Exploring the Inner Space of the Celebes Sea 2007 Explorers


Michael AW Michael AW
OceanNEnvironment Australia & Ocean Geographic Society
Technical Consultant
Australian Museum and Museum of Tropical Queensland

Michael AW is the founding director of OceanNEnvironment, a charity organization listed with the Registrar of Environment Australia. Since 1985, AW has worked extensively in the “Coral Triangle” — the Philippines, Indonesia, and New Guinea. He has authored several marine natural history books, including the Encyclopedias of Malaysia and Indonesia. He has collaborated with Dr. Carden Wallace in Acropora — Staghorn Corals, one of the most definitive books about these corals in the Indo-Pacific. He also co-authored with Dr. Elizabeth Wood in Reef Fishes, Corals and Invertebrates of South China Sea. His guide series, Tropical Reef Fishes and Tropical Reef Life, are into the third edition. AW is a three-time winner at the World Festival of Underwater Pictures, Antibes. He is also a recipient of two awards from the Natural History Museum BBC Photographer of the Year Wildlife Competition in 2000, and in 2006 he won the Best Winner award in the underwater category.

Over 25,000 of his images have appeared in publications and exhibitions worldwide. He has produced and directed two 24-hour photographic documentaries on the Australian Great Barrier Reef and the coral reef in the Maldives, which have been encapsulated in books and a video documentary for National Geographic. In 2003, he completed Richest Reefs — Indonesia. His 25th book of the sea, Beneath North Slaws, was released in 2006. AW is also the principal author of Essential Guide to Digital Underwater Photography. He recently launched Ocean Geographic, the official journal of the Ocean Geographic Society, and his latest book — An Advanced Guide to Digital Underwater Photography.

Valeriano BorjaValeriano Borja
Marine Biologist
Oceanography Section, Marine Fisheries Research Division
National Fisheries Research and Development Institute
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources – Central Office

Mr. Borja specializes in plankton, especially harmful algal blooms and dinoflagellate cysts. He has participated in several international collaborative projects related to marine biodiversity, such as the Panglao Marine Biodiversity Project (May to July 2004) and Panglao 2005: Deep Sea Cruise – A Survey of the Deep Water Benthic Fauna of Bohol Sea and Adjacent Waters. During the Panglao Project, he joined the diving team for collection of specimens.

Joseph CabaJoseph Caba
ROV Pilot/Technician
Deep Sea Systems International

Joe Caba earned a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo, in 1988. Upon graduation, he was employed with the Lockheed Missiles and Space astronautics division (now Lockheed Martin) for eight years. Subsequently, he co-founded a company to provide subsea remotely operated vehicle (ROV) support, including construction, salvage, archeological, and scientific surveys covering many areas of the globe, including the Gulf of Mexico, Europe, Asia, and the North Pole. 

Nick CaloyianisNick Caloyianis
National Geographic


Lee CaughronLee Caughron
National Geographic

Lee Caughron is an experienced natural history filmmaker who holds BA in film/video production from the University of Maryland - Baltimore County. Caughron worked for the National Aquarium in Baltimore for 16 years and served as the director of video productions for 10 of those years. He is the producer of many films and is the recipient of several industry awards for his work as a producer. His hands-on experiences include video editing and camera work on land, underwater, and in the air.

Richard Michael ColeRichard Michael Cole
Staff Engineer
National Geographic Society

Mike Cole has been an electronics and engineering mainstay of the National Geographic's remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and remote underwater imaging projects since 1978. He supplied field support for the first two National Geographic cover stories done with ROVS: the Hamilton/Scourge wrecks in Lake Ontario and the Breadalbane in the Canadian Arctic. He was one of the first pilots of the low-cost ROVS built by Chris Nicholson for the Geographic Society after these successes. He flew these ROVS on society projects in Bermuda, the Caribbean, Japan, the Philippines, New Guinea, the Marshal Islands, and Russia's Lake Baikal. He rigged deep-sea cameras and lights on Alvin, Mir, and Pisces submersibles on multiple deep-sea vent stories and video programs. He designed the RopeCam remote-baited-video-camera-systems, which have brought back first-time animal images from up to two miles deep in Antarctica, as well as the eastern, western, and central Pacific. Known as "Marvelous Mike," he always has a solution to any electronics failure in the field, once pulling a power supply out of a boom-box to breathe enough life into a dead ROV to get the necessary pictures.

