A monthly round-up of news and trends important to the AltaSea community.


Live Chats and Webinars (AltaSea) 

Live Chat with Liane Thompson of Aquaai – “How Robot Fish Can Save the Seas” – Friday, December 15 at 12:00pm


The Oldest Crewed Deep Sea Submarine Just Got a Big Makeover (WIRED)

In early March, a gleaming white submarine called Alvin surfaced off the Atlantic coast of North Carolina after spending the afternoon thousands of feet below the surface. The submarine’s pilot and two marine scientists had just returned from collecting samples around a methane seep, an oasis for carbon-munching microbes and the larger species of bottom dwellers that feed on them. It was the final dive of a month-long expedition that had taken the crew from the Gulf of Mexico up the East Coast, with stops along the way to explore a massive deep sea coral reef that had recently been discovered off the coast of South Carolina.

Our Oceans, Our Future (The New York Times)

“No ocean, no life.” Being a Cousteau, this message was practically written into my DNA. And it’s one I’ve tried to share with the world through my many years of work as an environmental advocate.

Unfortunately, given the dire state of our oceans today, it’s clear that the message hasn’t gotten through to most people.

As we reflect on 2020 — one of the most socially and scientifically difficult years in recent memory — and look for ways to move forward, it’s crucial that we understand this simple fact: Without a healthy ocean we will not have a healthy future.

Researchers think they spotted new whale species off Mexico (Reuters)

Researchers believe they have found a previously unknown species of beaked whale in waters off Mexico’s western coast. If confirmed, the new species would mark a significant discovery among giant mammals.

The team of researchers came upon three unusual specimens while tracking a different, rare species of typically shy beaked whales on Nov. 17 near Mexico’s remote San Benito Islands, about 300 miles south (500 km) of the U.S. border.

“These animals popped to the surface right next to the boat,” said Jay Barlow, a marine mammal biologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego.

Atlantic discovery: 12 new species ‘hiding in the deep’ (BBC News)

Almost five years of studying the deep Atlantic in unprecedented detail has revealed 12 species new to science.

The sea mosses, molluscs and corals had eluded discovery because the sea floor is so unexplored, scientists say.

Researchers warn that the newly discovered animals could already be under threat from climate change.


South Korea to Invest $870 Million Developing Eco-Friendly Shipping (Maritime Executive)

The South Korean government announced a broad initiative to encourage the development of eco-friendly shipping as well as to address marine pollution issues. Discussed as part of a broader countrywide economic planning session, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries and the Ministry of Industry jointly committed to investing more than $870 million between 2022 and 2031 to develop and promote innovative technology for eco-friendly ships.

Named the 2030 Green Ship-K Promotion Strategy it will be linked to the policies of the country’s Green New Deal designed to achieve carbon neutrality.

Seaweed industry stays afloat, seeks growth during pandemic (ABC News)

The coronavirus pandemic has been a struggle for much of American seafood, but at least one sector of the industry has found a way to grow during the crisis — the seaweed business.

Seaweed harvesting and farming, based largely along the rocky and chilly coast of Maine, has grown for several years as interest in foods and nutritional products made with the gooey marine algae have risen in popularity. Like many pieces of the seafood industry, seaweed is highly dependent on the restaurant sector, which made the pandemic a potentially major setback.

But that hasn’t been the case, according to state records and members of the industry.

Seeding the Ocean: Inside a Michelin-Starred Chef’s Revolutionary Quest to Harvest Rice From the Sea (TIME)

There are very few things that Ángel León hasn’t done with the fruits of the sea.

In 2008, as a young, unknown chef, he took a loin from one fish and attached it to the loin of another, using collagen to bind the two proteins together. He called them hybrids and served them to unsuspecting diners at Aponiente, his restaurant in the southern Spanish port town of El Puerto de Santa María, just across the bay from Cádiz. He discovered that fish eyes, cooked at 55°C in a thermal circulator until the gelatin collapsed, made excellent thickening agents for umami-rich sauces. Next he found that micro-algae could sequester the impurities of cloudy kitchen stocks the same way an egg white does in classical French cooking. In the years since, León has used sea bass to make mortadella; mussels to make blood sausage; moray eel skin to mimic crispy pigskins; boiled hake to fashion fettuccine noodles; and various parts of a tuna’s head to create a towering, gelatinous, fall-apart osso buco.


Daniela Fernandez is helping her generation protect the ocean (Yale Climate Connections)

The ocean is home to countless species. But that diversity of life is vulnerable to climate change, pollution, and overfishing.

Daniela Fernandez was horrified when she learned about these threats. She was in college and wanted her generation to make a difference, so she launched the Sustainable Ocean Alliance in 2014.

“It started by being a community of young people wanting to do something for the ocean,” she says. “And in these projects, there were a lot of young people that had ideas for creating revenue-generating companies that would make money, of course, but also help support and protect our ocean.”

So after graduation, Fernandez decided to move to Silicon Valley and expand the nonprofit. It now helps secure mentorship, funding, and connections for companies working on ocean solutions.

For decades, she’s been the unsung hero of California’s coast (Los Angeles Times)

When Californians dig their feet into the sand and marvel at a seascape uncluttered by Miami high-rises or a Jersey-like shore, some might know to thank the state’s hard-fought history of coastal protection.

A unique law, willed into existence by the people of California, declared decades ago that the coast is a public treasure that must be shared by all. Entrusted with this mission is an unusual government agency that has waged many epic battles against the state’s most powerful and wealthy.

One woman has been there since the very beginning.

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