Decanted from the speedy flow of information here are a handful of the latest news on Ocean Acidification:
≈≈≈The Third International Symposium on The Ocean in a High-CO2 World took place at the end of last month. You can read the press release at the end of the four-day event HERE, read the reports on how climate change, together with Ocean Acidification is going to challenge global food supplies and what countries will be most affected (The Maldives, Togo, Comoros and Iran top the list) in THIS REUTERS article, see how it might all be written in stone in the series of photographs showing tiny specimens of fossil coccolithophores by Paul Bown, paleaoceanographer at University College London (please read the NATURE article dedicated to it HERE), or watch a couple of the video recorded talks available on Bambuser
Beth Fulton: impacts on Ocean Acidification on food webs and fisheries
Richard Matear: Ocean Acidification and earth system feedbacks
≈≈≈California Report's coverage of the Monterey symposium: "Scientists Focus on Ocean Acidification"
≈≈≈We mentioned the Catlin Seaview Survey and their underwater camera work months ago and now it is out for everyone to see and admire through Google Maps.
"Today we’re adding the very first underwater panoramic images to Google Maps, the next step in our quest to provide people with the most comprehensive, accurate and usable map of the world. With these vibrant and stunning photos you don’t have to be a scuba diver—or even know how to swim—to explore and experience six of the ocean’s most incredible living coral reefs. Now, anyone can become the next virtual Jacques Cousteau and dive with sea turtles, fish and manta rays in Australia, the Philippines and Hawaii."
Go to the GOOGLE MAPS page and watch this introductory video:
≈≈≈Download EPOCA's Knowledge Base 2012 (Updating What We Know About Ocean Acidification And Key Global Challenges). Available in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and German.
≈≈≈The New York Times article "Scientists Adopt Tiny Island as a Warming Bellwether" has received criticism for allegedly depicting a downplayed, relaxed and partial view on the impact of Ocean Acidification. An example of such evaluation written by Susan Webber last Sunday, October 7th.
≈≈≈Sailors for the Sea have put out a list with eight measures any individual sailor can take to fight increasing pollution, acidification and over-fishing. Katie Jewett tells:
1. You can always provision your boat with local produce. Make sure that you are not buying produce that had to be shipped across an ocean to get to you.
2. Divide your rubbish onboard, take it home to be composted or recycled. Use plastic as little as possible and never never let it risk going overboard.
3. Use diesel as little as possible or, if you can, convert to bio fuels.
4. Conserve water with foot-pedal sinks and dish washing.
5. Eliminate use of toxic bottom paints.
6. Prevent any dumping of waste or gray water overboard.
7. Learn more about the problems facing your local area and many bodies of water, by reading about ocean acidification, low oxygen levels, and plastics in the ocean.
8. Find and join a local ocean conservation group and/or Sailors for the Sea to see how you can be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
≈≈≈The US National Science Foundation awarded last month a $ 203,911 grant to the Little Cayman Research Center for building a new coral reef stress wet lab in which to carry out experiments on Ocean Acidification, climate change and fisheries management of grouper and lionfish.
More information HERE
≈≈≈Dr. Bärbel Hönisch, Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Science at Columbia University and geochemist at Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory talks about research on geological records to study Ocean Acidification for NPR's Academic Minute: AUDIO
≈≈≈Research by NOAA’s William G. Sunda and Wei-jun Cai of the University of Georgia finds that ocean acidification is accelerated in nutrient-rich areas:
"Carbon dioxide released from decaying algal blooms, combined with ongoing increases in atmospheric carbon emissions, leads to increased levels of ocean acidification, and places additional stress on marine resources and the coastal economies that depend on them, according to a new study"
READ MORE HERE
≈≈≈A video from the Washington Post interviewing Kris Holderied, Director of NOAA's Kasitsna Bay Laboratory about the pH levels on local waters.
