Monday's Smorgasbord
Saturday, June 10, 2017
By Daniel de la Calle

Every few weeks there is a new one, March was not going to be an exception. Here you go, the list of A Sea Change news, Ocean Acidification videos and assorted internet links.

    ¤¤  Barbara and Sven spent this past month on the West Coast attending screenings, meeting people, seeing family, reflecting on future projects, maybe playing a little tennis as well. Just a few days ago they were at the University of Washington, where they delivered an hour lecture titled "Science, Media and Messaging" to graduate students from the School of Fisheries and Aquatic Studies. The link to the Bevan Series on Sustainable Fisheries on Ocean Acidification? Voila!:

    ¤¤  NOAA released in February an aquaculture program intended to "increase the US supply of healthy seafood, create jobs in coastal and other communities, spur innovation in technology and help restore depleted species and marine habitats." To give you an idea of its relevance, aquaculture has overtaken wild fisheries as the main source of seafood in the world. And let's not forget either that 84% of the seafood Americans put in their mouths is imported, making fish and shellfish the greatest natural resource contributors to the national trade deficit after…crude oil and natural gas!
Visit the specific NOAA page, read the policy, even submit your own comments here:

    ¤¤  To continue with seafood, Sven sent me some weeks ago an interesting page from the EPOCA site about the first day of the SeaWeb International Seafood Summit 2011 in Vancouver. Within the text there was a call by marine experts to "the global seafood industry and all other ocean stakeholders to avoid a defeatist attitude with ocean acidification and to instead pile pressure on scientists to provide solid data and advise on the potentially catastrophic problem, which could then be used to create concrete solutions." There are also valuable words from Dick Feely and Henry Demone, the president and CEO of High Liner Foods, a major Canadian seafood supplier seriously concerned with the problem and long-term implications of Ocean Acidification.

    ¤¤  This is a video from San Francisco State University about recent research on how one type of phytoplankton (E. huxleyi) will adapt to growing Ocean Acidification.

This form of phytoplankton is a power player in the ocean's ability to absorb greenhouse gases. If you watch it you will discover in more detail E. huxleyi's vital abilities. It is beautiful under the microscope.

    ¤¤  Here is a United Nations PDF about Ocean Acidification. Thought it could come in handy to some of you, there is no such thing as too many PDFs in the Documents folder.

    ¤¤  An hour long video from the Center for Biological Diversity's website with a lecture by Miyoko Sakashita on Ocean Acidification at the Bevan Series on Sustainable Fisheries. Not the most impressive video production, but the message is there:

    ¤¤  Are you a UK or EU science student looking for a PhD project on the effects of Ocean Acidification on shell characteristics in articulated brachiopods? Look no further!:

    ¤¤  Costa Rica has decided to expand its marine protected area around Cocos Island National Park. The protected area now covers 2,900 nautical square miles of ocean waters rich with endangered sharks and sea turtles.
In the photograph below, President Laura Chinchilla Miranda and her Environmental Minister Teófilo de la Torre signing the decree.

    ¤¤  Would you like your child, niece or the neighbor's kid, maybe your grandson to learn about Ocean Acidification but do not have a DVD copy of A Sea Change, our very educational documentary on the subject? Here is an article tailored to kids about Ocean Acidification that will do the job as well. Do not expect the same level of fun as if you were watching A Sea Change, though.
Make a comment

More November News on Ocean Acidification and the Environment
Saturday, June 10, 2017
By Daniel de la Calle

This November I'm looking for traces of "Ocean Acidification", not in water, but on the internet.  I found the following news and links I thought could/would/should interest you.

Britain sets up the world's largest marine reserve.
Since November 1st, the world's largest fully protected marine reserve is located in the British territorial waters of Chagos Archipelago, in the Indian Ocean.  This should be something to celebrate, but as Jonathan Owen from The Independent explains in THIS article, it is more of an embarrassment and an indicator of how the 2002 Convention on Biological Diversity and the World Summit on Sustainable Development's commitment to protect 10% of the world's oceans by 2012 fell short of its mark.  Today, less than two years away from the deadline to meet that scrawny goal, "1.17% of the oceans are under some form of protection, and a mere 0.08% classified as 'no-take' zones".

My pictures of sea breams at the Paris Aquarium.

Student video competition on Ocean Acidification.
Dialogue Earth is looking for smart and creative 90-second videos on Ocean Acidification "that manage to communicate this relevant science topic in a way that is engaging to wide-ranging audiences".  If you are a student and are up for the challenge, the total prize purse is $10,000 ($5,000 for the first prize video).  Read more about it HERE.  Visit the Dialogue Earth project page on HERE.

