Friday, June 29, 2012

Follow the San Diego Coastal Expedition

Through the UC Ship Funds program, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego graduate students are afforded a rare opportunity to commandeer Scripps research vessels in support of their science goals. Scripps student Christina Frieder is the latest to get the chance and explorations now readers are invited to follow the progress of her San Diego Coastal Expedition aboard R/V Melville. The cruise begins June 30 and will explore the health of our ocean and seeks to expand our knowledge of local San Diego waters.

Frieder and her fellow students, both graduates and undergrads, will blog from the field and offer a multimedia experience of the coast.

Follow the San Diego Coastal Expedition here and let the adventure begin!

Friday, June 22, 2012

UFO found lying on the bottom of the Baltic Sea?

A Swedish expedition team has found an unidentified object at the bottom of the Baltic Sea, leaving some to believe it’s the remnants of an extra-terrestrial ship.

Scientists went off on a deep-water dive to debunk some theories about the underwater object, but were left with more questions than they had answers.
The divers found that the object was raised about 10 to 13 feet above the seabed, and curved in at the sides.

“First we thought this was only stone, but this is something else,“ Ocean X team diver Peter Lindberg said in a press release.

The object had an egg shaped hole leading into it from the top, working like an opening. On top of the object, they found strange stone circle formations, which resembled small fireplaces. The stones were covered in something that resembled “soot“.

“During my 20-year diving career, including 6,000 dives, I have never seen anything like this. Normally stones don’t burn. I can’t explain what we saw, and I went down there to answer questions, but I came up with even more questions,“ Stefan Hogeborn, one of the divers at Ocean X Team, said in the press release.

Farther back from the object, the Ocean X team said that they could see a “runway“ or a downhill path that is flattened at the seabed with the object at the end of it.

“As laymen we can only speculate how this is made by nature, but this is the strangest thing I have ever experienced as a professional diver,“ continues Peter Lindberg, one of the founder Ocean X Team.

Scientists are currently examining samples from the circle-shaped object, and experts in sonar imaging are processing data from the “ship“ to help shed more light on what exactly this underwater object is.

The outline of the ship on pictures resembles the famous Star Wars ship the “Millennium Falcon“.

Lindberg said the odd thing about the discovery is that there is no silt on the rock, which is an ordinary thing to find when lying at the bottom of the sea.
He also told Fox News that the object is “disc-shaped“ and “appears to have construction lines and boxes drawn on it“.

Lindberg told the news agency that the Americans and Japanese “are much more excited“ about the discovery than the local Swedish people.

A brief video clip of the dive was released to Swedish-language paper Expressen and can be viewed on Gizmodo. ( &

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Edge of the Earth - Gates of the Arctic National Park

View Larger Map

A documentary about a journey to "The Edge of the Earth". The Gates of the Arctic National Park is the northernmost national park in the U.S. (the entirety of the park lies north of the Arctic Circle).There are no established roads, trails, visitor facilities, or campgrounds in the park.
Following the Alatna River you will see an amazing place people rarely see, including the amazing Arrigetch Peaks.
"For the next two weeks you must survive using the knowledge, skills and gear you bring with you. You will walk or float through intact ecosystems where people have lived with the land for thousands of years. You will experience solitude, self reliance and nature on its own terms. Are you prepared?"
Filmed using Solar Power for Two Weeks = 10,000 combined shutter releases and video clips. Below is the link to how I accomplished this and stored all the pictures and video files.

The Edge of the Earth - DOCUMENTARY from Eric Dennis on Vimeo.

NPS -  Gates of the Arctic National Park
Wikipedia -

Crew will attempt to recover millions from Southeast Alaska shipwreck

SS Islander, 2006. Courtesy Dave McMahan

The Alaska Office of History and Archaeology estimates there could be as many as 3,000 shipwrecks lining the state’s 44,000 miles of coastline. Now, the multi-million-dollar mystery behind one of those wrecks may finally be answered, when a Seattle-based company attempts to salvage the remains of the SS Islander, which sank in 1901 while carrying Klondike gold rushers – and, reportedly, lots of their gold -- from Skagway to the city of Victoria in British Columbia.

