When in Rio
Saturday, June 10, 2017
By Daniel de la Calle

Yesterday was the first of our two screenings at Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) museums during the RIO+20 summit.  The brand new Environmental Museum (Museu do Meio Ambiente), located beside the Botanical Gardens has the glow of the brand new and still smells of paint, having been inaugurated just four days ago.  The restored building and all the details on floors, on the chairs made with recycled woods or on the colorful, minimalistic decorative touches everywhere speak of a labor of love and hope.  Hope of becoming the epicenter of discussions on nature, preservation and the arts in this beautiful city.  There can be no better backdrop than the lush botanical gardens to the voices and ideas to be heard in this space.  And as icing on the cake, presiding 700 meters above and framed by palm trees, the monument of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado.  Hard to ask for a more breathtaking location.
A Sea Change had the privilege of being the first event to ever take place at the Museu do Meio Ambiente and start the "Cinedebate" series, where once-a-week screenings will be followed by conversations between filmmakers, specialists and the audience on environmental topics.  Ours was animated from the start thanks to a wife and husband that expressed doubts about everything from the way the film was made to the environmental problems addressed at RIO+20.  Their comments obviously triggered a counter response from some of the rest of the audience and so we spent over an hour talking about how to tell stories and what scientists and decision makers are doing.  This is fantastic, it is exactly why we are here, to talk about it all and share our often opposed ideas with interest and respect, to create a debate that brings decisions and change.
When in Rio you must do as the cariocas do, so I am forced to head this very moment to the beach for a quick dip and some açai na tigela, but I leave you with a time-lapse I hope you enjoy.
Oh! The second screening will be on Wednesday the 20th, at 6:30PM, at the Museu da Republica. Come by!
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SINK, a Shell Dissolving Objet d'art
Saturday, June 10, 2017
By Daniel de la Calle

Artist Julian Priest has created SINK, "a model of anthropogenic ocean acidification".  The materials used are a scallop shell, an internal combustion engine, glass walls, aluminum framing, copper piping, brine and methanol.

How it works: "Fuel is burnt by an internal combustion engine to turn a propeller. The carbon dioxide rich exhaust gasses are piped into a tank containing brine and a scallop shell. The dissolved carbon dioxide creates carbonic acid and increases the acidity of the brine. The calcium carbonate in the shell slowly begins to dissolve."
Dimensions: 135mm x 250mm x 50mm
Weight: 1Kg
To CONTACT the artist.
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On Acid
Saturday, June 10, 2017
By Daniel de la Calle

Considering this is the A Sea Change website on Ocean Acidification and not forgetting this denomination and the various effects of OA on diatoms, oysters, clownfish and whales I guess we should have included this graph a long time ago.

What is acid?:

This one is very interesting as well:

SOURCE (EPA)

The graphs on PDF HERE
In the study of acidification research is carried out all around the planet, inland and offshore, thanks to large buoys crammed with equipment and inside mini-labs, in the tropical Great Barrier Reef and along the frozen arctic:

The international Heron Island project uses a small lab-in-a-box to create future ocean conditions in two to six feet deep shallow waters.  Inside this controlled environment scientists test the reaction of a few local corals to different future (pH) scenarios. The study has been published in SCIENTIFIC REPORTS.  It was made possible thanks to a complex device named Coral Proto - Free Ocean Carbon Enrichment (CP-FOCE) that "uses a network of sensors to monitor water conditions and maintain experimental pH levels as offsets from environmental pH."  Check it out:

"A) Shows a wide view of the experimental system including the 3 CP-FOCE flumes and the wind generator. B) Photograph of the experimental float that has the 4, 12 V deep cycle batteries as ballast, and contains all of the control computers, peristaltic pumps, the solar panel, and the radio antennae to transmit the data real-time back to the laboratory. C) Schematic of a CP-FOCE flume showing the 3 experimental sections and the flow conditioners with CO2 enriched seawater injection sites. D) Photograph of a section of a CP-FOCE flume containing a rack with Acropora millepora corals and the pump that is turned on when the doors are closed to provide water movement. E) Schematic of the feed-back control between the pH sensors, flow sensor and the National Instrument control computers which decide which peristaltic pump to turn on and at what rate for the dosing."
SOURCE

 

Further small-sized research has also been taking place some 10,000 miles away in the 100 degrees colder territories of the arctic.  Dr. Oliver Wurl has been doing experiments on phytoplankton (the "forests of the oceans", as he calls them) for the Catlin Arctic Survey.  In this video that almost lets you feel the chilling wind Dr. Wurl talks about his project and the difficulty of working under extreme conditions.


