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


Why sea birds regurgitated thousands of rubber bands on an uninhabited British island (CNN.com)

For several years, conservationists have been puzzled by thousands of brightly colored rubber bands showing up on an uninhabited island off the UK’s southwestern tip.

Their new theory is that sea birds have been mistaking the bands for worms, according to UK conservation charity the National Trust and the West Cornwall Ringing Group, which has been monitoring bird colonies on the island since 2013.

Scavenging for food, the birds have been scooping them up in their beaks, eating them, and then regurgitating them on the uninhabited Mullion Island, about a kilometer (just over half a mile) off the Cornish coast.

The little rocky outpost is a sanctuary for a number of bird species with vulnerable populations, including great black-backed and herring gulls, as well as cormorants and shags.

Thousands of animals around the world are at risk of extinction. But not jellyfish — they’re thriving in warm, polluted water. (Business Insider)

A growing body of evidence suggests the planet is in the midst of a sixth mass extinction.

Between 500,000 and 1 million plant and animal species face extinction, many within decades, according to a report from the United Nations. Pollution, habitat loss, warming oceans, and other consequences of climate change are driving animal populations down on an unprecedented scale.

But one group of creatures is bucking this ominous trend: jellyfish.

Swordfish as oceanographers: Satellite tags facilitate research of ocean’s ‘twilight zone’ off Florida (phys.org)

Researchers from the University of Washington are using high-tech tags to record the movements of swordfish—big, deep-water, migratory, open-ocean fish that are poorly studied—and get a window into the ocean depths they inhabit.

The researchers tagged five swordfish in late August off the coast of Miami: Max, Simone, Anthony, Rex and Oliver. Their movements can now be viewed in near-real time. And although swordfish are a prized catch, these ones aren’t at higher risk, researchers say, since the website updates only every few hours and these fast-swimming fish spend most of their time far from shore.

“These are animals that migrate into the ocean’s twilight zone that we know next to nothing about,” said Peter Gaube, an oceanographer at the UW Applied Physics Laboratory. “Swordfish in different regions have very different behavior. We hope to learn more about these amazing animals and their environment as they migrate between regions.”


Drone monitoring of ship emissions could save lives, protect health (UCLA IoES)

Cargo ships bring the things people want and need to our ports. But they also bring air pollution.

And when they burn cheap, sludgy fuel, their emissions include dangerously high levels of sulfur and nitrogen oxides, which along with particulate matter, form a toxic mix that harms respiratory and circulatory health.

In 2014, state regulators passed the California Sulfur Rule, which requires ships to burn cleaner fuel within 200 nautical miles of the coast. Enforcement remains a challenge. For now, a few California Air Resources Board officers randomly check ships’ fuel at pier, a time-consuming and manpower-intensive effort that means only two ships can be inspected per day. Meanwhile, the board projects more than 6,600 cargo ships to dock per year from 2021­–2032. And because cheap, illegal fuel can save hundreds of thousands of dollars per voyage, there’s powerful incentive to violate the state law and similar federal law.

But, according to a new report produced by UCLA environmental science students, technology may come to the rescue

How Cheap Robots Are Transforming Ocean Exploration (Outside)

It all started in 2010, when Eric Stackpole was a promising young engineer designing satellite technology as an intern at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. He was simultaneously working toward a master’s degree at nearby Santa Clara University and was prone to procrastinating. Lately, he’d become taken with the idea of building his own underwater robot. 

Some of the engineers at Santa Clara were already developing autonomous submersibles, and Stackpole had noticed that they “seemed to be having all the fun.” Instead of spending years planning for a mission, they’d design, build, and deploy a sub within months. “I was like, man, I want one of those,” he says. “You don’t have to have a rocket, just some curiosity and a shoreline.”

Aquaculture innovators scoop Fish 2.0 prizes (The Fish Site)

Cutting-edge aquaculture companies Aquaai, Montana Microbial Products and Australian Crayfish Hatchery won three of the six categories in Fish 2.0’s final round of Top Innovator awards.

The six awards, which were won by emerging companies from four countries, were presented at the close of Fish 2.0 ‘s 2019 Global Innovators Forum in Palo Alto this week.


Mayor Garcetti Elected Chair of C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (lamayor.org)

Mayor Eric Garcetti was elected Chair of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, an international network of the world’s largest cities committed to concrete action to combat climate change.

The announcement came on the first day of the C40 World Mayors Summit, where the group of more than 90 mayors formally declared a Global Climate Emergency and announced their support for a Global Green New Deal.

“When it comes to climate action, no one is doing more than cities, but no one is doing enough,” said Mayor Garcetti. “We are entering a make-or-break decade for the preservation of our planet and environmental justice for every community — and I am proud to chair C40 cities at this critical moment. Together we will continue leading the drive to protect the world and promote a better, more equitable life for everyone living in it.”

More than 11,000 scientists from around the world declare a ‘climate emergency’ (The Washington Post)

A new report by 11,258 scientists in 153 countries from a broad range of disciplines warns that the planet “clearly and unequivocally faces a climate emergency,” and provides six broad policy goals that must be met to address it.

The analysis is a stark departure from recent scientific assessments of global warming, such as those of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in that it does not couch its conclusions in the language of uncertainties, and it does prescribe policies.

The study, called the “World scientists’ warning of a climate emergency,” marks the first time a large group of scientists has formally come out in favor of labeling climate change an “emergency,” which the study notes is caused by many human trends that are together increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

Total immersion: re-imagining the ocean (Nature)

Two timely, urgent books offer different takes on the state of the seas. Boris Worm lauds both.

Neptune’s Laboratory: Fantasy, Fear, and Science at Sea Antony Adler Harvard University Press (2019) Reef Life: An underwater memoir Callum Roberts Profile (2019)


IGNITE22 Tech Showcase and Collaborative Experience (Braid Theory)

Wednesday, November 13 from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

IGNITE22 includes a tech showcase, industry discussions, VC-led panels, and the IGNITE22 Challenge Grand Final pitch competition. Vote for your favorite #SmartIndustry, #FutureFood or #Bluetech solution!

Entrepreneurs: Meet your next investor and exhibit your technology.

Investors: Improve the quality of your dealflow, hear startups pitches.

Industry Professionals: View product demos, discover new tech solutions.

SPECIAL OFFER: $175 Startup exhibitor package includes two tickets, an exhibit table and a chance to pitch to investors! For more information and tickets, click here.

39th Annual Spirit of San Pedro Holiday Parade (San Pedro Chamber of Commerce)

Sunday, December 1 from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm 

Each year, this festive tradition brings families, little leagues, scouts, students, high school bands, equestrian units, and volunteers to downtown San Pedro to celebrate the holiday season and our community. More than 9,000 individuals will line the streets to view the parade.

This event is presented by the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce and is a free event to the community.

The AltaSea team will be in the parade. Come out and say hello!

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