≈≈≈Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences offers a three-year Postdoctoral Research Scientist position in the area of phytoplankton physiology and Ocean Acidification. The application deadline is on October 15th. Information HERE
≈≈≈Life, people, nations and institutions are polyhedral, and with that in mind one can easily understand how the same place best known for its casinos, banks, formula one car races and the highest number of millionaires per capita in the world can also be responsible for launching a new two million dollar Ocean Acidification International Coordination Center that will be based at the International Atomic Energy Agency Environment Laboratories. His Serene Highness Prince Albert II hopes the center will help coordinate international research and link science and policy.
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Distilled from the World Wide Web for you:
-The Plymouth Marine Laboratory has launched a new short film on Ocean Acidification. Its title is "Ocean acidification: Connecting science, industry, policy and public". Here it is
-Folks at United By Blue are organizing a cleanup on Saturday June 11th in the city of Baltimore. On this occasion the cleanup area will be at the confluence of the Armistead Run and the Herring Run main stem. If you live in the vicinity you might want to devote some of your time to this very worthy and rewarding cause. It is expected to run from 10am until 3 pm and people will meet at Alricks Way, near the intersection between Md Rt. 40 Pulaski Hwy and I-895 (adjacent to the Armistead Gardens neighborhood).
-Science Watch has published a list with the top 30 research organizations and universities in the field of oceanography based on citations per paper to highly cited papers published over the past ten years (2000-2010).
Here are the first ten, the country of origin, with the number of highly cited papers (blue), cites (green) and cites per paper (red).
1 University of Otago, New Zealand 11-1,628-148
2 MIT, USA 12-1,727-144
3 NOAA, USA 23-3,092-134
4 Rutgers State University, USA 10-1,268-126
5 University of Washington, USA 21-2,662-126
6 University of East Anglia, UK 11-1,367-124
7 National Center for Atmospheric Research, USA 10-1,147-114
8 Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK 15-1,699-113
9 Princeton University, USA 10-1,097-109
10 University of Southern California, USA 10-1,073-107
In terms of number of highly cited papers, as well as total citations, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute comes first, followed by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the University of California San Diego (by papers) or the University of Washington (by citations). Ken Buesseler of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, whose specialty is marine geochemistry, is the researcher with the greatest number of highly cited papers (10) as well as total citations to his highly cited papers (1,558). You may review the whole list in the Science Watch link above.
- Young Kunal Sangani and research partner Mishka Gadwani are two students from Fayetteville-Manlius High School in Syracuse (NY) that just won first place this past week at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the world's largest international pre-college science competition. Their project is titled "The Effects of Ocean Acidification on Oil Spills on Emiliania Huxleyi Transparent Exopolymer Particles" and it centers on a new method for removing oil particles from the water using phytoplankton. Research came with a different result than expected: although they were at first set out to show how phytoplankton are harmed by oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico, Kunai and Mishka actually uncovered how phytoplankton "assist" in removing oil from the ocean by producing a sticky chemical that forms a network in the water and traps the oil. The network subsequently floats to the surface, where it can be collected.
There is some prize money, but much more importantly they get to have an asteroid named after each one of them and that, like their work and dedication at such an early age, is priceless.
-Japan is easy to like: an exotic fascinating culture that praises artistic refinement, shows deep appreciation for craftsmanship, for work that aims for perfection, a nation with a religion that reveres nature… Still, the line that separates love and passion from obsession and destruction is thinner that a shoji door and there are times when my own admiration for Japan is put to a serious test. I am not talking about the whales now, nor about those insatiable tropical lumber imports, I am talking tuna. Not knowing how much of it is rumors, a proven fact is that Mitsubishi Corporation has managed to control around 40% of the world tuna catch, while the part of the rumors goes that the company could be storing deep frozen stock of the oishii bluefin tuna in preparation for when it becomes (maybe by 2012) commercially extinct. Being such a Machiavellian proposition, we have all reasons to think it is true. For this, my friends, is exactly the problem, that many of us simply cannot drum into our heads that some very very very good business ideas are actually miserable ideas.
Dyed tako at a Tokyo street market, a bunch of years ago.
