Exploration Science Program | Cayman Islands

Exploration Science Program | Cayman Islands

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Mar 08 – Mar 16, 2014

Depart: Grand Cayman, CI
Arrive: Grand Cayman, CI
Length: 9 days
Focus: Intensive Training to become an Ocean Science Explorer




[tab title=”Trip Updates”]

Blog Links

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[tab title=”Team”]


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Dr. Keene Haywood 

Head of Exploration Science

Dr. Keene Haywood is the Director of Education at the Leonard and Jayne Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy and helps direct the Exploration Science Masters program.

His background is a mixture of media production, conservation, and also geospatial and educational technology research. His interests intersect the humanities and natural sciences with a particular focus on the implementation of effective uses of technology in the field to gather data, document research, and disseminating discoveries to the general public.  He has consulted with explorers, video productions, and educators on how to best approach the use of technology in the field.

In the past, Dr. Haywood has worked on deep ocean ROV projects, film projects for National Geographic’s Explorer and Wild Chronicles series, and field projects for The Nature Conservancy and Earthwatch. He has held positions at The University of Texas at Austin, the New Media Consortium, National Geographic, and The Nature Conservancy. He holds a PhD in Geography from the University of Texas at Austin, an MFA in Science and Natural History Filmmaking from Montana State University, a MA in Marine Affairs and Policy from RSMAS, and a BA in Anthropology from the University of Miami. He was elected to the Explorers Club as a Fellow National in 2007 and currently sits on the ESRI Education Community Advisory Board and the board of the PAST Foundation.

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Eric Loss


A native of California, Eric has been on the water since an early age. He has sailed more than 55,000 offshore miles, and has sailed everything from windsurfers to 115′ schooners, and recently he completed a single-handed circumnavigation by way of the great capes. He enjoys teaching all aspects of sailing, from boat handling and dinghy racing to navigation and seamanship. He is always eager to share his knowledge of celestial navigation. Eric has been involved in sail training for most of his life, and is an US Sailing instructor. He holds an IYT Master of Yachts Ocean with commercial endorsement and a USCG 100 ton master’s license. Eric is also an experienced diver and PADI Divemaster.

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Shanley Mcentee


Shanley was born and raised in San Diego, CA and graduated with a BA in Environmental Policy and a minor in Environmental Science from Western Washington University. Having grown up by the sea, she holds a deep passion for Mother Ocean and our ever-growing need for protection and awareness of the problems our environment is facing. She enjoys anything having to do with the sea, from surfing to scuba diving to sailing, and loves offshore passages. She is PADI Rescue Diver certified and holds an IYT Master of Yatchs Offshore with commercial endorsement.

Deckhand and Galley Supervisor

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Nicole Besemer

Nicole is a recent graduate from East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Marine Science and Biology. She moved down to Miami this summer to get a head start on her career within this field. Growing up in New York and Pennsylvania has given her a relative proximity to the ocean, and she always finds a way to get there when possible. Her Dad would take her on his boat as a baby, and that’s where she developed her passion for everything sea related. Between diving, fishing, going to the beach or the boat, she loves spending time on the water and hopes to pursue a career in marine conservation.


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Rebecca Ziegler

Background & Expertise
Over ten years of Irish Dancing and 12 years of orchestra have afforded me leadership and team building skills that I am hoping to build upon by joining this learning expedition.

I am currently a Jr. at the University of Hawaii –Hilo double majoring in Marine Science and Communications. I have 3 jobs on campus: Outdoor EDventure guide, turtle responder and research assistant. I am a PADI dive master , AAUS scientific diver and sub pilot in training. I love everything about the ocean, except what we as humans are doing to it. I love sharks and turtles and hope my career allows me to study and campaign for their survival.

I also hope to become a sub pilot at some point and explore deep seas. I enjoy reading, motion picture soundtracks, geocaching, archaeology, travel, adventure and making new friends from around the world.

Expedition Goals
Im really excited to learn all I can aboard Sea Dragon so I can execute my own expeditions in the future.

More about Rebecca

Read about Rebecca’s experience on board Sea Dragon

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Daniel Kaplan

Background & Expertise
Born and raised in Miami, Fl. I am a junior at the University of Miami where I major in Marine Affairs and minor in Ecosystem Science and Policy. I have a huge passion for the ocean and enjoy being around the water as much as possible. Throughout high school I was a naturalist and counselor at the Key Biscayne Nature Center where I would lead and teach the public during nature walks out into Key Biscayne’s mangrove forests and sea grass beds. For the past two years I have worked as a dock manager and outdoor instructor at Shake-a-leg Miami, which is a handicap sailing club on Biscayne Bay out of a marina in Coconut Grove.

