Ocean Currents http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Tue, 18 Oct 2016 15:00:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 The Future: Arctic Five-Year Plan http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/10/18/the-future-arctic-five-year-plan/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/10/18/the-future-arctic-five-year-plan/#comments Tue, 18 Oct 2016 14:59:59 +0000 Andrew Hartsig http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=13139 We have less than a month to keep the Arctic Ocean safe from offshore drilling.

Right now, President Obama is preparing a new five-year leasing plan, and it could allow risky oil and gas leasing to go forward in the Arctic Ocean. We can’t let that happen.

Can I count on you to help protect the Arctic?

The future of the Arctic will be determined in these next few weeks. Offshore drilling is risky, and in the Arctic it’s as dangerous as dangerous gets. A major oil spill in the remote and icy waters of the Arctic would be all but impossible to clean up. In fact, there’s virtually no infrastructure or adequate resources for a cleanup. It would be a danger to not only the people and response teams involved, but a threat to this fragile ecosystem.

The answer is simple: We can’t risk a disaster in the Arctic. That’s why we need you.
Will you join Ocean Conservancy in asking the Obama Administration to exclude Arctic lease sales from the final version of the five-year plan?

The time to act is now. The Administration needs to know this issue is important to you!

Until we can ensure the safety of wildlife and the ocean ecosystem, we can’t afford to include Arctic leasing in the five-year plan. Arctic wildlife like polar bears, bowhead whales and walruses are found nowhere else on Earth. It’s up to us to protect their Arctic home from the dangers of offshore drilling.

Take action for the Arctic. Ask President Obama to keep Arctic leasing off the five year-plan.

Please take five minutes to stand up for five years in the Arctic.

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5 Reasons the Octopus is the Coolest Animal in the Sea http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/10/07/5-reasons-the-octopus-is-the-coolest-animal-in-the-sea/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/10/07/5-reasons-the-octopus-is-the-coolest-animal-in-the-sea/#comments Fri, 07 Oct 2016 18:30:40 +0000 Erin Spencer http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=13119

There are few ocean creatures more mysterious than the octopus. For centuries, its bizarre appearance and unusual behavior have captivated scientists and storytellers alike, making it one of the most loved invertebrates in the sea. In honor of World Octopus Day, we’re sharing why octopuses are the absolute coolest animals out there.

1. The octopus is a master of disguise.

When it comes to trickery, no one can beat the octopus. Octopuses have color-changing cells, or chromatophores, covering their skin. By expanding or contracting the cells, octopuses can quickly change color and ultimately blend into their environment. The mimic octopus takes the deception a step further by changing the way it moves its arms to impersonate a variety of other marine species. It can “mimic” 15 different species (that we know of), including lionfish, sole flatfish and sea snakes. By imitating these toxic animals, mimic octopuses can protect themselves from predators while vulnerable in the open ocean.

2. The octopus knows how to have a good time.

Think mammals are the only animals who play? Think again. A 2006 study observed wild-caught octopuses “playing” with Legos by pulling them through the water or tossing them in between their arms. Whereas less intelligent animals often ignore objects after determining they’re neither a threat nor food, octopuses exhibited curiosity, the ability to learn and a desire to play with foreign objects—three traits that have not been traditionally associated with invertebrates. Play behavior is a sign of higher intelligence, and one that has only otherwise been recorded in vertebrates.

Can we blame them, though? Octopuses deserve a little fun too.

3. The octopus is not to be messed with.

The octopus may not have threatening spines, teeth or claws, but don’t let their cuddly exterior fool you. All octopuses (as well as cuttlefish and some squid) are venomous. But the blue-ringed octopus is in a league of its own: This golf-ball sized powerhouse packs enough venom to kill 26 humans within minutes. Found in the Pacific Ocean, the blue-ringed octopus’ venom contains neurotoxins that cause muscle numbness and weakness, followed by troubled breathing and possible death. If you ever encounter this blue and yellow beauty, back away in a hurry—its bite is usually painless, so you might not know you’ve been bitten until it’s too late.

4. The octopus is legendary.

Octopuses have captured man’s imagination for centuries. Octopuses appear in legends and as deities in every corner of the world, including as the Tahitian sea demon Rogo-tumu and the color-changing Lusca of the Bahamas. They frequently appear in pop culture as well: from the Kraken of Pirates of the Caribbean to Ursula of The Little Mermaid, eight-legged sea beasts have long been used as the quintessential ocean villain.

