Michael Carvalho Announces 2024 POLEs Expedition – The Intersection of Science, Policy & Education

A uniquely powerful collaborative effort engaging coastal polar surveys, glacial ice diving, advanced imaging marine engineering, marine food web ecology science, and environmental policy assessment comprise POLEs under the leadership of Dr. Angel Yanagihara (Explorers Club Fellow, polar diver, and University of Hawaii research professor). This Citizen Science Antarctica Expedition will focus on the study of Plankton Observations of Lifecycles and Ecobiomes (POLEs).

Phase 1 Antarctica 2024

In Phase I Antarctica 2024, Michael Carvalho, an environmental attorney, Explorers Club National Member and expert polar ice SCUBA diver, will embark on his third Polar expedition and second expedition to Antarctica, in Feb – March 2024, leading the environmental policy assessment of POLEs in the Southern Ocean and Antarctic Peninsula. Mr. Carvalho will serve as the Senior Science Policy Advisor to The Explorers Club Flag Expedition’s scientists who will assess food web dynamics correlating aspects of increasing rates of glacial run off, temperature and decreased salinity with the complex biodiversity and population densities of foundational microplankton, the predators and prey of krill, a pivotal food web member upon which so many higher polar life forms depend. Specifically, scientists, researchers, and explorers on the team will collect and document microscopic plankton species, eDNA samples, physical oceanographic data, and underwater photogrammetry.

A unique aspect of the POLEs Expedition is the well-planned deliverables. The scientific data will inform a policy assessment paper that Carvalho will be preparing as a critical deliverable of the POLEs Flag Expedition.

Mr. Carvalho has experience serving as a Delegate for North America to the United Nations Environment Assembly, and his expertise will provide critical assessment of the Science-Policy Nexus of The Treaty of Antarctica (Madrid Protocol). This work is important because scientists will be assessing whether the policy goals are being met halfway through the fifty-year life of the Treaty. The policy assessment will include recommendations for improvements to better reflect the current science in the Southern Ocean and Antarctic continent.

About the Scientific Work – The Intersection of Science, Policy and Education

The types of scientific research that will take place on this expedition are diverse and include:

Live Plankton Photomicroscopy allows immediate identification of known planktonic species, as well as documentation of novel species of microscopic freely swimming plants and animals or “zooplankton and phytoplankton” which have not been systematically studied in shallow Polar coastal environments. Thus, the POLEs Flag Expedition is an historic and pioneering effort made even more valuable by the inclusion of a longitudinal element over 4 distinct phases in which biodiversity data will be gathered over the course of a multiple-year time series. This work will be directed by University of Hawaii research professor and Explorers Club National Fellow, Dr. Petra Lenz, with assistance from Dr. Angel Yanagihara.

Community DNA allows the identification of organisms comprising a community at a specific time and location. Samples will be collected, preserved, and analyzed using conventional PCR and other molecular biological approaches such as metabarcoding, meatranscriptomics, and single cell RNA sequence analysis under the direction of Dr. Lenz. Additionally, Environmental DNA (eDNA) samples will be prepared using NOAA protocols and banked for future analysis.

Physical Oceanography is the field of study that deals with mechanisms of energy transfer through the sea and across its boundaries, and with the physical interactions of the sea with its surroundings, especially including the influence of the seas on the climate of the atmosphere. The Expedition will assess the complex physical interplay between wind, waves, water density, and pressure by using special sensors to collect water samples from various locations along the Antarctic Peninsula. Glacial run off nascent coastal zone sea temperature, salinity, and geochemistry will also be assessed in GIS mapping surveys to correlate with the biodiversity effort and eDNA collections. The team’s efforts will be supervised by Evan Kovacs, Explorers Club National Fellow, inventor, and former researcher from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Underwater Photogrammetry involves SCUBA divers using square meter frames to photograph existing features for later analysis at multiple, geolocated positions.

The outcomes of this work will allow scientists to gain a better understanding of existing conditions, comparison to previous studies, and establish a data set that will form a baseline for comparisons in subsequent Expeditions. The eDNA collection will be replicated in subsequent years in the Arctic and Antarctica to track changes. The results of the POLEs Expedition will be shared with students in the Gulf of Maine who are disproportionately affected by Climate Change.

How You Can Help

To realize the full educational potential of this expedition, the Expedition is looking to raise $50,000. The Expedition has established a giving fund through the University of Hawaii Foundation. Your tax-deductible contribution will provide staff time for Expedition planning, sampling equipment, and curriculum development.

Michael Carvalho, who will be leading the Science-Policy efforts will self-fund his travel and vessel costs, but assistance is needed to support the science educational objectives of this Expedition.

For more information, please call Michael Carvalho at (678) 354-0066 or send an email to mpc@carvalholawfirm.com.



Cayman Islands Government Responds to Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) Impacts

By Michael P. Carvalho, Esq. and Christopher J. Miller, B.S., M.S Eng.

