--FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE--
March 18, 2011
EXPEDITION GRANTED: Bigelow Laboratory Researcher Is One of Two National Geographic Contest Finalists
WEST BOOTHBAY HARBOR, ME -- A film crew from the National Geographic Channel visited Bigelow Laboratory in early February to shoot footage of Bigelow Research Technician Dash Masland as part of the 2011 Expedition Granted contest. Masland is one of two finalists competing to win a $10,000 grant to fund a scientific research expedition over the coming year. Masland grew up in Yarmouth, Maine and has a Master's degree in Marine Sciences from the University of New England. As a National Geographic Young Explorerer contestant, she has proposed an expedition to study the dietary habits of endangered Hawaiian monk seals, using DNA analysis to determine why the population is experiencing high rates of juvenile starvation and help develop more effective conservation strategies. Monk seals are the most endangered seal species in the U.S. and one of the most endangered in the world, with only around 1,100 animals left.
"There is, however, one small group of monk seals in the Main Hawaiian Islands whose population is increasing," says Masland. "We need to fully understand the biology and ecology of this small population so we can better monitor its growth and help managers come up with effective strategies to allow seals and humans to coexist."
Masland's competition is Trevor Frost of Richmond, Virginia, who has proposed a project to help park rangers stop wildlife poaching in Indonesia.The contest winner will be determined by the public, who can vote online daily at on the National Geographic Channel contest website. The webpage includes links to Masland's video about her project and more information about the contest. Voting began March 13; the winner will be announced on April 7. ####