5. The octopus is a smart cookie.

When we think of animal intelligence, it’s vertebrates like dolphins and chimps that get most of the credit. But make no mistake—the octopus holds its own in a battle of wits. Cephalopods have large, condensed brains that have sections entirely dedicated to learning, a trait that is unique among other invertebrates. Octopuses’ brilliant problem-solving abilities have been documented time and time again; for example, the infamous Inky the Octopus who slipped through a gap in its tank in a New Zealand aquarium and slid down a 164-foot-long drainpipe into Hawke’s Bay. There’s also evidence octopuses have personalities, and react differently based on how shy, active or emotional they are.

We know there’s so much more to love about the octopus (it was hard to narrow this list down to only five reasons). Celebrate World Octopus Day on October 8th by sharing your favorite octopus fact or photo on Twitter and tag @OurOcean!

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Meet Chloe: Teen Advocate for our Ocean http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/10/07/meet-chloe-teen-advocate-for-our-ocean/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/10/07/meet-chloe-teen-advocate-for-our-ocean/#comments Fri, 07 Oct 2016 13:00:04 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=13053  

by Nelle Crossan

Meet Chloe—a 14 year old from Colorado, working to bring awareness and advocate for the ocean by encouraging other teens to get involved in their local communities!

Ocean Conservancy: When did you first find your passion for the ocean?

Chloe: Every year we would visit my great grandmother in Florida and I always found the ocean both calming and empowering. The ocean is so unique—we still don’t know exactly what is out there. I remember finding butterfly shells (coquina clams) on the beach and picking up starfish and throwing them back to sea. Also, my grandparents, Carol and Michael Altman have always encouraged my love of the ocean and are donors to OC! I have continued to love the ocean even though I live in Colorado. I am part of a club at school that works with the organizationTeens4Oceans, which has been a great way to learn more about ocean health and what teens can be doing to advocate, protect and preserve it.

Ocean Conservancy: Teens4Oceans sounds like an awesome organization! Tell us more about your involvement.

Chloe: I knew I wanted to learn more about the ocean and give back, so I started researching organizations with my mom. We heard about Teens4Oceans and two friends of mine approached me about starting a club at our school. We were able to have someone come out and visit my school with a mobile lab from Teens4Oceans, and it was so cool. We got to do different experiments that showed the effects of coral bleaching. We learned more about the plastic gyres in the Pacific Ocean, endangered fish species and how our actions affect the ocean, even from a landlocked state like Colorado.  As a club we also held bake sales and raised enough money for two water bottle refilling stations in our middle school!

Ocean Conservancy: Wow! What a great way to bring the ocean to teens! In your opinion, what do you think teens could be doing in their daily lives to make an impact on ocean issues?

Chloe: If teens and kids my age are really passionate there is so much they can do! Teens can create groups that meet monthly, go to coastal clean ups, or go online and learn more about ocean issues. Other ideas are having bake sales with informational handouts about the ocean and using reusable water bottles so not as much plastic ends up in the water. I think the biggest problem for people our age is that we don’t know what our impact is on the ocean and I want to make sure teens are informed about their actions.

Ocean Conservancy: Thank you so much, Chloe for all of your work to engage teens on this issue and for being a supporter of our work. We need more teens like you!

Nelle Crossan is the Individual Giving Specialist at Ocean Conservancy, based in Washington, DC. Nelle grew up on the north shore of Massachusetts and spent her summers at the beach, soaking up all the ocean has to offer. When she’s not advocating for ocean health you can find her singing, watercolor painting or swimming. Follow her @nellecrossan.

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How to Melt the Arctic in 3 Easy Steps http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/10/06/how-to-melt-the-arctic-in-3-easy-steps/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/10/06/how-to-melt-the-arctic-in-3-easy-steps/#comments Thu, 06 Oct 2016 12:34:12 +0000 Becca Robbins Gisclair http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=13092

How do you melt Arctic sea ice in three simple steps? Glad you asked. Today, I’m sharing our latest recipe with you.

The Arctic is heating up fast. As sea ice melts, more water is opening up for ship traffic and oil drilling, posing a threat to Arctic wildlife—the perfect recipe for disaster.

