AltaSea: Trending – May 12, 2021

AltaSea: Trending Newsletter

May 12, 2021 Edition

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

Dear Friends,

AltaSea is an applicant with The Buscaino Community Grants program. If we win, we can make this year’s Blue Hour: Ocean of Inclusion event free to the public! Selection is determined by community vote. Community Voting Period: May 10, 2021 to May 31, 2021. Help AltaSea expand our Project Blue programs that currently reach over 8,000 students and life long learners. Please vote for AltaSea!


Blue + Green 2021 webinar series (AltaSea)


The Ocean Decade – Ten Years to Save our Oceans and Our Planet (AltaSea)

When the United Nations (UN) published its first world ocean assessment in 2017, the report’s overarching conclusion was that humanity is running out of time to start managing the ocean sustainably. As a response, the UN established the years from 2021 to 2030 as the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, or the Ocean Decade for short. AltaSea is proud to be selected as a Partner Organization for this movement.

The Energy Observer Docks at AltaSea and Showcases Zero-Emissions Hydrogen Power (AltaSea)

On April 28th, the first zero-emissions ocean vessel to be completely self-sufficient in energy production docked at AltaSea in the Port of Los Angeles. The catamaran, named the Energy Observer, creates and stores its own hydrogen, solar, wind, and hydro power onboard. The Energy Observer advocates for the future of renewable energy and serves as a floating laboratory for the ecological transition needed to restructure humanity’s relationship with our planet.


Humanity’s greatest ally against climate change is Earth itself (The Washington Post)

Spring has returned to the California coast, bringing with it abundant sunshine and calmer seas. Storm-tossed sands settle. Nourishing cold water floods in from offshore. It is time for a climate superhero to emerge.

Giant kelp is among the best organisms on the planet for taking planet-warming gases out of the atmosphere. Buoyed by small, gas-filled bulbs called “bladders,” these huge algae grow toward the ocean surface at a pace of up to two feet per day. Their flexible stems and leafy blades form a dense underwater canopy that can store 20 times as much carbon as an equivalent expanse of terrestrial trees.

And when the fierce waves of winter come and kelp is ripped from its rocky anchors and washed out to the deep sea, that carbon gets buried on the ocean floor. It may stay there for centuries, even millennia, locking away more greenhouse gases than 20 million American homes use in a year.

Stunning DDT dump site off L.A. coast much bigger than scientists expected (The Los Angeles Times)

When the research vessel Sally Ride set sail for Santa Catalina Island to map an underwater graveyard of DDT waste barrels, its crew had high hopes of documenting for the first time just how many corroded containers littered the seafloor off the coast of Los Angeles.

But as the scientists on deck began interpreting sonar images gathered by two deep-sea robots, they were quickly overwhelmed. It was like trying to count stars in the Milky Way.

The dumpsite, it turned out, was much, much bigger than expected. After spending two weeks surveying a swath of seafloor larger than the city of San Francisco, the scientists could find no end to the dumping ground. They could’ve kept going in any direction, they said, and uncovered even more.

New laws to block sea level rise (The Los Angeles Times)

Last year, California’s massive wildfires were impossible to ignore. Four million acres burned. People and animals died, homes were lost, power faltered for days at a time, air quality deteriorated, the sky over San Francisco turned orange.

And yet as massive a challenge as wildfire presents — especially as we face another drought year — a different climate crisis could rival it as a destroyer of the California dream: sea level rise.

Most of California’s economy and its people — over $2 trillion in GDP; 68% of the population — are located in its coastal counties. Rising seas pose “a serious and costly threat” for those counties, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, which in 2019 estimated a 7-foot rise by the end of the century.

Disasters linked to sea level rise could be “ten times the scale of the worst wildfires and earthquakes that we’ve experienced in modern California history,” according to Patrick Barnard, lead author of a 2019 U.S. Geological Survey study published in the journal Nature. Rising seas could displace half a million Californians at a cost of more than $150 billion by 2100, with 150,000 people and $30 billion in property at risk before 2050.

