(Blue whale) Poo’s clues @NatGeo

Blue whale poo! Photo by Asha de Vos

Blue whale poo! Photo by Asha de Vos

My latest blog on National Geographic is up and ready for your eyes! It’s all about whale poo – why I am so fascinated by it, what it tells us and why it is important! The world is too beautiful to overlook these little (butt) nuggets – portals into a different world!

Check it out here :) http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/author/ashadevos/



Help us raise funds to save blue whales and be eligible for these gifts!

A blue whale dives to the depths of the Northern Indian Ocean off the southern coast of Sri Lanka

A blue whale dives to the depths of the Northern Indian Ocean off the southern coast of Sri Lanka

I am running a crowd-funding campaign on OpenExplorer for various reasons, but mostly because I think there is power in numbers. The more people get involved in important conservation causes like this, the more likely we are to succeed. This work is so essential if we are to stop this unique population from getting killed by ships and I need all the help I can get! Over that period I will be collecting essential data that will help us identify the best options for preventing any more blue whales from getting killed in the busy shipping lanes off southern Sri Lanka. I will also be taking photographs of the whales that will be included in The Sri Lankan Blue Whale Photo-identification catalogue that will ultimately help us understand how many whales there are in this population (and therefore how much at risk they are, particularly in light of growing ship traffic in the region) and we will also try out a few new and exciting things that will be revealed as we go along.

Please consider helping this research in any or all of the following ways.

1. Sign up to follow me as I prepare for my expedition on https://openexplorer.com/expedition/savingbluewhalesfromshipstrike. OpenExplorer functions both as a crowd funding platform and as a field journal so you can follow my journey from preparation to debriefing. I will be posting videos, photos and stories from the field so you won’t want to miss out! You can also follow me on my blog at www.ashadevos.com and all other social media. Just tune into Asha de Vos!

2. Contribute, if at all possible. Right now we have collected $1,000 of our $20,000 goal and could use every penny. You can contribute directly through my open explorer page at https://openexplorer.com/expedition/savingbluewhalesfromshipstrike/contribute.

3. If you would like to gift a larger amount, your company offers matching funding if you donate to a 501 3(c) or you would simply prefer to donate through a 501 3(c), please contact me at whalessrilanka@gmail.com so I can pass on the details of our fiscal sponsor (Indy Inc.).

To say thank you and entice you, we have a list of gifts! (If you contribute, please send an email to whalessrilanka@gmail.com!)

$1.00 – $1,000,000.00 – Your name will be listed on our blog under ‘donors’ (check out the awesome list of people)! (ashadevos.com/?page_id=448)

$35.00 – A postcard of a photo taken during one of our field seasons in Sri Lanka

$200.00 – An exclusive t-shirt from the Sri Lankan Blue Whale Project with a handwritten postcard

$500.00 – Adopt a blue whale! We will send you a photograph of the whale that you adopted with all relevant metadata

$1,700.00 – Exclusive gift for students of marine biology! Join the expedition for a month in Sri Lanka (gift is exclusive of transport to the field site)

$3,000.00 – Fly out to Sri Lanka and join me on the water for a day. Learn what we do and experience it first hand! (gift exclusive of flights and accommodation in Sri Lanka)

$10,000.00 – Come join us for a week on the water (gift exclusive of flights and accommodation in Sri Lanka)

All gifts will be dispatched on a quarterly basis (if you donate now — look out for your gift in March 2015)

Are you following us on OpenExplorer?



Did we forget to tell you that we have a page on OpenExplorer? It allows us to keep a field journal so all of you can follow the entire upcoming expedition and donate to make it a reality!

Sign up to get automatic updates on our upcoming expedition to save blue whales from getting killed by ships in Sri Lanka at https://openexplorer.com/expedition/savingbluewhalesfromshipstrike and see what gifts we have instore for our generous donors!

Please share the mission so we can have the world following us over the next few months. Also, please subscribe to this blog for other related updates! I promise to keep it interesting…and as a teaser, next week I will build my very first underwater robot (OpenROV) and I will be posting lots of photos and videos as we go along! Stay tuned! :)

Shipping strife in Sri Lanka by Nsikan Akpan

Global shipping traffic

Map of global shipping lanes (Grolltech, Wikimedia (CC))

Good news! The editors at “The Why Files,” a national science education site in the US coordinated by the University of Wisconsin, will be publishing Nsikan Akpan‘s video on my work. Nsikan is a science writer who has had his work published in the likes of Science mag and Scientific American.