A federal judge in April declared that Ocean Mar, Inc. and its president, 62-year-old Theodore Jaynes, could move ahead with plans to survey and possibly salvage the more-than-century-old shipwreck. The decision ended more than a decade of legal wrangling over the salvage rights to the ship, and could finally answer the question of just how much -- if any -- gold remains on the sea floor where the SS Islander sunk in Southeast Alaska.

But there’s more to this story about how a luxury ferry -- built in Scotland and considered “unsinkable” by some -- found its way to Alaska, and then to the seabed off of Alaska’s Admiralty Island. Along with the ship, about 40 people met their fate on an August night at the beginning of the 20th century.

The night in question
A 1992 report by the Community Development Department of the Borough of Juneau recounts in detail the life and sinking of the SS Islander. Built in 1888 in Glasgow at a cost of about $200,000, the 240-foot-long vessel was a model of late 19th-century luxury, built specifically for northern waters.

Like the more famous Titanic, many presumed the ship to be “unsinkable,” constructed with airtight compartments that could flood individually without the entire ship sinking.

The Islander operated during the peak of the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1890s, plying the waters of Southeast Alaska as the region saw a huge influx of hopeful prospectors seeking their fortunes. The treacherous waters of the Alaska Panhandle, combined with the heightened shipping traffic, claimed more than a few vessels.

“There are a lot of wrecks in Alaska from that date -- from the Gold Rush Era,” said Dave McMahan, an archaeologist with the state Department of History and Archaeology. “During the Klondike Gold Rush, there was just this massive migration of folks to Alaska.”

On the night of August 14, 1901, the Islander departed Skagway with 180 people aboard and made its way down Lynn Canal. At about 2 a.m., the ship was positioned between Douglas and Admiralty Islands when it struck what was likely either an uncharted rock or a sizeable iceberg. The 1992 report says that a former captain of the vessel believed it was likely an iceberg, which first punctured the hull before being submerged and rising to punch another hole in the vessel toward the stern.

The ship reportedly sank a mere 20 minutes after initial impact. About 40 people went down with the ship, though that number may be higher due to a reported 11 stowaways on board who weren’t accounted for. Others rowed lifeboats to Douglas Island, walking to the mining community of Treadwell to inform the world of the tragedy.

Rumors of riches
Given the timeline of the vessel’s sinking and the origin of its passengers, speculation began immediately that the Islander had gone down with a substantial quantity of gold aboard. Numbers vary, but if there were any truth to them, the value of the gold would be extremely high, then and now.

One estimate from the “Inventory and Survey of Historic Shipwreck Sites” reports:

It was rumored that the steamer’s purser had $275,000 in his safe and that the passengers had another $100,000 with them. Other rumors were that over a quarter of a million dollars in gold went down with the ship. This was at a time when gold was worth $20.67 an ounce. Fifty ounces of gold were found on one body. Another passenger was reported to have taken aboard about 600 ounces of dust.

Some $250,000 worth of gold at $20.67 per ounce breaks down to 12,100 ounces of gold rumored to be aboard the Islander when it sank. At today’s prices of around $1,500 per ounce -- a conservative number -- there could potentially be more than $18 million of gold somewhere on Southeast Alaska’s sea floor.

And that was at the absolute lowest end of the estimates. In his book “Sunken Klondike Gold” -- an excellent resource on the sinking and salvage of the Islander -- author Leonard Delano cites numerous passengers aboard the Islander who claimed that there was an estimated $2-$3 million aboard when it sank. One Canadian Klondike Mining Company engineer said that there were millions in gold bullion on the vessel.

Another Bonanza Creek miner, J.C. Dumbolten, declared, “It was the general belief there was at least $3 million in gold aboard the Islander.”

Worth $260 million today?
Gold was worth $17 per ounce at the time of sinking, according to Delano. That means there could have been as much as 176,000 ounces of gold on the Islander, which would total more than $260 million at today’s prices.

The reliability of these rumors, and how much of that gold ended up on -- or made it off -- the ship is the big unknown. But rumors like that are certainly enough to spur interest. Salvage talks came fast and furious in the wake of the sinking, despite the ship being in water too deep for any traditional methods of recovery.