Olivine as Carbon Dioxide antidote.
I am opposed to the idea of geoengineering, as I have previously written on this blog.  Many of the "solutions" proposed ignore Ocean Acidification and would, because of this, be extremely detrimental to our oceans.  This is an interesting article (HERE) on the possible use of the mineral olivine to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and to "counteract the current trend toward ocean acidification".
Read it, see what you think.

New study on Ocean Acidification illustrates its threat to coral reproduction.
Scientists from the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science believe that over the next century recruitment of new corals could drop by 73% as acidity levels rise.  Recent studies such as this one are beginning to reveal how ocean acidification affects non-calcifying stages of marine organisms, such as reproduction.  Read more HERE or watch Rebecca Albright, a graduate student at Rosenstiel School, talk about the study:

Ocean pH is dropping faster than models predicted.
At a Geological Society of America meeting in Denver in early November researchers came to this alarming conclusion.  “Models are probably underestimating at least by a few years the impact of ocean acidification in the Arctic,” says Jeremy Mathis, a chemical oceanographer at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks.  “We don’t know what the organisms’ responses are yet, but the conditions are already there to potentially be disruptive to the ecosystems.”  NOAA's Richard Feely, our Richard Feely, warned that seawater acidity could double by the end of the century.  Read about it HERE.

"Atlantic", the first biography of a body of water.
One of my favorite nonfiction writers, Simon Winchester, has just released a new book on the Atlantic Ocean.  I have not had the chance to read it yet, but from the reviews online I am certain it will make for 500 pages of discovery, amusement, joy and some sadness.  At the end of the book he deals with man's impact on the Atlantic, including how Ocean Acidification is altering equatorial reefs. The full title is: ATLANTIC: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories.  Simon Winchester is this year's recipient of the Order of Magellan from the Circumnavigators Club.

Research cruise opportunities for ocean acidification studies.
Are you a scientist looking for a way to run your Ocean Acidification experiments on a boat?  Look no more, three cruises from June 2011 to February 2012 by the UK programme on Ocean Acidification offer you that possibility.  You can find more information HERE, on the Ocean Partners website.

UK Ocean Acidification annual science meeting 2011 in Cambridge.
Continuing with the aforementioned program(me), their first meeting will take place at Downing College, Cambridge from 9:00 AM on January 6th to 1:30 PM January 7th, 2011.  HERE is the online registration form and HERE you can read more about it.

New underwater robot could assist in Ocean Acidification research.
The new robot, baptized Tethys, can function in the ocean for months, hundreds of miles from shore.  The first experiments were carried out this past October in Monterrey Bay, where it spent almost a week tracking algal blooms.  Researchers are  now working on a way for the Tethys to bring back water samples and more sensors could be added later, including some that would track ocean carbon and acidification.  Read more HERE.  A picture of busy Tethys at work.

Make a comment

Back to Brazil, back to FICA
Saturday, June 10, 2017
By Daniel de la Calle

I really wanted to visit some of the cerrado National Parks during the screening tour in Brazil in March and April, but it was not possible.  The dates did not leave a window of time big enough to "escape" to the countryside between each city.   I thought it would be a long time before I had another chance to fly to South America and fulfill this desire, but I was so wrong.  Not even a week after my return to the US the production company received an invitation to take part in FICA again, the film festival that A Sea Change won last year, this time as part of a series of films to be screened for school children from the State of Goias.  I wrote to the organizers and suggested we did a little more than just show the film; I wanted to go down there and meet them, talk to them about ocean acidification and do a simple chemistry experiment to exemplify what an acidic ocean does to shell forming organisms.  They liked the idea and so it was that, barely a month after leaving Río, that I was heading South again on an early June night.

My expectations were very high, but even so the cerrado did not disappoint me at all. It is wild, it is pure, it is extremely beautiful, bizarre and surprising. Animals, birds and plants seem to have come out of a Dr. Seuss book.  The giant anteater with its long hairs, nose and tongue, the toucans and parrots, the palms, sticky plants, fragrant leaves, thorny bushes. Everything was new and unique to me.  And for good reason, forty some percent of all I saw was endemic;  this ecosystem is so important that, in a country like Brazil that holds the Amazon jungle, the cerrado still counts for over thirty percent of all the biodiversity in the nation.  The big threat to these gorgeous savannas and bushy areas are the dry season fires and the clearings done for soy and cattle farming.  Fires are strictly forbidden, but one would think that they are actually encouraged. Everywhere I went people were burning grass and low bush by the side of the road, in farms, in the forests.  This practice could not be more dangerous.  The dry season lasts half of the year and usually, once a fire gets out of control during these months there is absolutely no way people will manage to stop it. Some plants have adapted to fires and have the most ingenious ways of "escaping" or surviving fires, but many others and all animals caught in it perish and take an awful long time to repopulate the area because conditions in the cerrado are extreme and hard (six months of rain, six months of "seca", the dry season).  I came to realize that legislation is not going to do much to discourage "winter" burnings, that the only way to dissuade Brazilians from eradicating the mato is to educate them, to teach them to love this magnificent environment that they take for granted and to teach them about the consequences of fires. The cerrado, as I have already mentioned on previous posts in this blog, is the most threatened environment in all Brazil, way above the Amazonia.