Dozens of similar studies try to show when put together a broad picture of the way marine species will respond to future conditions.  The final video below is a six minute mini-documentary on sea urchin larvae.  Click on it to see how experts from Stanford University and Bodega Bay Marine Lab decipher the ways in which acidification will affect the 28,000 genes of the young spiny echinoderms.

SOURCE

"Ocean Babies on Acid' focuses on an experiment that Steve Palumbi of Stanford and UC Davis marine biologist Eric Sanford have devised to study the effects of ocean acidification on sea urchin larvae off the California and Oregon coasts. One of their goals is to find out if the increased acidity caused in part by increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere makes it difficult for marine species to grow their shells. The study is unique in that they're not only studying the external aspects of these creatures but also delving into how ocean acidification may effect the animals on a genetic level."


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The Shape of Shells
Saturday, June 10, 2017
By Daniel de la Calle

Every shell protects the life of the creature that builds it and many of them continue to have a brief second existence as homes for hermit crabs or the base surface onto which algae and intrepid barnacles attach, but with time they inexorably break into sand.  The ones I want to write about, though, are a small exception, a handful that miraculously sublimate into beachcombing treasures and those that were once the horns calling armies into battle or the ones that were worn around the neck, or used as currency in Kongo, those decorating our bathrooms and finally the most important of all: the ones that act as repositories of our memories.  During this recent trip screening the documentary in Chile amongst the highlights were the visits to Pablo Neruda's homes in Santiago and Valparaíso.  I enjoyed looking at the shells he picked up around the globe in those years as a diplomat and an insatiable collector. The beautiful shapes and colors appeared a bit faded, but were visible; anyone given the chance to press them against the ear could have heard the faint whisper we choose to be the sound of the sea; it would be easy to look in books to name them and trace their origin.  But the stories?  Gone, forever.  The stories the poet placed inside after every purchase, discovery and adventure vanished for good the day he died.  And so, poetically, I wondered if that faded look was nothing but the absence of a memory.

I have hundreds of shells.  Four of them hold a special value.
One comes in the shape of a drowsy dream; it was found on a seasick morning dive in Hawaii the day my grandfather died. They say you are not supposed to take shells on dives, but I felt entitled.
Two are big, beautiful scallops given with love.  And I am partial to orange.
A third one has wound up inside it a shocking dispute with a mexican octopus.  The adventure delivered first a fright, then a gorgeous shell (see below)and a fantastic story to tell, although the final aftertaste was a bit of guilt.
The fourth is not even a shell, I am afraid, only the smooth portion of a clam: when my daughter was three we would go on treasure hunting walks along the beach.  While I targeted whole, beautiful, colorful, shiny, perfect looking shells her criteria was limited to the first thing she set eyes upon. Every step returned an object I politely pretended to store in a bottomless swimsuit pocket.  That one I am talking about I kept, and when I look at it now I wonder if I shouldn't have saved a few more, payed better attention at what I was handed.
Is this some sort of fable, a little tale with moral?  No, there is not much of a point.  I did want to show off my beautiful shells.  And with the RIO+20 events beginning here today, when world leaders gather for discussing what calls for no discussion but action, with all the dire arguments running once more the risk of getting twisted, contended and diluted into a bunch of smiles and taps on the shoulder I guess it would be ludicrous to bring up some of these other reasons, the emotional, intangible and unquantifiable ones, that take the shape of shells into account and the memories that come with them to finally deliver some change.  But I will keep some hope, miracles do happen.
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The Transit of Venus
Saturday, June 10, 2017

By Daniel de la Calle


From Maya Lin's interview in our film to the recent NYC Pteropod exhibit by Cornelia Kavanagh that we wrote about in April, we have always enjoyed looking at nature, science or Ocean Acidification through an artistic filter.  With that in mind we bring you now a sample plate made of beautiful films, sculptures created with plastic debris, photo exhibits, art contests and visually captivating scientific research that might inspire you, deepen your understanding of things or spark a revolution:

The current "Washed Ashore: Plastics, Sea Life and Art" project at the Chula Vista Nature Center features enormous fish, coral reefs, turtles and jellyfish created from plastic bottles, flip-flops, ropes, trash cans and much more.  Angela Haseltine Pozzi is the artist behind it, a native of Oregon that found inspiration and motivation after seeing the pristine beaches of her childhood "become cluttered with plastic pollution."  And she adds:"I now see the essential purpose of my work is not only to create strong aesthetically sound sculptures, but also to bring awareness and dialogue about the oceans' environmental issues. I believe the power of the arts can carry urgent messages forward into the public eye."

