Ocean of Hope

Guest Post: Lloyd Figgins on Rowing the Atlantic Ocean

Lloyd Figgins ocean rowing
Lloyd Figgins rowing across the Atlantic Ocean

Rowing the Atlantic Ocean – one man’s journey of a lifetime

Lloyd Figgins is an Adventurer with many years of expedition experience, and the lure of a new challenge is never far away for Lloyd. In December 2011, with his rowing partner, David Whiddon, he embarked on a two-man expedition to row 3,200 miles across the Atlantic Ocean. During their mission, Lloyd collected data about the marine life that he encountered.

Here, Lloyd shares with us some of his experiences of his time on the ocean, and his reflections on the vulnerability of marine wildlife, and our responsibility to protect it.


I wanted to undertake some research that would benefit scientific understanding of the marine environment. We had a couple of advantages on this front: We would be travelling away from the main shipping lanes, so we could record sightings of marine life that otherwise might not be captured and we were also travelling slower than most other vessels, so would have more time to identify species.

Our first visitor was a Kemp’s Ridley turtle. It’s worth noting that six of the seven species of marine turtle are classified as threatened with extinction and three species are considered critically endangered, the Hawksbill, Leatherback and our little Kemp’s Ridley. We were therefore delighted that in this particular area just off the Moroccan coast we saw lots of turtles including one huge adult leatherback.

The only species of jellyfish we encountered was the Portuguese man o’war. It was a striking creature, but they pack a nasty sting. We always made sure we had a good look for them before going overboard for a swim.

The other thing we kept a close eye out for were fins. Seeing those would definitely cause us to postpone any overboard activities!

About 500 miles off the Moroccan coast we were visited by a 3.5-metre (11.5 ft) short-fin Mako shark, who followed the boat for a while before deciding against having an ocean rower for dinner. It was only when I got back to the UK that I discovered that between 1980 and 2010 there had been 42 recorded attacks by Mako sharks on humans.

A few weeks later we spotted another shark following the boat and this we were able to positively identify as a Thresher shark. Both Thresher and Mako sharks are considered vulnerable to extinction, so being able to record these sightings was satisfying.

About a week into the row we were visited by our first pod of dolphins. They are the most remarkable creatures and they seemed as curious about us as we were about them. From every direction they appeared – Atlantic Spotted Dolphins! They were swimming at the speed of the boat and looking up at us from just a few feet below the surface.

Finally, we were lucky enough to spot exceptionally rare pygmy killer whales, which, despite their name, are in fact dolphins. Little is known about them, but it is thought that a number of factors have caused a 30% global decline in their numbers over three generations.

It was a privilege to have such close interactions with so many species and it’s encouraging to know that the data we collected with be distributed to the scientific community.

Lloyd can be reached at www.lloydfiggins.com, twitter @lloydfiggins, Facebook www.facebook.com/LloydFiggins

Guest Post: 5 Most Dangerous Sea Creatures

sea wasp
Box Jellyfish photo from Wikipedia

Author Bio: Alina Jones is a content writer. She is a parent of two kids.
Her interests are Films, Travel, Entertainment, Technology and Eco Living. She is a professional blogger from London and has written many articles on Entertainment, Finance and Health. She is now doing research on uk border agency contact.

Sailing on the deep seas is one of life’s pleasures. However, one needs to consider taking security measures as there are numerous dangers that lurk in the sea. The sea harbors some of the most dangerous animals on earth. The 5 most dangerous sea creatures are: the box jellyfish, the saltwater crocodile, the blue-ringed octopus, the great white shark and the stonefish.

The Box Jellyfish
-Is also known as the sea wasp.
-This creature is transparent so it is hard to see coming.
-It is deemed the most dangerous of all sea creatures.
-It uses its tentacles to sting venom into its prey.
-Can kill a higher number of people than sharks, crocodiles and the stone-fish combined. One species has killed 64 people since 1883.
-Its venom kills in 2 to 5 minutes.

The Saltwater Crocodile
-Is the largest of all the reptiles in the world.
-They are found in Northern Australia, Eastern India and South East Asia.
-They are opportunist s, which means that they feed on anything that presents itself. They kill their prey by biting, ripping them apart, and then swallowing them.
-They are very swift even on land.

The Blue-ringed Octopus
-Is very small and grows up to about 8 inches in length.
-Its venom works by causing paralysis and breathing difficulties. It can kill a human in about five minutes, and has enough venom to kill up to 30 people.
-There is no known anti- venom for this creature.
-It only bites when and if provoked. The bite may not be noticeable. Some people only realize that they have been bitten when they feel numbness in the area.
-It is mostly active at night. During the day, it burrows in sand.