Expedition Goals
I have always had a huge interest in photography and video so I hope to broaden my experience and skill by moving it out on to the ocean and underwater. I aim to learn more about working as a team on a fully equipped research vessel while at the same time have fun and enjoy all that nature has to offer.


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Courtney Sue Anderson

Background & Expertise
Currently a fourth year undergraduate studying Marine Biology and minoring in Photography. I am interested in public outreach of education and how certain age groups accept scientific knowledge. I am currently working with a professor to catalog marine algal species in and around the Rhode Island area into a database.

Expedition Goals
I am very excited for this amazing opportunity! I hope to be able to enhance my photography skills and learn more about the local flora and fauna. I am also excited to dive in a place of the world that has so many incredible features. I’m also looking forward to learning to be a part of a crew on a boat.


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Aneese Williams


Background & Expertise
I currently attend graduate school at the University of Miami, enrolled in the MPS Program: Fisheries Management & Conservation Track. I work at the RSMAS Marine Library and work as a Fisheries research assistance for Dr. David Die. I have a B.S. in Marine & Environmental Science from Hampton University, I desire to specialize in shark research. My future goal is to pursue a doctorate at a major university in the Marine Science field. While at Hampton University I was afforded several opportunities to participate in academic programs such as the Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center (LMRCSC) and the Diversity in Research Environmental and Marine Sciences (DREAMS). As a DREAMS Scholar I co-authored a published book ‘Dream the Ocean Clean’, enjoys volunteering with beach cleanups and working with youth. My undergraduate summer internships include the University of Miami working in the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies (CIMAS) Lab, Howard University performing Marine Forecasting: Operations, Research and Applications in Dakar, Senegal West Africa, the Minorities in Marine and Environmental Science (MIMES) Program at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conducting research on the American Eel Parasitism and research with the University of California, Santa Cruz visiting fishing communities in Mexico, and training in laboratory techniques for DNA extraction, PCR and DNA sequencing. I have also awarded the opportunity to present posters at conferences such as NOAA EPP in Washington, D.C. “Estimating the numbers of fishing vessels with satellite imagery: The West African artisanal fishing fleets” and ASLO in Salt Lake City “Comparing the age and length composition of American eel (Anguilla rostrata) in South Carolina tributaries related to nematode parasitism”. I have publications in titled Multi-site tropospheric ozone measurements across the North Tropical Atlantic during the summer of 2010 and the second is in titled Isolation and characterization of fifteen microsatellite loci in Leopard grouper (Mycteroperca rosacea) via 454 pyrosequencing. Additionally, I have volunteered with FIU – shark research in the Everglades National Park, the City of Fort Lauderdale – sea oat planting on sand dunes, and data entry at Broward County Environmental Protection and Growth Management Department. I have a passion for dance that started at the age of 2 for formal training in jazz, ballet, pointe, tap, lyrical, hip hop and modern. I have continued dancing while at Hampton University as a member in the Terpsichorean Dance Company. I also love volunteering and as a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. I have been servicing my community.

Expedition Goals
I have boating experience but no experience living and sailing on the open waters while observing the marine life. This experience would only enhance my love of the water.


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Ian Tomcho

Background & Expertise
B.S. Environmental Science w/ concentration in GIS
Experience with coral reef ecology and some mangrove/Caribbean ecosystems

Expedition Goals
-Learn about the rigors of offshore sailing and maritime navigation
-Exposure to new technologies and the vessel itself
-To not get sea-sick
-To not get sunburn


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Kimberly Noble

Background & Expertise
– Certified in advanced open water diving
– Certified in underwater photography

Expedition Goals
– Learn seamanship
– Gain a great experience


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Samantha Wishnak

Background & Expertise
Marine science outreach and education coordinator

Expedition Goals
Learning new ways to use a sailboat to encourage citizen science and get people excited about the oceans!


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Victoria Howse (Tori)

Background & Expertise
Co-founder of specialist adventure travel agency Another World Adventures www.anotherworldadventures.com

Expedition Goals
To experience life on board Sea Dragon, get back in touch with my geeky science side 🙂 and get lots of fantastic video footage for future Sea Dragon marketing campaigns!