Cabell DavisCabell Davis
Senior Scientist
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Cabell Davis is a senior scientist in the biology department at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and is director of WHOI's Ocean Life Institute.  His general research area is plankton ecology with a focus on zooplankton. He did his PhD research in Woods Hole at the Boston University Marine Program, where he studied the copepods of Georges Bank, a rich fishing ground east of Cape Cod. He has used a combination of biological-physical modeling, field sampling, and laboratory experiments to determine the underlying mechanisms controlling observed distributions of zooplankton species. He co-developed the video plankton recorder, an underwater video microscope with automatic image identification, and has used it to obtain high-resolution data on fragile plankton. He currently is collaborating with MIT engineers in developing a small underwater digital holographic camera for imaging plankton. He is also modeling the impact of climate change on the fisheries ecosystem on Georges Bank as part of the U.S. Northwest Atlantic Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics program.

Caron De MarsCaron De Mars
Environment, Science, and Technology Officer
U.S. Embassy, Manila

Caron De Mars has been in the U.S. diplomatic corps since 2001 and works for the Ocean, Environment, and Science Bureau in the U.S. Department of State. Her assignment in Manila includes work in sustainable fishing, reef protection, and obtaining clearances from the Philippine government for U.S. scientists interested in conducting research in Philippine waters. De Mars has a BS in broadcasting from the University of Wyoming and an MBA from St. Mary’s University. She is a PADI-certified rescue diver and has been diving since 1991.


Adonis S. Floren Adonis S. Floren
Marine Biologist
Silliman University – Angelo King Center for Research and Management

Adonis Floren received his master’s degree in marine biology in 1996 from Silliman University, Dumaguete City, and has been serving the university as a researcher and as part-time lecturer. His interest in marine biology started in his childhood days, when fishing and farming were the ways of earning a living. After finishing college, he worked for an aquaculture firm that introduced him to the minute world of plankton. Having experienced the decline of the aquaculture industry, brought about by pollution and destruction of coastal habitats, he decided to take graduate studies. Since then he has participated in various assessments of coastal marine resources for the establishment of marine protected areas (MPAs) in the central and southern Philippines. He has also participated in three joint oceanographic expeditions in the South China Sea (Joint Oceanographic Marine and Scientific Research Expedition in the South China Sea, or JOMRE) and around the country. He is particularly interested in understanding the spawning and dispersal patterns of fish and invertebrate larvae so that MPAs can be better designed with regard to the ideal size, location, and spacing patterns for survival of these larvae.

Noe B. GapasNoe B. Gapas
Marine Biologist
Curator, Phycology Section
Botany Division
National Museum of the Philippines

Noe B. Gapas has an MS in biological sciences. As a taxonomist of marine plants, such as seaweeds and seagrasses, he also studies plankton of the Philippines. Collecting data on plankton in both marine and freshwater goes hand in hand with collecting algae and seagrasses in various parts of the county. He promotes awareness in conservation of marine and freshwater environments, using plankton as the basis for determining water quality. Gapas is also a part-time instructor in the biology department of Trinity College of Quezon City, teaching marine botany and ecology. At the same time, he is a consultant and advisor on undergraduate theses for various colleges and university students.


Peggy Hamner Peggy Hamner
Staff Research Associate and Co-director
Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence - West
University of California, Los Angeles

Ms. Hamner earned a BA in zoology and an MS in marine ecology at the University of California - Davis. She and her husband, William Hamner, have been a research team since 1972, with a primary research interest in behavior of marine animals, using scuba, research submersibles, and remotely operated vehicles. Ms. Hamner studies marine animals with her husband and helps to direct the Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE)-West program, funded by the National Science Foundation to provide information about current ocean research to the public and K-12 educators and students. She gives marine science presentations to teachers and students, and helps K-12 educators incorporate ocean sciences into classroom curriculum.

William HamnerWilliam Hamner
Professor Emeritus
University of California, Los Angeles

William Hamner received his BA in zoology from Yale University and his PhD in zoology from UCLA.  His primary research interest is understanding the role of behavior in the lives of marine animals.  He uses scuba, research submersibles, and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to conduct in situ studies of undisturbed individual animals in the ocean and to collect undamaged live animals for research in the lab. His research has taken him to Australia, Palau, and Antarctica, and his projects have been featured in four National Geographic Magazine articles and in the IMAX film, The Living Sea. For the past 15 years, Dr. Hamner has been funded by the National Science Foundation to direct professional development programs that train K-12 teachers to use marine science as a tool to teach science and other subjects in their classrooms.