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Researchers believe we should prepare ourselves for a world with more anchovies and less tuna:
Various recent studies indicate a constant decrease in the number of marine predators; from sharks to tuna, our "lions and tigers of the seas" are becoming less and less abundant. If certain key elements do not change soon, urgently, those large fish-eating-fish might become a thing of the past. Villy Christensen, Reg Watson and their colleagues at the University of British Columbia have conducted a study of historic records and noticed the steady loss of around 10% of top predator fish in the decades between 1910 and 1970. It was in the last forty years though, once more advanced fishing gear and techniques were used, that numbers really plummeted to the point that the seas are now home to a mere third of the fish population of 1910.
Fishing activities, our global catch, escalated throughout the 20th Century:
from roughly some 16 million (metric) tons per year in the 1950s to 80 million tons in the 1990s. In these past twenty years numbers simply stagnated. During 2006, for example, the catch was 76 million tons, or around 7 trillion fish. If such a trend continues top predators could become in fact become rare by 2050. This obviously does not mean that the oceans will be empty, there has actually been an increase in the abundance of small pray fish like anchovies, but neither are these the fish that people prefer to eat nor the sort and size of predator that can cap the number of small fish with the potential of damaging ecosystems. In more plain words, we are breaking the natural balance and opening the door to an uncertain future.
Throw a changing climate into this strained scenario and the consequences will be dire: if, as expected, more rain falls in the tropics, we could witness a freshening of the upper seas and a stratification of ocean layers that would make harder for nutrients to reach the surface. Jorge Sarmiento of Princeton University recently showed at an American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting projections made by five different computer programs about plankton concentration in such a future scenario. While the global nutrient drop might average 1 to 2 percent, there are areas where numbers could go down as much as 16 percent, which would obviously have a direct impact on the size of fish. William Cheung of the University of East Anglia fed some of this information into another simulation program and initial results indicated a 10 percent decrease in fish sizes. But it was once he included Ocean Acidification into his calculations that things got much more serious: 30 and even 40 percent growth drops were predicted.
A warmer, more acidic ocean that makes fish move more for food and therefore need more oxygen will also see fish migrating to cooler areas, as I already mentioned on a previous post. William Cheung believes half of the world's stocks will travel up to 40 kilometers per decade, possibly displacing fisheries from one country's waters to another's.
Snappers fly above you at the Natural History Museum, NYC.
After all these bleak views I really want to finish the post with some hopefulness, though. I recently read online that Eric Schwaab, administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service, delivered at the Boston Seafood show last March the extraordinary message that we might be witnessing the end of overfishing in US waters. Strict annual catch limits were imposed in 2010 on fisheries experiencing overfishing and this year all remaining fisheries will undergo the same restrictions and caps (thanks to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act from 2007). As mentioned above, some species remain dangerously over-fished, but the current general picture in US waters could be one of positive change, where even some beneficial results for fishermen are already visible: the National Marine Fisheries Service will increase catch limits for species with growing populations (cod, haddock and flounder to name a few) in the New England groundfisheries for the new fishing year that begins this Sunday, May 1st.
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I confess I get irritated by the carbon footprint/credit scheme. Some months ago I did some research to try to understand just how carbon credits work, where you can buy them, how individual and national emissions are measured and I found the system to be complicated, bias, Kafkaesque. Here we are, under severe worldwide environmental problems deriving from our rampant consumerism and industrialized lives and someone has actually managed to create an industry out of "solving the problem" and juggling around the hot potato of CO2 emissions. It puts me in such a state of despair that I am going to stop writing about it now, but I did want to tell you that I recently did a carbon footprint test and thought it was useful and informative, it also gave me an idea of how I compare to other fellow human beings. There are several websites that offer online tests, the one I used is
When you simply expect the worst it is amazing how little it takes to make you happy. I am so terrified of my wandering lifestyle of crisscrossing the world with airplanes that 2.89 Earths makes me feel quite good. I simply wonder what the number will be for those that do not only travel, but live in a harsh environment that demands lots of heating and cooling, that own several cars and buy more than I do. If you do the test, please share your results as a comment on the blog, I am very curious.