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Christine DiCecco

Background & Expertise
I am a passionate environmental consultant and advocate of sustainable business. My focus is to conduct research through world exploration in order to inspire others to make better choices through conservation initiatives. My degree is the Bachelor of Environmental Studies at York University in Toronto, Canada. Funding initiatives are a priority for the Youth Climate Report for UNEP in Paris 2015.

Expedition Goals
I am looking to develop skills to collect, to understand and to communicate important data for a variety of research projects to raise awareness through media such as documentaries, photography, research reports, articles, and blogs.


[tab title=”Overview”]

Finding an Excellent Program

Are you a student, graduate or working towards a career in environmental science or ocean conservation and outreach? Are you wondering how you can gain relevant field experience to make your CV stand out above the rest? If so, look no further, as this intimate and unique course will make your CV shine by giving you the skills to lead a real life expedition. Through this program, you will obtain cutting edge information on how best to explore the ocean in order to conduct research or to promote conservation initiatives. Led by an experienced and multidisciplinary team of educators, our Exploration Science Program is specifically designed to prepare scientists to lead open ocean expeditions.

The Key Challenge

The world is ever increasingly changing as it is ever increasingly becoming flat. As this happens we begin to understand how everything is dependent upon key connections that influence not only our cultural views but also the conditions of the planet that sustains us all. In this rapidly changing world, we progressively need experts to understand what changes are happening, the rates at which conditions are changing, and how these changes will impact people and ecosystems. With this in mind, Pangaea Exploration in collaboration with Dr Keene Haywood from the University of Miami has developed a unique program to train scientists in the science of research and world exploration.

How Pangaea Envisions Success

This comprehensive program contains modules that cover the full spectrum of expedition planning from food provisioning to mechanics to emergency response. Areas of emphasis include: International Transit with a focus in Customs and Immigration and Cultural Sensitivity, Navigation and Remote Communication Techniques and Mobile Apps for Data Collection and Emerging Technologies in Scientific Research. So researchers may gain expertise in obtaining funding for projects and raising awareness, instruction will be given on the dissemination of findings through media via audio, video and still photography.

Exploration Science Program in the Cayman Islands

You will get to experience the thrill of sailing across the rich blue of the Caribbean under beautiful trade-wind skies, crashing upwind to the tiny outposts of Little Cayman and Cayman Brac, and then surfing Sea Dragon back down the waves to the bustling port of Georgetown in Grand Cayman. Learn how to become an ocean researcher in a beautiful tropical setting while exploring some of the least visited islands in the Caribbean. From start to finish, crew will provision the boat, develop the itinerary, plan the route and safely sail the boat across the open ocean while developing skills to collect and communicate important oceanic data.

This expedition is open to anyone who would like to gain experience in how to conduct expeditions and may potentially be used to gain credit towards a degree. You will also receive two International Yacht Training certificates (on completion of an exam): IYT Introduction to Boating and International Crew; and VHF Radio Operator.


[tab title=”Course Details”]

We will cover many different areas of information pertaining to operation procedures and planning involved with an ocean passage. You will also receive two International Yacht Training certificates (on completion of an exam): IYT Introduction to Boating and International Crew; and VHF Radio Operator.

All of the different areas and topics to be covered are as follows:

Tech and Media Curriculum

  • Planning and Organizing Media for the Field
  • Audio and Video in the Field
  • Still Photography
  • Mobile Apps in the Field – Data Collection, etc.
  • Data and Media Organization
  • Geo Data
  •  Editing and Data Backing up Procedures
  • Emerging Technologies – ROV, Drones, Balloons, etc.

Logistics and Planning

  • Passage Planning
  • Choosing a Dock/Anchorage
  • Scheduling
  • Permits
  • Spare Parts
  • Fuel
  • Provisioning and Cooking
  • Weather


  • Orientation of the Vessel
  • Watch Duties
  • Line Handling
  • Maneuvering
  • Points of Sail
  • Docking
  • Anchoring
  • Knots
  • Leadership
  • Navigation

Chart Work

  • GPS and Chart Plotter
  • Deviation/Variation
  • Dead Reckoning
  • 3 Point Fixes
  • Radar
  • AIS


  • Main Engine Checks- Oil, Coolant, Belts
  • Outboard Engine Checks and Fuel Quality

Small Boat Handling

  • Starting and Operating a Small Boat
  • Inflatable Dinghy Care, Training to Assemble and Disassemble
  • Manoeuvres (Coming Along a Dock, Vessel and Mooring)
  • Recovering a Person from the Water Using a Dinghy
  • Small Vessel Safety