Russ HopcroftRuss Hopcroft
Associate Professor
Institute of Marine Science
University of Alaska, Fairbanks

Dr. Russ Hopcroft is an associate professor at the University of Alaska's Institute of Marine Science in Fairbanks. Dr. Hopcroft received his master’s degree in 1988, and his doctorate in 1997 from the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. His graduate research focused on marine plankton ecology in the tropical waters surrounding Jamaica, West Indies. From 1997 to 1999, Dr. Hopcroft was a post-doctoral Fellow at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), where he was heavily involved in the use of remotely operated vehicles, as well as traditional oceanographic surveys, to study the oceans.

Dr. Hopcroft pursues a broad array of research interests, concentrating on the composition, production, and energy flow of the "lower" planktonic trophic levels that ultimately shape the structure of all marine communities. Since 2000, most of his research has focused on copepod and euphausiid crustaceans in Alaskan waters. He also specializes on the taxonomy, biology, and ecology of larvacean pelagic tunicates, and, most recently, pelagic pteropods and heteropods (snails). He serves on the steering committee of several Census of Marine Life projects: the Arctic Ocean Biodiversity project, the Census of Antarctic Marine Life, and the global Census of Marine Zooplankton. 

Dr. Hopcroft is increasingly recognized for his images of live zooplankton that are widely distributed in the media and on the Web. He is an active contributor to ongoing global efforts to molecularly barcode all zooplankton species. Visit his web site, www.sfos.uaf.edu/directory/faculty/hopcroft/


Erich Horgan Erich Horgan
Research Associate
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Erich Horgan's research interests include the biology of oceanic zooplankton; distribution, morphological adaptation, and ecology of mesopelagic communities; sampling techniques/systems for zooplankton research; laboratory culture of marine invertebrates for research purposes. Horgan knows the taxonomy of many zooplankton groups and is also a multiple opening/closing nets environmental sampling systems (MOCNESS) expert. During the cruise, he will coordinate dive and deck operations.

Talina KonotchickTalina Konotchick
Graduate Student – Biological Oceanography and Marine Biodiversity and Conservation
Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Talina Konotchick received her BS in marine biology from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2004. She is interested in the biogeography of marine invertebrates and how historical and ecological processes have shaped those distributions, with a particular emphasis on physical oceanography. 

Emory KristofEmory Kristof
Senior Photographer
National Geographic Society

Emory Kristof has been a National Geographic photographer since he started working for the magazine as an intern in 1963. He is a specialist in scientific, high-tech and underwater subjects, including deep ocean work beyond normal diver depths. Throughout his career, Kristof has been a pioneer in the use of submersibles and remotely operated vehicles. He created the preliminary designs of the electronic camera system for the Argo vehicle, which found the Titanic. He has documented many historic, deep, or challenging wrecks, among them the Titanic, the Edmund Fitzgerald, the Hamilton & Scourge, the Breadalbane, the 16th century Spanish galleon San Diego, and the interior of the USS Arizona.

His innovative photography uncovers the heretofore-unexplored worlds of deep-sea animals. He was on the 1977 expedition which discovered the deep hot-water volcanic vents of the Galapagos Rift, and has done photography for six stories on the vents and their unusual life forms. He recently teamed with Stephen Low Productions to do the IMAX film Volcanoes of the Deep Sea. He founded the Beebe Project with Teddy Tucker and Dr. Eugenie Clark in Bermuda to bring baited deep water sharks and other animals to submersibles to be filmed and studied. Kristof has worked for years with Chris Nicholson of Deep Sea System to design and build the 10,000-foot Max Rover used on this project.

Chuck FisherNick Loomis
Graduate Student
3D Optical Systems Group

Nick Loomis is a PhD student, studying imaging technologies and algorithms. His current work focuses on digital holographic imaging. In this technique, interference patterns from two laser beams are used to record three-dimensional (3D) information about an object onto a digital camera. The resulting two-dimensional hologram can then be processed computationally to numerically reconstruct the original 3D object. Together with collaborators from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and MIT, Loomis has been applying digital holography to imaging plankton for improved automatic identification, with the end goal of creating an instrument which could be deployed on ocean-going vehicles in the near future.

