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


Project Blue aims to give students a voice in supporting Los Angeles as the center of the Blue Economy, an initiative to protect the ecosystem of the ocean and turn to it as a resource for solving challenges such as climate change, energy supply, and food security.

Project Blue is launching with a series of contests for elementary, middle school, high school, and college students. Please see the details below for the Logo, Video, Written Word, and Bookmark contests that students may participate in.

A duly selected panel of judges consisting of respected figures from various industry sectors will review the submissions. Prizes will be awarded at the discretion of AltaSea.

For more information visit Project Blue


These mysterious ‘devices’ keep washing up on Florida’s beaches. Scientists are concerned. (USA Today)

Makeshift contraptions for catching sea life off West Africa are landing on Florida beaches like hobo fishermen, drowning turtles and bashing coral heads in a current-driven journey across the tropical Atlantic.

Called “drifting fish aggregating devices,” or FADs, the sometimes raft-like structures can get sucked into the North Equatorial Current and travel as far as the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and Florida. One was found on Palm Beach this month.

Often made from refuse – oil jugs or bamboo sticks lashed together – curtains of netting dangle beneath them with a reach that can be more than 300 feet deep. They attract fish that gather for shelter or to feed on whatever grows in the artificially created ecosystem.

Scientists gather to study risk from microplastic pollution (ABC News)

Tiny bits of broken-down plastic smaller than a fraction of a grain of rice are turning up everywhere in oceans, from the water to the guts of fish and the poop of sea otters and giant killer whales.

Yet little is known about the effects of these “microplastics” — on sea creatures or humans.

“It’s such a huge endeavor to know how bad it is,” said Shawn Larson, curator of conservation research at the Seattle Aquarium. “We’re just starting to get a finger on the pulse.”

Octopus suckers inspire soft robotic arms (Advanced Science News)

The remarkably agile arms of the octopus are a source of inspiration for the design of autonomous robots. With nearly two-thirds of their neurons residing in the eight arms, these appendages are able to sense and respond to environmental conditions with little to no input from the brain. The suckers, in particular, are incredibly versatile, assisting with sensing, manipulation of prey, and locomotion. This ability to react and adapt to local conditions without the need for a central controller has the potential to revolutionize the field of robotics.

In a recent paper published in Advanced Intelligent Systems, Prof. Hamid Marvi and his colleagues at Arizona State University (ASU) in collaboration with researchers from The University of Arizona, and The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have shed light on the degree to which octopus suckers are controlled by nerves within the arm versus the brain.

Watch This Deep-Sea Sponge Sneeze in Slow Motion (Smithsonian Magazine)

Deep under the sea lies a creature that sort of looks like a ghostly tulip. The glass rope sponge has a cup-shaped, filter-feeding top and a thin anemone-covered stem tethering it to the ground. One of these sponges happened to sit in front of a Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute camera that captured a photo every hour for 30 years.

While reviewing the time-lapse footage from between June 2013 and April 2014, researchers at the MBARI noticed something surprisingly relatable: the sponge seemed to sneeze. 

“Basically, there’s an ‘ahh‘ when the sponge expands and the ‘-choo’ when it contracts those canals,” explains invertebrate zoologist Amanda Kahn in a statement.


Annual Review and Forecast (Sea Technology)

Our partner, Rusty Jehangir from Blue Robotics is featured on the cover of Sea Technology. Check his article out!

Alphabet’s moonshot division unveils its latest project Tidal, which aims to help sustainable fishing (Business Insider)

Google’s latest moonshot is a little different.

Called “Tidal,” the moonshot will involve monitoring fish behavior using underwater cameras and what it calls “machine perception tools,” which can detect and interpret fish behaviors not visible to the human eye.

Google “moonshots” are ambitious, long-term, cutting-edge projects not necessarily (or primarily) motivated by profit.

Run by the enigmatic research and development firm, “X,” Tidal is aimed at safeguarding the oceans and making fish-farming more sustainable.

Turning water into watts (Physics World)

In many ways, the ocean seems like the most obvious place in the world to look for energy.

Water covers about 70% of the planet, and much of it, driven by the Sun, is in constant motion. Surface swells ferry energy from one place to another, while tides and currents, as reliable as the sunrise, move vast volumes of water in very short times. The ocean is essentially a natural engine, converting solar energy into mechanical energy. Hardly surprising, then, that for at least 200 years, visionaries have dreamt of harnessing that constant, reliable motion and using it to power the world.