SOURCE

It was June 5th, 1761, when close to two hundred scientists spread around the world to observe the transit of Venus, hoping that by watching from different stations they would be able to measure the distance from Earth to the Sun.  That event probably marked the first attempt at global scientific cooperation.  Fast forwarding now to the present times, artist Lynette Wallworth saw a connection between this historic collaborative effort at observing celestial objects and the state of our colorful coral reefs of today, in desperate need of a multinational campaign.  That is how she began two years ago working with a microscope instead of a telescope on the film "Coral: Rekindling Venus" around

reefs in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Florida and Australian laboratories, in the hope of being finished for this year's transit of Venus.  I bet you just saw tv coverage of that planet of love and feminine beauty crawling in front of the sun; now you also stand the chance (if you are in New York at least) of seeing the mesmerizing images of "Coral: Rekindling Venus" at the planetarium of the American Museum of Natural History.

The film has no narration because Ms Wallworth believed it is all about the emotional experience. "I know the information is out there — I think our connection to this community is not," she says.  So what the film does instead is reveal in extreme close up a vibrant miniature universe of creatures caught up in the struggle for life and reproduction, lushly eating and moving in a display that proves how the small can explain the big, that proportions and detail are bewitching and that sometimes just one word can be one too many.
Do press "Play" to watch the official trailer and/or the interesting TEDxSydney talk by Lynette Wallworth below.  You shall not be disappointed:



SOURCE

Since early May and until mid September you can visit a unique art display involving five teams of scientists and artists at the EDF Foundation in Paris.  

Photo: Living Light No. 2 (Pyrocystis Fusiformis), 2011, by Erika Blumenfeld in collaboration with Michael Latz

Under the title Carbon 12 this eclectic group exhibit "aims to build a bridge between contemporary art and climatology around the central role carbon plays in current ecological evolutions."  The themes, artists and scientists are:
Ocean Acidification
A large work by David Buckland representing a chalk cliff, illustrates his response to the research led by Debora Iglesias-Rodriguez (National Oceanography Centre, UK) on the Arctic coccolithophores’ role in the absorption of carbon and the acidification of the oceans.
Technologies of maritime energy
With the help of drawings, installations and sculptures, the British artist Annie Cattrell reformulates research on the ocean's role in energy production, the use of the swell and operation of submarine turbines led by Mark C. Bell (ICIT/Herriot-Watt University, UK) and Simon Boxall (National Oceanography Centre, UK).
Atmospheric Volatility
With "Domestic Disaster 3: Planet Earth", HeHe (a duo formed by Helen Evens and Heiko Hansen) recreates a miniaturized polluted atmosphere placed on a world map. Colourful and artificial, animated by a slow and steady movement, accompanied by a sound choreography, this atmosphere echoes the research on fluid dynamics led by Jean-Marc Chomaz (CNRS, Laboratoire LadHyX, France).
The damage to the biodiversity of forests
Lucy + Jorge Orta, in resonance with findings made by Professor Yadvinder Malhi (Environmental Change Institute Oxford, UK), will show a wall of photographs of flowers, digitally reworked, taken during their expedition to the Peruvian Amazon in 2009. Three showcases containing moulded sculptures recall the primary role - as carbon trap – of the Amazonian biodiversity for the ecological balance of the planet.
Maritime pollution
A series of photographs and a video created by the American artist Erika Blumenfeld, who worked with Michael Latz (researcher in maritime bioluminescence, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA) underline the fundamental role of phytoplankton in the cycle of oxygen’s renewal (up to 50%).
An accessible and educational scenography, videos conceived in close collaboration with scientists, as well as documentaries on Cape Farewell’s work, will allow all members of the public to learn more about the scientific elements involved in the completion of the different works of art.    
SOURCE
SOURCE 2

We want to mention again the Ocean Ark Alliance art challenge for Year 9-12 to be showed at the Melbourne Aquarium on October 22nd, 2012. This fantastic project is currently Victoria (Australia) based, but organizers hope it to eventually become a national and international initiative.

ENTRIES

for the $50,000 prize moneys.
To REGISTER

your school's interest
To become a SPONSOR
SOURCE

Under the continuing and growing effects of acidification our oceans will kill an unknown number of phytoplankton. We have previously written about it, I know, about how phytoplankton might be the planet's most important organism, both basic to the marine food chain and provider of half of the oxygen in the atmosphere.  HERE is a very valid article by Stephen Leahy about the latest research by Chinese and German scientists on diatoms, but the simple reason to be mentioned here is that they represent the symbolic contribution by nature to this post about art, beauty and creation. Just look at the photograph of these diatoms.

