Breaking Waves: Ocean News

05/17/2021 - 14:00
University of NSW study suggests six times as many individual birds as humans but that many species are very rare There are about 50 billion individual birds in the world, according to new research that uses citizen science observations to try to estimate population numbers for almost 10,000 species. The paper, led by scientists at the University of New South Wales, suggests there are about six times as many birds on the planet as humans – but that many individual species are very rare. Continue reading...
05/17/2021 - 12:08
(Credit: Unsplash) The catch of the lifetime can mean more than just a good fish tale. It just takes one phone call — and some scientists waiting on the other end of the line — to make your record catch contribute to a body of research that can ensure its sustainability for many lifetimes to come. (From Harte Research Institute/ By Nikki Busky) — Scientists with the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation, located at the Harte Research institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, have formed a unique relationship with local docks, charter captains, and anglers in the Coastal Bend area. For several weeks in the spring, HRI sportfish researchers are on-call for science — and when a rare species is caught, such as the bluefin tuna, they pack up and run to take samples for their work and the work of scientists around the Gulf. “These fish are a real treasure and very rare, with only 4-6 per year caught and retained,” said Sportfish Center Director Dr. Greg Stunz. “Working with anglers allows us to get samples from these fish that would otherwise not be possible.” Atlantic bluefin tuna are a migratory species that are highly-regulated under a rebuilding plan that allows extremely limited harvest by fishermen. Only a handful are allowed to be taken in season each year, depending on weight, under current quotas in the Gulf of Mexico. That means the opportunity to sample and study these fish and learn about their lives in the ocean is an incredibly rare opportunity for scientists. So far this year, researchers at the Sportfish Center have taken samples from two fish caught out of Port Aransas, Texas: A state record 19-year-old, 876-pound bluefin tuna brought into Fisherman’s Wharf and a 23-year-old, 706-pound bluefin tuna caught aboard the Dolphin Express out of Dolphin Docks. To get an idea of just how rare an opportunity this is, Tim Oestrich, captain of the Dolphin Express, who helped to bring in the 23-year-old fish, said he’s been fishing his whole life, and this was the first bluefin tuna he’d ever landed on an excursion. “We only have a window of about 3-4 weeks, and the weather’s got to line up and the people have to line up,” he said. The process all starts with… Read the full article here:
05/17/2021 - 11:35
Dear Congresswoman Bonamici: On behalf of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership (COL), which represents our nation’s leading ocean science, research, and technology organizations from academia, industry, and the larger nonprofit sector (to include aquariums, philanthropy, and associations), I am writing to express support for the Coastal and Ocean Acidification Stressors and Threats (COAST) Research Act of 2021 (H.R. 1447). COL applauds the COAST Research Act in its mission to strengthen existing ocean acidification initiatives and to introduce new strategies to better understand and manage this environmental stressor. Ocean acidification, which occurs as the ocean absorbs higher concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide, threatens the health of the entire ocean. As corals, shellfish, and many types of plankton struggle to create and maintain their shells or exoskeletons in more acidic waters, ocean food webs are disrupted. This, in turn, threatens the crucial balance in many ecosystems, as well as our own security and prosperity, jeopardizing the stability of those whose livelihoods depend on a healthy ocean. Like many environmental challenges of our time, vulnerable communities who rely on shellfish and healthy coastal ecosystems for food, employment, and commerce with few alternatives will feel the negative impacts of ocean acidification most acutely. Combatting the causes and mitigating the effects of ocean acidification requires sustained congressional support and interagency collaboration, as well as engagement by stakeholders in the private sector, academia, philanthropy, and beyond. I strongly commend the COAST Research Act’s commitment to advancing ocean acidification research and monitoring efforts, as well as promoting cooperation among stakeholder groups. I offer my sincere thanks to you, Congresswoman Bonamici, for your efforts to help us better understand this urgent threat and to improve overall ocean health by strengthening federal investments in the research and increasing monitoring of changing ocean conditions. Our lives and our future may well depend on it. Respectfully, Jonathan W. White, RADM (Ret.), USN President and CEO Consortium for Ocean Leadership Read the full letter here. 
