AltaSea: Trending Newsletter

November 10, 2021 Edition

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

ALTASEA EVENTS

Blue Hour: Ocean of Inclusion – Event Highlights

This year, AltaSea partnered with Council District 15 to put on a spectacular gathering at Angels Gate Park, honoring Robert Downey, Jr.’s FootPrint Coalition, the Schmidt Ocean Institute, and Philippe Cousteau’s EarthEcho International. Check out event highlights from the October 9th extravaganza.

HERE’S THE BLUE DEAL

Conservation through education: EarthEcho International’s mobilization of young environmental leaders (AltaSea)

Historically, the environmental movement has underinvested in education. “There has been investment in tactical environmental solutions, but not in the grand strategy of building a society that cares,” explains Philippe Cousteau Jr., one of the co-founders of EarthEcho International.

“EarthEcho aims to fill that gap and be part of the growing group of voices advocating for education.”

MARINE SCIENCE

The far-reaching benefits of tiger sharks for climate (BBC.com)

On the westernmost tip of Australia in the aptly named Shark Bay, at least 28 species of shark swim through the clear waters and undulating seagrass meadows – the largest in the world. Tiger sharks in particular are common frequenters of the jagged inlets of Shark Bay. These mammoth predatory fish brush their 15-ft-long (4.5m) bodies through the seagrass, occasionally snatching a majestic grazing sea cow for a meal. While the presence of tiger sharks is a threat to their prey, these predators are crucial to the health of the marine ecosystem that supports both species.

In fact, despite sharks’ notorious reputation among humans, they could also be a powerful ally in curbing climate change.

Extending the Reach of eDNA (Hakai Magazine)

When an animal moves through its environment, it leaves little bits of DNA—skin cells, hair, fecal matter—behind. Scientists have harnessed this environmental DNA, or eDNA, as a powerful tool for understanding what dwells in an ecosystem. But extending the use of eDNA monitoring to far-flung areas, and especially to conducting routine sampling in remote parts of the ocean, is difficult to organize and expensive to execute.

In a recent study, a team of researchers, including Simon Goodman, a biologist at the University of Leeds in England, has proposed a promising way to expand the reach of this potent technique. As Goodman and his colleagues describe, and as they’ve shown through a small trial, partnering with commercial vessels can make routine eDNA surveying of large areas of remote ocean much easier and cheaper.

Big whales eat 3 times as much as previously thought, which means killing them for food and blubber is even more harmful to the environment (Business Insider)

Scientists have found that large whales eat at least three times as much as previously thought, a discovery which highlights their importance in keeping the oceans healthy.

The study, published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal Nature, provides clues as to why wiping out millions of the largest whales was so devastating to marine environments.

Reestablishing the whale population could do wonders for marine environments and might even help replenish dwindling fish populations, two scientists told Insider.

SUSTAINABLE AND INNOVATIVE BUSINESS

A half-mile plastic-trapping device in the Pacific caught 64,000 pounds of trash — including a fridge, mannequin, and toilet seats (Business Insider)

In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, around 1,200 miles from shore, sits a giant vortex of trash known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The site is home to more than 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic — the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world.

Over the summer, a nonprofit organization called The Ocean Cleanup ventured into the patch to test out a new device it had built. In essence, it’s an artificial floating coastline that catches plastic in its fold like a giant arm, then channels it into an attached funnel-shaped net. Two vessels tow the entire contraption through the water at about 1.5 knots (slower than normal walking speed) — enough for the ocean current to push floating garbage into the net. Once that net fills with plastic (every few weeks or so), a crew hauls it up out of the water and empties the garbage onto one of the vessels.

From inventing ocean-cleaning ships to calling on businesses to change, U.S. teens are tackling climate change (cnbc.com)

When Haaziq Kazi was in the fourth grade, he was rocked to the core when he found out about the impact of plastic waste on marine life.

He decided to do something about it, designing a prototype of a ship that sucks the waste from the ocean.

“There’s this saying that we haven’t inherited this planet from our grandparents, rather borrowed it from our grandchildren,” said Kazi, now 15. He hails from Pune, India, and is now a student at a Connecticut boarding school.

“We as … human beings really need to do something about the problem,” he added.

EDUCATION

Barack Obama COP26 Climate Speech (rev.com)

Former President Barack Obama spoke about climate change at the COP26 summit in Glasgow on November 8, 2021. Read the full transcript of his speech here.

The Meaning Behind the New Statue Towering Over New York’s Hudson River (Bloomberg.com)

The 80-foot “Water’s Soul, 2020” by Spanish sculptor Jaume Plensa depicts the head of a young person with an index finger pressed against her lips, her eyes closed in a “gesture for quietude.”

The massive installation sits on the edge of the Hudson River, in Jersey City, New Jersey, paying tribute to the river and created as a call to protect all water, which Plensa calls “ the most public space in the world.”

World leaders to explore girls’ education as climate crisis solution at upcoming United Nations conference (LA School Report)

An “unprecedented” level of interest in girls’ education as a climate solution is growing worldwide, advocates say, as youth empowerment and gender are set to take center stage at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference.

From Oct. 31 through Nov. 12, roughly 20,000 international leaders and climate advocates will gather in Glasgow, Scotland for the conference known as COP26. The next annual meeting is an opportunity to shape global climate priorities — during COP21, which took place in 2015, the landmark Paris Agreement was adopted to limit global warming.

COMMUNITY

Electric robots are mapping the seafloor, Earth’s last frontier (CNN.com)

For centuries, humans have explored the Earth’s mountains, jungles and deserts. But despite covering more than 70% of the Earth’s surface, the ocean is still a relative mystery. In fact, we know more about the surface of Mars than we do about the sea floor; just over 20% of the ocean bed has been mapped.

Getting a fuller picture would enable us to navigate ships more safely, create more accurate climate models, lay down telecommunication cables, build offshore windfarms and protect marine species — all part of what’s known as the “blue economy,” projected to be worth $3 trillion by 2030.

Underwater robotic vehicles equipped with sensors are helping gather that data quicker and more cheaply than ever before. But many of these vehicles rely on batteries with a limited lifespan, and need to return to a boat or the shore to recharge, making it difficult for them to map more remote parts of the sea.

A five-year-old startup called Seatrec is rising to the challenge, founded by oceanographer Yi Chao. While working at NASA, he developed technology to power ocean robots by harnessing “the naturally occurring temperature difference” of the sea, Chao told CNN Business.

Construction underway on new aquaculture workboat for Long Beach owner (Baird Maritime)

Construction is underway on a new workboat slated to support operations at the first permitted offshore aquaculture farm in North America.

The 78- by 26-foot (24- by eight-metre) Pacific Alliance is being built by Nichols Brothers Boat Builders (NBBB) of Whidbey Island, Washington, for Pacific6 Enterprises, a company based in Long Beach, California.

Pacific Alliance will be homeported at AltaSea in the Port of Los Angeles.

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