Credit: Michael Stringer
SOURCE


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Learning & Working Around OA
Saturday, June 10, 2017
By Daniel de la Calle

One learns and then works, and sometimes one's work is learning.  A few opportunities to do both:
A month-long research voyage in Scotland is using the latest robotic submersible technology to study the risks of Ocean Acidification to their deep coral colonies. The Mingulay coral reefs were only discovered ten years ago by a team led by Professor Murray Roberts, the person in charge of this expedition.
At the start of the voyage schoolchildren from Sgoil Lionacleit in Benbecula will visit the ship to watch the expedition’s robotic submarines explore the deep sea coral reefs growing on the Hebridean seabed. The team will also be working with the pupils and educational specialists from ‘Our Dynamic Earth’ in Edinburgh to develop environmental workshop materials for use in schools around Scotland.
Professor Murray Roberts says, “It’s the upcoming generations who are going to be the custodians of the natural world. This is an opportunity for young people to see with their own eyes the amazing underwater habitats that exist on their own doorstep.”
SOURCE
Take a minute to watch this great video about the Davidson Seamount, another deep sea coral area off the coast of California, to understand what makes these marine environments so special and discover what they look like:
SOURCE for video

In early May the College of Science and Engineering at San Francisco State University hosted their 14th annual Student Project Showcase.  It featured more than 150 individual and group entries competing in the fields of Biological Science and Physical Science. "Graduate student Sara Boles explored the impact that rising acidity in oceans has on sea creatures. She placed oyster larvae into containers with varying temperatures and carbon dioxide levels and monitored them at three stages of development. She found that oysters in more intense environments -- higher temperatures and carbon dioxide levels -- needed to create more protein to deal with the environment, expending more energy in the process and making it difficult for them to survive. The results could suggest the effects of climate change on other species. "I've always been interested in human-caused activities and how they affect our environment," Boles said. "Since we're animals too, it's really important to think of any other animals, like oysters, like a canary in a coal mine.""
SOURCE

A group of students at Montalvo Elementary School, in Ventura, California are participating in the NOAA's Adopt a Drifter Program, tracking a 44-pound buoy across the sea after its release over a month ago off the Santa Barbara coast.
"“[The students] will be able to predict and draw conclusions based on the data obtained after reviewing the buoy’s information,” said Jose Chicote, the fourth-grade teacher at Montalvo Elementary School whose class is involved in the study, “not to mention the new scientific terminology and math skills involved with this project.” […]
A unique component of the Adopt a Drifter Program is that students can follow buoy releases in other parts of the world and come together internationally: “The Adopt a [Drifter] Program is partnering with the International Preparatory School in Santiago de Chile, Chile,” said Chicote. “I believe this is a great opportunity for elementary school students to have a broader knowledge about communication between other students in different parts of the globe.”"
“We have connections with kids in Chile, and when [the buoy] goes over to Chile, they get to see our names,” said student Aja Lim. “I feel so proud that our school can do all these cool things because this is something important.”
You might work at a school and want to adopt a drifter too.  HERE IS THE LINK to the NOAA program site.
SOURCE

2 Year post-doctoral position within the European Free-Ocean Carbon dioxide Enrichment experiments (eFOCE) at the Laboratoire d'Océanographie de Villefranche (Villefranche-sur-mer, France).
"Responsibilities: The applicant will be in charge of running medium (few weeks) to longterm (several months) experiments in the bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer, focusing on the effects of ocean acidification on natural benthic communities (Posidonia beds and coralligenous algae). The experiments will be carried out in close collaboration with the eFOCE partners: Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Intitute (USA), Plymouth Marine Laboratory (UK), Station Biologique de Roscoff (France) and the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies (Spain)." Deadline for application is June 24th, 2012.
READ HERE to find more.

Ph.D. scholarship at the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences of the University of Adelaide, Australia.  They are looking for "an outstanding student interested in studying the interactive effects of Ocean Acidification and sea surface temperature rise on the physiology, behavior, and sensory ecology of larval fish.  The project has a strong experimental component and is mainly laboratory-based."  The position is only open to international candidates outside of Australia and New Zealand.  Applicants should have a M.Sc. degree or at least the equivalent of an Australian First Class Honors degree.
CONTACT HERE
SOURCE

During the life of this blog we have gone from no videos on Ocean Acidification to the dozens you can now find online.  This new one is from the California Environmental Legacy Project.