05/17/2021 - 10:24
Pictured: NOSB 2021 Champions Dougherty Valley High School. Also pictured: The DVHS coach, NOSB volunteers, and NOSB national office staff. (Image credit: Ocean Leadership Staff) 21 Teams Competed in Virtual Finals Competition (Washington, D.C.) – Over the weekend, students from Dougherty Valley High School in San Ramon, California, won the National Finals of the 24th Annual National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) for the first time in the team’s history. An interdisciplinary ocean science education program of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, the NOSB tests students’ knowledge of ocean science topics, including cross-disciplines of biology, chemistry, policy, physics, and geology. This year, due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, students competed in a modified, virtual competition season culminating in over a week of online competition, mentoring, and interactive “field trip” events as part of NOSB Finals. Students on the championship team include Venkat Ranjan (captain), Harish Balasubramanian, Prayrak Bajaj, Danial Zhu, and Bryan Yan. They are coached by Karen Dennis. This year’s theme, Plunging into Our Polar Seas, tasked students with learning about the scientific processes behind and consequences of the changes taking place in the Arctic and Antarctic. To qualify for Finals, the teams first had to win their regional competitions, which took place entirely virtually for the first time ever this year. In total, more than 210 teams (made up of almost 1,050 students representing nearly 30 states) participated, adding to the over than 30,000 students who have passed through the ocean sciences competition over the last 24 years. A full list of the 2021 NOSB Finals participants is available here. “Each year when Finals rolls around, NOSB students impress me again and again with the skills and teamwork they demonstrate, from their ability to make connections between seawater chemistry and global climate history to the sportsmanship they show their fellow competitors,” said RADM Jon White, President and CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership. “Polar science is one of the most important — and rapidly changing — fields within Earth science, and NOSB students rose to the challenge of studying it with the dedication and enthusiasm I’ve come to admire from these future ocean leaders. Congratulations to our winners and to all teams who participated in our regional bowls and at the national level, and many thanks to all of this year’s numerous volunteers who made this challenging, virtual NOSB a tremendous success!” Through buzzer-style, multiple-choice questions and open-ended team challenge questions, students tested their general knowledge of ocean science and showcased what they learned about the complex, vulnerable ecosystems of the Arctic and Antarctic as well as the research needed to address issues facing our polar regions. This year’s theme also highlighted one Arctic study in particular — the Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate, or MOSAiC, project. Modeled after the 1893-1896 Fram journey, MOSAiC is a collaborative, international research expedition that froze a scientific research vessel in sea ice for a year to study the changing ocean in the Arctic. Teams also presented science recommendations on a piece of legislation in the Science Expert Briefing (SEB), a mock congressional hearing that enhances the critical thinking elements of the competition and focuses on real-world skills. The top eight teams at the Finals Competition were: 1st Place – Dougherty Valley High School (San Ramon, CA) 2nd Place – Lexington High School (Lexington, MA) 3rd Place – Canyon Crest Academy (San Diego, CA) 4th Place – Santa Monica High School (Santa Monica, CA) 5th Place – Tesla STEM High School (Redmond, WA) 6th Place – Saline High School (Saline, MI) 7th Place – Oxford High School (Oxford, MS) 8th Place – Edwin O. Smith High School (Storrs, CT) In addition to the quiz bowl-style competition questions, participants were scored separately on their performance in the SEB. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (Alexandria, VA) won this portion of the competition, while Juneau Douglas High School (Juneau, AK) came in second and Saline High School (Saline, MI) came third. “The NOSB has always been about more than just memorizing facts, and this year’s competition theme really gave NOSB students the opportunity to build on their knowledge of ocean systems and make connections to larger social and political challenges, such as how to prepare for the impacts of climate change, including safely taking advantage of economic opportunity that may arise from climate change such as was considered in their SEB testimony. The most pressing scientific questions of our time come from the Arctic and Antarctic, and it will take thoughtful, dedicated individuals — like those who compete each year in NOSB — to unravel and answer them.” shared Kristen Yarincik, NOSB Program Director. “Thank you to MOSAiC for their assistance with this year’s theme and events, as well as to our national office staff and the entire extended NOSB family of Regional Coordinators, volunteers, and supporters who helped make this completely virtual competition year possible.” Due to the ongoing public health concerns surrounding COVID-19, this year’s award experiences will also take place virtually, with the top four teams getting exclusive opportunities to talk to leaders in the ocean science community about ocean issues, their career paths, and more. First place will speak with Dr. Jyotika Virmani, executive director of Schmidt Ocean Institute; Second place will talk to Dr. Nadya Vinogradova Shiffer, physical oceanographer and program scientist at NASA; third place will meet with and Dr. Katy Croff Bell, National Geographic Society fellow and founding director of the Open Ocean Initiative at the MIT Media Lab; and fourth place will meet with Dr. Kelly Kryc, senior fellow at the Center for American progress whose ocean science and policy expertise spans the federal government, the nonprofit sector, aquariums, and more. Each of the top eight teams will receive gift cards. The 2021 national NOSB program is made possible through the following major sponsors: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Schmidt Ocean Institute National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Gulf