Follow the expedition through our OpenExplorer page!

Photo credit: Sopaka Karunasundara

Blue whale in Colombo harbour, draped on the bow of a container ship. Photo credit: Sopaka Karunasundara

I have just launched our OpenExplorer page! Through this you can follow our next field expedition through regular logs, videos and photos…Most importantly – you can donate and help Save Blue Whales from getting killed by ships in Sri Lanka!!!!

So many exciting things planned for all of you so please follow this page and circulate so I can make this field season a reality!!!


New publication: Surface circulation and upwelling patterns around Sri Lanka

New publication!


Much focus on circulation and upwelling around Sri Lanka has been limited to the southwest monsoon period. This paper describes the general circulation patterns throughout the year with an emphasis on the much understudied northeast monsoon. While this paper was written with a desire to understand the environmental influences on aggregations of blue whales on the south coast of Sri Lanka during this monsoon, we believe it has application in a number of fields related to the marine environment. As such, we chose to publish in the journal Biogeosciences that increases accessibility to researchers, particularly in the region, through its open access policies.

A pdf of the paper is available here http://www.biogeosciences.net/11/5909/2014/bg-11-5909-2014.pdf

ABSTRACT Sri Lanka occupies a unique location within the equatorial belt in the northern Indian Ocean with the Arabian Sea on its western side and the Bay of Bengal on its eastern side and experiences bi-annually reversing monsoon winds. Aggregations of blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) have been observed along the southern coast of Sri Lanka during the NE monsoon when satellite imagery indicates lower productivity in the surface waters. This study explored elements of the dynamics of the surface circulation and coastal upwelling in the waters around Sri Lanka using satellite imagery and numerical simulations using the Regional Ocean Modelling System (ROMS). The model was run for 3 years to examine the seasonal and shorter term (~10 days) variability. The results reproduced correctly the reversing current system, between the equator and Sri Lanka, in response to the changing wind field: the eastward flowing Southwest Monsoon Current (SMC) during the Southwest (SW) monsoon transporting 11.5 Sv (mean over 2010- 2012) and the westward flowing Northeast Monsoon Current (NMC) transporting 9.6 Sv during the Northeast (NE) monsoon, respectively. A recirculation feature located to the east of Sri Lanka during the SW monsoon, the Sri Lanka Dome, is shown to result from the interaction between the SMC and the Island of Sri Lanka. Along the eastern and western coasts, during both monsoon periods, flow is southward converging along the south coast. During the SW monsoon the Island deflects the eastward flowing SMC southward whilst along the east coast the southward flow results from the Sri Lanka Dome recirculation. The major upwelling region, during both monsoon periods, is located along the south coast resulting from southward flow converging along the south coast and subsequent divergence associated with the offshore transport of water. Higher surface chlorophyll concentrations were observed during the SW monsoon. The location of the flow convergence and hence the upwelling centre was dependent on the relative strengths of wind driven flow along the east and west coasts: during the SW (NE) monsoon the flow along the western (eastern) coast was stronger migrating the upwelling centre to the east (west).




A new approach to saving the whales

Why save whales? Photo credit: Ryan Lash.

Talking about why we need to save whales at TEDGlobal, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo credit: Ryan Lash.

I had the privilege of talking on the TEDGlobal stage last week and follow it up with a blog piece for NatGeo NewsWatch. While the talk is not yet up, I would encourage you all to read this short piece http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2014/10/07/a-new-approach-to-saving-the-whales/ and let me know your thoughts!



The Oceans need you: 2014 JCI Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World



For my research and outreach efforts over the past many years, I have been nominated as a finalist for the 2014 JCI Ten Oustanding Young Persons (TOYP) of the World….In order to win, I need your votes!

It’s a pretty simple process and I would love your support.

Go to: http://www.jci.cc/toypvote

Click on my profile and scroll to the bottom and hit the LIKE button

Once you have voted — please circulate either via Facebook or email and feel free to add in this link http://ashadevos.com/?page_id=215 that lists all my video, radio and print related awareness raising related to the ocean!

Every vote counts and together, we can make the difference! Thank you!