It took until 1921 for the Islander to be officially located an estimated 300 feet below the surface.  That was too deep for diving equipment, and the ship’s carcass could only be viewed from a diving bell in 1929.

Raising the Islander
Finally, in 1934, a massive salvage effort was launched with the help of two other ships, the Griffson -- an old schooner barge -- and the Forest Pride, a sailing vessel. The Griffson was outfitted with winches on either side, and at low tide a team of divers would swim down to the wreck of the Islander, and string cables in a cradle beneath it. At high tide, as the Griffson rose on the water, the Islander would be lifted from the sea bed and moved toward shore. They would repeat this process numerous times, tightening the cables at each low tide and moving during high tide. Eventually, the Islander reached shore, and the Griffson was beached along with it in the process.

The search for gold may not have turned out the way the recovery team expected. “Salvagers were very close-mouthed about what they found,” the Borough of Juneau reported. “It has been estimated that it cost $200,000 to beach the Islander and they only got $50,000 for the effort.”

About $6,000 in currency, but no gold, was found in the purser’s safe. A sizeable quantity of gold was recovered from a urinal, likely shifted there during either the sinking or the transit to shore. Gold and gold dust was reportedly found at various other locations in the remaining husk of the ship.

Despite the middling results from the 1934 salvage effort, rumors persisted that the Islander’s gold was still out there. The ship’s bow had broken off during transit to shore, and some speculated most of the ship’s gold was stored there.

Author Delano, who was part of the Griffson salvage effort (he died in 1989, but his son saw “Sunken Klondike Gold” through to publication in 2011), speculated that the sinking and transit may have displaced the gold along the sea bed.

“Looking at the crumpled mass of what used to be the foundation of the cabin structure, we could see that the contents of any strong room could have easily gone overboard after the room’s collapse,” Delano writes, adding that the recovery effort may have caused the purported boxes of gold bullion to be scattered underwater during the movement of the ship -- ”Irony indeed after so much effort!”

Though parts of the Islander were eventually moved to Seattle, a portion of its hull remains on a northern beach of Admiralty Island, a skeleton of a once-great vessel.

Modern-day efforts
Twelve years ago, the Juneau Empire reported that Ocean Mar -- the recovery company interested in taking another shot at recovering gold from the remaining wreckage of the Islander -- might soon begin a salvage effort.

That optimism proved to be short-lived, as more than a decade of legal wrangling ensued over Ocean Mar’s right to claim the remaining cargo of the SS Islander. Now, again, the long journey appears to be at an end. In April, a federal judge authorized a plan to examine and recover cargo from the SS Islander.

Ocean Mar’s recovery plan isn’t immediately clear -- because of the sensitive nature of the effort, much of the information has been filed under seal in court, unavailable for public viewing. Neither Jed Powell, a Seattle attorney representing Ocean Mar, nor John Baker, a Senior Assistant Attorney General for Alaska, were able to comment on specifics.

Powell filed a declaration in March noting that Ocean Mar had joined with MK Salvage Venture to help finance the expedition. Additionally, Ocean Mar had “engaged the services of one of the world’s foremost deep sea science and technology companies -- Tetratech”.

In that same declaration, Powell said that Ocean Mar hoped to have an operation in Juneau by mid-May in order to devote the whole summer season to the recovery. That didn’t happen, though.

The Puget Sound Business Journal reported in May that Powell estimated the recovery effort could cost between $3-4 million. That same article reported that Jaynes and Ocean Mar will likely use an imaging system to scan the sea floor for possible gold located under the immediate sea floor. Twenty-five percent of the price of any “insured gold” recovered from the site will go to insurers who had already paid out claims to those who lost gold when the Islander went down.

Whatever the case, if Ocean Mar finally gets its way and is able to search the remaining wreckage of the SS Islander, it could answer, once and for all, century-old questions about the wreck and how much gold -- if any -- was left behind.

Contact Ben Anderson at ben(at)

Additional Shipwreck Information:
Shipwrecks of Alaska -
Shipwrecks of the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands -
Shipwrecks on Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge -

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Arctic Expedition To Prove That The Earth Is Hollow

Almost as nonsensical as flat earth, there is still the idea going around that the earth is hollow. A flashy expedition site is soliciting donations for this trip and subsequent movie. The hype will make your head spin…

NPIEE: The North Pole Inner Earth Expedition.