There is, however, a window of opportunity to do for sea level what we mostly failed to do for fire — learn and apply the lessons of preparedness sooner not later.


Our Next Battle Is Already Here (CSQ)

We’re at a pivotal time in our world’s history. We are finally starting to get past the pandemic that devastated many lives. To get here, we—both as a nation and the world—needed to come together, unified, to win this battle.

Thanks to trusting science, good leadership, and public-private partnerships, we are slowly getting back to normal with the vaccine rollouts. Now, it’s time to fight the next looming enemy that threatens the entire human race: climate change.

Easier said than done, of course. But there’s never been more momentum behind fighting the climate crisis than there is now. From local city councils all the way up to the Biden/Harris White House, we’ve seen a new emphasis on climate change.

Bill Gates has proposed a simple yet realistic plan in his latest book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, to cut our current carbon emissions from 51 billion tons to zero, all by 2050, thus avoiding the looming and catastrophic climate disaster.

What’s Good for the Ocean May Also Be Good for Business (The New York Times)

Marty Odlin, who grew up and lives on the Maine coast, remembers what the ocean used to be like. But now, he said, “It’s like a desert and just within my lifetime.” In the last few years, he said, he has seen lots of sea grass and many other species virtually disappear from the shoreline.

Mr. Odlin, 39, comes from a fishing family and has a passion for the history of the ocean and the coast, both of which have informed his sense of the ocean’s decline, a small part of the catastrophic deletion of marine life over the last several hundred years.

Using his training as an engineer, Mr. Odlin has decided to try to reverse that decline with his company, Running Tide, which is based in Portland. Using a combination of robotics, sensors and machine learning, he is building an aquaculture operation that is selling oysters now and eventually clams. He is also using that system to grow kelp, with the goal of producing enough of this seaweed to pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and permanently sequester it by burying it on the ocean floor, and sell carbon offsets.

Ocean Tech Innovation Needs a (Nonfinancial) Capital Injection (The Liquid Grid)

Ocean tech startups live and die by their ability to innovate quickly and grow. No one would argue against the claim that a tech startup needs money to fuel this growth. Whether it’s to buy equipment, pay salaries of staff, or purchase raw materials, financial capital is critical for success. But there is such a strong focus on trying to find investors, grants, and other sources of funding that sometimes entrepreneurs forget about other forms of capital that are equally if not more important for ocean tech innovation.

The ocean tech startup community could certainly benefit from more financial capital, but for tech startups that build their businesses around disruptive innovation, more emphasis needs to be placed on two oft forgotten ingredients that fuel innovation: social and human capital.

‘World’s most powerful tidal turbine’ gears up for operation (CNBC)

A tidal turbine weighing 680 metric tons and dubbed “the world’s most powerful” has been launched from the Port of Dundee in Scotland, marking another significant step forward in the development of the U.K.’s marine energy sector.

Scottish firm Orbital Marine Power said its 2 megawatt (MW) turbine, the Orbital O2, would now be towed to the Orkney Islands, an archipelago north of mainland Scotland, for commissioning. The plan is for the turbine to then be connected to the Orkney-based European Marine Energy Centre, where it will become operational.


High School Research Mentorship Program (AltaSea)

Ocean-related education is a vital component in preparing all students for Ocean STEM fields and our emphasis is on building a talented, diverse and inclusive workforce. Project Blue is AltaSea’s Ocean STEM program that includes a wide variety of learning resources and internship opportunities. The Project Blue virtual Research Mentorship Program for high school students will focus on Sustainable Aquaculture and Ocean Energy solutions. Upon completion, students will receive 20 volunteer hours of service helping them achieve an optimal college application packet.

The students will be expected to develop a research project analyzing a mutually agreed upon Ocean STEM topic. They will work closely with an AltaSea staff member and with dedicated scientific mentors over the duration. Students will fulfill the program by writing a scientific research paper representing their evaluation of the chosen topic. This paper will be published on AltaSea’s

Project Blue education website and will be made available as a research resource for other students interested in marine science.

