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Exploring Our Seas

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Global ocean expedition to bring new data
4 June 2009

GENEVA (AP) - A global ocean expedition following the example of late undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau is expected to help understand how pollution and overfishing affect the world's seas, organizers said Thursday.

The expedition's sailing vessel will start on July 11 in Marseilles, France, for a round-the-world trip to explore some of the planet's most threatened marine eco-regions, said Ronald Menzel, director of the nonprofit Swiss-based Antinea Foundation, which set up the tour.

"This ship will bring concrete reports from the spots ... on what exactly is happening," said Albert Falco, a diver who worked on Cousteau's ocean-exploration vessel Calypso for nearly 40 years.

Cousteau shared his undersea adventures with millions of TV viewers worldwide, leaving his mark as great adventurer, filmmaker and environmentalist on generations. He died in 1997.

The 10-year expedition named Changing Oceans will carry out research projects in more than 100 marine reserves that UNESCO and WWF consider of vital importance for human life on Earth.

The projects include observing the behavior of blue sharks and sea turtles by attaching cameras to them and collecting data about noise pollution in the depths of the sea, said Menzel.

The expedition, which has been set up in cooperation with the International Union for Conservation of Nature and UNESCO, will cost 5 million Swiss francs ($4.7 million) per year.

People can follow the expedition over a Web site where they can also pose questions to the crew members of the boat.
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Cousteau-inspired adventure to explore ocean for decade
5 June 2009
Agence France Presse

A crew of adventurers will take to the high seas on a decade-long mission inspired by explorer Jacques Cousteau to examine the world's most important underwater treasures.

Swiss-based marine conservation group the Antinea Foundation, behind the project, will connect their old-fashioned adventure to a modern audience via the Internet in a bid to boost interest in the seas.

The "Changing Oceans" expedition will launch from the French port of Marseille and aims to explore some 100 marine reserves over 10 years and raise awareness about protection of the seas.

Scientists, divers and camera crews will step aboard a converted World War II ship "Fleur de Passion" (Passion Flower) and head out to sea on July 11.

More than 1,000 people will collaborate on the huge project.

"The sea needs to be protected," Cousteau's former right-hand man, Albert Falco, said at an expedition launch event in Geneva.

"The real danger is man... we're the sharks," said Falco, now 82 and one of the patrons of the expedition.

Cousteau was a renowned French naval officer who dedicated himself to the study of the sea and all forms of life in water.

Antinea hopes to fire the public's imagination by transmitting underwater images and scientific discoveries into people's homes via the Internet.

Real-time link-ups with divers and three-dimensional mapping on Google Earth are among methods planned.

The team also hopes to place a camera on a blue shark off the French coast to observe its behaviour.

The west Mediterranean will be the explorers' target at the start of their 10-year adventure.

Sites they plan to investigate include the Pelagos whale and dolphin sanctuary off Italy and France, the coasts of Corsica, Croatia and the Eolian Islands.

The Antinea Foundation, backed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, promotes the protection and exploration of the underwater world.

The group says 80 percent of life on Earth is found in the sea, but just 10 to 20 percent of the oceans have been explored.

The seas are also natural regulators of the air we breathe and of the Earth's climate, yet many marine specialists point to the depletion of fish stocks as just one sign that the marine environment is being destroyed.
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Admiralty Shipyards starts construction of Arctic/Antarctic research vessel

ST. PETERSBURG, June 30 (Itar-Tass) —— The Admiralty Shipyards, a component of the United Shipbuilding Corporation, has begun the construction of a research vessel for Arctic and Antarctic zones.

The vessel with the cost of 5 billion rubles will be ready in fall 2011, a shipyard source said.

The Federal Hydro-Meteorological Service ordered the vessel, he said. It will replace the Academician Fyodorov and give support to the Russian Antarctic expedition – bring in explorers and cargo, conduct oceanic research, and take away litter from Antarctica.

The Baltsudproyekt Design Bureau, a branch of the Krylov Central Research Institute, designed the new ship, which would carry eight modern laboratories for rapid processing of information about oceanic and atmospheric conditions and results of scientific experiments.

The ship will move at the speed of 16 knots (30 kilometers per hour) in open waters and two knots (3.8 kilometers per hour) through the ice with the thickness of 1.1 meters. The ship will be capable of autonomous voyages of 45 days on the range of 15,000 nautical miles. It will carry a crew of 59 and 80 researchers, as well as two Kamov Ka-32 helicopters.

The Admiralty Shipyards is also building ice-class tankers named the Mikhail Ulyanov and the Kirill Lavrov.

The Federal Hydro-Meteorological Service and the Admiralty Shipyards based in St. Petersburg signed a contract on the construction of a new expedition vessel for Arctic and Antarctic research in early December 2008.

“The new research vessel, which will be launched from the Admiralty Shipyards in 2011 will no less than double the capacity of Russian Arctic and Antarctic expeditions,” Director of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute of the Federal Hydro-Meteorological Service Ivan Frolov told Itar-Tass.

“We will not abandon the existent research vessel Academician Fyodorov either,” he said. The vessel will have major repairs and its engine, navigation and other equipment will be replaced. Then the vessel’s service life will be extended for a decade.

The new ship will help Russia’s systemic research of the Pacific Ocean areas adjoining Antarctica, Frolov said. “There is no doubt that more intensive presence of Russia in Antarctica will meet the national geopolitical interests in the 21st century,” he said.

“The two research ships will speed up the achievement of a major national goal – update information about the external boundaries of the Russian continental shelf and thus help Russia supplement its application to the UN commission with new results of geological and geophysical research of the oceanic bed,” he said.

“We hope to reinforce the research fleet operating in circumpolar areas,” Presidential Representative for International Cooperation in Arctic and Antarctica Artur Chilingarov told Itar-Tass. “About 20 years ago I took part in the construction of the Academician Fyodorov research vessel, which still makes successful voyages to circumpolar areas. The new vessel will broaden the geography of our research, in particular, will help survey hydrocarbon blocs in the Arctic Ocean,” he said.

Chilingarov suggested naming the new ship after Soviet polar explorer Alexei Treshnikov.
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