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Petition – US Coral Mining in the Marshall Islands

Posted on Monday, March 26th, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Photo Credit: John J. Boling 2005-11-10 -

A petition is being circulated online to request President Obama to help protect the shoreline coral reefs around the Marshall Islands. From what Reef Tools has been able to gather, expansion of the Majuro Airport is close to breaking ground. The construction of the airport expansion is funded by the U.S. Government and the work is being performed by local contractors. It is stated that the FAA turns its head as the contractors wreak havoc on the native coral reefs by miming the coral for use as fill. The petition states there is an abundance of useable fill that could be used away from the coral reefs.

The petition also points out that in 2008 a fire station was constructed on the Marshall Islands using fill from a large reef in the area of the construction site. President Clinton signed an executive order (Order 13089) protecting coral reefs outside of the U.S. The petition is asking President Obama to push the local EPA and FAA to adhere to the order.

The petition is sponsored by Dean Jacobson, Ph.D., coral ecologist and can be found here.

Photo Credit: BentProp Project

Students from Stockbridge High school have designed an underwater robot that will be put to the ultimate test on its maiden voyage. The robot is a high school project with a mission to locate a B-24 bomber that was believed to be shot down around the Micronesian island chain of Palau in World War II, almost 68 years ago.

The students are assisting the BentProp Project in the search for the missing bomber. The BentProp Project is an all volunteer organization that locates downed aircrafts in the attempt to find the remains of servicemen still listed as missing in action. Is there a more noble purpose for the maiden voyage of their school made robot?

The robot is designed to withstand depths of up to 500 feet, although the plane is believed to be in waters closer to 125 feet. It consist of a GPS system, three video camera, commercial grade thrusters and a sonar donated by SeaView Systems Inc.

The trip to Palau is quite an endeavor for the high school students. Through fund raisers sponsored by the Stockbridge’s Lions Club and the local American Legion as well as corporate sponsors the students raised $40,000 to make the journey. It is important to mention Jackson’s Dawn Foods, the John George Fund, the Hurst Foundation and the Weatherwax Foundation were among the donars that helped make this trip a reality for the students ranging in ages of 15 to 18.

You can follow the project on the student made facebook page as well as the BentProp website. Make sure to click the Like button on their facebook page. Lets show support for a small group of American students that are working hard on their future coupled with the hopes of bringing closure to families of the crew of the B-24 Bomber.

Robotic Jellyfish

Posted on Friday, March 23rd, 2012 at 9:05 am

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Alex Villanueva

The U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research is funding researchers from a handful of schools including the University of Texas and Virgin Tech to build a robot jellyfish. The projected was dubbed “Robojelly” in a paper published in the journal Smart Materials and Structures. The Robojelly is made up of a combination of silicone and other high tech materials not specified. One interesting aspect of the robot’s construction is artificial muscles. These muscles are constructed of an alloy that has shape memory, meaning the alloy when deformed remembers and returns to it’s original shape. The robot is powered by a chemical reaction when natural seawater containing oxygen and hydrogen contacts the artificial muscle. CNET News explains the process like this:

The Robojelly’s bell is made of silicone that contains ribs of springy steel. And the steel, in turn, is attached to a structure made of platinum-coated nanotubes and the shape-memory alloy, made of nickel-titanium. A valve opens, allowing seawater–and the oxygen and hydrogen gases it contains — to come into contact with the nanotube-alloy structure. The platinum reacts, generating heat that activates the shape-memory alloy and causes it to deform, pull on the steel, and close the bell. When the nanotube-alloy structure cools, the alloy returns to its shape, releasing its pull on the steel and allowing the bell to reopen–and the process to repeat.

Video: Bubble Coral Spawning

Posted on Tuesday, March 20th, 2012 at 9:27 am

A member of the Brevard Area Reef Society (BARS) caught his bubble coral spawning and was able to catch it on his Android phone. He did a great job capturing the event.

New product: Salifert Potassium test kit

Posted on Monday, March 19th, 2012 at 10:58 am

Salifert has stated on a few forums that a new, easy to use Potassium test kit will be hitting shelves by the end of March. The new test will have an resolution of 15 ppm. Salifert is boasting the test sharp contrast in colors making it easy to read. Further more the test is said to take 90 seconds. Salifert is also working on a Potassium test with a lower resolution (higher sensitivity) of 4 to 5 ppm. This test is expected out “at a later date”.

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