A monthly round-up of news and trends important to the AltaSea community.
Lost sea creatures wash up on California shores as ocean climate shifts (The Washington Post)
The Pacific Ocean off the California coast is mixed up, and so are many of the animals that live there.
The violet, thumbnail-size snails washing up here in Horseshoe Cove have never been seen this far north. By-the-wind sailors, a tiny relative of warm-water jellyfish, sprinkle the tideline by the dozen.
And in the tide pools along the cove’s rocky arms, as harbor seals about to pup look languidly on, a slow-motion battle is underway between native giant green and starburst anemones, a species common in Mexico. The southern visitors are bludgeoning their northern hosts with poisonous white-tipped tentacles.
Then there are the whales.
As many as five at a time have been foraging in the San Francisco Bay, the vast inlet about an hour south of here along the wild Sonoma and Marin coasts. The number is far larger than in a normal year, when one or two might wander in beneath the Golden Gate Bridge for a day or two at most.
How the world’s deepest fish survives bone-crushing pressure (National Geographic)
At the deepest point in the ocean lives a fish that is pink, slimy, and looks a bit like an oversized tadpole, up to a foot long.
In the Mariana Trench—7,000 meters below the ocean’s surface—these fish makes a living in total darkness and at crushing pressures that can reach 1,000 times more than at sea level.
But the Mariana snailfish is not only abundant in this area; it’s the region’s top predator. How does an animal make a living in such an extreme place?
New research provides clues. In a study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, Chinese researchers examined the anatomy and genetics of the fish. The team picked up specimens from around 23,000 feet below sea level using remotely-operated landers, and analyzed the creatures’ genes, proteins, and anatomy.
The oceans are crawling with viruses. An international team of researchers surveyed the world’s oceans from pole to pole, sampling the waters for the microorganisms and they found nearly 200,000 of them.
Although we mostly think of viruses in terms of being sick, in the oceans, viruses and other marine microbes have an outsized impact on marine ecosystems. Their role is so large in fact that the researchers say the microorganisms can help predict how the oceans will respond to climate change.
“This new understanding of viruses … may help scientists better understand how the oceans will behave under the pressures of climate change,” Ahmed Zayed, a graduate student in microbiology at the Ohio State University in Columbus, who authored the new research, said in a statement.
SUSTAINABLE AND INNOVATIVE BUSINESS
Mayor Garcetti Launches L.A.’s Green New Deal (City of Los Angeles)
Mayor Eric Garcetti today released Los Angeles’ Green New Deal, which sets aggressive goals for the city’s sustainable future, tackles the climate emergency with accelerated targets, strengthens our economy and our middle class, and sets L.A. on course to be carbon neutral by 2050.
“Politicians in Washington don’t have to look across the aisle in Congress to know what a Green New Deal is — they can look across the country, to Los Angeles,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “With flames on our hillsides and floods in our streets, cities cannot wait another moment to confront the climate crisis with everything we’ve got. L.A. is leading the charge, with a clear vision for protecting the environment and making our economy work for everyone.”
L.A.’s Green New Deal is guided by four key principles: a commitment to uphold the Paris Climate Agreement; a promise to deliver environmental justice and equity through an inclusive green economy; a plan to ensure every Angeleno has the ability to join the green economy by creating pipelines to good paying, green jobs; and a determination to lead by example within City government, showing the world what an urban Green New Deal looks like in practice.
5 B corps companies using business to save our oceans (GreenBiz.com)
In June 2018, a pilot whale was found suffering in a Thai canal and, after failed rescue attempts, died because of the 80 plastic bags found in its stomach. Fast forward to April 1, when a pregnant sperm whale was found dead on the shores of Sardinia — the whale had 50 pounds of plastic garbage in its stomach.
The nonprofit Plastic Oceans estimates that humans are producing nearly 300 million tons of plastic every year, half of which is for single use, and that more than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year.
The scale of human impacts on the health of the ocean ecosystems, including the amount of plastic waste, has driven many Certified B Corporations to take action. And there are plenty of impacts to address in addition to waste: unsustainable seafood harvesting; the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico; and more. B Corps around the world are using business to save our oceans. Meet five of them.