The science is real. The story is more than 5,000 years old. The legend says that at a certain place above the Arctic Circle, there exists an oceanic depression or an entrance into the Earth. It’s a place where the maritime legend claims sea level isn’t level anymore.

The discovery that the earth is hollow would forever shatter our long-held beliefs about how planets are formed. More importantly, however, discovering life beneath the earth’s crust could potentially provide us with new tools that would allow life on the surface to regain environmental balance, harmony, and possibly even peace. These prospects make the North Pole Inner Earth Expedition the greatest expedition in the history of the world.

It’s hard to know where to begin with this. But they are relying on “legends”. Legend is fine if you have nothing more to go on. Then you investigate and see if there is anything behind it. Centuries later, we know the earth is decided NOT hollow from many lines of converging evidence.

Sometimes, the silliness is go great I can’t help but laugh, point and walk away. There is not a shred of a reason why anyone should put any credence in or contribute funds to such a venture. This is the second bold exploration we’ve talked about recently (see trip to Congo by nonscientists to look for dinosaurs). Once again, we have this epic story of adventure and opportunity with a poor foundation and unprofessional methodology.

If you have a strong constitution, you can look at the “science” portion of this site. It’s HIGHLY “sciencey” but makes no sense. If such work is being carried out, it is not in the context of a hollow earth, it is in relation to planetary science. I’m feeling snookered from their use of real papers and real theory. This is pseudoscience proposed to upend existing science. It left me wondering, why do you need a boat to go to the pole? PLENTY of people have examined the geographic north pole AND the magnetic north pole and didn’t find a hole into the center of the earth. Why would this group think they are going to find anything different?

It’s OK to entertain the idea of legends. They are romantic and exciting and they tell us MOST about the people who recounted them. But when you are dealing with lives and money and huge efforts, to be irresponsible in presenting the justification (or the justification is thin like tissue as in this case of hollow earth) to the public is unethical and shady. It’s false advertising at the least, potential fraud at its worst. I would not donate to NPIEE because there is no rational foundation to this premise at all. This proposal reveals astounding ignorance of the body of scientific knowledge and disrespect to previous researchers that had a damn good reason for exploring the unknown parts of the world. All we may find in this proposed documented expedition to the north pole is investor money going down a big hole.

Carefully crafted plans and millions in funding have been secured for a journey to locate the passageway to Inner Earth. I certainly hope that the North Pole Inner Earth Expedition happens:

This $1.5 million pledge gets the ship charter in place by August of 2012. The Expedition launches in July of 2013. The science is real. The story is more than 5,000 years old. The legend says that at a certain place above the Arctic Circle, there exists an oceanic depression or an entrance into the Earth. It’s a place where the maritime legend claims sea level isn’t level anymore.

The discovery that the earth is hollow would forever shatter our long-held beliefs about how planets are formed. More importantly, however, discovering life beneath the earth’s crust could potentially provide us with new tools that would allow life on the surface to regain environmental balance, harmony, and possibly even peace.

This is not real.

For more see:

Unmuseum Hollow Earth

Skeptic Dictionary: Hollow Earth

Hollow earth pole photo debunked.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Research Vessel Polarstern Embarks on Her 27th Arctic Expedition


File:Polarstern rothera hg.jpg

The research vessel Polarstern left Bremerhaven on June 14, 2012 on course for the Arctic. 44 expedition participants from institutions from Germany, Belgium, USA and the United Kingdom will spend around one month at sea. Their main study area is the Fram Strait between Spitsbergen and Greenland where they will conduct long-term oceanographic measure.

Spitsbergen currents and sensor placements

At the end of June the second part of the expedition will travel to the “AWI Hausgarten” for two weeks with a biological focus. In August the research icebreaker will then travel to the Central Arctic after which it is expected back in Bremerhaven at the beginning of October.

The Fram Strait is the only deep sea water connection between the Arctic Ocean and the Atlantic. How much water is exchanged between these two seas and what heat and salt transport is associated with this? How is the water in the Arctic Ocean altered which flows in the East to the North and in the West to the South? Which masses of water flow how quickly through the Fram Strait? To record these basic parameters, temperature, salinity and oxygen content are determined precisely with sensitive sensors. 

