A monthly round-up of news and trends important to the AltaSea community.
AltaSea has scheduled some exciting Live Chats and Webinars over the coming weeks. We hope you will join us for one or all! To sign up for these free online events, please follow the links below.
AltaSea Presents: Where Economic Development Meets Ocean Sustainability – Wednesday, August 12 at 1:00pm
Live Chat with Melodie Grubbs: Beaches as Buffers – Sea Level Rise Science to Adaptation? – Friday, August 14 at 12:00pm
HERE’S THE BLUE DEAL
Many Hues of Blue (AltaSea)
One of the chief ways a healthy ocean can help mitigate the effects of climate change is through its ability to trap carbon, a process often referred to as “carbon sequestration.”
Carbon trapped in ocean stores is referred to as “blue carbon”. Scientists are interested in increasing and developing those stores and creating the potential for stockpiling additional blue carbon. Carbon sequestration is important to our global environment because it reduces the release of carbon into our atmosphere, where carbon is known to contribute to the rising of global temperatures. Further, blue carbon ecosystems have been reported to absorb greater levels of planetary carbon dioxide emissions than land-based forests.
The ocean is the life source of our planet and vital for healthy human societies and a thriving world economy. Over-fishing, marine pollution, and climate change threaten to undermine the environmental health and economic vitality of the ocean unless we take urgent action. To address these issues, students at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) collaborated with World Resources Institute (WRI) to create a series of innovative informational projects.
During the 2019–20 academic year, the class CalArts Collaborates: Design for Non-Profit Partners teamed students and faculty from CalArts’ Graphic Design Program and School of Film/Video.
Deep Ocean Studies Unlock Hidden Secrets (AltaSea)
In spite of social distancing and quarantining requirements of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, scientists from Geoscience Australia, the University of Sydney, and the Queensland Museum, led by Dr. Robin Beaman of James Cook University, have succeeded in conducting unprecedented coral reef mapping and gathering vital environmental data from the depths of the Queensland Plateau off the western coast of Australia.
With an area close to 300,000 square kilometres, this region is one of the world’s largest continental margin plateaus and is known to contain a large variety of reef systems, including more than 30 coral atolls. What’s unique here is that prior to this recent research endeavor, the Queensland plateau had never been explored beyond 800 meters in depth.
Forgotten History: Submarines in Los Angeles Harbor (Geraldine Knatz, Ph.D.)
After construction of the San Pedro breakwater was completed in 1912, Los Angeles outer harbor was used to support U.S. naval operations. As early as 1913, submarines would berth along the San Pedro waterfront. But it was not until 1914 that the Harbor Commission allowed the Navy the use of City Dock No. 1 and part of its transit sheds as a temporary base for submarines. Once the Navy got onsite, however, they expanded to take over much of the pier, transit sheds, including space inside Warehouse No. 1. In some ways, it was a blessing in disguise. With the advent of World War I, ship owners who normally would have brought cargos to Los Angeles were tempted by lucrative offers to shift their vessels to the East Coast trade where the demand was greater. The City of Los Angeles has built its first municipal pier, City Dock No. 1, to handle all the anticipated trade coming through the Panama Canal. But the pier and its Warehouse No. 1 sat empty. With little activity, the city was keen to support the U. S Navy and its continued operations during World War I. Ultimately the Naval facilities on the City Dock No. 1 included not only the submarine base but a submarine training school, a reserve facility, a hospital, barracks, a YMCA and a post office.
For Mick Baron, the giant kelp forests of Tasmania were a playground, a school and a church. The former marine biologist runs a scuba-diving center on the Australian island’s east coast, and rhapsodizes about the wonders of the seaweed’s dense habitats. “Diving in kelp is one of the most amazing underwater experiences you can have,” the 65-year-old says, likening it to flying through the canopy of a terrestrial rain forest. “You won’t find a single empty patch in a kelp forest … From the sponge gardens on the seafloor all the way up to the leaves on the surface, it’s packed with life.”
