A monthly round-up of news and trends important to the AltaSea community.
Deepest Water Found 1000km Down, a Third of Way to Earth’s Core (New Scientist)
Researchers believe that Earth’s mantle may contain many oceans’ worth of water, extending a third of the way to the Earth’s core. This would mean that the planet has a bigger reservoir of water than scientists imagined. This colossal discovery comes thanks to a diamond ejected from a volcano in Brazil 90 million years ago. Scientists investigated imperfections in the diamond and found that it contained minerals that normally come from water. Further research revealed that the diamond also contained a mineral typical of the lower mantel, leading researchers to the conclusion that the water cycle on Earth is bigger than previously thought and extends into the deep mantle. Looks like diamonds are a scientist’s best friend!
Bleached Corals in the Pacific have Started Bouncing Back (New Scientist)
Coral reef researchers from the University of Victoria and Georgia Tech are cautiously optimistic after discovering improvements to dying coral reefs in a remote area of the Pacific Ocean. The scientists examined the normally stunning coral reefs on research trips least year and described the area as “mostly a boneyard of dead coral.” The dying reef was attributed to hot water – mostly from El Niño, the natural occasional warming of the Pacific as well as man-made global warming. Yet, when the researchers returned for further investigation last month, they found signs of improvement. Previously bleached reefs now showed signs of regrowth and color. Additionally, many of the fish that rely on the reef and had been absent appear to be returning. Scientists point to the resiliency of coral reefs and are hopeful that the regrowth will continue.
Scientists from the Chilean Paleontological Expedition have discovered a 66 million-year-old fossilized skull in Antarctica, believed to have belonged to the largest marine predator in the region. “The newfound beast, known as a mosasaur – a Cretaceous-age aquatic reptile that sped through the ancient seas using its paddle-like limbs and long tail — is only the second fossilized mosasaur skull ever found in Antarctica.” Similar fossils from other mosasaurs have been found in North America but it is relatively rare to find them in the Southern Hemisphere. The 4-foot long skull is thought to have come from a reptile whose entire body stretched about 33 feet. Researchers have also found fossilized remains of several different kinds of teeth in a similar area, so more discoveries are possible. Stay tuned!
Going to Great Depths to Illuminate Hidden Underwater Worlds (National Geographic)
As the old adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. That couldn’t be truer for photographer David Doubilet. National Geographic recently featured 10 photos by Doubilet that illuminate a place few people have ever seen. The stunning images were captured at the Gardens of the Queen, a marine reserve off the coast of Cuba that has been described as a “liquid time capsule.” Doubilet uses underwater photography to understand and document the effects of climate change and human intervention on sea life. Check out the article to see these breathtaking photos for yourself.
Sustainable and Innovative Business
Bren Smith, an Ashoka Fellow and the founder of GreenWave, thinks that seaweed – or sea greens, as he prefers to call them – represents a delicious and an extraordinary investment opportunity. Smith and his team have developed a new method of farming for sea greens with the goal of restoring ocean ecosystems, mitigating climate change and creating jobs for fishermen. The sea greens would have many uses; chief among them would be as a sustainable food source for humans. Citing centuries of sea greens consumption in Asia, Smith sees his food start-up as expanding upon an existing foundation. In an interview with Forbes, Smith argues that sea greens represent a unique “triple bottom line opportunity” since kelp is one of the fastest growing plants in the world in addition to being high in protein, low in fat, and loaded with vitamins and minerals. If GreenWave continues to grow, we may be eating a lot more sea greens in the future.
Sustainable Business Will Move Ahead With or Without Trump’s Support (Harvard Business Review)
As President-elect Trump prepares to take office, the only thing we know for certain about his environmental policy is that we don’t know anything for certain. Author and consultant Andrew Winston lays out the case that, with or without government policy, businesses will continue to pursue social and environmental sustainability. The author cites several factors, including the economics of clean tech, a changing climate, the demands of millennials and the increasing momentum for radical transparency and social media sharing. He also cites global commitments and competitive pressure as megatrends that are compelling the business sector to take action on environmental issues, absent from government pressure. Winston’s argument is driven by economics, but his conclusions give environmentalists reason for hope.
Many of us have trouble picturing the height of tall buildings or mountains; even more of us have a hard time imagining ocean depths. The majority of humans have never gone more than 15 feet below the water’s surface so it’s understandable that we may not be able to fully grasp the incredible depth of our oceans. This helpful video uses eye-opening scales, comparisons and contexts to help us understand the awe-inspiring underwater landscape. It is definitely worth a watch!
A team of scientists at University of California, Davis has discovered why some oceanic birds have been eating floating plastic. Scientists had previously hypothesized that the birds ate the plastic because it looked like food. It turns out that the real reason is that the plastic smells like food – or algae to be more specific. It works like this: The algae is food for tiny fish like krill. When the krill eats the algae, the algae emits a chemical called dimethyl sulfide. When the sea birds smell the chemical it means that krill are in the water and it is time to start feeding, so they scoop up the krill and plastic. Biologist Matthew Savoca and his UC Davis team suspect that other birds and marine animals are ingesting plastic for the same reason – which could have serious consequences for those marine animals and the people who eat them.
Consultants Assess Tourism, Job Prospects for San Pedro, Wilmington (The Daily Breeze)
A new study shared last week with San Pedro business owners and residents cites AltaSea and the makeover of Ports O’ Call Village as “landmark developments” that will be critical to the future of a thriving San Pedro. The months-long study, conducted by Economic and Planning Systems, Inc., concluded that AltaSea will play an important role in helping the Harbor area capitalize on the economic development potential of the LA Waterfront. Among the “good news” delivered in the report was the finding that AltaSea “will add more than 700 jobs and could create a green industry ‘cluster’ that will draw other new jobs and office development.” Over the next several years, San Pedro is expected to see new jobs and industrial sectors, new office tenants and employees as well as additional retail and restaurant offerings. We are proud to be part of such a vibrant community that is poised to grow as a leisure and business destination for both locals and visitors.
Californians say Farewell to the Plastic Bag (The Sacramento Bee)
In this post election setting, many environmental and conservation policies are in flux. But the state elections did bring some local results that have immediate benefits for the ocean. California voters approved Proposition 67, the statewide ban on carry-out plastic bags. The ban, which goes into effect immediately, means that grocery, convenience and other retail stores will no longer provide single-use plastic carry-out bags to customers. So, if you forget to bring your own bag to the store, be prepared to pay at least 10 cents for a recycled paper bag or reusable alternative. One more thing to remember when you’re headed out to shop? Yes. But this is great news for the ocean – where many of these plastic bags currently end up.