Will you help us stand up for the Arctic? Sign your name, and pledge your support to this vulnerable area.

Here’s a taste of our family Arctic recipe.

Step 1. Coat the ice with a dusting of black carbon from increased ship traffic to speed melting.

Step 2. Add a dash of oil from offshore drilling to enhance melting.

Step 3. Place in the oven and turn up the heat.

But there’s one major problem with this recipe: We don’t actually want to cook the Arctic. Clearly, we’re missing our key ingredient—YOU!

Will you join thousands of people like you, working together to cook up solutions for the Arctic? You can help keep the Arctic cool. You can protect our Arctic. Will you show your support today?

Take action now. Together we can collect 20,000 signatures to demonstrate our support for the Arctic.

Walruses, ribbon seals and polar bears all depend on sea ice as vital habitat. Narwhals and bowhead whales use quiet Arctic waters to forage for food and raise their young. And seabirds come by the thousands to feed and breed during the northern summer. Alaska Native people have lived in this special place for thousands of years and depend on these abundant resources. Increased shipping, drilling and the melting of sea ice threaten them all.

Add your name to the growing list of people showing their support for the Arctic. Sign alongside others like you who respect this magical area—from the narwhals and ribbon seals, to the people who call the Arctic home. No matter where you live, the changes in the Arctic affect us all.

Let’s make sure we #KeepArcticCool.

Sign the pledge, join the movement and be sure to share this recipe with friends and family.

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Talk to the Water http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/10/05/talk-to-the-water/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/10/05/talk-to-the-water/#comments Wed, 05 Oct 2016 13:15:47 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=13088

by Sarah Quintana, sarahquintana.com

Sarah Quintana is a New Orleans musician who lent her voice and music to our newest video. Inspired by the forces that shape the Gulf Coast, Sarah explores the themes of rivers and water in her latest album, “Miss River.” Using an underwater microphone typically used to record dolphin and whale sounds, she incorporates the sound of the Mississippi River and other water bodies into her music.

On any pretty day in spring, Gulf Coast folks are quick to say, “Let’s head for the shore and enjoy the big, beautiful Gulf of Mexico! Canoe along the shore, catch some fish and soak up the culture that is our Southern home.”

But now it’s October. We’re smack in the middle of hurricane season and two months ago Louisiana flooded so bad it was deemed the worst national disaster since Hurricane Sandy.

It’s difficult. The Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi River are both my best friends, but also bullies.

Growing up in New Orleans, I’ve been flooded more than once. Climate change is driving our rivers and lakes to flood larger and larger areas. The map of Louisiana looks very different now than when I was in high school. It’s gone from something like a chunky space boot to a worn and torn sneaker.

Add to this the effects of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, which we’re still living with, and you can see people are struggling here.

To be honest, I’ve become afraid of water. I have panic attacks when it rains; and I’m not alone in this. Living on the Gulf, we’ve seen water do terrible things: destroy homes, drown people and pets and separate loved ones.

In the wake of the latest hurricanes, I started searching for meaning. I decided to go to the source and ask the water itself for answers. I went to the banks of the Mississippi River and cast a microphone into the water and put on headphones to take a closer listen. I asked: how can the same water that has such adverse effects on me—terror—also be a messenger of joy?

As I listened to the deep tones of the river, I heard the truth. The Mississippi River boomed and droned. It spoke of its muscle in moving water, glaciers, sediment, people, history, flowing, always flowing from the headwaters in Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. The river spoke of the twin forces in our lives: life and death. I realized that nature gives us all, yet also takes away. When I heard a chorus of fish at sunset on Lake Martin I finally got the answers I was looking for. Life is change, but love holds us together so we can endure.

I pulled the microphone out and wrote down these answers the way I do, as music. My band and I recorded an album, “Miss River,” to share our stories about love and loss in Louisiana, cycles of life and death and the importance of protecting our land and each other. These answers I carry close to my heart, but one response rings most clear.

Hope . . .

For me, this hope is replacing fear. I see now the mighty Mississippi and the surrounding waters flooded my heart and my home to become the medium of my music. Thus, although we live in a place that is literally sinking, I have great hope for our future together. I stand with my community and sing for the precious Gulf Coast, re-imagining a happy ending of our own in 2045, hoping we will see the coast revived.