November 6, 2023 – Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD) is a deadly coral disease affecting over twenty-five species of hard coral resulting in rapid tissue mortality and death of entire colonies. The disease was first reported on Florida’s reefs in 2014 and has subsequently spread throughout multiple countries in the Caribbean, to include the Cayman Islands, due to its high transmissivity. SCTLD causes lesions to appear on hard corals following increasing bleaching events associated with dramatic increases in surface water temperatures caused by Climate Change. Infected corals rapidly lose live tissue and entire colonies can be wiped out in weeks to months (Precht et al 2016). The Cayman Islands government is particularly concerned about the spread of SCTLD from Grand Cayman where the disease is now widely established to Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, where SCTLD has not yet gained a foothold.


Stony coral tissue Loss Disease diver inspectionThe cause and method of SCTLD transmission are currently unknown but are the subject of intense research. Previously, researchers believed that SCTLD is a bacterial pathogen that grows rapidly and is transmitted by direct contact and ocean currents. (Aeby et al, 2019). More recent research suggests that a viral pathogen may be disrupting the coral-zooxanthellae symbiosis, a type of photosynthesis algae living in coral tissues. (Landsberg et al 0202; Work et al 2021). There is no known cure for SCTLD, which has a mortality rate of 60%-100% (Precht et al 2016), although studies are underway to determine whether topically applied antibiotics may be effective.


SCLTD negatively affects coral density and species diversity, reducing the overall health of coral reefs and resulting in significant degradation to coral reef ecosystems. The loss of coral reefs (already imperiled by rapidly warming ocean surface temperatures and physical damages from intense weather events) affects not only the health of the reef, but also the myriad of economic interests they support. Such interests include tourism, coastal protection, food, and recreation, among others impacts. In the Cayman Islands, tourism is a mainstay of the economy, accounting for approximately 70% of GDP. (Moody’s Analytics, www.economy.com/cayman-islands). With the main sources of income in the Cayman Islands consisting of financial services, tourism and real estate sales and development, the loss of once pristine coral reefs upon which much of the tourist economy is based, would be devastating to the economy.



Antibiotics for coralAll hands-on deck. Local governments throughout the Caribbean are collaborating with regional and international partners to continue to study the causes and effects of SCTLD on coral reefs. The Cayman Islands Government Department of the Environment (DoE) is “…actively training volunteers on disease identification and how to use treatment options while expanding our citizen scientist reporting efforts to engage the public in helping us identify diseases coral.” DoE regularly collects samples for epidemiological research and applies topical treatment of Amoxicillin + Base2B on affected corals within defined study areas. (doe.ky/marine/sctld.).


The Cayman Islands government is also engaged in efforts to grow new coral using fragments harvested from healthy reefs and grown on “coral trees” suspended in the water column in nurseries. https://missionblue.org/2017/03/cayman-islands-coral-nursery-conservation-program/

Coral treeDoE is actively engaging scuba divers and fishers who are being relied upon not only of their ability to identify and report diseased corals, but also to avoid transmission of SCLTD by disinfecting dive gear and bilge water, as pathogens may survive on for extended periods and can transmitted to other locations. Disinfection can be achieved through using a 1% bleach solution, ammonia-based disinfectants, or antibacterial dish soap. DoE requests that divers and snorkelers consider renting local dive gear, avoid visiting healthy sites after visiting diseased sites, disinfecting gear between sites, and disinfecting bilge water between Grand Cayman and the Sister Islands (Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac) at least one-half mile offshore and away from coral reefs.

For further information:

Tammi Warrender is the Lead Coordinator of the SCTLD Response Project.  She can be reached by email: Tammi.Warrender@gov.ky

Report SCLTD and submit photographs: SCTLD Report Caribbean.

Urgent issues should be reported to the SCTLD hotline at +1-345-926-0680.


Michael P. Carvalho, Esq. is an environmental attorney representing a wide range of clients in environmental and real estate matters nationally and internationally. He is a former environmental consultant and serves as President of Carvalho & Associates, P.C with offices in Boston and Atlanta. He can be reached at mpc@carvalholawfirm.com.

Christopher J. Miller is a former environmental consultant and currently serves as Director of Natural Resources of the Town of Brewster, Massachusetts.

Virtual Expedition to Antarctica with Michael Carvalho


Join photographer Michael Carvalho for a live Zoom presentation on his travels and photography in Antarctica. The lecture will take place online via Zoom on Saturday, February 20, 2021 at 2:00PM. Registration is required in order to receive the Zoom link. Register on the library calendar.

Michael Carvalho is a National member of The Explorers Club (TEC). Founded in New York City in 1904, The Explorers Club promotes the scientific exploration of land, sea, air, and space by supporting research and education in the physical, natural and biological sciences. The Club’s members have been responsible for an illustrious series of famous firsts: First to the North Pole, first to the South Pole, first to the summit of Mount Everest, first to the deepest point in the ocean, first to the surface of the moon—all accomplished by our members. TEC’s mission is to inspire exploration and the protection of wild places, from our backwoods to our oceans, mountain peaks and distant galaxies – while sustaining a spirit of fellowship among explorers and the scientific community.