The Great White Shark
-Is the largest predatory fish in the sea.
-It feeds on high energy prey such as marine mammals, including elephant seals. When they bite, they wait for the prey to bleed to death, bite them, and then swallow them.
-After they feed, they may live for up to 3 months without the need to feed again.
-They attack humans out of curiosity and humans may die from their injuries, not because the shark wants to feed on them.
-They are usually active during the day.

The Stonefish
-It grows up to about 12 inches long.
-It is deemed to be the most poisonous fish in the world.
-It is a master at camouflaging . This makes it very dangerous as you may not notice it until you touch it.
-It lives along the coast in shallow waters and often resembles a rock.
-Its venom is in its sharp dorsal fins. The dorsal fins are so sharp that they can penetrate a shoe.

Ocean Treasures Film Festival

Stanford University
Ocean Treasures Film Festival

This Saturday, May 18 2013 is a FREE Ocean Film Festival at Stanford University. It is called the “Ocean Treasures Film Festival.”

“We may not be able to bring the Stanford community to the ocean en masse, but through the spring Ocean Treasures Film Festival we can create an experience that brings the power of the ocean to them – an experience that fosters intimacy, education, and empowerment.” – Mel Lane Student Grant Team Leads: Lida Teneva and Cassandra Brooks

Co-sponsored by The Coastal Society – Stanford Chapter, the Center for Ocean Solutions and the Mel Lane Student Grants Program of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment

Program in brief:




FILM-MAKER PANEL 7:30-8:00pm
Jon Shenk – Stanford graduate and producer of The Island President
David McGuire – Director of Sea Stewards & Shark filmmaker
Cassandra Brooks – Stanford doctoral student and researcher for The Last Ocean

Share a glass of wine and bite of cheese with the film-makers!

For more information, download the flyer: Ocean Treasures Film Festival flyer

Guest post: Beach Chair Scientist

Ann McElhatton blogs at Beach Chair Scientist. Follow her on Twitter @bcsanswers and Facebook “Beach Chair Scientist”

Ann has defined what it means to be a 21st century armchair scientist. She finds creating opportunities that make marine science accessible to the general public (those without science degrees or in the science field day-to-day) to be a very rewarding experience.

The following pictures are 5 Favorite Finds of an Atlantic Coast Beachcomber:

Beach Chair Scientist

Beach Chair Scientist

Beach Chair Scientist

Beach Chair Scientist

Beach Chair Scientist

Guest post: Maria Kruk of Species.com

Guest post Maria Kruk of Species.com
Sea otters photo by CA Dept of Fish and Game

Climate change affects all wildlife, including marine animals. Specifically, some species have already been put on the list of the most vulnerable wildlife due to global warming. Among those listed are different species of whales and sharks. They have lived in harmony with their aquatic environment for millions of years, and in the coming decades they are going to face important milestones.

Blue whales, blue sharks, and sea turtles are among the many species that are experiencing population declines and habitat loss. The distribution of marine predators might decrease by 35%, while the habitat of some marine birds and tuna species might decrease by 10-30%, according to scientific observations of some American and Canadian biologists.

The sea turtle population is declining for several reasons. Sea turtles prefer to lay eggs on the beaches that are in danger of becoming submerged by sea level rise due to climate change. Additionally, the sex of sea turtles’ offspring depends on the local temperature. Females are born in warmer climate conditions, while male turtles appear in colder conditions. Global warming will likely cause more females to be born, and possibly cause decreased (or increased) reproduction rates.

Sea otters may actually help with climate change (See previous post “How Sea Otters Fight Global Warming). Surprisingly, these small marine mammals can save larger predators! James Estes and Chris Wilmers, professors of biology from University of California at Santa Cruz, have distinguished sea otters as possible helpers in the reduction of carbon dioxide from the air. Sea otters are keystone species, and their consumption of sea urchins keeps the kelp growing in kelp forests. The kelp then absorbs carbon dioxide 12 times more than if sea otters were not around. The scientists collected data from the last 40 years from sea otters living around Vancouver Island and up north to the Aleutian Islands.

The problem of climate change will not solely be solved by the sea otters’ help, but it is a good example of how managing one animal population might reduce carbon dioxide in an entire ecosystem.

To reach Maria Kruk, visit Species.com