Education has always looked to me like the only true key to hope and change in all matters, including the way we treat the planet, so I was elated to have the opportunity to show the film to 500 kids and talk to them for a couple minutes. There were children and teenagers of all ages, from 5 to 17. They were loud, they were having fun, they were nervous. The room was huge, it is the same one used for the Festival's closing ceremony, but in less than five minutes it filled up. They were making so much noise during the opening scene that you could not hear a thing. How loud were they? About this LOUD

Unfortunately, some of them had to leave before it was over because they had come by bus from distant towns and villages and had to begin their way back, but a good number of them stayed until the end.  I had promised to ask a few simple questions about the film and reward those that knew the answers with some of our merchandise, so the kids (and quite many adults) were pretty excited.  I also asked the younger children to please make a drawing with whatever part of the documentary or animal shown in it that they liked and we quickly assembled an informal jury to reward the best five or six with a Niijii Films baseball cap as well.  I wished I had brought 100 and not just a handful, it was heartbreaking to see some of those disappointed eyes. The most difficult question I asked seemed to be to name in an understandable way the little shell with wings that appears several times throughout the film.  The word "pteropod" is not the easiest one to pronounce for a 12 year old Brazilian kid; some pretty comical and unintelligible replies, formed mostly by the urge to own a baseball cap, came out of those mouths.  Finally, I told them all to come close to the stage and hold two cups in their hands, one filled with water and one filled with vinegar. Then we gave each one of them several pieces of chalk while I explained that they should imagine the acidic ocean being the cup of vinegar and the shell forming organism being the pieces of chalk. There was some initial confusion because the chalk was bubbling in the water as well as in the vinegar, but once the air inside it had come out they could see the vinegar getting all murky and the chalk stick slowly dissolving. I knew all this was quite a stretch for a little girl that has never seen the ocean or eaten shellfish and is at the beginning of her school years, but I think they got the essence of the message and both students and teachers were absolutely fascinated by the chemistry behind the terrible problem of ocean acidification. I believe and hope the experiment is going to be replicated in classrooms during the next few months.

Here are a few of the drawings I took with me, all of them winners of the Niijii Films cap that is now often seen around the State of Goias:

Make a comment

SCRIPPS and A Sea Change: Science and Cinema on a Mission
Saturday, June 10, 2017
On Friday night we had a reunion in La Jolla with our colleagues from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.  It was the first time we had gotten together since we stormed COP15.  After much strategizing, we have decided to have a repeat performance at COP16 in November.  We concluded that we had, in fact, made a difference, and we need to continue as an effective team on the ground.
Many blog entries and articles were written in Copenhagen on ocean acidification and A Sea Change, and here is one example (also pasted below) from a graduate student at Scripps:

A Sea Change
This film is amazing. If every parent could see this film, they would be set on fire to do something to stop ocean acidification. It follows the journey of one man, the filmmaker, Sven Huseby, who, after reading an article in the New Yorker about ocean acidification, becomes determined to save the beautiful fragile pteropods who are in the most danger of losing their shells if we continue emitting carbon dioxide and acidifying the oceans, so his grandson will grow up in a world will an ocean teeming with life.

After a screening of the film on December 10, there was a Q&A with Vicki Fabry, Andrew Dickson, Tony Haymet, and Ove Hoegh-Guldberg. The moderator, Brad Warren, kicked off this portion of the Q&A with an attempt to address two criticisms: Two kinds of hope being peddled at COP-15, both of which deserve to be thrown out of the window of a tall building. Geoengineering in the form of ocean fertilization. And the fact that adult lobsters grow thicker shells in a more acidic sea sometimes. You can click on the link to hear the panelists’ response:

Tamara Beitzel, Scripps graduate student
Make a comment

A fledgling Sea Change in Florida
Saturday, June 10, 2017

11icrs_header_logoA 20-minute, work-in-progress cut from A Sea Change will screen in early July in the Educational Center at the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Though the symposium is for scientists, the Educational Center is open to the public, so we're hoping to get some feedback we can keep in mind as we continue to craft the full-length documentary.