A video animation by the Alliance for Climate Education that can serve as introduction for school children to Ocean Acidification.


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Shepherd Dolphins
Saturday, June 10, 2017
By Daniel de la Calle

If we finished the month of May with our classic news, photo and video update I thought it is only fair to also begin June in the same fashion and color.  Here they are, a few more news items as we slowly catch up with the latest on the oceans and Ocean Acidification after our adventure in Chile.  Enjoyed together with the previous post I believe it makes for some fun minutes of visually striking material peppered with information over the weekend:

A recent press release issued by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution stated that water warming during this century in the equatorial Pacific could create refuges for coral around Gilbert Island chain thanks to the increased upwelling of cold waters rich in nutrients.
"These little islands in the middle of the ocean can counteract global trends and have a big impact on their own future, which I think is a beautiful concept," said study researcher Kristopher Karnauskas.  If predictions by Karnauskas and his colleague Anne Cohen are correct, water temperature increase around the Gilbert Islands will be slower than the average and this will give corals a higher chance to adapt.
Global climate models predict the central tropical Pacific to warm by 5 degrees Fahrenheit (2.8 Celsius) by the year 2100.  The researchers used global models in combination with a fine-scale regional model and their results on the low-lying coral atoll islands "suggest that the amount of upwelling will actually increase by about 50 percent around these islands and reduce the rate of warming waters around them by about 1.25 degrees F (0.7 degrees C) per century," Karnauskas said.
SOURCE

I enjoyed doing and posting that test a few days ago, so HERE is another one, from the Christian Science Monitor with the question "Are You Scientifically Literate?"
Not very much, I am afraid, only scored 29 out of 50 :(

One more video on Ocean Acidification to join the now long list: "Ocean Acidification: Connecting Science, Industry, Policy and Public"


For as long as I am here Brazil I will try to keep adding news that have to do with the country of samba and the ocean.  Today you can read about the magical relationship between fishermen and bottlenose dolphins in the town of Laguna, where these cetaceans act as shepherds to bring mullets into the local's nets.  For some unexplainable reason one third of the local dolphin population engage in these coordinated fishing activities, with mothers nudging their young towards mullet to maybe teach them how to coordinate fishing tactics.  Scientists are trying to find out if this is, as it seems, a learned behavior that is passed on from generation to generation.
SOURCE
SOURCE 2

Scientists from Stanford and the University of California may have found an explanation for the Permian Extinction, also called the Great Dying, a period some 250 million years ago where 95% of marine species went extinct.  Their study adopted a cellular approach to try to solve the riddle (=what happened within the cells of the animals to finish them off?).  Dr. Clapham and Jonathan L. Payne, co-authors of the study conclude that animals with skeletons or shells made of calcium carbonate were more likely to die than those with skeletons of other substances.  Also, animals were more apt to disappear if they had few ways to protect their internal chemistry and neither numbers, dispersion throughout the planet, diet or how the creature moved helped against extinction.  The authors conclude that animals died from an excess of carbon dioxide and lack of dissolved oxygen in the water, higher water temperatures and a reduced ability to make shells from calcium carbonate.  Sound familiar?
Please read on in THIS New York Times article about the probable "perturbation of the carbon cycle," what they describe as "a huge infusion of carbon into the atmosphere and the ocean" way before hominids began their existence.
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"O Rio De Janeiro Continua Lindo"
Saturday, June 10, 2017
By Daniel de la Calle

After the visit to Southern and Central Chile in early May we are catching up with some of the latest news on Ocean Acidification while preparing as well for the +20 summit at the end of June in "lindo" Rio de Janeiro.

Here are some news sifted through the web of webs:

Eastern Brazil is home to the largest rhodolith bed in the world according to a recently finished two-year study.  What are rhodoliths and how does relate to Ocean Acidification?  I had found these pebblely-coral-looking objects on the ocean floor or washed up on beaches everywhere all the time, but never knew what they were.  This is a picture of four:

Turns out they are made of many layers of hard red algae and they  "play a critical role in a healthy marine ecosystem by providing primary habitat that can yield diverse and abundant communities of fish and invertebrates of high commercial value," as Professor Rodrigo Moura (Rio de Janeiro Federal University), co-author of the study, points out.
"Rhodolith beds face an array of threats including ocean acidification, sedimentation from land-based sources and large scale dredging and mining. Though acidification looms the largest and cannot be managed regionally, the other threats to the health of the Abrolhos shelf rhodolith bed can be managed on a local scale. The bed falls within the Abrolhos seascape, a 9,5000 square kilometer (37,000 square miles) area of ocean where Conservation International works with the Brazilian government and community organizations to conserve and manage ocean resources.
"Based on the relatively high vulnerability of coralline algae to ocean acidification, the rhodolith beds are likely to experience a profound restructuring in the coming decades,” said the lead author of the study, Gilberto Amado-Filho, a  researcher at Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden. “With the Abrolhos shelf bed producing an estimated 25 million metric tons of calcium carbonate a year, its protection and continued study should be prioritized.”"