Or rather, it was. In late 2015, a marine heat wave hit eastern Australia, wiping out a third of the Great Barrier Reef, and the kelp forests Baron had been exploring for most of his life. “We were diving in a nice thick forest in December,” says Baron. “By end of March, it looked like an asphalt driveway.”
Great white sharks swim among us at Southern California beaches (The Los Angeles Times)
On a recent cloudy morning, shark researchers from Cal State Long Beach followed a young white shark as it wound its way along the shore off Del Mar in San Diego County.
Using a drone to spot the animal and an inflatable boat to follow it, they traced the shark’s path across the rocky reef as it darted past surfers.
The footage they captured didn’t represent a rare appearance of the ocean predator among beachgoers, but an everyday occurrence on the Southern California coastline. White sharks, known popularly as great whites, are regular visitors that share the sea with us daily, new studies are finding.
Enlarged spleen key to diving endurance of ‘sea nomads’ (Berkeley News)
Competitive breath-hold divers have only two options to increase their time underwater – through training, they can try to boost their lung capacity or increase their red blood cell count.
Over hundreds if not thousands of years, however, a group of Southeast Asian “sea nomads” known for their deep-diving prowess has evolved a better solution: larger spleens.
The spleen holds oxygenated red blood cells, so presumably an enlarged spleen – those of the sea nomads, or Bajau people, are about 50 percent larger than the spleens of unrelated, non-diving neighboring groups – injects more blood cells into the circulation and makes more oxygen available for basic body functions during prolonged dives.
These Microbes May Have Survived 100 Million Years Beneath the Seafloor (The New York Times)
The South Pacific Gyre is an aquatic nowhere. It’s the spot in the sea that’s farther from land than any other, so devoid of nutrients, life and even continental dust that it’s considered “the deadest spot in the ocean,” said Steven D’Hondt, a geomicrobiologist at the University of Rhode Island.
Yet some 20,000 feet beneath the surface of this watery desert, microscopic creatures have not only found a way to eke out a living — they’ve also managed to weather the inhospitality for many millions of years.
In a paper published Tuesday in Nature Communications, Dr. D’Hondt and his colleagues describe the remarkable revival of a small population of microbes that may have spent the past 101.5 million years ensconced in a slumber under sediments deep below the gyre — only to be roused awake in the lab.
SUSTAINABLE AND INNOVATIVE BUSINESS
We were standing in the pouring rain at Sabang Port, waiting for our turn to board a bangka (a traditional Filipino boat) that would take us to the entrance of the Puerto Princesa Underground River, which runs beneath a cave in Palawan, an island province on the western part of the Philippines. At last our bangka arrived, a trimaran with bamboo outriggers either side of its main hull.
The trimaran is a common sight on Philippine waters. The country pioneered this design in its early warships, then adopted it for its traditional sailboats and fishing boats. As an island nation, the Philippines relies on watercraft – boats, ferries and cargo ships – to transport people and goods across its more than 7,000 islands. But its fleet of cargo and passenger ships are one of the biggest contributors to the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The Sea Farming Sisters in Recovery (Pocket)
The Linda Kate pulls up to Falmouth Town Landing, lobster traps stacked high in the stern and two yellow dogs on deck, tails wagging. She towers over most other fishing boats in the harbor, the gunwales above eye level as Colleen Francke hops down onto the dock. The ocean temperature is in the low 50s, and when the wind blows, the cold cuts through polar fleece.
Three women join Francke and her husband, Brent Nappi, aboard the Linda Kate. They show up in jeans and sweatpants but change into oversized Grundéns overalls and boots. All hands are clad in bulky orange fishing gloves, and all eyes are on Francke. These women are all in recovery, and they are working together on a boat for the first time today.