Dr. Agnieszka Beszczynska-Möller, oceanographer at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association, will be leading this first part of the expedition. The measurements are an important puzzle piece for understanding the complex correlations between ocean, sea ice and atmosphere in the Arctic. Other research groups from the Alfred Wegener Institute also use the long-term data for their disciplines such as for models on sea ice development. 

The Polar Regions play a decisive role in the global ocean circulation, thereby influencing the global climate. Warm, high saline water flows from the Atlantic to the North. By contrast, cold, low saline surface water flows from the Arctic Ocean to the North Atlantic and on to the South. Low saline, cold deep-sea water also flows from the North Polar Sea and feeds the so-called thermohaline circulation. The flows may alter as a result of global warming which is why the researchers have been observing this region for 15 years by accurately recording the conditions in the Fram Strait and the changes from on board the Polarstern. 

In addition to this annual inventory in summer, the researchers measure the flow conditions and different environmental parameters also in their absence using so-called moorings: anchor stones are placed on the sea bed to which lines are attached which are held up several hundred to thousand metres with the assistance of floats. Sensors are attached at defined water depths, which record data throughout the entire year. Variations throughout the seasons can also be recorded accurately in this way and be considered in the overall analysis. This work is embedded in an international observation network. Sea gliders supplement the measurements; these are free floating vehicles, which determine their course in open water via satellites and are orientated by acoustic signals in the case of ice cover. They therefore supplement the stationary mooring assemblies. 

The two final parts of the Polarstern expedition also address questions of long-term changes in the Arctic. To the west of Spitsbergen biologists under the lead of Dr. Thomas Soltwedel primarily investigate the marine environment in the deep sea. After a stopover in Norwegian Tromsö an international team led by deep-sea researcher Prof. Dr. Antje Boetius will leave for the Central Arctic around the North Pole. 

After its return to Bremerhaven in October 2012, Polarstern will be prepared for the forthcoming Antarctic expedition. At the end of October the ship will then set out for one and a half year’s in the South: for the fourth time in its history, Polarstern will also be travelling Antarctic waters during polar night. On the way to the Neumayer Station III, on 9 December 2012, the German research icebreaker will be celebrating the 30th anniversary of its commissioning.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Aleutians 2012 Expedition Completes

Keirron Tastagh and George Shaw

13 years ago, the seed was planted
Vancouver Island Record in 2007 focused the mind
266 nautical miles 
5 weeks in Alaska, 2 weeks prep
12 paddling days, 1 day of rest, 
7 days waiting
an immeasurable life experience
our most unforgettable adventure so far...

"The journey is straight, but the path is winding"
As Rob Egelstaff reminded in his farewell email to me just before we set off. - Keiron Tastagh

A unique, multi-faceted journey along the 'Ring of Fire', sandwiched between the Pacific swells and the unpredictable, changeable and stormy Bering Sea. 
Awesome tidal currents guard the series of committing open crossings, 1200 miles of volcanic islands stretch between Alaska and the Russian Kamchatka Peninsula.

The un-supported duo set a new record in sea kayaking, completing the furthest paddle West from Dutch Harbor on Unalaska to Herbert Island – the last of the ‘Islands of the Four Mountains’. A highly technical and challenging trip, involving real risk in a remote location, with maximum exposure to the elements.

Combining all the ingredients of a real adventure; exploration, hardship, challenge amongst awe-inspiring surroundings with abundant wildlife, sponsored athlete Keirron Tastagh and his long-term student George Shaw, found their combined limit of physical and mental endurance on this expedition. Fluctuating extremities of emotion were part of the ride.

Completed in May, Keirron and George (who both train and live on the Isle of Man) endured katabatic winds (Williwaws) and strong unpredictable ocean currents from day one! From digging the kayaks out of the snow in the morning, to enduring sub-zero temperatures and constant buffeting of the tent at night, to the final week-long storm bound wait on Herbert Island, as predicted the team ‘experienced it all’.