Research Program National Aeronautics and Space Administration Shell Exploration & Production Company American Honda Foundation The Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation Lockheed Martin Bureau of Ocean Energy Management MacGregor Norway AS Marine Mammal Commission Marine Technology Society Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society National Marine Education Association A complete list of sponsors can be found here: For more information about NOSB, visit About National Ocean Sciences Bowl The National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) is a program of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership based in Washington, D.C. Now in its 24th year, the NOSB seeks to interest students in pursuing a college degree and a future career in the ocean sciences. Through this educational forum, the NOSB strives to encourage and support the next generation of marine scientists, policy makers, teachers, explorers, researchers, technicians, environmental advocates, and informed citizens to consider and appreciate the ocean. Most high school students do not have the opportunity to study ocean science as part of their formal coursework, which makes the NOSB one of the only ways students gain exposure to this field. Many past NOSB participants have moved on to pursue college degrees and careers in ocean science, helping to solve the growing environmental, economic and security issues facing our ocean and planet. About Consortium for Ocean Leadership The Consortium for Ocean Leadership (COL) is a Washington, D.C. nonprofit organization that represents the leading public and private ocean research education institutions, aquaria, and industry with the mission to shape the future of ocean science and technology. In addition to its advocacy role as the voice of the ocean research and technology community, COL manages a variety of community-wide research and education programs in areas of ocean observing, ocean exploration, and ocean partnerships. .fusion-body .fusion-builder-column-2{width:100% !important;margin-top : 0px;margin-bottom : 20px;}.fusion-builder-column-2 > .fusion-column-wrapper {padding-top : 0px !important;padding-right : 0px !important;margin-right : 1.92%;padding-bottom : 0px !important;padding-left : 0px !important;margin-left : 1.92%;}@media only screen and (max-width:1024px) {.fusion-body .fusion-builder-column-2{width:100% !important;order : 0;}.fusion-builder-column-2 > .fusion-column-wrapper {margin-right : 1.92%;margin-left : 1.92%;}}@media only screen and (max-width:640px) {.fusion-body .fusion-builder-column-2{width:100% !important;order : 0;}.fusion-builder-column-2 > .fusion-column-wrapper {margin-right : 1.92%;margin-left : 1.92%;}}.fusion-body .fusion-flex-container.fusion-builder-row-3{ padding-top : 0px;margin-top : 0px;padding-right : 0px;padding-bottom : 0px;margin-bottom : 0px;padding-left : 0px;}
05/17/2021 - 09:51
Study’s authors believe animal can benefit people as well as ‘cultural and natural heritage’ of Arizona and New Mexico Jaguars could be reintroduced in the south-western US, where hunting and habitat loss led to the big cats’ extinction, a new study says. Scientists and other environmentalists make the case for bringing back the third-largest big cat, after tigers and lions, in Arizona and New Mexico in a paper published in the journal Conservation Science and Practice. Continue reading...
05/17/2021 - 09:26
Scientists have used species survey and climate data to identify two marine biodiversity refugia in the Eastern Bering Sea - regions where species richness, community stability and climate stability are high.
05/17/2021 - 05:00
Our emotional register – how ‘doomy’ or ‘hopeful’ we are – will inevitably shape the policies we put forward As the climate emergency creeps closer to the top of the political agenda, where it belongs, an argument is raging over communication. Exactly what to say about the environmental crisis, and how, is an important question for all sorts of people and organisations, including governments. It is particularly pressing for journalists, authors and broadcasters. For us, communication is not an adjunct to other activities such as policymaking or campaigning. It is our main job. People need to know what is happening to glaciers, forests and endangered species, and what is being done about this. But information requires interpretation. And while editorial judgments influence the way that all subjects are covered, storytelling about the climate emergency is particularly fraught. Continue reading...
05/17/2021 - 01:00
Florida scientists use juvenile bonnetheads for research Authors say findings applicable to other ocean-going sharks Scientists in Florida have concluded that sharks possess an internal navigation system similar to GPS that allows them to use Earth’s magnetic forces to travel long distances with accuracy. Related: Below the surface: reports of rising shark attacks don't tell the whole story Continue reading...
05/17/2021 - 00:40
Consortium plans to produce green hydrogen with wind and solar energy as a potential replacement for Hunter Valley’s coal industry Australia’s first “hydrogen valley” would be created in New South Wales and run entirely on renewable energy under a $2bn proposal supported by local and global energy companies. Led by renewables advisory business Energy Estate, the consortium says it plans to produce green hydrogen with wind and solar energy and use it as a feedstock for mining, transport and industrial users in the upper Hunter Valley, spruiking it as a potential replacement for the region’s coal industry. Continue reading...
05/17/2021 - 00:00
Controversial deal with China would be ‘disastrous’ for fishing and protected rainforest, say opponents A $55m (£39m) deal struck by the government of Sierra Leone with China to build an industrial fishing harbour on 100 hectares (250 acres) of beach and protected rainforest has been criticised as “a catastrophic human and ecological disaster” by conservationists, landowners and rights groups. The gold and black sands of Black Johnson beach fringe the African nation’s Western Area Peninsula national park, home to endangered species including the duiker antelope and pangolins. The waters are rich in sardines, barracuda and grouper, caught by local fishermen who produce 70% of the fish for the domestic market. Continue reading...