International Transit

  • Customs and Immigration
  • Health and Agriculture
  • Cultural Sensitivity


  • VHF Radio Usage
  • SSB Radio Usage when Offshore
  • Satellite Phone/Email Service

Safety Procedures

  • Man Overboard Drill
  • Fire Drill
  • Abandon Ship and Life Raft


[tab title=”Apps”]
Apps List


FiMiC Pro
Gives many advanced video controls for iPhones

Enables easy time-lapse video shooting

Extracts stills from video on iPhone


Control GoPro cameras via iPhone, Android or Windows smartphones and tablets

Give video a retro 8mm look – actually used for a feature film

Helps create shot lists for pre-production

Video Space
Utility for calculating how much disk space video files will take up. Useful for desktop and laptop video archiving

Ustream Broadcaster
Enables live video webcasts (need internet connection)


Apple’s video editor for iPhone and iPad

Reel Director
Video Editing


Advanced camera controls

Top Camera
Advanced camera controls

Advanced camera controls

Advanced camera controls

Allows control of shutter speed on iPhone

Enables parts of images to be thrown out of focus

Enables photo and video transfer wirelessly from different devices, particularly Eye-Fi cards.

Stitching software for creating panoramas

Enables reading of EXIF data from photos

Enables reading of EXIF data from photos with some additional features

Enables creation of animated GIF photography. You’ll see what this on the website.


Perfectly Clear (Apple iOS and Android)
Helps clean up images

Diptic (Apple iOS and Android)
Excellent collage creation app

Photogene (Apple iOS)
Photo editing

Colorsplash (Apple iOS)
Enables selective color display on images

DramaticB&W (Apple iOS)
Easily creates black, white and greyscale images

FX Photo Studio Pro (Apple iOS)
Full featured image editing

Snapseed (Apple iOS and Android)
Photo editing and special effects

Most of these need an internet connection to be useful or used.



MapBox and TileMill



NGS GeoStories

Google Earth

Google Earth Tours

GPS Visualizer

There are a number of these. Here are few I’ve tried.

Excellent for charts on iPhone iPads and Android Devices

Renders custom vector maps from official navigation charts

Flexible digital charting app

Navigation app

NOAA charts

Garmin Mobile Apps (Apple and Android)

There are many, many apps in this area. I have something like over 30 installed. I’ve just picked a few here that would be relevant.
NOTE:Many of these require a live internet connection and may not be able to display weather data outside of US waters.

My go to weather app. Lots of information at your fingertips

Downloads wind Grib files for up to date wind conditions and forecasting

NOAA Radar Pro
Nice interface with a lot of information and layers

Hurricane Pro
Excellent hurricane info, tracking and history app

Excellent visualization tool for seeing winds globally. Needs an internet connection. No hard data, just wind.

MyRadar Pro

Nice use of NOAA weather radar data

Nice clean weather info interface

Very good radar app

Provides up to data NOAA warnings and weather for up to five locations

HF Fax (Apple and Android)
Innovative app that converts sound of an incoming weather fax into a digital representation on your iPhone or iPad.

Weather Calc
Good weather and meteorology calculations app

Full featured weather app showing global weather

Shows select news making global weather events

Boating Weather
Quickly shows NOAA weather reports

Yahoo Weather
One of the nicer weather interfaces

Weather Underground (Apple and Android and a few other platforms)
Well known weather service, now available for mobile devices

NOAA Weather Radio
Gives access to not only radio forecasts, but specific radar maps as well

Dark Sky
Predictive rain app. Lots of other weather apps use their algorithm.

Weendy (Apple and Android)
Crowd sourced wind info with user uploaded pictures.

Living Earth
Impressive globe imagery with weather info. Mostly great eye-candy

Cartography, Data Collection and Location focused Apps
Some of these are not appropriate for open ocean use, namely the elevation related apps.

FulcrumApp (Apple/Android)
Excellent data collection app and service. Completely customizable and flexible tool. Allows full data export.

FileMaker Go (Apple iOS)
Full featured relational database for mobile use

CyberTracker – Android
Wildlife Census taking app

Theodolite (Apple iOS)
Innovative tool that uses augmented reality imaging to display a range of data

Pro Compass (Apple iOS)
Full featured compass

Field Notes (Apple iOS/Android)
Excellent field note app with many features

Geo Elevation (Apple iOS)
Measures elevation with nice cross section views

Elevation Chart (Apple iOS)

Measure Map Pro (Apple iOS)
Excellent map measuring tool.

