AltaSea: Trending – November 18, 2020

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


Live Chats and Webinars (AltaSea)

AltaSea has scheduled some exciting Live Chats and Webinars over the coming weeks. We hope you will join us for one or all! To sign up for these free online events, please follow the links below.

Live Chat with Amber Becerra – “How Does Pollution Affect Our Oceans? A Deep Dive Into Trash, Animal Entanglement, and What You Can Do About It.” Friday, November 20 at 12:00pm. Click here to register.

Webinar with Philanthropist Melanie Lundquist and Councilmember Joe Buscaino – “The importance of giving to organizations dedicated to finding 21st century solutions to one of the most pressing issues in the world today: climate change.” Tuesday, December 1 at 10:00 am.  Click here to register.

Live Chat with Briana Fodor – “White Abalone Restoration Project of the Aquarium of the Pacific.” Friday, December 11 at 12:00pm. Click here to register.


A Pinnacle of Coral Is Discovered in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (The New York Times)

Explorers of the Great Barrier Reef have discovered a giant pinnacle of coral taller than the Empire State Building.

This week, a team of scientists reported finding a detached coral feature that rises from the seabed to a height of nearly one-third of a mile. Its discoverers call it the first large new element of Australia’s famous reef system to be identified in more than 120 years.

Moreover, the new reef is flourishing, in contrast to many ill ones in the Great Barrier and around the globe. Corals in warm, polluted waters often suffer environmental stresses that can turn them white and, if prolonged, kill them off. The wastage is known as coral bleaching.

A toxic secret lurks in deep sea (The Los Angeles Times)

Not far from Santa Catalina Island, in an ocean shared by divers and fishermen, kelp forests and whales, David Valentine decoded unusual signals underwater that gave him chills.

The UC Santa Barbara scientist was supposed to be studying methane seeps that day, but with a deep-sea robot on loan and a few hours to spare, now was the chance to confirm an environmental abuse that others in the past could not. He was chasing a hunch, and sure enough, initial sonar scans pinged back a pattern of dots that popped up on the map like a trail of breadcrumbs.

The robot made its way 3,000 feet down to the bottom, beaming bright lights and a camera as it slowly skimmed the seafloor. At this depth and darkness, the uncharted topography felt as eerie as driving through a vast desert at night.

And that’s when the barrels came into view.

China’s Chance to Save Antarctic Sea Life (The New York Times)

Even as the United States and China confront deep disagreements, there is a global challenge that simply won’t wait for the resolution of our differences: climate change.

While some have decided that we are entering a new Cold War with China, we can still cooperate on critical mutual interests. After all, even at the height of 20th-century tensions, the Americans and the Soviets negotiated arms control agreements, which were in the interests of both countries.

Climate change, like nuclear proliferation, is a challenge of our own making — and one to which we hold the solution. We have an opportunity this month to make clear that great power rivalries aside, geopolitics must end at the water’s edge — at the icy bottom of our planet in the Southern Ocean, which surrounds the entire continent of Antarctica.


These Oceanographers Want to Turn Marine Slime Into Drugs (WIRED)

On Wednesday, a crew of technicians will hoist a remotely operated vehicle dubbed Hercules from its berth on an oceanographic research vessel down into a patch of ocean about 150 miles off the Southern California coast. After being released from the crane, the tethered craft will slowly sink to the seafloor between 2,000 and 5,000 feet below, and begin a treasure hunt for new kinds of compounds that could one day become medicines

The VW Beetle-sized Hercules and 211-foot Nautilus will spend the next 10 days in a region called the Southern California Borderlands, which includes underwater seamounts, canyons, and ridges that are covered in layers of mineral-laden sediments and rocks. The expedition is led by Scripps and the Ocean Exploration Trust (which operates the Nautilus), and sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

7 ways to bridge the blue finance gap to protect the oceans (GreenBiz)

The ocean is a cornerstone of the global economy and a critical source of resources for the world’s growing population. It provides food, jobs and livelihoods to over 3 billion people, facilitates global trade and creates a home for the nearly 2.4 billion people who live in coastal areas. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, forecasts suggested that the ocean economy could provide economic growth opportunities over the coming decade, creating $3 trillion annually in gross value added by 2030.

