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Dr. Sylvia Earle to lead Oceanic Society Expedition in Belize

Legendary marine scientist and scuba diver Dr. Sylvia Earle will lead an Oceanic Society expedition from January 30 – February 6, 2010 to Blackbird Caye EcoResort on Turneffe Atoll in Belize to introduce a new private protected area and present her new book, The World is Blue.

The trip will benefit conservation work at Turneffe Atoll – the most biologically diverse and largest atoll in the Western Caribbean. The newly dedicated 150-acre nature reserve sets aside for preservation nesting beaches for sea turtles and crocodiles, and a caye littoral forest important for migrating birds and nesting Crowned Pigeons, a threatened species. This private conservation initiative represents a contribution to ecological sustainability through a conservation agreement set up by Blackbird Caye EcoResort and the nonprofit marine conservation organization, The Oceanic Society.

The Earle-led expedition includes daily guided scuba diving and snorkeling along healthy reefs as well as presentations on current scientific findings on preserving marine resources and what can be done to protect our oceans.

As Scientific Advisor for the Oceanic Society’s Turneffe Atoll Biodiversity Project, Earle and resident marine biologists will accompany the excursions to identify reef life, share insights about fish behavior, and lead discussions on marine ecology. Scuba divers will explore the renowned dive sites at Turneffe, while snorkelers will visit specially selected sites offering views of coral reef life in shallow, protected waters. A highlight will be a day-trip to Lighthouse Reef Atoll including exploration of the Blue Hole’s unique stalagmites made famous by a Jacques Cousteau documentary, and the nearby Half Moon Caye Natural Monument, a bird sanctuary whose dense vegetation provides habitat for thousands of red-footed boobies and frigate birds.

Dr. Earle is President of Deep Search International, Explorer-In-Residence at the National Geographic Society, the Advisory Council Chair for the Harte Research Institute, and formerly the Chief Scientist of NOAA. Called “Her Deepness” by the New Yorker and the New York Times, a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress, and Time Magazine’s first “Hero for the Planet,” Sylvia Earle is an oceanoe-byher, explorer, author, and lecturer. She is a graduate of St. Petersburg College and Florida State University with MA and PhD from Duke University and 17 honorary doctorates. Author of more than 170 publications, her research concerns the ecology and conservation of marine ecosystems, with special reference to marine algae and development of technology for access and research in the deep sea.

The Oceanic Society’s primary mission is to protect endangered wildlife and preserve threatened marine habitats worldwide. The Society works to establish protected natural areas, supported and sustained through scientific research, in cooperation with local communities. The Oceanic Society operates a Field Station and Research Center on Blackbird Caye which serves as a center for scientists conducting conservation research at Turneffe Atoll.

Accommodations at Blackbird Caye EcoResort are comfortable, air-conditioned deluxe, superior and standard cabanas. The all-inclusive cost except for equipment and airfare begins at $2190 per person for snorkelers in a Standard room, and $2,390 per person for divers. Superior rooms run $2,290 and $2,490 while Deluxe Suites run $2490 and $2,690. The owners of Blackbird EcoResort have pledged a $20 per visitor donation to the newly-established Turneffe Preservation Fund which serves to protect the ecological integrity of the atoll and assist with protecting traditional sustainable livelihoods. Revenues from the expedition will also help support the work of the Oceanic Society’s research station on Blackbird Caye, as well as the work of Dr. Earle’s Deep Search Foundation which is dedicated to exploring and protecting the Earth’s oceans.

For further information, interested parties should call Oceanic Society Expeditions toll-free at (800) 326-7491, or (415) 441-1106 or visit www.oceanicsociety.org

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