Pearls in Vinegar

By Daniel de la Calle

I am a very slow museum visitor.  Last month I went to the Louvre for a couple of hours on three consecutive days and did not even make it through the marvelous Egyptian wing.  When I was a kid, one of the first stories that fascinated me about ancient Egypt was the one of Cleopatra; I probably had a crush on her.  For some reason, that famous tale of how she drank a pearl dissolved in vinegar completely caught my imagination; it was so exotic, smart, so enigmatic.  I was thinking about all this while slowly meandering along the sphinx, the daily life artifacts, jewelry, sculptures, instruments and scribe tools and everywhere I kept finding traces of our ancestral dependency of the seas for mental, physical and artistic nourishment.  A couple examples from the gorgeous mastaba, a fish monger and fishermen with nets:

The analogy of the pearl in vinegar and our current problems in the seas might lack subtlety, but it is nonetheless powerful.  Well, well, all of the above to simply tell you that here are a few pearls of information I fished for you from that other, ether-like sea of information:
NOAA grants $1.6 million to research for predicting daily cycles of hypoxia and pH in shallow estuarine waters on important finfish and shellfish:
The grant goes to Delaware Prof. Timothy Targett and colleagues at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and Louisiana State University.
Royal Canadian Geographical Society and the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy release a very controversial “Degrees of Change” interactive diagram:
The diagram, part of a national educational initiative called “Climate Prosperity” sees climate change as beneficial rather than calamity by, amongst other things, downplaying the impact of Ocean Acidification on marine life.
Whale poop is so so good:
University of Vermont whale biologist Joe Roman and his colleague James McCarthy, from Harvard University, have discovered that the liquid (yes, it is liquid) fecal matter of whales is rich in nutrients such as nitrogen and has a hugely positive influence on the productivity of the ocean fisheries.  To give you an idea, just the nitrogen input of whales in the Gulf of Maine is “more than the input of all rivers combined”, about 23,000 metric tones each year.  I will defer from making easy scatological jokes.
European Union study reveals the long-term risks of storing captured CO2:
It is the first time that the implications of CO2 leaking from storage sites under different scenarios and over the next 100,00 years has been studied.  Click on the headline to read these very interesting results. 
11th National Conference on Science, Policy and the Environment organized by NCSE for January 19-21, 2011 in Washington, DC. The title: Our Changing Oceans.  You can view the full agenda HERE.
THIS is a great Guardian article that deals on how first world countries are “growing greener at the expense of the rest of the world”.
Plastic debris is killing the Adriatic loggerhead turtles:
Researchers studying the impact of debris on marine life have found that one in three loggerhead turtles in the Adriatic Sea has plastic in its intestine.

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