However, investment into the ocean economy is drastically low. Just 1 percent of the ocean economy’s total value was invested in sustainable projects through philanthropy and official development assistance over the last 10 years.


Bringing the Ocean’s Midnight Zone Into the Light (The New York Times)

Have you ever seen a giant larvacean, the tiny sea squirt that lives inside a giant mucus house? How about a wildly iridescent bloodybelly comb jelly?

If not, you’re far from alone. In the deepest, darkest parts of the world’s oceans, mysterious and remarkable animals abound. But because of the immense cost and logistical challenges involved in exploring those depths, only a handful of scientists, engineers and well-financed explorers such as James Cameron have been able to see these creatures in the flesh.

However, life in the deep sea may soon be accessible to all. Public aquariums around the world are spending millions of dollars on research and development aimed at putting deep-sea animals on display.

Leading the effort is California’s Monterey Bay Aquarium, which plans to spend $15 million over the next two years to create the world’s first large-scale exhibition of deep-sea life, a 10,400-square-foot display named “Into the Deep: Exploring our Undiscovered Ocean.”

Love waves from the ocean floor (Science Daily)

Vibrations travel through our planet in waves, like chords ringing out from a strummed guitar. Earthquakes, volcanoes and the bustle of human activity excite some of these seismic waves. Many more reverberate from wind-driven ocean storms.

As storms churn the world’s seas, wind-whipped waves at the surface interact in a unique way that produces piston-like thumps of pressure on the seafloor, generating a stream of faint tremors that undulate through Earth to every corner of the globe.

“There is an imprint of those three Earth systems in this ambient seismic data: atmosphere, Earth’s rocky outer layers and ocean,” said Stanford University geophysicist Lucia Gualtieri, lead author of a paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that helps to resolve a decades-old conundrum over the physics of seismic waves related to ocean storms.

Job Opening: Postdoctoral Scholar (The Pacific Marine Energy Center at Oregon State University)

The Pacific Marine Energy Center (PMEC) at Oregon State University is recruiting a post-doctoral scholar to provide marine energy research, development, testing, and student mentoring support. PMEC has a wide range of R&D activities on-going and is looking for an inquisitive, self-motivated, and passionate PostDoc. Position is still open.

Call for “Ocean-Shot” Concepts (National Academies Ocean Decade)

The U.S. National Committee for the Ocean Decade has issued a call for submission of “Ocean-Shots”, defined as an ambitious, transformational research concept that draws inspiration and expertise from multiple disciplines and fundamentally advances ocean science for sustainable development. The goal is to spark transformative research for potentially “disruptive” advances that will open avenues for progress toward Decade goals. Submissions are due by December 1, 2020.


Laboratory tags record number of sharks off California coast (Associate Press News)

There are more sharks in the water off the coast of Southern California than ever before, according to marine researchers.

The Shark Lab at California State University, Long Beach, tagged 38 sharks, which is more than triple the number tagged tag last year, KCAL-TV reported Friday.

“This was a big year,” lab Director Chris Lowe said. “So, even with COVID, we tagged more sharks this year than we have any other year.”

Lowe tweeted about the findings and shared drone video of great white shark pups and juveniles swimming along beaches from San Diego to Santa Barbara.

A sea lion named ‘Freedom’ released from San Pedro into the wild (Daily Breeze)

Scars from his wounds were still visible when the sea lion named Freedom was sent back to his ocean home in San Pedro earlier this week. They will be with him for life.

But he was among the lucky ones.

When the Marine Animal Rescue found Freedom in August on the sands of Redondo Beach, the sea lion was severely malnourished and entangled in a gill net.

“Sea lions are very playful and almost have kind of a dog-like behavior,” said Amber Becerra, president of the Marine Mammal Care Center’s Board of Directors. “They see things like that almost as a toy and start playing with it.”

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