The program begins June 14, 2021. Applications are due May 28, 2021. For more information or to apply, click here.

Postdoctoral Scholar Position: Hydrodynamic Modelling and Wave Energy Technology R&D (Pacific Marine Energy Center)

The Pacific Marine Energy Center (PMEC) at Oregon State University is recruiting a post-doctoral scholar to support our cutting-edge marine energy research, development, and testing programs. PMEC has a number of exciting multi-disciplinary R&D projects on the go and is looking for an inquisitive, self-motivated, and passionate PostDoc to join our team. Learn more and apply here.

XIII Convención Internacional sobre Medio Ambiente y Desarrollo (LAMI)

From July 5-9, LAMI is organizing the US delegation out of LA to participate in the 2021 international environmental conference in Cubambiente, Havana, Cuba. The conference consists of eight simultaneous congresses with several thousand participants from around the globe, hundreds of workshops and presentations, especially from Spanish speaking nations. There is simultaneous translation into multiple languages. In addition to the conference, we’ll organize trips to: National Aquarium (Acuario Nacional), several museums, University of Havana- Marine Sciences Center, Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM), a hospital (where we’ll deliver much needed medical supplies we bring), and a school. We will also plan meetings with as many of the Cuban mass organizations as possible (the Federation of Cuban Women [FMC], the Confederation of Cuban Workers [CTC], the Union of Farmers and Peasants [UNAP], etc.

For more information, click here.


Data and Collaboration at the Heart of Ocean Health (

Climate change is taking a heavy toll on ocean health. Collaboration across industries, sectors, governments, and professions is a must. This begs the question, what are the challenges to accelerating action to mitigate climate change in the oceans? What role can AI play in this?

I recently moderated a panel Using Technology to Monitor and Protect Oceans and Coastal Communities for AI LA’s Earth Summit which brought together a diverse range of voices to discuss the future of sustainability and ways in which AI can be used to make an impact.

The panel included a range of ocean technology experts including Dr. Ersin Uzun, General Manager and Vice President at Xerox PARC. Jenny Krusoe, Founding Executive Director at AltaSea. Yanis Souami, Founder and CEO of Sinay, and Paul Holthus, Founding President and CEO of the World Ocean Council.

The man who found the Titanic is on a new quest (CNN)

In a career that’s spanned more than 60 years, Robert Ballard has conducted over 150 underwater expeditions and made countless significant scientific discoveries.

But the renowned oceanographer says he’s made peace with the fact that he will probably always be known as “the man who found Titanic.”

According to Ballard, his mother predicted he’d never be able to escape that “rusty old boat” when he called to tell her he’d located the famous shipwreck in 1985.

In his upcoming memoir, “Into The Deep,” Ballard recalls walking into the premiere of the 1997 movie “Titanic” with the film’s director James Cameron, who turned to him and said: “You go first. You found it.”

On Earth Day 2021, Marine Life Thriving at Port of Los Angeles (The Port of Los Angeles)

From the skies above to the sea below, marine flora and fauna are flourishing at the Port of Los Angeles. A new ecological study, released on Earth Day, shows more than 1,000 different species of fish, birds, invertebrates, algae and marine mammals are thriving in San Pedro Bay — the same waters that serve as the nation’s busiest container port complex.

“We’re seeing many more species than we have in the past,” said Los Angeles Harbor Commission President Jaime Lee. “This study confirms we can maintain a healthy harbor that supports robust aquatic life and grow international trade that supports people and jobs nationwide at the same time.

“Our charge is to manage the Port and its resources in the best interests of the people of California,” Lee added. “This includes protecting the ecology of our harbor.”

The “2018 Biological Surveys of the Los Angeles and Long Beach Harbors” is the fourth comprehensive biological survey jointly conducted by the Port of Los Angeles and neighboring Port of Long Beach, also located in San Pedro Bay, since 2000. The study is a detailed snapshot of marine life in the harbors, and the findings are compared with previous studies and regional trends in Southern California waters to assess the health of the Bay.

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