Thursday, 2 April 2015

A great time in Tenerife part 1

Hi all

Its been a busy year so I have just been on my holidays with my buddy Steve. We went to Tenerife, you may remember I visited in 2012 to find out about the island and its wildlife. Also because the volcano, Teide, is a World Heritage Site

I thought it would be a great place to visit to relax.
This is Los Gigantes Beach, and the Los Gigantes Cliffs are awesome. It was peaceful sitting on the beach enjoying the hot sun on my fur. 
The sand is black because it came from the volcanic rock as it has eroded and become sand. A shadow was cast over me and I looked up to see an osprey circled low over the beach.

It is a magnificent bird, but it wasn't interested in anything on the beach - the osprey is a fish eater and a pair nest on the rugged cliff face overlooking the sea.

I ran down to the sea for a paddle, the reason I ran was because the black sand gets very hot. I stood in the shallows cooling my paws when I saw a shoal of fish swim by.
Then a seabird called a tern flew past and after circling it dived into the sea to catch a fish.
On the rocks were bright red crabs. Some where eating the green algae that had been exposed at lowtide.

Others seemed to be sunbathing!

As I paddled in the sea I noticed that there were a number of plastic bags in the sea and also other items such as a plastic spoon.

Sadly these items come from people using the beach.

So the next day I took part in a beach clean to collect some of the plastic. We collected some plastic items but not as many as I thought that we would. I found out why 2 days later when I visited another beach called Medano. Its often very windy of the beach and its perfect for the wind surfers and kite surfers.

I saw a man on the beach with a special net. It was like a fishing net but he was scooping up the sand. Because the hot sun dries out the sand it soon become very powdery. The man was wearing a yellow t-shirt that said Socorrista. Then another man came by with the same t shirt and picked up some plastic bottles. 
I asked him what he did and he said he was a life guard. I don't speak very good Spanish but luckily he could speak quite good English.

He told me that part of his days work was to pick up plastic bottles or scoop up small bits of litter that people leave on the beach. This means it gets removed from the beach before it can get washed into the sea.  I thought this was a great idea.

Later on I found out that this only happens on the beaches that are tourist areas or sandy beaches for swimming. On the rocky beaches people drop plastic and cans and they either stay in the rock crevices or they end up in the sea.

I walked the sandy beach. I did not find any litter (which was good) but I did find this beautiful crab shell. 
Crabs shed off their old shell after growing a new on underneath. So maybe the actual crab was still alive and living in the sea.

More about my trip soon

Ed the Bear

Monday, 16 February 2015

Ed and Bella at the Brighton Science Festival


We took part again this year at the brilliant Brighton Science Festival. The visitors of all ages always have such enthusiasm and curiosity.
We took our display with lots of pictures about my travels. The display was updated to include my work with Dive with Purpose helping them with coral reef restoration project and also surveying a ship wreck.

The display told the story of my travels. How my concern about how global threats such as climate change, sea level rise might affect my local beach (a beautiful nature reserve). 
How during my travels to real scientists around the world, to find out more about these global issues, I also encountered some amazing wildlife. I also saw first hand the damage that people are doing to the ocean but also how people are helping the ocean and how we can all play our part.

The display also showed Bella's recent trip to the Amazon Rainforest in Peru and its amazing wildlife as a guest of Amazon Rainforest Workshops

Did you know people live in the rainforests and they find almost everything they need in the forest to live? Bella also discovered that tribes living in the rainforest didn't have clean drinking water and she saw how CONAPAC (Civil Association of the Peruvian Amazon Environment) are helping to bring clean drinking water to these people. Bella also discovers that the rainforest is also affected by climate change.
Some of the global issues are quite complicated and so we ran some experiments to help show the science behind some of these problems. One experiment showed how man made carbon dioxide pollution from the air is causing oceans to become more acidic making it difficult for corals and shellfish to get the calcium carbonate they need from sea water to make their shells.

We also showed how the surface water of the ocean is expanding because it is getting warmer due to climate change. This means the ocean takes up more space and is causing sea level rise. More sea level rise has occurred so far because of thermal expansion than from melting polar ice.

We also ran an experiment to show how the ocean helps to create our climate and weather. As the warmer waters from the equator travel towards the Arctic they loose heat into the air (and moisture) which creates our comfortable climate in the UK. As it reaches the Arctic the water gets colder and some of the freshwater becomes ice.  The salt stays in the ocean making it heavier so it sinks to the seabed. This cold water travels along the seabed until it reached the equator and it returns to the surface and becomes warm.
This experiment shows how the cold seawater sinks straight down to the seabed and creates a layer of cold seawater. We used a coloured dye added to the salty water (right) so that it would be easy to see the salt water sink and layer it makes.
Visiting children put in drops of the dyed salt water using a pipette and watched it sink to the bottom layer.

