AltaSea: Trending Newsletter

October 14, 2021 Edition

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

UPCOMING ALTASEA EVENTS

Project Blue Live Chat with Dr. Yi Chao, Founder and CEO of Seatrec – October 22, 12:00pm – 1:00pm

MARINE SCIENCE

To Save Earth’s Climate, Map the Oceans (The Washington Post)

Thirty years ago, I had the privilege of seeing the deep ocean up close. For my Ph.D. research, I dropped 1.5 miles in the Alvin submersible above the East Pacific Rise, southwest of Acapulco. Beyond illuminating the oceanographic process I was studying — the connection between plate tectonics, volcanic eruptions and deep-sea vents — that one shaft of ocean opened my eyes to a larger truth: Humans are largely blind to this enormous and lively part of the world — more than two-thirds of the Earth.

It is worth repeating that scientists know more about Mars, Venus and the dark side of the moon than they know of Earth’s ocean depths. To date, less than 20% of the ocean floor has been mapped — 13% in just the past four years. But with the right support, scientists could map it all by 2030. It’s an essential undertaking, but it’s going to take dedicated effort, public support and government funding. Such a project can be accomplished only through global cooperation.

Scientists come closer to solving Caribbean seaweed mystery (Reuters)

Scientists were baffled when a band of seaweed longer than the entire Brazilian coastline sprouted in 2011 in the tropical Atlantic – an area typically lacking nutrients that would feed such growth.

A group of U.S. researchers has fingered a prime suspect: human sewage and agricultural runoff carried by rivers to the ocean.

A Swirling Vortex Is No Match for This Deep-Sea Sponge (The New York Times)

At the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, cylindrical clusters of the glass sponge Euplectella aspergillum jut upward like skyscrapers in the deep sea. Some house tiny shrimp, to whom an 11-inch sponge is essentially a high-rise. And the sponge’s glass skeleton is certainly a feat of architecture, comprising a geometric latticework that gives the sponge the illusion of being wrapped in lace. Yet it is enduringly sturdy, able to stay rooted in the sea floor and weather currents without snapping or splintering.

Such structural superpowers leave many scientists eager to unravel whatever secrets this crystalline sponge contains. The answers could solve engineering problems, such as how to design a tall building that will not collapse in harsh winds.

SUSTAINABLE AND INNOVATIVE BUSINESS

Feeding seaweed to cows to boost organic dairy profitability and sustainability (Vermont Business Magazine)

A multi-institutional research team led by UVM’s Sabrina Greenwood has been awarded $2.9 million to explore the potential animal health, environmental and economic benefits of seaweed as a feed alternative for organic dairy cows. The grant is one of USDA’s newly funded Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative projects to help improve yields, milk quality and profitability for organic farmers and producers.

Instability of organic milk prices over the past several years has put a strain on the organic dairy community. As farmers struggle to maintain consistent financial viability, they are also faced with the growing impacts of climate change and mounting pressure to reduce the industry’s environmental footprint. Seaweed is a nutritious alternative to traditional feed supplements made with corn and soybean and has the potential to reduce cows’ methane emissions. Seaweed can also be sustainably grown and may improve soil health through altered manure profiles from the cows eating the seaweed.

Great Lakes Dredge & Dock taking active role in coastal carbon capture (WorkBoat)

Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Corp., the largest provider of dredging services in the U.S. announced this week a first-of-its-kind partnership with Project Vesta, a clean technology pioneer developing a new way to use sand to remove excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

“We are committed to robustly furthering the science of coastal carbon capture,” Tom Green, CEO of Project Vesta, said in a statement announcing the agreement. “Our partnership with Great Lakes will enable us to accelerate our research and help coastal communities fight both the cause and symptoms of climate change.”

Known as “coastal carbon capture”, Project Vesta’s method accelerates the earth’s natural carbon removal process by using a natural rock turned into carbon-removing sand.

Can we harness the natural power of the ocean to fight climate change? (The Hill)

The world is badly off track to meet emissions reduction targets set in the Paris Agreement, according to a recent UN report, which projects we’re on a path to a 16 percent increase in CO2 emissions by 2030 — far from the 45 percent decrease scientists say is necessary to avoid dangerous climate impacts.

Our failure to deliver emission reductions in a timely way means we must now add a new, parallel pillar of climate action — directly cleaning up the legacy carbon pollution emitted over the past 170 years — if we are to create a safer climate future for people and nature.

EDUCATION

Bringing Fisheries Back from the Brink (Scientific America)

Overfishing is wiping out commercial fisheries, and climate change is making certain fish species smaller. But Daniel Pauly says the world can still save endangered fisheries. Pauly is called “the ocean’s whistleblower” in a new biography, for good reason. The French-born marine biologist, who teaches at the University of British Columbia, spent much of the past quarter-century documenting the swift decline of fish within the seas. Now he says that warming waters are depleting the oceans of oxygen that fish need to grow to their full stature.

In an interview with Scientific American, Pauly addresses whether fisheries are doomed or if there is still hope for sustaining them.

Locals are working to restore coral reefs in beloved travel destinations. You can help. (The Washington Post)

Healthy marine ecosystems are essential for human well-being, and millions of people around the world rely on coral reefs for food, protection, recreation, medicine, cultural connection and economic opportunities. So, the decline of coral reefs is not just an ocean-lover’s issue; it’s also a global problem that requires collaborative action.

“The situation with coral reefs is quite alarming,” said Titouan Bernicot, founder of Coral Gardeners, a coral restoration collective in Moorea, French Polynesia. Studies have found that live global coral coverage has declined by 50 percent since the 1950s and is expected to decline by about 70 to 90 percent in the next 20 years.

Graduate School of Oceanography hosts ‘Science Saturday’ (The Independent)

Visitors to the University of Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay Campus on Saturday learned more about the denizens of the deep and some of the state-of-the-art tools researchers use to study the world beneath the water’s surface.

The Graduate School of Oceanography’s Science Saturday, a free family-friendly event, gave children the chance for hands-on interaction with shellfish and starfish in the aquarium’s Touch Tank. Visitors also got to talk to marine experts and interact with more than two dozen exhibitors on the campus quad.

A stage on the campus quad featured a live ship-to-shore interaction with researchers aboard the exploration vessel Nautilus at port in San Pedro, and an ocean science career workshop.

COMMUNITY

What’s holding back America’s blue economy? (Fortune)

Nearly a decade ago, Leonard Aube stood before a series of warehouses at the Port of Los Angeles, the nation’s busiest, and had an ambitious vision: He wanted to create one of the largest research hubs on the planet to study the ocean and accelerate the development of sustainable solutions to help solve the climate crisis.

Aube passed away in 2015, yet the idea he shared with his colleagues at the Annenberg Foundation evolved into AltaSea, a nonprofit spanning 35 acres in the Port of Los Angeles harbor that hosts two startup accelerators, 26 university partnerships, and a handful of companies that use the area as a testing site.

International Environmental Conference in Quito, Ecuador (reima-ed.org)

Latinx youth in Los Angeles have been invited to present their research, education and action campaigns against ocean plastic pollution at an international sustainability conference in Ecuador, January 17-21.

These youth have presented in Japan, Cuba, Honduras, Chile and through Skype to another half dozen countries. They have helped establish other environmental committees developing youth as environmental ambassadors throughout the LA region.

After the conference January 17-21 in Quito, Ecuador, we hope to take them to the Galapagos for a few days to expand their knowledge of evolution and human impacts on our marine ecosystems.

For more information or to join the US contingent, contact: [email protected]

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