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Revolutionary Marine Life Data Released in the Mid-Atlantic http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/10/04/revolutionary-marine-life-data-released-in-the-mid-atlantic/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/10/04/revolutionary-marine-life-data-released-in-the-mid-atlantic/#comments Tue, 04 Oct 2016 16:15:42 +0000 Katie Morgan http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=13055

Do you remember how excited we were in June when a revolutionary set of maps depicting where marine mammals, fish, and birds are distributed in New England was released? Well, let’s just say, we were pretty excited. You can only imagine our excitement when the Mid-Atlantic released a similar set of maps this month, characterizing the spatial and temporal distributions for over 100 species in the region.  This is a big deal.

Off the coast of the Mid-Atlantic lies a beautiful and complex ocean ecosystem, from shallow coastal bays to deep offshore canyons. This ecosystem is home to an array of species, many of which move in and out of the region at certain times of the year. In an effort to better understand how species are distributed throughout the region across space and time, a group of scientists undertook one of the largest known efforts to gather and synthesize species data. The draft products were just added to the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal, substantially increasing our knowledge base of marine life for ocean managers, stakeholder, and the public.  While they are draft versions and therefore still subject to review and changes, this is a huge step forward for our understanding of marine life in the region.

Click on the photos below to view gallery

Marine Mammal - Senstivity to Low Frequency Sounds - Core Abundance - MidA Scale surface plungers core abundance area mida scale blog-Avian-Species---High-Collision-Sensitivity-to-Infrastructure---Core-Abundance---Mid-Atlantic-Scale





Interested in knowing marine mammals that are sensitive to high frequency sound are likely to be found? Want to know where endangered bird species are likely to be distributed? What about where the core biomass of forage fish is found? There is now a map for all of that.

Head on over to the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal to explore these data, and more!

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Eelgrass and Ocean Acidification: California Takes Action http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/10/03/eelgrass-and-ocean-acidification-california-takes-action/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2016/10/03/eelgrass-and-ocean-acidification-california-takes-action/#comments Mon, 03 Oct 2016 15:26:23 +0000 George Leonard http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=12961

What do eelgrass, the California state legislature, crabbers, and Ocean Conservancy have in common? They are all part of the solution in California’s remarkable actions this past week to address the threats that ocean acidification presents to California’s healthy fisheries, marine habitat and coastal jobs.

Governor Jerry Brown just signed into law a pair of bills that will address the concerns over ocean acidification raised by oyster growers, crabbers and others who make a living off of the ocean.

The two pieces of state legislation were crafted by Assemblymember Das Williams and Senator Bill Monning, as tailored place-based solutions to what amounts to a global problem. SB 1363 will protect and restore eelgrass habitats, increasing carbon sequestration amongst the roots of this coastal vegetation. AB 2139 will establish an ongoing task force to ensure that state decision making is informed by the latest science, identify areas of our coast that are vulnerable to ocean acidification and hypoxia, develop water quality standards to protect coastal water health, and address gaps in ocean acidification monitoring and management needs.

The elected officials and their colleagues heard from scientists’ predictions of the ever-increasing impact of ocean acidification and that species like Dungeness crab, squid and other fish upon which fishermen and seafood lovers alike depend will be harmed if it goes unchecked. At the request of the Ocean Protection Council, the California Ocean Science Trust convened the West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel in 2013 to synthesize the science behind ocean acidification (and the related issue of hypoxia) and to recommend concrete policies that can address the problem in both the short and long term. This novel collaboration between OPC and OST led to a first-of-its-kind report by this multidisciplinary science panel. Released this past spring, the OAH panel puts forth a vision for how California can address ocean acidification and hypoxia, including 14 major recommendations.

Senator Monning and Assemblymember Williams authored complementary pieces of legislation, informed heavily by the panel’s recommendations. Ocean Conservancy is proud to have supported the scientific panel and the resultant legislation by Assemblymember Williams and Senator Monning, together with a large coalition of ocean champions to ensure these bills got to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

Governor Brown continues to be a global role model for tackling ocean change head-on. His approval of AB 2139 and SB 1363 this session is an important first step to ensure the state has the tools necessary to fight back against climate impacts in its coastal ocean. Ocean Conservancy looks forward to working with Governor Brown and other leaders throughout the state to ensure our future ocean continues to provide the vital services upon which all Californians depend.

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