My buddy Steve also presented a couple of talks about my travels and also about some of the things the ocean provides for everyone.
This includes how the ocean helps to create our climate and weather, that it provides 50% of the oxygen on the planet as well as freshwater, food, new medicines, places to have fun and much more.

It was a great day


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Ed and the youths help restore a coral reef

Hi all

Today started the second exciting part of the project with Youth Dive with Purpose. I was going to find out today how the Coral Reef Restoration Project is helping to restore coral reefs and I would get
a chance to join in.

 The following bog was written by one of the youths.

Today started coral restoration, which meant no more yoga. Although the extra sleep and the lack of bugs were nice, in a way yoga was mixed as I felt the need to run. Anyways being the first day of coral restoration we had to attend the classroom part.

To me this was so interesting. Despite the presentation being mostly review, as I already knew the material since I did the program last year, I was still very engaged (for I want to do work with Cnidarians professionally).
After the presentation was the hands on portion, where we practiced what we will do underwater on land. This was quite fun, but really just made me want to get in the water already.

Luckily, the next thing on the schedule was diving!!! As we all made out way to the boat (including Ed the bear) it was time to get in our groups to "plant a coral, restore a reef".

I was in group red or deep purple I should say as I soon realized that underwater red is one of the first colours to leave. Once underwater we toured the facilities.
Everything looked amazing even the 2nd time around. Surrounded by coral trees, it was time to get started.
The first part was staging which our instructor cut off some of the coral for us to stage. Although this was exciting the next part was probably the most rewarding.

We got to plant the coral! This took quite a bit if time, as I wanted to plant each piece of coral with care. Finding the right spot, clearing it of algae, and giving it the support that's needed to grow, to me was a huge responsibility and task.

As I completed it however I would hover over the coral to make sure everything was perfect not wanting to let it go as if it was a parent sending me baby off to college.

However I had to move on as there was more coral to be planted before the end of the dive and end of the day.

Finally as I felt I perfected each one, my group came up and our 2nd dive was over along with the activities for the day. With the day winding up I couldn't help but feel accomplished

Sunday, 12 October 2014

YDWP Community Out-Reach Event

Hi All

Before we start the Coral Restoration Programme there is one more very important thing for the YDWP Youths to do and that is to share the project and their experiences with other youths. This is done through a special community out-reach event.
This is a blog from YDWP

Greetings: The final day of YDWP – Archeology {Friday} is our community out-reach component. Like last year we reached out to a local community and this year it was the city of Delray. {a small costal city about 80 miles from Florida City} We were able to go to Pompey Park ,one of Delray’s community centers. 

Once there the YDWP youth introduced themselves to a very excited and inquisitive group of young people. They asked so many good questions that we did not have time to answer them all. 

Idris Philogene and David Furst talked about the archeology and what we accomplished during the past week and Rachel Stewart and Gabriel Soto talked about our upcoming Coral Restoration Program.
After our inside activities we over we were able to go outside to the pool and give a demonstration of the scuba equipment, again the enthusiastic group was very much interested in the equipment. We also let some of them breathe off the regulator. What a day it makes it all worthwhile.
Ordinary youth doing extraordinary things

This is another interesting blog written for me by one of the YDWP youths.

Hey my berry good friends! This morning I was already to do yoga, but our instructor let us sleep in. I was actually disappointed. On a happier note, today we are going on a community service trip! 

We are going to teach young people about what we do, and to inspire them to do what ever they want. We started out by having 2 of my diving buddies present a slide show of marine archaeology, and how we do it. Then we had 2 of my other dive buddies present a slide show of the coral restoration program, and young people and even bears can do it. It may be hard work but if you set your mind to it, you can do anything you want. 

Next, we took the children out to the pool where 5 of the divers were ready to do a demonstration. We showed them each piece of equipment and explained the importance of each piece. Then came the fun part, some of the kids got to try and breath from the regulator to see how it feels to breath underwater. I hope that we inspired some of the kids to become divers in their future. 

Now I know what I'm going to do when i get home, I am going to present everything that I did so that I hopefully inspire some of the other bears to become divers. After our community service trip, we went to Hollywood Florida and had dinner. Then we had some free time to walk around for a little bit, and I couldn't help but be drawn to the water like always. I walked along the beach with some of my new friends. While they had to take off their shoes to feel the warm water, I just walked right in. The benefits of being a bear with paws too big for shoes.