SOURCE

Fuel for fuel lovers: "Large wind farms might have a warming effect on the local climate, research in the United States showed on Sunday [April 29th], casting a shadow over the long-term sustainability of wind power" read a Reuters piece that was lustlily repeated in delight over the internet.
"The world's wind farms last year had the capacity to produce 238 gigawatt of electricity at any one time. That was a 21 percent rise on 2010 and capacity is expected to reach nearly 500 gigawatt by the end of 2016 as more, and bigger, farms spring up, according to the Global Wind Energy Council.
Researchers at the State University of New York at Albany analyzed the satellite data of areas around large wind farms in Texas, where four of the world's largest farms are located, over the period 2003 to 2011.
The results, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, showed a warming trend of up to 0.72 degrees Celsius per decade in areas over the farms, compared with nearby regions without the farms.
"We attribute this warming primarily to wind farms," the study said. The temperature change could be due to the effects of the energy expelled by farms and the movement and turbulence generated by turbine rotors, it said.
"These changes, if spatially large enough, may have noticeable impacts on local to regional weather and climate," the authors said."

"More research is needed", they said too.
It would be naive to think that alternative energy sources do not come with some cost, that there is a 100% clean source of energy to feed the needs of six billion people.  I lose hope contemplating the delight and cheer with which these news (the extent of truth of this one still waiting for "more research") are welcomed and repeated over particular blogs and sites.  Is it something anyone should be happy about?  Do we live in the same planet?  Like the morally deprived is exalted and finds legitimation seeing others fail or sin, their clothes stained, there is no desire for betterment or personal change, just anger and ammunition for war.
I suppose all this joy must at least imply a certain amount of underlying acknowledgement of the global problem we are facing.
Please read more from the SOURCE

A test to bring back high school memories: "Are You Smarter Than a 10th Grader on Climate Change?", from the PBS website.  I hope you have the Ocean Acidification questions right.

Nature will always have the power to surprise me with its creations, wisdom and self-defense techniques.  Two very different in size examples: 1Researchers have just discovered that whales may be able to protect their ears by lowering their hearing sensitivity when warned of an imminent loud sound.
"Whale hearing may be the most fascinating marine mammal sense," says Paul Nachtigall, a biologist at the University of Hawaii who started his career studying otter vision, but soon switched to whale and dolphin echolocation. Earlier experiments by Nachtigall and his colleagues suggested that whales can actively shield their hearing from loud outgoing echolocation clicks, which can reach sound levels equivalent to a rifle fired right next to the ear. The scientists wondered if the animals could similarly protect their ears from incoming loud noises.
The team repeatedly played a short warning sound followed by a loud sound to a false killer whale working in the laboratory in a floating facility off Coconut Island at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology. They measured the animal's hearing sensitivity by placing suction-cup sensors on the skin of the whale's head and recording the frequency of its brainwaves. Initial results indicate that the whale significantly reduces its hearing sensitivity when warned that a very loud noise is about to arrive.
"It appears as though the whales learn this pairing of warning signal and loud sound rapidly through classical conditioning," says Nachtigall. Many human activities such as oil exploration and the use of ships' sonar create loud noises in the ocean. If wild whales could quickly learn the meaning of a short warning sound, the technique might help lessen the impact of anthropogenic noise on marine mammals, Nachtigall notes."

SOURCE
2And now watch these unbelievable carrier crabs as they use everything from rocks, corals to a sea urchin to defend themselves!:


Our friends at the Center for Biological Diversity want all of us to help them fight for the future of coral reefs by signing THIS petition to list 56 species of corals in US waters as threatened and endangered by the National Marine Fisheries Service.