A particularly challenging experience was being physically lifted and shaken about in the tent by 50 knot winds, before having to brave the storm and retreat further up the beach in torrential rain, wrestling with the entire camp (semi-loaded kayaks tied either side of the tent) as the wind dragged them across the boulders towards the pounding surf.  The rewards were the close encounters with wildlife including Sea Otters, Albatross, Seals, Puffins, Whales and pristine wilderness with plenty of snow! Plus 2 unbelievable calm days (of the 20), where many photographs were taken, astounding luck, exactly when it was required. These made the entire journey worthwhile, and more.

The goal was to "…explore as far as necessary to reach the conclusions we require…"

Inspired by the Aleutians rich culture and kayaking heritage, the journey through origins of kayaking in the lands of the native ‘Unangan’ (Aleut people) was awe-inspiring. The volcanic chain was originally populated with twelve to fifteen thousand people, renowned as the ‘best kayakers in the world’, living in subsistence harmony with the sea. The expedition developed an understanding of the ‘Aleut Story' and how the fate of the early Sea Otter and Aleut populations were intrinsically linked.

Wildlife observations focused on Sea Otters, also noting larger mammals positions and taking photo's for identification, as open material for marine biologists live projects. Keirron utilised the journey to further develop his BCU Level 5 Project with notes on motivation and leadership in challenging conditions.

Not wishing to become a casualty of the environment, or in the words of Tom Pogson catch ‘destination fever’, completing the expedition at Herbert Island displayed sound judgment and an understanding of the real risks of progressing further.

Already looking forward to the next Aleutian adventure…


We'd like to thank all those who touched us with their generosity, hospitality, sponsorship and support.

The Expedition was sponsored by;
Sea Kayaking UK, Kokatat, Lendal, Snapdragon, Icom, Five Ten, Hopes and Dreams, Suunto, Studio 1, Aquapac, Manx Telecom, Mountain House, Jetboil and Adventurous Experiences

Thursday, June 7, 2012

How far can you go in one year?

Photos courtesy of Mike Horn and the Pangaea Expedition


It has been just over one year since my last encounter with the Pangaea. I met Mike Horn and his crew onboard the Pangaea in Seattle last summer shortly after our adventure in the South China Sea together (the chronicles of that trip are here and here). Now, by example of what can be accomplished in a year, consider for a moment that the Pangaea has traveled up and down both coasts of the USA, picked through the ice of northwest passage, wound their way through the islands of the Caribbean and sailed up the Amazon River before arriving here, not far from the birthplace of the Pangaea in Sao Paulo, Brazil. This distance is equivalent to sailing twice around the globe! Click through some of the photos above for a fast tour.

But what happens onboard and underway on the Pangea is much more than just these traveling these massive stretches of ocean miles. It is the action, education and this crew’s commitment to the idea of changing things on our planet for the better. Before I left on this trip, I posted about commitment and Mike’s example with the Pangaea. Mike’s expedition is educating youth and sending them to the front lines to make an impact on some of the ecological imbalances on our planet. It was this vision and total a commitment to this dream that manifested the Pangaea Expedition.

It was from just near here (in Guaruja grabbing some weak wifi in a canal where we are re-fueling for the Pangaea’s trans-atlantic crossing) 4 years ago in Sao Paulo that Mike created his own shipyard, hired workers from the favelas, purchased and hauled (by his own hand) the aluminum for the hull, and willed his dream of the Pangaea into reality and watched the 95-meter hull first touch the water not far from where I am writing this post.

Now, with 6 months left in the 4-year Pangaea expedition, the miles in the wake of this boat are mind-boggling. She has seen more than 140,000 miles, (10 Atlantic crossings and 2 Pacific crossings), Mike and his crew have educated more than 200 kids in the Young Explorers Program from ages 14-21 years old. These YEPs, as they are called, hail from 96 different countries and 6 continents in every corner of the world. Now, these environmental ambassadors, carry the message of sustainability back to their individual communities with the vivid stories that can only come from experiencing the planet’s most remote places in person. It is a powerful strategy that is working to create real action across the globe.

So after clicking through some of the photos above, ask yourself, What can you accomplish in just one year? The Pangaea is a great example of what is possible. There is no good reason to wait. Start today.