Walter Munk, referred to as the “Einstein of the Oceans” by the New York Times, has advocated daring exploration, without fear of failure, throughout his 80 year career. His work on wave predictions in World War II led to the first successful Allied offensive of the war and, ultimately, the landings in Normandy on D-Day. He helped us understand ocean currents, tides and deep ocean mixing, wind waves, tsunamis and seismic waves, and rotation of the Earth. His pioneering work in Acoustic Tomography made it possible to measure ocean temperature and currents.
He would, however, be the first to remind you that each success was preceded by frequent failures. At age 96, Munk is about to embark on yet another expedition. The goal is to study the behavior of his namesake, Mobula Munkiana (Munk’s Devil Ray), discovered in the early ‘80s. He has never seen them. A group of scientists accompanied him on the expedition to Cabo Pulmo anticipating the opportunity to study an aggregation of thousands of Mobula Munkiana’s…but they weren’t there! What went wrong?