A monthly round-up of news and trends important to the AltaSea community.
With its long, white, sandy beaches, Sanibel Island off the coast of south-western Florida is usually a perfect place for families to enjoy these last days of summer.
This year, however, 267 tons of marine life, including thousands of small fish, 72 Goliath groupers, and even a 21-ft whale shark have washed up on the beach since July – thanks to a a disastrous “red tide” of toxic algae.
Scientists Discover Giant Deep-Sea Coral Reef Off Atlantic Coast (Huffington Post)
As the research vessel Atlantis made its way out to sea from Woods Hole, Massachusetts, last week, expedition chief scientist Erik Cordes predicted the team would discover something no one has ever seen before. It didn’t take long.
Some 160 miles off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, a half mile below the ocean surface, is a dense forest of cold water corals. And based on their observations and recent sonar mapping of the ocean floor, researchers estimate that the reef runs for at least 85 linear miles.
“This is a huge feature,” Cordes said. “It’s incredible that it stayed hidden off the U.S. East Coast for so long.”
Groomed to Death (Hakai Magazine)
While keeping our oceans and beaches clean of garbage is undeniably good for the environment, figuring out the best way to achieve that is complicated. Over 150 kilometers of Southern California beaches are regularly groomed, sometimes twice a day, and biologists and conservationists have begun to see the downside to tidiness.
You could call it the beach hygiene hypothesis. Just as humans may develop allergies from growing up germ-free, beaches are suffering from being too clean. Swept flat each day, the beach can become a biological desert, devoid of the rare plant and animal species that make the coastlines so special. Over two tonnes of decaying kelp get deposited on a kilometer of beach each day, a valuable resource for wildlife that is robbed by city cleanup crews on a daily basis.
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Expedition Reveals New Hope for World’s Coral Reefs (SportDiver)
Marine scientists from The University of Queensland in Australia produced and analyzed more than 56,000 images in an area known as the Coral Triangle around the island of Sulawesi during a six-week expedition.
Using underwater scooters fitted with 360-degree cameras allowed researchers to photograph up to 2 km/1.5 miles in single dives. Then artificial intelligence analyzed those images much faster than human scientists could. The expedition, funded by Paul G. Allen Philanthropies, aimed to evaluate how global-warming-induced coral bleaching between 2014 and 2017 had affected the Coral Triangle.
Researchers found that reefs that had experienced little impact had bounced back or were in better shape than when they were originally surveyed in 2014. The findings can help plan how best to target coral restoration programs elsewhere.
The Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE is a global competition with a goal to advance the development of marine robotic technologies to access and illuminate the deep-sea like never before. In March 2018 we announced the 9 Grand Prize Final Teams who made it past the rigorous Round 1 Technology Readiness Test and assessment by our independent Judging Panel. For the second and final round of testing in November and December of this year, these teams, representing 9 countries with team members from over 28 countries, will be tasked to autonomously map and image the seafloor at 4000 meters beneath the sea surface.
Seaweed: The ‘Superfood’ That Could Help Fight Climate Change (Huffington Post)
Seaweed covers the beaches you walk on, it’s dried in your instant miso packets, and researchers in labs all over the world are studying it. Scientists, food companies and environmental advocates want you to eat more of the product ― sometimes more appealingly titled “sea vegetables.” But those who grew up in Western households may not think too highly of seaweed as a food.
But seaweed’s star is ascendant. The global seaweed market is expected to be worth $9 billion in the next six years, with most of that coming from its use as a food, particularly in Asia-Pacific countries such as Japan. While Westerners have been much slower to adopt seaweed into their diet, that’s expected to change as consumers become more familiar with it and the hype grows around its potential nutritional, health and environmental benefits.
Three reasons our oceans need young people (United Nations Environment)
The UN’s World Water Week interviewed 19-year-old Ben May, Founder and President at ThinkOcean and a student at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also the recipient of the prestigious Global Environmental Education Partnership EE 30 under 30 award.
From sashimi to smoked salmon, ceviche to mussels Provençal, seafood dishes are among the world’s best-loved culinary delights and dietary staples.
But the billions of people on the planet may love them too much. According to United Nations estimates, about 57 percent of fish stocks are exploited — meaning they can bear no more fishing without population decline — and 30 percent are over-exploited, depleted or recovering.
A solution may be on the horizon. According to a study published today and co-authored by Peter Kareiva, director of the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, ocean-farmed fish and seafood — or aquaculture — has the potential to satisfy global demand by using a tiny fraction of oceans. Freshwater fish farms have been around for a long time, but off-shore operations are a more recent development.
Quarterly Open House (AltaSea)
September 15, 2018 from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
2456 South Signal Street, San Pedro 90731
Dr. Mary Hayden Looney joins Pangaea contributing her scientific background of environmental toxicology and marine health as well as exploring her passion for understanding human impacts on the environment and how to develop scientifically-based conservation strategies.
Dr. Marcus Eriksen and Joel Paschal drifted 88 days at sea, from California to Hawaii, on a raft made of a Cessna 310 Aircraft fuselage perched atop 15,000 plastic bottles to build public awareness and inspire a movement to save our seas from plastic pollution. They called it JUNK. Please join us and explore what we can do to stop this global plastic waste crisis.
Tours aboard Pangaea’s Sea Dragon will be available following the presentation.
Attendance is free and open to the public. For more information or to RSVP, contact RSVP@altasea.org.
Wildlife Photographer of the Year (Natural History Museum)
Exhibition: August 19, 2018 – January 6, 2019
Photographs tell a powerful story. Wildlife Photographer of the Year uses photography to challenge perceptions about the natural world, helping promote sustainability and the conservation of wildlife. Explore the world’s best nature photography, highlighting the incredible range of life on Earth.
The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition showcases the year’s finalists and category winners. The exhibition, now in its 53rd year, features stunning images from professionals and amateurs, adults and youths, from around the world. Be inspired by 99 acclaimed photographs that reveal the abundance, beauty, resilience, and vulnerability of nature.
For more information click here.