Topo Maps (Apple iOS)
Great for topo map use

MyAltitude (Apple iOS)
Altitude utility app

Earth Observer (Apple iOS)
Excellent general reference tool for earth data. From Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Useful geospatial map measuring tool

Geo Measure
Another good map measuring app, not to be confused with the one above.

Fog of World
Fun game like app that “paints” where you have been on a global map

Pocket Earth
Nice offline map app. There a number of similar apps to this out there.


ESRI ArcGIS (Apple iOS, Android, Windows 8)
Interfaces with ESRI GIS files and ArcGIS Online. Third party developers have used platform to make other apps.

ESRI ArcGIS Online
Online version of ArcGIS (but without many of the desktop features). Require internet connection and modern web browser

GIS for mobile use

Wolf-GIS (Apple and Android)
GIS for mobile use

Full featured GIS for iPhones and iPads

GPS Kit (Apple iOS)
My favorite GPS app


Mobile GIS companion to Cartographica Mac desktop app (See below)

Full Desktop GIS for Mac – Many people wonder if such a thing exits. It does!

No mobile version, but good open source GIS that works on multiple platforms. Alternative to ArcGIS

GPS and Map Toolbox
Provides for various mapping features


Duke Marine Lab Catchalot app



Shark Net

Whale Alert

Chirp! USA
App for birders

Provides recreational fishing info for a variety of species. Good general biology info and images.

WildLab Bird
App for birders

MyNature Tracks
Wildlife track field guide

Audubon Field Guides
Comprehensive field guides

Fishes of the Greater Caribbean
Good fish reference

iBird and iBird Pro
Flagship birding app


There is an increasingly number of apps in this area. Some of these are links to lists of the different projects.

Lists of projects
Cornell University Lab of Ornithology clearing house for citizen science projects



Specific apps

Project Noah
Popular nature photo app

iNaturalist http://www.inaturalist.org

Detailed botanical database


Secchi Disk Project
Measures marine phytoplankton density with secchi disks


Useful for calculating how much sun exposure you can have

Detects large and subtle earthquakes.

Not really a wildlife Guide but has useful boater info

Wikipedia Offline
Useful for having access to Wikipedia without an internet connection

[tab title=”Itinerary”]

March 8:  Students will be picked up by dinghy at the dock and public ramp near the Lobster Pot Restaurant in Georgetown at 3 PM. Everyone will have an opportunity to settle into the yacht, and put away their personal belongings. The captain and first mate will give crew a safety and expedition briefing, followed by basic safety training. After an evening meal, the crew will retire and sleep on Sea Dragon for the night.

March 9:  Students will go out for a morning sail aboard Sea Dragon, before returning to her mooring to explore the waters surrounding the island, from the shallow reefs out to Cayman’s world famous wall, where the bottom drops of from 50 to 1000 feet in a matter of a few hundred yards.

March 10: TBD

March 11:  Sea Dragon will sail 100 miles east to Cayman Brac, the final resting place of Donald Crowhurst’s famous yacht, Teignmouth Electron.

March 12:  The crew will explore Cayman Brac’s reefs and cliffs and conduct their research.

March 13:  The crew will spend the morning in Cayman Brac before sailing to Little Cayman in the afternoon.

March 14:  The crew will explore Little Cayman and conduct their research.

March 15:  The crew will explore Little Cayman and conduct their research, then set sail for an overnight downwind sled ride to Grand Cayman.

March 16:  Sea Dragon will return to her mooring in Grand Cayman, and students are required to disembark by 3PM.


[tab title=”More Information”]

What to Bring:

In addition to the Tropical Kit List, you are advised to bring a smartphone or camera, tablet or laptop, and external storage device.

Please note that Sea Dragon is a dry vessel. No alcohol or cigarettes will be permitted on board.


Contribution Includes:

  • 8 nights accommodation on Sea Dragon
  • All meals, snacks and drinks on board
  • Sailing instruction scientific leadership training
  • Training and education covered in the syllabus
  • Safety equipment and foul weather gear
  • Opportunity to receive IYT Introduction to Boating and International Crew Certificate upon passing of exam

Contribution Does Not Include:

  • Transportation to and from Grand Cayman Island
  • Transportation to and from the dock
  • Additional nights spent ashore
  • Personal expense while in port


Visa Requirements

Students will require a passport from their home country that will allow them to travel to the Cayman Islands. There may be specific visa requirements for students from countries outside of North America. For specific visa information, contact the Cayman Islands Immigration Department.