I think WWF was the organization that pioneered the "one planet" limit. Their latest report is on their website:
If you would like to download the report as a pdf, you can find it here:
To wrap things up and follow this line of thought of use, misuse and abuse here is an article that talks about five kinds of fish you should eat more of
POLE-CAUGHT SKIPJACK TUNA
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Here is the classic list of web finds you have seen right here in the past. This week I dug out two great videos, info about a workshop in China, a job offer, some news and a literary reference, clearly enough to enhance your weekend experience.
Echinoderms will be fine. According to recent research, sea urchins, starfish or sea cucumbers will be able to adapt to increasingly acidic oceans. I knew about sea urchin's resilience and adaptability from seeing how they are one of the few living creatures left at harbors in Spain. We do not eat them, but they are a very popular dish in France and Japan. Sea cucumbers have always had a special place in my heart and imagination. When I was 10 I read a couple of Emilio Salgari's stories and one was titled Trepang Fishermen (I Pescatori di Trepang) and it was about the sea cucumber fishermen in Indonesia. Sea cucumbers are very popular all along Asia, as food and for their medicinal values. The illustrations in my book showed some steaming hot delicious trepang that locals devoured. I have to admit they do not look as tempting when seen underwater, but I am ready to try them. Anywhere in New York you might know?
Read more HERE
Continuing in Asia, Chinese Xiamen University is offering a joint international workshop on Climate Change and Ocean Carbon on April 3-4, 2011. More specifically, the second day's theme is "Coastal Carbon & Ocean Acidification". You can register online HERE (ha ha ha) and read more about it HERE.
Interested in a postdoctoral position in Coral Ocean Acidification? There is one postdoc position to join a recently funded research project investigating the physiological impacts of ocean acidification, temperature and nutrients on reef building corals at the University of Delaware. To read more, CLICK.
Echinoderms might be alright in a more acidic ocean, but Antarctic krill is at serious risk. Tasmanian scientists have released new research that shows how devastating Ocean Acidification is to Antarctica's staple food. The Australian scientists exposed krill to different levels of CO2, from the current 380ppm up to 2000ppm. "In the tanks with highest levels none of the embryos survived to hatch". Read more HERE
This is a video on the ocean acidification research carried out on the island of Svalbard, in Norway. If you are interested in people's accents this is an absolute must.
A terrific video from Oregon Public Broadcast on research by Oregon State University scientists on oyster hatcheries along the Pacific shore.
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During my first year of college I studied Law. I did not know what to do and my father was convinced it suited me, so between nothing and Law, Law it was. For two semesters the only lectures that caught my attention were about Roman Law. Not only was the professor brilliant, he also happened to be a dive master, eager to talk about the seas given the slightest chance. He had become famous throughout campus for delivering at the end of each year a final lecture on octopuses. Pathetic as it might sound, this became something I looked forward to for months, desperate to feel excited and interested inside that sordid building.
All days come, and so did that day when my Mussolini-looking Roman Law professor walked into a room full of students and spectators standing on both sides and back; the four hundred seat room seemed magically small. What followed was a brilliant and uninterrupted hour-long monologue, impossible for me to reproduce with detail now, twenty years later, with my flaky memory as aid. But this is true: his speech changed the way I looked at octopuses forever. I thought I knew them well, I had been a spear fisherman since the age of 12 and octopus is a priced capture along the Mediterranean, when in reality I did not have the faintest notion of what the mighty octopus accomplishes in its short life. I was aware that he changed color, that the skin could also alter its texture to imitate that of rocks or seaweed, that he squirted ink, pretended to be a different sea animal, jet propelled itself to escape or hid underneath stones, all to avoid being eaten; I had seen all that many times. Sadly for the octopus though, he is considered as delicious underwater as on land, every predator wants to eat it. Even more unfortunately for the poor cephalopod, he is in the habit of eating lunch by his front door, so he is pretty easy to spot by humans once you discover a suspicious pile of empty shells on the seabed. My professor referred to his incredible abilities, his intelligence and bewildering anatomy. Eight legs, three hearts, one head, no bones, he is an all-round wonder, capable of squeezing inside a hole as big as the diameter of one of its tentacles, so a 15 pound octopus needs little more than an inch hole to get through. Each one of those tentacles feels, tastes and even "thinks", for part of its neurons are located there. And believe me, it does think in its own way, and solve problems, and learn; it the smartest invertebrate by far. If you put a shrimp inside a bottle and place that in front of him, the octopus will envelop the glass container, touching it all around. It will take a while, but eventually he will open the cap, put a tentacle in and eat the shrimp. What is more, the second time you try the trick (months later if you so wish) he will go straight to the bottle, open the cap and have his lunch as swiftly as you open your refrigerator door back home. The professor told us he always packed sardines for his dives and whenever he found an octopus he would attempt to win its confidence and feed it by hand. After a couple immersions the octopus would recognize him, his wetsuit, and would come out to greet him right away, looking for those fat sardines.