It is an ad, yes, but watch this and try to keep the mouth closed:

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Chile, From Santiago to Valparaíso
Saturday, June 10, 2017
By Daniel de la Calle

After Puerto Montt, the second half of the series of screenings in Chile unfolded at universities in Santiago and Valparaíso.  Although they shared the name, "Universidad Católica", there was no connection between the two.  We were in Santiago thanks to an invitation by Professor José M. Farina, showing the film in their downtown campus, a few minutes away from sadly famous since 1973 Palacio de la Moneda.  Had a most interesting conversation with Professor Farina where he let me know that Ocean Acidification is not one of the top priorities or concerns amongst the small oceanography and marine biology community in Chile and that, needless to say, the phenomenon is completely unknown by the general public. Things like climate change, pollution from salmon farms, green tides, the niño/niña phenomenon or water hypoxia rank much higher in the agenda.  I knew nothing about water hypoxia and was fascinated and terrified by the description.  It seems that along the Chilean coast there is a not too deep layer of water depleted of oxygen, a dead zone for marine fauna. Sometimes, for reasons they are studying, it slowly raises up to the surface like an silky vail of death and kills all life it touches.  
At the screening the attending students had organized an informal pre-screening informal gathering with coffee and pastries, so we got to meet and chat for a few minutes before, which was a great idea because I felt it broke the ice for later.  We had a small technical problem that turned images rather green (green tide!), but they all watched with great interest nonetheless and our conversation and q&a afterwards lasted longer than the film itself.  There were members of the Ecology, Biology, Oceanography and Environmental Sciences Departments and I learned a lot from them while also trying to emphasize the need society has of their work and our desire to bring changes to the world. Enthusiasm run high and I was promised screenings at schools around Santiago to educate kids about Ocean Acidification and the beginning by one of the students of a small college newspaper about marine science. I do not really know if any of it will actually happen, these were promises made in the heat of the moment, but their feelings and passion were so sincere that they alone would have made completely worth our efforts to fly to Chile this month.

The next morning I was on a bus to Valparaíso for our final showing in the country.  While in Santiago I had stayed a block away from Pablo Neruda's house "La Chascona", the one ransacked by Pinochet's hyenas, and upon my arrival into "Valpo" I discovered my accommodation was also five minutes from "La Sebastiana", his home sitting on a hill. Fresco detail in La Chascona
Neruda loved the oceans, he obsessed with ships and anything smelling of salt and iodine, evoking sea travel.  In the houses he built he always tried to replicate the interior of sailboats: the dining rooms are long, narrow, with low ceilings, the wooden floors crack, gently rocking below your feet, certain windows are portholes and most of furniture came from sea vessels, like the gorgeous bar where he entertained and prepared cocktails for friends, the office desk on the last floor that had once belonged to the captain of a merchant ship or the nightstands by the large bed. He amassed a vast collection of shells and several majestic figureheads.  Like a beachcomber, he was a collector of everything and anything, constantly thirsty for beauty and uniqueness.  The house in Valparaíso is in the perfect location to encompass the whole bay.  Beside one of its ample windows he placed his favorite armchair; it is there he wrote many of his poems, always using green ink, perching over the harbor, getting up every now and then to look into his spyglass at distant ships.  But, surprisingly, Pablo Neruda was also utterly terrified of being aboard a ship and in the few occasions he did he became terribly seasick.  A perfect epitome of the Chilean man, enveloped in the unequivocal presence of the Pacific Ocean, swirling in a game of love, fascination, dependence and fear, but a distant stranger to it all the same.

The pretty theater at the Universidad Católica de Valparaíso was full on both floors with kids and young adults, most in school uniforms. The screening went well, colors looked the way they should and our conversation at the end was extremely lengthy once again.  I might talk too much.  Professors complained about the lack of interest from Chilean students in science, marine science more in particular, and those young men and women asked some very good questions.  Several got carried away like in Santiago and offered to spread the word on Ocean Acidification in schools and amongst friends.  All that time we were less than a hundred meters from the water, but a road and a fence separated the bay from us, making it invisible.  Maybe that is why most of the attendants had never even seen Valparaíso and the seals living in the harbor from the water.  Ms. Marina Vivar, from the local Natural History Museum purchased a copy of the film and asked if it would be ok to have it loop-playing in their newly renovated facilities. Another lady, the head of science college programs in the region, purchased one as well and proposed further screenings at the university and to leave the documentary also available in the video library.  I was invited to lunch (fish soup, finally) by organizing Professor Sergio Palma, and walked from there to the harbor, where old fishing boats are now used to take tourists around the huge dock cranes, through the shipyard, the harems of seals around the blubbery male and the frightening gray muscle of the chilean navy, to the open view of tutti frutti Valparaíso, the city that draws itself on walls and doors, always facing the sea, seldom in it.