We're very happy to have a presence there: the symposium is sanctioned by the International Society for Reef Studies (ICRS) and only happens every four years. The timing is impeccable, as far as we're concerned.

Coral is particularly vulnerable to ocean acidification: reef researchers are our natural allies.

Did you know this is the International Year of the Reef, btw?

Make a comment

Fishmobiles galore
Saturday, June 10, 2017

FishmobileWe were looking for the Fishmobile designed by Urban Studio Brooklyn and Habana Works and found this one instead, an art car which frequents Burning Man--we like it so much we couldn't resist posting it here.(What can we say: we're fans of Burning Man, even though it may have gotten too big for its britches.)

The New York Fishmobile is a mobile wetlab and fishing clinic. FishmobileearlyWe love the concept and can't wait to see it in action. It's a human-powered vehicle, and designed also by pedicab designer George Bliss, commissioned by the Lower East Side Ecology Center.

Make a comment

Information for Action
Saturday, June 10, 2017

Information for Action is an environmental website offering a couple of features:

  • An easy-to-use automated lobbying service, allowing you to quickly send emails, letters or faxes to politicians and business leaders all over the world.
  • An educational resourceexplaining the environmental issues, using words, images, maps, graphs,links, and offering solutions and a 'What you can do' section.

It's all about empowerment. In their own words:

"Humans are destroying a beautiful, living resource. Time is running outfor the biodiversity of life that inhabits our planet and for ourquality of life. We are dependent on the health of our planet and if itcontinues to decline, as it has done over the past century, then humanhealth and wellbeing will decline as well. The window of opportunityfor us to organise globally to create a sustainable society is open -but it is closing. The time to act is now!"

Make a comment

Olivia Chantecaille at the Oceans Pavilion in Barcelona
Saturday, June 10, 2017

Olivia_chantecailleOlivia Chantecaille attended the roll-out of a gorgeous booklet called Gems of the High Seas at the Oceans Pavilion. Chantecaille Cosmetics, of which she is creative director, sponsored the booklet's publication.Gems of the High Seas focuses on six beautiful and endangered regions of the ocean.

Ms. Chantecaille said: "The strongest message that I've gotten from this trip to Barcelona is how urgent it is to protect the ocean and how quickly things are changing."

The company has partnered with the Pew Institute for Ocean Science to focus attention on marine issues. Five percent of the sales from their line of “Protected Paradise” Face and Eyes compacts is going towards the Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation, which awards $150,000 to each of five ocean experts annually to develop solutions to critical ocean challenges. Many think of the fellowship as the Nobel Prize of marine conservation.

The event was part of the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona and took place October 8.

Make a comment

Alaska youth come to the fore in ocean acidification awareness
Saturday, June 10, 2017

Ocean acidification may be a winning topic for some Alaska high school students. Four of them, from the Kodiak High School Tsunami Bowl team, have focused on the subject for a state science competition coming up in early February. If they win at the state level, they'll go on to Washington, DC, in April to compete nationally.

The Kodiak students' paper is called “Projected Effects of Ocean Acidification on the Marine Ecosystem and Social Structure of Kodiak.” The team is solidly in fourth place so far out of the 11 teams in Alaska that submitted papers, according to Tsunami Bowl co-coach Switgard Duesterloh, a former fisheries scientist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

"Co-coach Kevin Lauscher, a first-year KHS freshman earth science and photography teacher, said the team did more than just hit the books for information in the extensive paper.

“We tapped into our local community of scientists and we did use them as a source to really make it relevant and specific to Kodiak,” Lauscher said.

The competition demands knowledge of many different scientific fields — physics, biology, oceanography, earth science, ocean technology and chemistry — and a few others like local history and economics.

The Tsunami Bowl team has been preparing for Seward each week since November in two-hour sessions. The practices involved team discussions, ocean sciences lectures by Duesterloh and practicing their presentation, which is on PowerPoint slides. Beyond that, the team has been doing a lot of independent study."

For the rest of the article, visit the Kodiak Daily Mirror website.

Make a comment

A sea riddle
Saturday, June 10, 2017

What did the beach say when the tide came in? (2 possible answers!)

1. "Hi (high) Tide!"

2. "Long time no Sea!"

Today's riddle is courtesy of Elizabeth Eubanks, teacher, St. Mark Catholic School in Florida.

Make a comment