California’s ‘ocean economy’ is strong, but faces threats from climate change (Daily Breeze)

California’s “ocean economy” packs a powerful punch but it faces serious threats in the face of ongoing climate change, according to a new report, co-authored by AltaSea.

So what exactly is the ocean economy?

The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. defines it as “sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem.” In layman’s terms, that translates to the building of sea walls and breakwaters, offshore oil and gas extraction, ocean-related tourism and recreation and ship building, among other activities.

Parents can’t fix climate change with life hacks — but here are ways to make a real impact (The Washington Post)

The climate crisis is so monumental, its symptoms so horrific — acidifying oceans, raging wildfires, vanishing wildlife — that it’s easy to feel paralyzed in the face of it. For parents raising the children who will inherit a damaged planet, the prospect can feel particularly daunting.

And when families go looking for ways they can help, they might encounter the sort of listicle that often circulates — 10 ways to be a greener parent! 15 tips for eco-friendly parenting! — which might not actually help them feel less overwhelmed. Yes, making your own baby food produces less waste than buying plastic-packaged purées, and riding your bike is preferable to driving, and avoiding red meat is a beneficial environmental choice. But not everyone can make baby food from scratch or bike to work, and suggestions such as “choose locally grown greens” may not be feasible for families living in food deserts. We all know diapers are dreadful for the environment, and although skipping them altogether is an option (one employed by determined souls who want to speed up potty training and probably don’t have carpeted floors), it may not be an approach that your family is prepared to embrace.

Monaco’s Prince Albert II: Oceans are a ‘family heritage,’ with little time to save them (The Los Angeles Times)

When you think of Monaco, it’s hard not to envision opulent resorts, Formula 1 racing, classic cars, luxury casinos, and harbors lined with private yachts, against the glitzy backdrop of the French Riviera.

Yet Monaco’s attachment to oceans extends far beyond its scenery. Despite being smaller than New York’s Central Park, the principality is home to one of the first marine protected areas in the world, a century-old oceanography museum, and the only United Nations marine laboratory.

And for the past decade and a half, the country with the world’s shortest coastline has had an outsized voice in the international community on environmental protections and climate action.


LA Harbor International Film Festival (LAHIFF)

The LA Harbor International Film Festival (LAHIFF) showcases film and video that reflects the harbor and all that it embraces – shipping and commerce, fishing, sailing, water sports, sea life and the area’s rich ethnic and cultural influences – to create a cinematic bridge between the people of the region and the people of the world.

Thursday, March 12 – Sunday, March 15

Warner Grand Theatre, 478 West 6th Street, San Pedro, CA

For more information on schedule and tickets, click here.

Rising Tide Summit (Rising Tides Summit)

While there are no shortage of issues facing our oceans, one thing for certain is that we need action and scalable solutions. This March, influential leaders will gather once again in Los Angeles, CA for the Rising Tide Summit. This will be a gathering of like-minded individuals to discuss how we can all work together and find simple solutions in our everyday lives to drive the large-scale ideas that will move the needle for a healthy ocean.

Our goal is clear and simple. To chart a new course in ocean conservation. With specially curated keynotes, panels, Q&A’s, and workshops, attendees will walk away inspired and ready to take action. Topics include engaging voters, scaling solutions to plastic pollution, turning the tide on coral bleaching, business for a higher purpose, the power of surf therapy, ocean leadership in a time of divisive politics and other priority issues along with a State of our Ocean address delivered by a special guest.

The 2020 Rising Tide Summit is proudly being underwritten by Boardriders Foundation, XPRIZE Foundation, Marisla Foundation, with additional support from AltaSea at the Port of Los Angeles.

Thursday, March 26th and Friday, March 27th from 8:30 am – 6:00 pm

The Plaza at Cabrillo Marina, 2965 Via Cabrillo-Marina, San Pedro, CA 90731

For more information and to register, click here.

City of STEM (City of STEM)

Join AltaSea and all City of STEM partners at the Columbia Memorial Space Center to kick off a month filled with STEM all around Los Angeles. Mobile museums, live music, food trucks, panels and over 100 interactive booths – there’s something for everyone so bring the whole family. This is a FREE event!

As a City of STEM partner, AltaSea will be hosting a presentation by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Education Specialist, Brandon Rodriguez.

Saturday, April 4 from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Columbia Memorial Space Center, 12400 Columbia Way, Downey, CA 90242

For more information, click here.

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