Did you know that ghost nets are considered among the deadliest ocean debris in the world? The term refers not to haunting specters in the water, but discarded synthetic fishing nets that pollute the seabed and trap fish, mammals and other sea creatures. To raise awareness about these abandoned fishing nets and marine plastic pollution, Rotterdam-based research and design studio The New Raw has launched a new initiative called Second Nature that’s transforming the deadly ghost nets into 3D-printed seashells, bowls and other beautiful objects.
AltaSea partner, Ocean Exploration Trust, joins $94 million Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute to drive a new generation of exploration technology, innovation, and outreach capabilities.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has announced a $94 million award for a cooperative institute comprising of five internationally renowned ocean science institutions hosted by the University of Rhode Island (URI) in partnership with the Ocean Exploration Trust (OET), Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, University of New Hampshire, and University of Southern Mississippi. These institutions, which will act as a single entity known as the Ocean Exploration Cooperative Institute (OECI), will bring to NOAA’s Office of Exploration and Research (OER) their respective substantial exploration, scientific, technological, and engineering resources and expertise to drive a new generation of exploration technology, innovation, and education and outreach capabilities.
A new web-based interactive tool for ocean mapping and planning created by NOAA and the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, will give everyone from ocean industries to coastal managers, students, as well as the general public the opportunity to be an ocean explorer from their own computer.
The new OceanReports web tool provides users specialized “ocean neighborhood analyses” including maps and graphics by analyzing more than 100 ocean datasets instantaneously.
U.S. ocean waters comprise nearly four million square miles and is one of the largest Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) in the world. Now, when users outline any area in the U.S. EEZ using the OceanReports tool, they can get detailed information about habitats and species, industries in the area, potential hazards such as undersea cables or shipwrecks, economic value of ocean commerce, and other detailed oceanographic information.
FY20 Budget Request: STEM Education (American Institute of Physics)
The Trump administration’s latest budget request for federal STEM education programs resembles those it has made in previous years. The administration repeats proposals to defund education offices at NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and trim education programs at other science agencies. At the Education Department, it again seeks increases for a set of STEM education initiatives while also proposing to terminate several formula grant programs.
Oceans’ fever means fewer fish (Science News for Students)
Finding fish is going to get harder as climate change continues to heat the world’s oceans. A new study finds that warming seas over the past 80 years have reduced the sustainable catch of 124 species of fish and shellfish.
Sustainable catch refers to the amount that can be harvested without doing long-term damage to the health of populations of some species.
Overfishing has made that decline worse, researchers say. Overfishing refers to catching so many fish that the size of the population falls. In some parts of the world, such as the heavily fished Sea of Japan, the decrease is as high as 35 percent. That’s a loss of more than one in every three fish.
Our Voice, Our County: Environmental Community Fair (LA County Chief Sustainability Office)
May 18, 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Los Angeles Harbor College PE/Wellness Center, 1111 Figueroa Place, Wilmington, CA 90744
OurCounty, the countywide sustainability plan, is an effort to outline a bold, inclusive vision for the future that balances the co-equal values of environment, equity, and economy. With contributions from people who live and work throughout the region, OurCounty presents actionable strategies that support healthy communities, environmental stewardship, and a just economy. Come share your vision for how your community can become healthier, more livable, and more resilient.
Activities include: Door Prizes, Tree Giveaway, Community Resources, Electric Vehicle Ride & Driv, Children’s Activities, Youth Photo Gallery, Free Refreshments & Food, Energy Efficiency Clinic
27th Annual Seal Day (Marine Mammal Care Center)
June 22, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
3601 Gaffey Street in San Pedro
Seal Day festivities will feature outdoor animal viewing, live music, food trucks, games for kids and dozens of booths from a wide range of community organizations. This year’s theme is Halloween in June, complete with professional costumed visitors, a Trunk-or-Treat experience with world famous Star Cars– vehicles from stage and screen, and a costume contest for those who come dressed for fun.
Bring your appetite too! Some of the region’s most popular food truck eateries will be attending. Popular exhibitor booths will include Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, El Dorado Nature Center, plus many local environmental groups that will be giving lectures and demonstrations throughout the day. Live music performances will be happening all day by Kyle Smith plus special appearances by singer/pianist Flaviyake.
Event is open to the public and free of charge.