Foto Friday – Mediterranean Coral Reefs

The exploration vessel Nautilus is a 64-meter research vessel based in Turkey, owned and operated by the Ocean Exploration Trust, and funded in part by the US NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration. It’s also the flagship for marine explorer Dr. Robert D. Ballard, whom you might recognize from the National Geographic channel.

Nautilus was here off the coast of Israel this month, using sonar to explore the depths – as far down as 1.7 km – of the eastern Mediterranean Sea, “home to underwater landslides, deep-sea corals, ancient archaeological sites, gas seeps, and many other interesting features.”

Already this week, together with a team of experts headed by Professor Zvi Ben-Avraham of the University of Haifa’s Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences, the researchers announced a major discovery: for the first time, an area of reefs with deep-sea corals has been found in the Mediterranean.

The area apparently stretches over a few kilometers, 700 meters under the surface and some 30-40 km off the coast of Tel Aviv. The southeastern region of the Mediterranean has only sparse sea life, which means, as team member Dr. Yizhaq Makovsky put it, “It’s like finding a flourishing oasis in the middle of the desert.”

The collaborative research team has begun to examine their discoveries which include two shipwrecks, probably modern boats that sank sometime during the past few decades…

A Chimaera Monstrosa, of the “ghost shark” family that branched off from sharks some 400 million years ago…

And a 10 centimeter long (or is that wide?) crab hiding in the recess of a rock.

The Haifa team gave special thanks to Nautilus’ technological capabilities. The vessel is equipped with the remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) Hercules, Argus, Diana, and Echo (Hercules did the work in Israel but you can read more about all the ROVs here). It has a high-bandwidth satellite system on board to facilitate remote science and education via the Inner Space Center (ISC) at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography and Exploration Command Consoles located around the world.

You can also log into Nautilus’ webcams, any time of the day or night, to see what crew is up to. They’re in Santorini right now, exploring underwater volcanoes. Hope they come back soon – there’s lots more to discover here.

Young Underwater Archeologist, Beverly Goodman, Wins National Geographic Explorer Prize

February 13, 2009 - 11:03 PM by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Environment 

beverly-goodman national geographic photo

I first “fell in love” with Beverly Goodman, when I dropped in to see the marine research station where she works in Eilat. Hoping to score some research material for my next series of articles, Goodman, a young Canadian-Israeli researcher working there, would go on to give me exciting details about her work in underwater archeology. Not before going through a long list of other marine research, some linked to climate change, happening at the research facility, known as the IUI.

Goodman, I would learn, had been interviewed about her work for a National Geographic program. She’d been collecting core samples from the seabed off the coast of the Roman city Caesaria. After inventing her own method for extracting the cores (she explains it’s practically impossible using traditional methods), Goodman would dive down to the seafloor and pull up layers of sediment to read back into history and find clues about what might have caused the destruction of Caesaria.

You can read all the deets on ISRAEL21c, which I’ve made handy for you here — Israel’s Freshest Face in Archeology Works Underwater — but her story goes like this:

Goodman’s research may give science new clues about the coastal environment in the context of global warming. Are the seas rising? Could a melting glacier break off and create a tsunami? Will storms and floods increase as the earth warms? Goodman’s questions might be more local in nature, but her work has global significance by adding to the information science holds about earth events and climate change.

Sifting through broken shells and sediment from coring samples, she has determined that at least three ancient tsunamis struck Israel’s port of Caesarea in the past. Concurrently, she also works in the Red Sea’s Gulf of Aqaba to determine how local flood cycles and sea levels have changed over time.

I’m apparently not Goodman’s only big fan. Our editor Nicky, at ISRAEL21c and ISRAELITY, sent me a notice she’d received from National Geographic this week. It went on to state that Beverly, was awarded awarded $10,000 by National Geographic and is one of the media mogul’s Emerging Leaders, “one of 10 visionary young trailblazers from around the world,” the magazine/news channel writes.

The program recognizes and supports uniquely gifted and inspiring adventurers, scientists, photographers and storytellers making a significant contribution to world knowledge through exploration while still early in their careers. Introduced in this month’s issue of National Geographic magazine, you can also see a web feature of Goodman and her cohorts at A few months ago she appeared on a Nat Geo program, too.

“National Geographic’s mission is to inspire people to care about the planet, and our Emerging Explorers are outstanding young leaders whose endeavors further this mission. We are pleased to support them as they set out on promising careers. They represent tomorrow’s Edmund Hillarys, Jacques Cousteaus and Dian Fosseys,” said Terry Garcia, a rep from Nat Geo.

Goodman deserves it and I look forward to reading about her new advances: She knows about water and the forces of nature. She grew up on the shores of Lake Superior at Whitefish Bay in Canada, 17 miles from where the legendary freighter, the Edmund Fitzgerald, floundered and then sank.

She told me poetically, in the ISRAEL21c article: “As much as I love the shipwrecks of the Great Lakes, Israel is different,” she says. “Israel has been a crossroads forever. The time scale is so long. We can get a historical and pre-historical perspective from a long view, while being connected to well-known historical events.”

Read all about Goodman, and her great work on underwater archeology, here at ISRAEL21c.

More Israeli award winners:
Waltz With Bashir Gets Oscar Nod
Israeli Singer Shiri Maimon Wins MTV Prize
Israeli Film Students Come Out As Prizewinners in International Student Film Festival


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