Laurence MadinLaurence Madin
Chief Scientist — Exploring the Inner Space of the Celebes Sea 2007
Senior Scientist and Acting Director of Research
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Larry Madin is a senior scientist and currently the acting director of research at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.  He grew up in northern California and received his AB degree from the University of California (UC) Berkeley, and his PhD from UC Davis. His main research interests are in the biology of oceanic and deep-sea zooplankton, particularly medusae, siphonophores, ctenophores, and pelagic tunicates. He was among the first biologists to use scuba and submersibles to study oceanic plankton in the early 1970s. Some of his recent research has been on the population dynamics and biogeochemical effects of salp blooms in the Antarctic and elsewhere, distribution of macro-plankton and fishes in the Arabian Sea, biodiversity of oceanic plankton in the Sargasso Sea, and development of new instrumentation for sampling and exploration. Dr. Madin was previously the chair of the WHOI Biology Department, and director of the Ocean Life Institute. He has continuing interests in the biodiversity, ecology, evolution, and conservation of oceanic animals, and in the impacts of climate on marine ecosystems.

As chief scientist of this Celebes Sea exploration, Dr. Madin has been responsible for overall expedition planning. He will oversee activities during the cruise, and coordinate follow-up research on the collected data and samples. After two Antarctic trips, he is definitely looking forward to diving in warm water.

Toshinobu MikagawaToshinobu Mikagawa
ROV Pilot/Technician
Oceaneering International

Toshi Mikagawa is a Japanese native, who came to Deep Sea Systems with a master’s degree in geophysics and seven years of remotely operating vehicle (ROV) piloting under his belt.  He has explored the farthest reaches of the sea, from the Bering Straits to the Mariana Trench, which is the deepest part of the ocean.  Whether it is finding the lost WWII submarine USS Grunion in Alaska or being part of the crew that first discovered the “black smoker” hydrothermal vents in the Indian Sea, Mikagawa is happiest when on the ocean “flying” the ROV.


Hildie Maria NacordaHildie Maria Nacorda
Research/Technical Assistant
Marine Science Institute
University of the Philippines

Hildie Maria Nacorda is a research and technical assistant with the Marine Science Institute-University of the Philippines, working on soft bottom communities for the past 19 years. She graduated in 1996 with an MSc in marine science from the same university, concentrating on the benthos of coral reef sediments. She has participated in various baseline and monitoring surveys, which involved sampling the sea floor with grabs, sieving and extracting organisms from sediments, and identifying the fauna into different taxa. Nacorda is particularly interested in looking at changes within the polychaete worms, because these are used as indicators of environmental conditions. She recently added seagrasses to her list of research interests, joining several coastal resource surveys to identify key areas for conservation, and she shared her skills and experiences during Coastal Resource Management orientations and trainings. She is working on a PhD project that explores the interactions between burrowing shrimps and seagrasses, and she hopes to defend her thesis early in 2008

Mike NicholsonMike Nicholson
ROV Pilot/Technician
Deep Sea Systems International

Mike Nicholson is Deep Sea Systems’ official "monster hunter." He spent three years piloting the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Global Explorer with Dr. Robert Rines, searching the Loch Ness in Scotland for signs of "Nessie." He has also spent many years on offshore on oil rigs and exploring the Arctic Ocean. More recently, he was on the expedition that located the USS Grunion, a WWII submarine lost off the shores of Kiska Island, Alaska.

Gwen NodaGwen Noda
Program Coordinator
Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence - West
University of California, Los Angeles

Gwen Noda earned both her bachelor of science degree in Marine Biology and her master of arts degree in biology (studying the invasive New Zealand mudsnail in California) from the University of California, Los Angeles. Currently, she is the program coordinator for COSEE-West, a National Science Foundation funded K-12 teacher education program, developing ocean-themed classroom curriculum and organizing educational events for teachers. She teaches summer camp in the eastern Sierras and is an instructor for the "Cruising Classroom" field trip program aboard the research vessel SeaWorld UCLA. She also continues to work on issues related to the New Zealand mudsnail, particularly in southern California.

Joseph Christopher RayosJoseph Christopher Rayos
Fishery Biologist
National Fisheries Research and Development Institute

Joseph Christopher Rayos has a bachelor’s degree in fisheries. He has been involved in fisheries research since 2000 and he is now a fishery biologist with the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute, or NFRDI, currently assigned to the Marine Fisheries Research Division. He is conducting studies in larval fish identification and fish early life history science. Previous research involvement includes a shark fisheries assessment in the Philippines, a manta ray (Manta birostris) resource assessment study, fish aging using otholiths, and deep-sea surveys in Philippine waters. He has participated in several international oceanographic and fisheries expeditions in the Philippines and adjacent waters.


Rogelio C. RiveraRogelio C. Rivera
Museum Researcher II
National Museum of the Philippines

Dr. Rogelio C. Rivera works on marine invertebrates (corals) and vertebrates (fishes). He is involved in promoting corporate environmental awareness programs and strengthening resource conservation efforts through responsible public service, transfer of knowledge, and continuous research towards sustainable development.

