EDs, Note: Satellite tracking of Ranger can be found at: http://www.oceana.org/ranger/index.html; Spanish webpages for Ranger: http://europe.oceana.org/espanol/noticias/ranger/index.htm; English blog: http://community.oceana.org/section/Ranger; Images available for downloading: http://europe.oceana.org/espanol/noticias/ranger/fotografia.htm.
Oceana’s Ranger, one of the largest catamarans in the world, is sailing into South Florida waters today after successfully completing the first half of a data-gathering expedition, a voyage that began in California and which has produced unprecedented underwater footage of ocean habitat and marine wildlife for Oceana, the only international group solely dedicated to protecting the oceans.
“This is Oceana’s first ocean expedition and it has been a spectacular success,” said Oceana CEO Andrew Sharpless. “The sublime submarine images our staff is capturing will give us a baseline from which to protect ocean habitat and marine wildlife, which belong to the world. Ranger is also Oceana’s eyes and ears in the water, to supplement the work of our land-based offices around the world.”
An imposing 71-by-35-foot custom-built former hospital ship, Ranger and its crew of 12, including videographers, scientists and bloggers, will stay in South Florida for two weeks to rest, outfit and prepare for the second half of the expedition: crossing the Atlantic to the Mediterranean.
Ranger has been traveling since its Jan. 14 launch in Marina Del Rey, Calif., to remote islands in the Pacific off the coast of Mexico and Central America, across the Panama Canal and up the east coast of Central America. The film footage and photos obtained are astounding in their beauty and uniqueness.
Submarine mountains called seamounts, rich nurseries for marine life, were filmed in Cayos Cochinos, off Honduras in the Caribbean. Ranger was on site at the island of Coiba, in the Panamanian Pacific – infamous as a penal colony from 1918 until December 2004 and now a marine park – as the new park’s first set of fishing regulations went into effect.
In the second half of the expedition, slated to start in mid-April, Ranger is poised to uncover new underwater worlds of wonder. From California to Europe, Ranger will have traveled 11,000 nautical miles. It is expected to arrive in the Mediterranean in early summer.
Among Ranger’s scheduled stops is the Sargasso Sea, a 2-million-square-mile oval in the North Atlantic off the Southeastern United States that’s specked with floating seaweed islands. That’s the refuge of endangered baby sea turtles, which hatch on beaches from Florida to the Carolinas, swim out to the Sargasso Sea, and spend their “lost years” there, eating and hiding from predators. When they’re big enough, they swim back west and hop on the northbound Gulf Stream for their legendary life cycle, which takes the turtles to European waters, before they return to the Americas to complete the circle and lay their eggs on the beaches of their own birth.