It was a great day of excitement and sharing and I can't wait to share my adventures when I am back in the UK.

Come back soon to see the final part of my adventures with YDWP when we help restore a coral reef.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Final ship wreck Dive (part 4)

Hi everyone

Well its our final day of diving on the ship wreck and everyone including myself were looking forward to getting into the water.

The following blog was written for me by R J Holman.

Hey guys it's Ed the bear and I am back! I woke up 5:00 am this morning to wash furry fur in the river. After my warm bath I felt I needed a little stretching, so I went to my yoga class at 6:00 am. It was just what I need besides the mean biting mosquitoes I got the right to boost for my day. After breakfast I went with my fellow YDWP (Youth Divers With Purpose) to Biscayne Bay National Park to finish up our in-situ drawing.

At once I got on the boat ready to get in the in the water because it was the last day of diving. Once I was in the water I got a little distracted by fish swimming around me but I got I back on my in-situ drawing. 
After my first dive I came up and have some lunch with friends. I had a delightful sub (the roll kind not the underwater type - Ed Bear) with roast beef, Swiss cheese, and top it off with sum good honey from pooh. Then it was time it get back in the water. My tummy was hurting little because I eat little bit too much good food but eventually dived in

This dive was all about going back over my drawings making sure everything is recorded right. After we finish diving today we went and have some delicious food provided by a fellow friend from YDWP at the park. I have had a fun exciting and interesting day today. I learned a lot and how to apply my knowledge to paper.

Great work everyone. A very busy but exciting and rewarding time. We had to fan the sea floor to expose the wreck and documenting the site using a ruler, pencil and slate with Mylar paper (special paper you can write on underwater). This type of diving it takes a lot of care and concentration as its important that everything is recorded accurately.
We all took part in underwater mapping and the complicated trilteration (the method archeologist use to map and measure the various sections of the wreck) and we were all up to the challenge.

But the fun is not over yet. Tomorrow we are going to help restore a damaged coral reef with Coral Restoration Foundation.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Ship wreck survey part 3

Hi all

Great news, my diving bell is fixed and will be off to join the youths down on the wreck site. This really is a great project. In my previous visits to Ken Stewart and the Tennessee Aquatic Project youths we explored some great underwater sites and took part in beach clean events

But Youth Dive with Purpose takes the whole thing one step further. As the name suggests the youths are diving with an important purpose - which at the moment is to help survey the ship wreck below us. This will reveal important information about the wreck and record the information for others to use.

The following blog was written for me by Olivia Frenczy

Hey friends! It’s Ed the Bear again. Today was the first day that i got to go diving into the crystal blue water. We started our day off great, with some yoga to warm up our muscles for a hard day of diving. After yoga and a nutritious breakfast, I applied a thick layer of sunscreen to my fur to make sure i don't turn into a bright red bear. I packed my diving bell, and we were off to the bright sun and splashing waves. On our way over to Captain Ed's Wreck was a lot of fun. The sun made it nice and warm on my thick fur, but the breeze made it the perfect temperature. I sat on the bow of the boat with all my new friends.

When we arrived at the dive site, I was ready to just leap right into the water, but I had to wait to get a dive briefing from the captain and the dive master so that I know what to do when I'm diving in the water. When it was actually time to jump in, I couldn't wait. My buddy was ready and so was I. One at a time we jumped in the warm water and started swimming towards the anchor and descended to the wreck. (I was lowered into the water slowly in my diving bell and David Furst carefully maneuvered my diving bell into the right position - Ed Bear).

Our first dive at this site was just a survey dive, which means that we just swim around the wreck to try and get to know what we will be working with for the next 3 days. It was a lot of fun to see the wreck. What I could see from this dive was that we had a lot of work ahead of us, but with all the divers and teamwork, it would be a piece of cake, and I love cake. 

For our second dive, we stared to place pin flags on different artefacts that we thought were interesting. That was easy for most people but hard for me because I found the whole wreck interesting, and I couldn't pick a spot to put my pin flags, but I eventually decided on a good place.
After those 2 dives there were many hungry divers on board, and one very hungry bear. So we went back to out hotel rooms, took a shower and headed out to dinner.

Now you may think that I am an extraordinary bear doing all this diving, but in reality, I am just like any other ordinary bear doing extraordinary things.

more to come soon