Monday, January 10, 2011

Transatlantic Investigation of Marine Pollutants- 1, Canary Islands

This is verbatim from:

Transatlantic Investigation of Marine Pollutants

Lone Ranger Marine Pollutants Atlantic Expedition to harness innovative solutions
for ocean contaminants and study microbe biofuel candidates.

M/Y Lone Ranger
Image from
The Schmidt Ocean Institute’s research vessel Lone Ranger left Las Palmas, Canary Islands on January 11, 2011, to cross the Atlantic for its maiden scientific cruise, the 2011 Lone Ranger Marine Pollutants Atlantic Expedition. An onboard coalition of scientists—a collaboration amongst the Schmidt Ocean Institute, Blue Ocean Sciences (BOS), and many others—will explore approximately 3,000 nautical miles of the North Atlantic Gyre through the Sargasso Sea, and use innovative technologies to study ocean pollutants. Researchers will be targeting microbes that may hold the promise for new energy sources, while using advanced methods for understanding the composition, structure, and biochemical dynamics of pollutants in the Atlantic. The expedition will conclude in Bermuda on January 29, 2011.

Micro-Plastics from Project Kaisei 2009 to
Subtropical Convergence Zone of The North Pacific Gyre
“We will explore ocean bacteria that eat plastic, as these microbes have the potential to be developed into a natural gas for a myriad of purposes, such as cooking and heating, and potentially replace oil products currently used for cars, trucks, and other forms of transportation,” states James Ferry, Ph.D., a founding member and current director of the Center for Microbial Structural Biology at Pennsylvania State University.

“Ocean bacteria differ from those on land, and we have discovered that they are eating a wide variety of the plastics throughout the ocean environment. Once these bacteria are identified, we will capture them to ascertain what other waste products hold the promise of a new energy source to assist in reducing our dependence on foreign oil,” continues Ferry.

Principal Investigators Erika Raymond of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), Kirsten Grorud-Colvert of Oregon State University (OSU), and BOS Founder
Andrea Neal lead the research team, with other members from NASA, J. Craig Venter Institute, Penn State , Helmholtz Zentrum Laboratory, the Pacific Marine Analysis and Research Association (PaCMARA), McGill University, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

The Lone Ranger, a 255-foot ship donated to the Schmidt Ocean Institute by Mr. Peter Lewis, is dedicated as a platform for increasing knowledge and understanding of the world’s ocean through scientific and engineering research. Originally an ocean tug, the Lone Ranger was redesigned into a yacht then transformed into a research vessel for scientific investigation at Mr. Lewis’ request. Marine debris pollution is prevalent throughout the world’s oceans and is an issue of critical impact to their biological and geochemical cycles.

Project Kaisei 2009 Fish Caught in Derelict Net
1400 Nautical Miles From The California Coast
“Plastic debris can attract persistent organic pollutants, serving as a potential vector for toxin accumulation into organisms which then propagate through the food chain. To better understand these pollutants, fish will be collected from surface water tows and then imaged and preserved for molecular and toxicological analysis in the lab”, according to Dr. Erika Raymond of MBARI, also a Schmidt Ocean Postdoctoral Fellow and Chief Scientist heading research activities on the 2011 Lone Ranger Marine Pollutants Atlantic Expedition.

“Unfortunately much of ocean pollution is not well understood, and thus requires an innovative and comprehensive approach to mitigation”, states Dr.Raymond who will employ her multidisciplinary background in biological oceanography, marine technology, and extensive at sea experience, to guide the team of international researchers onboard.

Dr. Andrea Neal and Dr. Michael Gonsior
Project Kaisei 2009
“Traditionally, biological sciences, marine biology and oceanography have been separate fields. However, today’s science is more technical and environmental challenges are more complex, which is why it is critical to have a strong team of diverse experts that include extreme environment microbial scientists, biofuel specialists, chemical analysis experts and people who understand microbe polymer interaction” according to Dr. Andrea Neal.

An important goal of this mission is to have media experts on board who have the scientific understanding to communicate the pioneering research and discoveries effectively to the population at large. “Through the Blue Ocean Sciences Media Education program’s lively webisodes, blogs, and online questions-and answer sessions, the public will be given a window into the world of marine debris research,” states Neal. “People will watch the team expand traditional sampling with new monitoring and assessment equipment in an outreach opportunity that seeks to ignite excitement about ocean exploration, human ingenuity and creativity.” The Blue Ocean Sciences media collaborators include Blue Ocean Productions, Cage Free Productions, and Highliner Studios.

John McIntyre, Project Kaisei 2009
Schmidt Ocean, a 501(c)3 nonprofit institute, collected proposals from select investigators and sought advice from the Marine Science and Technology Foundation Science Advisory Board to compose the scientific program for this first expedition of its research fleet. Schmidt Ocean will provide Lone Ranger with continuous Internet access capabilities for the scientists to facilitate the development of interactive web content and help the world follow the cruise day by day.

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For interviews, photos and more information:
At Schmidt Ocean Institute – Nora Deans, Cell:. 907-748-3328

At BOS - Janice Hall, Tel. 609-683-1134 Cell: 303-641-6266
To follow the expedition, visit or

Schmidt Ocean Institute is a non-profit 501(c)3 founded in 2009 to advance ocean exploration, discovery and knowledge, and be a catalyst for sharing the information about the oceans through scientific and engineering research and the development of interdisciplinary scientific voyages using the Institute’s own research fleet.

Blue Ocean Sciences (BOS) is a non-profit 501(c)3. The BOS mission is to address the needs of the global community for accurate research on oceanic health. BOS employs the latest technologies; shares validated scientific information, creates effective educational materials, and develops accurate media communication on the health of the world’s ocean. BOS facilitates utilization of human ingenuity, intellect, and technology to develop a thorough understanding and implement plans of action to mitigate pressing environmental issues.


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