track predators in the Pacific. Dr. Block has long been involved in the Tagging of Pacific Predators (TOPP) program. Tagging of Pacific Predators began in 2000 as one of 17 projects of the Census of Marine Life, an ambitious 10-year, 80-nation endeavor to assess and explain the diversity and abundance of life in the oceans, and where that life has lived, is living, and will live. Block and her colleagues found North America's West Coast to contain several varied creatures like tuna, white sharks, sea turtles, seals, and albatross. Therefore, the California Current is likened to Africa's Serengeti. This initiative also involves wiring up the favorable regions discovered during TOPP.

Brazil´s Floating Offshore Oil Terminal set for 2014

June 18, 2013

Petrobras will launch a world first floating offshore oil terminal in order to be able to transfer oil to oil tankers offshore, beginning in 2014. Up until now the oil had to be transported through pipelines from the offshore rigs to the coast where tankers would load up the oil. It is expected that this new system will decrease oil transportation costs as tankers will be relieved from the high Brazilian port taxes, the tankers will also save up on their own bunker oil as the distances they will have to travel will decrease. The new system should be used mainly for export oil and will also probably be a hub for tankers coming to fill up on deepwater pre-salt oil.