Filemon G. RomeroFilemon G. Romero
College of Technology and Oceanography
Mindanao State University Tawi-Tawi

Professor Filemon (“Mon”) Romero has been since 1971 a faculty member of the Mindanao State University Tawi-Tawi College of Technology and Oceanography, where he rose in faculty rank as well as administrative functions until he became chancellor from 1989 to 1994. He currently is a candidate for a PhD in environmental science at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, and he is about to defend his paper on “Population Structure of Blue Crabs, Portunuspelagicus in the Visayan Sea.” He has a master’s degree in physical oceanography from the same university. He joined World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Philippines in 1996, serving as director of the Oceans and Coasts Program. His engagement with WWF gave him extensive experience in administration and implementation of projects in marine protected areas, biodiversity conservation, integrated conservation and development projects, coastal resources management, and integrated coastal management. This appointment also gave him many opportunities to travel to various parts of the world. He co-authored Coral Reef Education for Students and Teachers (CREST) and has published 14 papers.

Mely RomeroMely Romero
Director of Research
Mindanao State University Tawi-Tawi
College of Technology and Oceanography

Dr. Mely Romero earned her PhD in agricultural chemistry from the University of the Philippines in Los Banos in 2001. Her dissertation entitled “Physicochemical Characterization and Structure Elucidation of Agars from Selected Philippine Red Seaweeds.” She has been a faculty of the Mindanao State University (MSU) Tawi-Tawi College of Technology and Oceanography in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi Philippines, since 1972. For her master’s degree in biochemistry she did a study called the “Partial Purification and Characterization Acetylcholinesterase of Conus geographus Venom.”

At present, Dr. Romero is the director of research of the MSU-Tawi-Tawi. She also leads the Tawi-Tawi Marine Research and Development Foundation, a group of MSU faculty interested in promoting research and development in marine science and fisheries in Southern Philippines. She has been doing research on seaweeds culture and processing, and she has published nine papers in international peer-reviewed and local journals. She earned the Elvira O. Tan Award for Best Paper in Marine Fisheries, International Publications Awards from the University of the Philippines and from the Mindanao State University.

Gregory S. StoneGregory S. Stone
Vice President for Global Marine Programs
New England Aquarium

Dr. Gregory S. Stone is a marine biologist and a specialist in undersea technology and exploration, using deep-sea submersibles, undersea habitats, and scuba diving in all oceans of the world, with over 5,000 dives. Stone has published in leading science journals, including Nature, he has written popular books and articles, and he has produced an award-winning series of marine conservation films. His book Ice Island won the 2003 National Outdoor Book Award for Nature and the Environment, and he recently authored four National Geographic articles on his work. He was the senior editor of the International Marine Technology Society Journal from 1997 to 2003, is a National Fellow of the Explorers Club, is a recipient of the Pew Fellowship for Marine Conservation and was awarded the National Science Foundation/U.S. Navy Antarctic Service medal for his research in Antarctica. His most recent National Geographic article was on his expedition to study the effects from the Sumatra tsunami on the coral reefs of Thailand. He is an honorary associate professor at the Leigh Marine Laboratory of the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and he chairs the marine advisory council for Conservation International. He was recently credited with leading the effort to create the world’s third-largest marine protected area around the Phoenix Islands in the country of Kiribati and was named one of the National Geographic Society’s Heroes of 2007 for this accomplishment.  

As well as being a scientists and diver on the Celebes Sea expedition, Stone will write the National Geographic article on this project.

Ralph WhiteRalph White
Research Associate
National Geographic Society

Ralph White is an award-winning cinematographer and video cameraman and editor, with over 30 years of production experience and hundreds of motion picture and television credits to his name. He is a Knight, Order of Saint Lazarus and Knight, Order of Constantine for his filming and conservation accomplishments. For more than 25 years, White has served as a contract cameraman for the National Geographic Society, where he and photographer Emory Kristof pioneered the development of advanced remote cameras, 3D video, HDTV, and deep ocean imaging and lighting systems. White has made 35 submersible dives to the wreck of the Titanic, photographing the wreck for the IMAX film Titanica and for the Academy Award-winning film Titanic. He has qualified as a co-pilot on the French Nautile and Russian Mir submersibles, and has been consultant and submersible cameraman for many other feature films and television programs about the deep ocean. His cinematography has won the Grenoble Film Festival Gold Medal, Golden Eagle, Cindy, and Golden Halo awards.