      
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The Crossing Of The Andes
Saturday, June 10, 2017
By Daniel de la Calle

You can fool and distract yourself in the days leading to a trip, go through the motions of packing, closing doors and taking cabs in hypnotic discipline, behave in such a drowsy way during the flight that the experience nears teletransportation, but when the captain's voice comes in the speaker commanding everyone to buckle up in preparation for crossing the Andes you immediately wake up with the strength of a pound of caffeine and Chile surfaces in your mind, solid and unequivocal.
I had never buckled up to go over mountains.  But then again, these were the Andes, daisy chaining in time everything from the Incas to "Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors"and encompassing in space over 7,000 kilometers of mountains, high plateaus and volcanoes; the true backbone of the South American continent.  Sure, the Himalayas are the Himalayas, with all the 7000 and 8000 meter summits in the world, but when it comes to names nothing resonates higher or sounds steeper than the Andes.
The Chile I saw and walked on below was at times not what I expected.  Downtown Santiago could be in Madrid or even Paris and Southern Chile is at times a slightly poorer and much wilder mirror image of Germany and Switzerland.  City streets nationwide are taken by literally thousands of stray dogs.  They are so many and so large only after some time you come to accept none of them lives in a home.  Maybe as consequence, there are very few dog owners. Any city street corner in Chile
But reaching closer to our documentary and its subject, when looking at a map one would think that Chile and Chileans face the Pacific Ocean for over 4,500 kilometers of straight coastline, but the truth is that the country has its back to it and what they face are the wine valleys, fruit farms and mineral-rich soil before and into the striking Andean peaks.  Sure, you will find in its waters some of the best fishing grounds in the world, and they are the second producers of salmon worldwide, but culturally, historically, gastronomically and economically the Pacific is mostly ignored and taken as a frontier.  After arriving in Puerto Montt for our three scheduled screenings at the Diego Rivera theater I walked into a 30 aisle supermarket and found a plethora of kuchen and wurst, many of the smells from my Bavarian grandmother's kitchen, Argentinian veal steaks (some fed with Chilean fish meal!), but no fish section at all.  Nothing, not even salmon.  Ten steps away from waters filled with barnacles the size of your fist, "shoe mussels" (deservedly called so by locals) and fish farms that export worldwide, buying any of it fresh was not an option.
The two school screenings went very well, drawing kids from towns within a two hour radius.  Some had to even cross lakes on ferry boats to get to the theater those two mornings.  The students from a Puerto Varas school, a beautiful town sitting at the foot of lake Llanquihue, had been doing these past few months some lab experiments on Ocean Acidification, so they were the most knowledgeable and interested (measured by the number of questions raised at least) of all.  These events with students are not just about the specific problem of acidification, they are about nature, preservation, the environment, the threats to life and about having that become part of the school curriculum.  Living in such beautiful, almost unspoiled surroundings I felt I had to explain that in fact most of the world does not look that way and is not in such condition, that no matter how accustomed they might be they should not take any of it for granted. They are very fortunate to wake up every morning with wilderness at the doorstep, surrounded by clean water, fertile land, and glacier mountains tops. Idyllic, and it is very good to hear a foreigner praise and envy it.The youngest kids walking into the Diego Rivera Theater
The evening screening for adults usually shows where there is friction in the region, the cracks on the wall that go unnoticed to the mere visitor, so I am very lucky because this way of traveling puts me in a very privileged position. In the case of Puerto Montt the not so sunny side was primarily the environmental damage caused by the salmon industry.  There is a long, repeated history of pollution and abuse by salmon farms in the area, and also much resentment because the economic benefits have not stayed in the area either.  And the fishing fleet had not done things any better.  It seems to have historically been in the hands of Spanish and Japanese companies with little scruples and immense greed (those two, always going hand in hand).  Since I am a Spaniard, a local fisherman and a young historian both spoke about the atrocities my ancestors had done since the XVI Century and about the ones my fellow countrymen are still doing, obliterating the ocean bottoms, trawler fishing the waters empty.  It is hard to know what to say in these cases, when one becomes a forced representative of his country of origin or of the first world in general and I am told I have no right to defend preservation, to deprive their country's economy of developing and preach the opposite of what my nation has done and still does. No matter how much I despise flag waving and tribal chest pounding, it is not hard to also see how it can itch to have an "outsider" deliver certain messages, so my hope, I guess, is that soon the young audience from the morning screenings will be the one speaking and demanding changes everywhere.  Also in beautiful Southern Chile. View from Puerto Varas of Lake Llanquihue and the Osorno Volcano
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