A monthly round-up of news and trends important to the AltaSea community.
Stopping Climate Change Is Hopeless. Let’s Do It. (The New York Times)
On Monday, the world’s leading climate scientists released a report on how to protect civilization by limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. Given the rise already in the global temperature average, this critical goal is 50 percent more stringent than the current target of 2 degrees Celsius, which many scientists were already skeptical we could meet. So we’re going to have to really want it, and even then it will be tough.
The world would need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions faster than has ever been achieved, and do it everywhere, for 50 years. Northern European countries reduced emissions about 4 to 5 percent per year in the 1970s. We’d need reductions of 6 to 9 percent. Every year, in every country, for half a century.
In January 2016, a 20-year-old killer whale known as “Lulu” washed up dead on the shores of Scotland after getting caught in rope. While her grisly death was likely directly caused by the ropes, toxicologists later reported she had extraordinarily high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs—chemicals once used to make plastics, adhesives, paints, and industrial equipment up until the 1970s—in her blubber.
Who Wants to Eat a Gooey Jellyfish? Pretty Much Everyone in the Ocean (The New York Times)
For a hungry fish in search of a meal, a jellyfish would seem to be a huge disappointment. These gelatinous animals are 95 percent water. As a result, a cup of live jellyfish provides just five calories — one-third the amount in a cup of celery.
It should come as no surprise, then, that marine biologists long ago dismissed jellyfish as an insignificant item on the ocean menu. Other animals rarely bothered eating them, the idea went, and so they represented a dead end in the ocean’s food web.
“Historically, they were just ignored,” said Thomas K. Doyle, a marine biologist at the University College Cork in Ireland.
But recent research has shown this to be a mistaken view. Many species, from tuna to penguins, seek out jellyfish to eat. “The more we look, the more animals are feeding on jellyfish,” said Dr. Doyle. “They’re absolutely, really important.”
SUSTAINABLE AND INNOVATIVE BUSINESS
Farming the ocean to save the world (Quartz)
It is estimated that by the year 2050, the human population on earth will grow from seven billion to between 9 and 10 billion people. Many scientists agree that the current land-based system of food production, which includes agriculture and meat, is not capable of meeting our future needs. Turning to the oceans could be one solution. After all, they occupy some 70% of the earth’s surface.
The problem is that the oceans are being rapidly depleted of fish. Scientists say we reached “peak fish” some 30 years ago, meaning that we are no longer able to extract more every year from the ocean without the risk of a collapse of the global fisheries. The answer, they say, is farming. Not farming the land, but farming the ocean.
A squishy robotic jellyfish that can ride ocean currents and squeeze harmlessly into tight spaces could soon give scientists a better tool for studying coral reefs and tracking their response to waters that are warming as a result of climate change.
The robo-jellyfish is made of a soft rubber that feels “a bit like a stress ball,” said Erik Engeberg, an associate professor of engineering at Florida Atlantic University and the leader of the team developing the robot. Its eight battery-powered tentacles siphon and expel seawater to propel the bot in a slow, almost hypnotic manner that makes it look very much like a real jellyfish.
The scientists recently tested multiple prototypes of the robot along the South Florida coast and described the results in a paper published online Sept. 18 in the journal Bioinspiration & Biomimetics.
Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce, is fond of saying that “the business of business is improving the state of the world.”
While seemingly cliché, Benioff and Salesforce have put these words into action. At the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit, Salesforce led the Step Up Declaration, a series of commitments by several businesses (including Lyft, Cisco, and Bloomberg) to engage in actions that will greatly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Additionally, like the Tower that bears its name in downtown San Francisco, Salesforce aims to be entirely dependent on renewable energy by 2022
The Ocean Exploration Trust (OET) is now accepting applications for students and educators to participate in the 2019 E/V Nautilus Expedition exploring the Eastern Pacific Ocean along the coast of North America from Canada to Mexico! Founded by Dr. Robert Ballard, OET is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit committed to bringing ocean exploration to the world via live telepresence and providing experiential opportunities for students, young professionals, and educators.
Paid internships for community college, undergraduate, or graduate students, and recent graduates are available in ocean science, seafloor mapping, ROV (remotely operated vehicle) engineering, and video engineering through the Science & Engineering Internship Program. Accepted students will have the chance to sail aboard E/V Nautilus for 2-4 weeks learning from experts in the field.
Opportunities for formal classroom educators, informal educators, and artists are available through OET’s Science Communication Fellowship. Accepted Fellows attend a science communication training workshop in March 2019 and sail aboard E/V Nautilus for 1-3 weeks to bring the excitement of ocean exploration to students and public audiences around the world through varied outreach platforms. For program specifics and detailed application packets, visit: www.oet.org
Science Communication Fellowship Application Deadline – December 14, 2018.
Science & Engineering Internship Program Application Deadline – January 4, 2019.
Questions? Contact the OET Education Team via [email protected]
AltaSea Scientific Ambassador, Dr. Jayme Smith, was one of the main authors in a comprehensive survey led by USC scientists that shows that the Southern California coast harbors some of the world’s highest concentrations of an algal toxin dangerous to wildlife and people who eat local seafood.
Episodic outbreaks of algae-produced toxins make headlines every few years when stricken marine animals wash ashore between Santa Barbara and San Diego. The USC research is the most thoroughgoing assessment yet and reveals the growing scale of the problem over the last 15 years. The researchers say their findings can help protect human health and environment by improving methods to monitor and manage harmful algal blooms.
The ability to forecast harmful algal blooms and their locations, size and severity could help scientists prevent their dangerous effects. But it has been difficult to predict when and where the blooms will occur.
Now, UCLA researchers have developed an inexpensive and portable device that can analyze water samples immediately, which would provide marine biologists with real-time insight about the possibility that the algal blooms could occur in the area they’re testing. That, in turn, would allow officials who manage coastal areas to make better, faster decisions about, for example, closing beaches and shellfish beds before algal blooms cause serious damage.
A Room Where it Happens: LA H20 from Mountains to Sea (Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, Civicas Women’s Civic Action Network and flowproject.la)
A conversation about water issues, technological actions and civic resources catalyzed by California’s $9 billion water bond and Los Angeles County’s Storm Water Parcel Tax on the ballot in November.
Angela Barraco – COO, River LA
Ann Carpenter – Co-Founder/CEO, Braid Theory
Cynthia Hirschhorn – Founder, flowproject.la
Dr. Jenny Jay – Professor, IoES at UCLA
Jenny Krusoe – Executive Director, AltaSea
Dr. Shelly Luce – President/CEO, Heal the Bay
Saturday, October 20, 2018
2:00pm – 4:00pm
The event will be followed by Civic Water Expo at the Aquarium and a tour of AltaSea
Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
3720 Stephen M White Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90731