Capturing Carbon with Underwater Gardening (Kakai Magazine)
Sixty years ago, Tasmania’s coastline was cushioned by a velvety forest of kelp so dense it would ensnare local fishers as they headed out in their boats. “We speak especially to the older generation of fishers, and they say, ‘When I was your age, this bay was so thick with kelp, we actually had to cut a channel through it,’” says Cayne Layton, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania in Australia. “Now, those bays, which are probably at the scale of 10 or 20 football fields, are completely empty of kelp. There’s not a single plant left.”
Since the 1960s, Tasmania’s once-expansive kelp forests have declined by 90 percent or more. The primary culprit is climate change: these giant algae need to be bathed in cool, nutrient-rich currents in order to thrive, yet regional warming in recent decades has extended the waters of the warmer East Australian Current into Tasmanian seas to devastating effect, wiping out kelp forests one by one.
The first thing I see when I enter the United Nations Headquarters building in New York City is Roxy. My dog. The two of us are projected onto a large screen which apparently is part of an international art exhibition. When I see her brown labrador eyes it almost feels as if she was right here with me. Suddenly I’m reminded of how much I miss her.
Today is Sept. 23, 2019, and it’s now been 7 weeks since I boarded the train in Stockholm and began my journey. I have no clue of how and when I’m going to get back home. 3 weeks have passed since the boat Malizia sailed into New York City’s harbour and left the peaceful, constrained life on the ocean. After 14 days at sea we sailed past the Statue of Liberty, stepped ashore in Manhattan and took the red subway line uptown towards Central Park. My sea legs were shaking and all the impressions from people, scents, and noises became almost impossible to take in.
How to teach sustainable habits to kids (Mashable)
In a world of Greta Thunbergs, the ever-looming threat of climate change, and its already disastrous toll, what can you do to ensure your kids understand the state of the world, without overwhelming them, and help them become part of the solution?
The good news is, many young people are already alert to the climate rumblings around them. “They’re more aware today of these broader, complex socio-scientific issues than I think even our generation was when we were younger,” says Carol O’Donnell, the director of the Smithsonian Science Education Center in Washington, D.C.
NOAA unveils 10-year roadmap for tackling ocean, Great Lakes acidification (NOAA Research News)
NOAA unveiled its new 10-year research roadmap to help the nation’s scientists, resource managers, and coastal communities address acidification of the open ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes.
“Ocean acidification puts the United States’ $1 billion shellfish industry and hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk,” said Kenric Osgood, Ph.D., chief of the Marine Ecosystems Division, Office of Science and Technology at NOAA Fisheries Service. “Understanding how ocean acidification will affect marine life and the jobs and communities that depend on it is critical to a healthy ocean and blue economy.”
AltaSea Signs Agreement to Work With Scripps, UCSD (The Los Angeles Business Journal)
AltaSea at the Port of Los Angeles, a nonprofit company focused on the ocean economy, announced Aug. 3 that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the UC San Diego to share resources to support the development of ocean-related projects at both institutions.
AltaSea is building out its 35-acre marine campus in San Pedro under a 50-year lease agreement with the Port of Los Angeles that started in 2017.
The company subleases the property to organizations involved in the blue economy, including Braid Theory Inc.; Blue Robotics Inc.; Holdfast Aquaculture; Montauk Technologies; La Kretz Blue Economy Incubator; Echo Voyager, a division of the Boeing Co.; and the Southern California Marine Institute.
The MOU, signed July 1, will be valid for one year. It will help connect researchers, scientists, students and faculty to AltaSea facilities.
Aquarium of the Pacific announces new president, CEO (Long Beach Post News)
The Aquarium of the Pacific announced a new CEO to replace Jerry Schubel, who is stepping down after guiding the aquarium since 2002 and whose tenure included the opening of Pacific Visions, the facility’s first major expansion in 2019.
Peter Kareiva, the director of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA, will take over as CEO and president of the aquarium, the fourth largest in the U.S., on Aug. 1.
Kareiva “has a wealth of experience and connections in conservation, research, fundraising, and management that will enable him to build upon the qualities that make the Aquarium a world-class institution,” Board Chair Kathleen Eckert said in a statement.