If you play with them, this I have tested myself, they will be very curious, touching you everywhere, grabbing your hand and letting it go, grabbing again, and they will show anger, frustration or fear by siphoning water, prickling the skin up, changing color rapidly. They love treats, free meals and are quite curious, just like us.
Here are three pictures of an octopus at the Paris Aquarium last month. He seemed terribly upset, going from one side to the other, turning reddish, brown, dark, light, waving its tentacles like an angry Italian primadonna. I will never know the whole story, because we left, but I did notice a closed jar with a crab inside at the bottom of the tank.
All this is what we talk about when we talk about Ocean Acidification.
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Dear blog readers,
During the next forty some days I will be in Brazil, screening the film around cities and representing the A Sea Change crew at an environmental film festival called FASAI, in the state of Bahía.
I will do my best to deliver updates of how things go in this wonderful South American country. Somehow I get the feeling I will be writing more than just about ocean acidification.
First stop (March 17th-22nd): Rio de Janeiro, a city with many layers
and in which streets you will find more than pigeons.
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Today we have plenty to do--organize an upcoming press conference for Barbara and Sven at the Klimaforum, hand out our postcards with the events on the back, and follow up with our many new contacts and allies who are helping us to bring awareness of the oceans to the fore.
These are our key events:
Saturday, December 12 - Ocean Motion dance party for the sea. To take place under a warmed tent near the Anton, the ship managed by the Danish Society for a Living Sea. Music by Ray Andres Band and a special guest DJ. The party takes place on Havengade, between the Greenpeace ship and the Anton. There will be glog, warm food, and giveaways. Time: from 8 pm to midnight.
Sunday, December 13 - Bike ride action - we want to ride to bring awareness about the oceans to the fore. We want every one to wear blue. We hope to provide blue ponchos or ribbons or strips of cloth or t-shirts, whatever works. The ride will start near the Anton (see above) and end at Radhusplausen. Time: from 1 pm
Monday, December 14 - Screening of A Sea Change. This is our last of four screenings. It will take place at the Klimaforum, the People's Climate Summit, Green Hall, Onkel Dannys Plads 1 at 9 pm. Like all the others, this screening will be followed by a Q&A with Barbara and Sven and our special guests: leading researchers on the ocean and climate change.
If you're in Copenhagen, please join us at one or all of these events. If you have any other ideas of actions that can be taken during the COP-15 to continue to make a commotion for the ocean, please let us know.
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While there is little likelihood of a significant treaty being signed in Copenhagen, there are some small glimmers of hope that movement has begun. With President Obama and the Chinese government both signaling a willingness to commit to hard CO2 reduction targets, it appears that perhaps a treaty might eventually emerge. However, until the CO2 starts dropping, the only reduction that is occurring involves the pH level of our oceans.
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Elena and Dennis of Sea Rocket Bistro appeared on Channel 6 in San Diego to promote their World Oceans Day screenings of A Sea Change. The best advocates we could ask for!
Sea Rocket Bistro is a farm-to-table restaurant that focuses on localfoods in order to provide a more physical connection between their guestsand the food they serve. Their focus is seafood, naturally.
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