Carvalho was elected to become a member of TEC following his successful 2018 Scuba Diving Expedition to Antarctica, and his work as a Delegate to the United Nations Environment Program for North America at the UNEA-4 Summit in Nairobi, Kenya in 2019. “Exploration opens the mind to the wonders of the world, “ said Carvalho. “I am deeply honored to be elected to The Explorers Club and committed to advancing the mission of this remarkable Community.”

Michael Carvalho is president of Carvalho & Associates, P.C. with offices in Boston, MA and Atlanta, GA. He specializes in environmental law, including litigation, regulatory and transactional matters. He can be reached at (678) 354-0066 or mpc@carvalholawfirm.com.

Michael Carvalho named Chairman of National Council on Science and the Environment

Washington, DC — In a forum last week attended by more than 600 scientists and policymakers from around the globe, The National Council on Science and the Environment (NCSE) named Manchester law firm founder Michael P. Carvalho as chairman of its board of directors.

Carvalho’s affiliation with NCSE — a nonprofit organization founded 30 years ago to improve the scientific basis for congressional environmental decision-making — began when he was “a young lawyer” in Washington, D.C. In 1997, he became involved with its EnvironMentors Program for at-risk students nationwide, and has continued in deepening capacities ever since.

In an interview with the Times, he said he was back in D.C. last week and while there had dinner with “folks from Sonoma.” Hearing their stories of trauma and tragedies through the recent onslaught of massive fires and mudslides in California, once again confirmed his belief that climate change is the most urgent issue facing the planet.

 “The intensity of storms is overwhelming,” he says, “our infrastructure and stormwater management can’t stand up to it. Just look at the cars destroyed in the flooding last month at Gloucester High School. Unprecedented.”

Carvalho, an environmental and energy attorney, previously served as NCSE Vice Chair, and chaired the EnvironMentors Program — to which he remains passionately committed.

The program has mentored thousands of underrepresented high school students “from D.C. to a Yakama Indian reservation” in pursuing degrees and careers in science, technology, engineering, and math, while enhancing their research, critical thinking, and communication skills.

Carvalho, recalling that his passion for environmental issues began as a Boy Scout in Boxborough, said that when the local public water supply was contaminated by toxic chemicals, the ensuing showdown between WR Grace and the town proved a watershed moment in his young life.

It inspired him to fight back on these issues. he said. At the University of Massachusetts Amherst, he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science with a concentration in environmental policy in 1987.

From there, it was law school at Michigan State University, “cleaning up environmentally contaminated sites by day and studying by night.”

Before founding his own law firm in 2004, Carvalho served as in-house environmental counsel to First Chicago-NBD Bank (now Chase) and General Motors Corp., prior to relocating to Washington, D.C., where he was a partner with O’Connor & Hannan, LLP, representing American and international clients in environmental transactional matters.

Now with offices in Boston, Atlanta, Detroit and D.C., Carvalho’s firm has for more than 20 years assisted in environmental regulatory compliance, permitting, acquisition and redevelopment of environmentally distressed properties, as well as litigation in state and federal courts, obtaining multiple, record-setting verdicts and judgments.

The firm also works on renewable energy purchasing agreements and power generation for its clients, as well as advising on environmental matters related to resource development and transmission, including environmental impact statements, NEPA, and compliance.

Carvalho is particularly proud of the NCSE’s negotiation of an agreement with France to honor the nation’s commitment to the Paris accord.

“Politics should not be part of science,” and vice-versa, he says.

Now, he will helm an organization, which, among other things, has played an instrumental role in stimulating a National Science Foundation initiative to triple its annual budget for environmental research, education, and scientific assessment.

While an advocate for science, NCSE does not take positions on environmental policies, but specializes in programs that promotes collaboration between individuals, institutions and communities.

Carvalho’s teaching and lecture credits include serving as an instructor at Wayne State University’s Graduate School of Chemical Engineering, Mercer Law School, Georgia State University Law School and Emory University School of Public Health and Emory Law School. He serves on the Board of Editors for ICSC’s “Retail Law Strategist, as well.

He also routinely provides national training in environmental site assessments, federal brownfields law, and numerous related regulatory matters. And, he’s a certified divemaster and rescue diver, and teaches scuba diving to adults and children.

Married and the father of two, Carvalho has sailed the waters of New England, the Great Lakes, Florida, the Caribbean, and the Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific. This Feb. 15, he will set out with “ninety like-minded idiots” (scientists, photographers and naturalists) on an exploration of Antartica. They will spend the better part of a month on a Polish ice breaker studying sea level rise, and he will spend a good deal of that time scuba diving and writing a paper about his experiences.

“I’ve done plenty of cold water diving,” said Carvalho, “But nothing like this.”