A biweekly round-up of news and trends important to the AltaSea community.
Ship Noises Could Hurt Endangered Killer Whales, Study Finds (Washington Post)
Can you repeat that? Whales are suffering as a result of noisy ships because they use sound to communicate and navigate. A new study finds that not only do large whales suffer, but smaller toothed whales — like orcas and dolphins — are also affected, particularly by higher frequency sounds. Researchers also found some good news: though container ships were loud, military vessels did a good job of keeping quiet. For now, simply slowing down could also reduce noise intensity significantly.
Scripps Oceanography Joins SeaKeepers in Research Pact (Fox 5 San Diego)
The Scripps Institute of Oceanography signed an agreement with the International SeaKeepers Society, a yachting society with a mission to promote oceanographic research, conservation and education. The agreement will allow Scripps scientists, engineers and students to be matched with a yachter to give the researcher opportunities to collect samples, deploy instruments and conduct other research. The SeaKeepers’ “citizen scientists” are eager to support this work.
Plankton Communities Key to Carrying Carbon to Safe Resting Spot, Ocean Study Reveals (Ohio State University)
A new study, resulting from a three-year expedition with over 200 experts, has found that plankton helps remove carbon from the atmosphere, where it contributes to global warming, and deposits it deep in the sea. But it turns out not all plankton are capable of the feat, only those with certain bacterial and viral genes. Researchers were surprised to find that only a handful — less than 10 out of more than 5,000 — viruses were linked to this carbon export ability.
Sustainable and Innovative Business
The ocean is about to make waves in the renewable energy industry. A new company called Oscilla Power, with support from the National Science Foundation, is developing a wave energy harvester called the Triton. Thanks to its sturdy system that requires little maintenance, the Triton has the potential to provide electric power to the energy grid at a price that is competitive with conventional fossil or renewable technologies. The company is still testing the Triton with increasingly larger and more sophisticated prototypes.
A Glove that Lets You Feel What’s Far Below The Water (Popular Science)
These funny looking gloves could help wearers “feel” objects they can’t reach. Inspired by dolphins, they use echolocation to detect objects underwater and provide haptic feedback with pulsing jets of water. The creators designed the glove as a DIY kit in hopes that the glove could potentially be used to search for victims, sunken objects, or hazards like sinkholes. Right now though, they can only receive and send signals from up to two feet underwater.
It turns out many children aren’t getting a good education regarding climate change. The first peer-reviewed national survey of science teachers on whether and how they teach about climate change was published in the journal Science. Among the disappointing statistics, 33 percent disagreed that “global warming is caused mostly by human activities” and emphasize that global warming is “likely due to natural causes.” Additionally, 12 percent specifically downplay the role of human causes and one-third report “sending explicitly contradictory messages.”
Charles Lester, Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission for the last four and a half years, was fired last week. The panel of commissioners voted 7 to 5 in a private session. Those who voted to fire him were escorted out by police amidst a crowd of angry Lester supporters, including many environmental organizations like the Surfrider Foundation. Speculations about the real reason for his firing focus on pressure from developers for increased development along the coastline. “Our beaches are a critically important public commons to be enjoyed by all Californians,” Lester said. “Many of our beloved beaches could be lost — squeezed out between the rising seas and shoreline development.”
Recent high surf is causing major erosion along Southern California shores. Cabrillo beach in San Pedro has been hit especially hard. As the waves wash away the sand they leave behind rocks and hidden sink holes, creating dangerous conditions. A representative for councilman Buscaino says the city is looking into the best way to restore the beach and hopes to come up with a plan in the coming weeks.