Notes from the Nautilus Blog: A Voice for the Sanctuary

IEEE Earthzine’s Jenny Woodman is blogging from the Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus. Read more about her journey here.

Jenny Stock is education and outreach coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Her enthusiasm for education and ocean stewardship is infectious. I can’t get enough of listening to her talk about the seabirds and marine mammals we’re encountering, which is probably why she’s been able to engage the public with more than 100 episodes of Ocean Currents, broadcast from Point Reyes National Seashore via Community Radio for West Marin KWMR. I asked her to write a guest post for this blog, and she happily complied. Enjoy – Jenny Woodman, science writer (and ocean explorer!)

Jenny Stock on the back deck of the E/V Nautilus

Jenny Stock on the back deck of the E/V Nautilus. Image Credit: Jenny Woodman

By Jenny Stock

I’m standing on the back deck of the E/V Nautilus, 30 miles from the Marin/Sonoma coast in the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, a place I’ve worked as the education and outreach coordinator for many years. The remotely operated vehicles Hercules and Argus are 1.2 miles below us, exploring never-before-seen habitats and species in the recently added waters and seafloor in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. In 2015, the sanctuary doubled in size from 529 to 1,286 square miles, adding deeper habitats into the protections and stewardship of the sanctuary.

While on the back deck, I’m hooked to a headset and microphone with lead science communication fellow Amber Hale; there’s a camera on us. We are about to talk with the Exploratorium Museum visitors in San Francisco participating in a ship-to-shore interaction. I am flooded with thoughts:

“Wow, I can’t believe I’m giving a presentation from the sanctuary itself.”

“Wow, there is a big swell; will I be able to stand up straight and not fall over?”

“Wow, this is incredible being able to communicate with the world from a ship on the ocean.”

Black-footed albatross are a constant presence alongside the E/V Nautilus

Black-footed albatross are a constant presence alongside the E/V Nautilus. Image Credit: Jenny Woodman

Black-footed albatrosses fly by as we connect with the audience on land through the Inner Space Center in Rhode Island, which runs the telepresence part of the E/V Nautilus’ exploration work. The power of technology is awe-inspiring.

As an educator for one of the harder-to-reach sanctuaries in the National Marine Sanctuary system, it excites me to use this technology to bring information to people on land. Messages have been flooding in from home, friends and social media about how amazing it is to watch – about how they are as addicted to the discoveries as we are.

The opportunity to use this technology to bring people to the bottom of the ocean is thrilling. While we are here, we are describing the deeper habitats of the sanctuary so we can be better stewards. Our current protections prohibit oil/gas exploration, disturbance to the seabed, and discharge, among other things.

While looking at deep sea corals, octopus, anemones, sea stars, fishes and more, I’m thankful for the vision of the communities on land that worked so hard to include Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary in its system to keep this ocean wilderness as intact as possible in this rapidly changing world. Thanks to partners like the Ocean Exploration Trust, we are thrilled to share it with you this week at nautiluslive.org. Don’t wait to click on that link – this expedition will be done Aug. 14!

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