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San Diego Chapter Summer Log

San Diego Explorers Club – Summer 2022 Log Submission

by Charlene Glacy MN’09

Ghana Flag Expedition 2022

Holding flag #210 at Atewa Ridge, Ghana L to R Elaine Cook, Char Glacy, and James Ntakor

From April 13 to May 3, Char Glacy MN’09 carried Flag #210 on an expedition to Ghana. Char Glacy and Elaine Cook, both seasoned birders and James Ntakor, one of Ghana’s best bird guides spent three weeks assessing the current state of vulnerable and threatened avian species. They initiated this project because the Upper Guinea forests are one of the world’s 25 most biologically diverse and endangered ecosystems and they had concerns over forest degradation due to agriculture, charcoal production, mining and illegal logging.

The avifauna in Ghana includes a total of 773 confirmed species as of August 2021. We established a baseline of the potential avian species in Ghana and using that data we further identified 12 specific species that are currently designated as Vulnerable, Threatened, Near-threatened or having Insufficient Data to determine a rating by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). While we determined those 12 species would be our specific targets, we also thoroughly documented all the avian species we observed or heard at every location we surveyed. The team recorded a total of 370 observed and/or heard birds and documented over 50 detailed location reports that included day, time, GPS, weather, number of species, along with photos and audio recordings.

On June 14 Char conducted a flag return and gave a presentation on her expedition to the San Diego Chapter. Members present were Tim Radke M.D. MN’13, Explorers Club Board of Directors, Judy Radke M.D. MN’17, David Dolan MED’03, San Diego Chapter VP of Programs, Nancy Nenow MN’04 Chapter Secretary, Steve Elkins FN’16 Chapter Chair Southern California, Tom Lamb FN’13, LeRoy Dorman FN’00, David Press LM18, Paul Ruiz SM’17, Paula Selby MN’18, and Daniel Dolan SM’08.

Returning Flag #210 at the San Diego Chapter Dinner Meeting. L to R David Dolan, Nancy Nenow, Char Glacy, Steve Elkins, and Tim Radke

Baja Expedition 2022

Continuing Walter Munk’s legacy of daring exploration and discovery…Baja Expedition 2022 was sponsored by Walter Munk Foundation for the Oceans (WMFO). It included a team of marine scientists, PhD and Master’s candidates, and several Explorers Club Members (Chris Verlinden FN’19, Paula Selby MN’18, Dimitri Deheyn FN’17, Mary Munk MN’17) studying the ecology and conservation of Munk’s pygmy devil rays, Mobula munkianas, in the Gulf of California off La Ventana, Baja California Sur. We were joined by Italian ecologist, Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara, who discovered the species in1983 and named it for his teacher and mentor, Walter Munk, dubbed “Einstein of the Oceans” by the NY Times. Giuseppe, who only had access to dead rays caught by the fishermen at that time, said that “Having the blissful opportunity of being in the water surrounded by a multitude of happy Munkianas swimming around me was something quite different, as you imagine. That experience provided me with a sense of accomplishment for having introduced the species to science through my formal description, because I realized that by describing it I have managed, perhaps unwittingly, to also diffuse its extraordinary beauty and natural value.” Giuseppe added, “It was a heartwarming experience, providing even more value to my initial efforts so many years ago.”

Kelly Zilliacus, M.S. (UC Santa Cruz Project Manager of the Conservation Action Lab) and Marta Diaz Palacios (Ph.D. Candidate at Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias Marinas (CICIMAR)) led the Team of extremely capable and passionate young scientists carrying forward the baton of the commitment to understand and care for Munk’s devil rays. As part of her Master’s Thesis, Marta discovered the first nursery area for Munk’s pygmy devil rays at Espiritu Santo Archipelago, Mexico, and the potential importance of shallow bays during early life stages for the conservation of this species. ( Description of first nursery area for a pygmy devil ray species (Mobula muniana) in the Gulf of California, Mexico published January 8, 2021).

Dimitri Deheyn, PhD, a leading marine biologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, is studying the environmental and social economic impacts of microplastics globally, trying to understand the broad distribution of microplastics in our oceans, lakes and rivers. He is serving on PhD Committees for Mads St. Claire, founder of Women in Ocean Science and founder & CEO of Blu Wild, as they work to understand the level of microfibers in Mobulas and fish in general.

We are all planning to be back next year to continue studying the behavior of the Mobula munkianas in honor of Walter Munk’s legacy!

Mobula jumping 6’ to 8’ out of the water. Photo by Paula Selby

The Baja Expedition Team from L to R: Giuseppe di Sciara, Abel Trejo Ramirez, Carl Glowienke, Paula Selby, Patricia Cowett (WMFO Board Member & Retired Judge), Nerea Lezama Ochoa, Mads St Clair, Melissa Cronin, Marine Bruges, Dee Verlinden, Chris Verlinden,

Kelly Zilliacus, Josh Stewart, Felipe Cuevas, Mary Munk, Juan Cuevas, Martin Amador, and

Marta Diaz Palacios

Other San Diego Chapter happenings include an “Explorers Salon" hosted at the home of Nancy Nenow MN’03 and David Dolan Med’03 on Tuesday, May 17th. Explorers Club Fellow, Rocky Mountain Chapter Chair and our good friend Jeff Blumenfeld FN'89 spoke about his latest book, "Travel With Purpose: A Field Guide to Voluntourism." David and Jeff paid a visit to the San Diego Air & Space Museum while he was in town.

David Dolan MED'03 and Jeff Blumenfeld FN'89, both Contributing Editors of the Explorers Journal, shown here in front of a replica of Charles Lindbergh's "Spirit of St. Louis" at San Diego's Air and Space Museum. It should be noted that Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis was built in San Diego by built by Ryan Air. SD Chapter Secretary Nancy Nenow MN'04 reports that when her father, John Neyenesch, Sr. was 28 years old, he, personally witnessed Lindbergh flying his brand new plane out of San Diego on his way to St. Louis, New York and then across the Atlantic and onto Paris for his record-breaking feat of being the first person to fly across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe.

Doc White MN'14 continues work on his book not yet published, "Baja to Bering - The Perilous Beauty" and associated documentary that follows Doc and Ceci White on their incredible journeys. Photo right is the cover of Doc's book and shows a Polar Bear floating alone on an ice sheet. The rate of current ice melt in the Arctic is threatening their ability to feed and survive. Photo by Doc White.

At ECAD gala, this picture features from left to right Amber Sparks (MN'14), Emily Hazelwood (MN'14), Ami Everett (MN'21), and Jacqueline Rosa (MN'21). Amber and Emily, co-Presidents of Blue Latitudes Foundation (BLF), were awarded as part of "The Explorers Club 50 People Changing the World Who the World Needs to Know About."

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