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The Blog Aquatic

News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy

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Adventures in Social Media: Ocean Conservation in the Age of Twitter

Posted On September 12, 2012 by

Credit: wrongindustries flickr stream

I’m what tech companies refer to as a “late adopter”. I waited years to get an iPod and only recently replaced my 17-year old Sony Trinitron TV with a flat screen.  As an ocean conservation scientist, I prefer the look and feel of the print edition of Science to the digital version. Heck – I’m not even on Facebook – to my teenage daughter’s chagrin. But as social media has proliferated, I began to wonder what I was missing and whether there was a role for this new communication tool in my work here at Ocean Conservancy. When Sara Thomas from our Marketing and Communications Department offered to help me join the digital age, I leapt at the opportunity.

Its been two short weeks since I set up my Twitter account and I am now convinced that social media can help us advance ocean conservation. I have just returned from the 10th International Seafood Summit in Hong Kong, where I led a panel on ocean acidification and live tweeted throughout the conference.  Like Twitter itself, my social media journey has been fast-paced. In mid-August, I posted my first few bland tweets about ocean issues. “Great job” encouraged Sara, my Twitter mentor, “but don’t be afraid to put a little more personality into your posts.” As a scientist, that’s not something I’m used to doing. I was trained to provide all the details and stick to the facts, and so too often dwell on the wonky policy implications of our work. But I am learning that cutting to the heart of the matter and emphazing the human dimension makes for a more engaging discussion. Continue reading »

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Ocean Acidification Anxiety at 36,000 Feet

Posted On September 5, 2012 by

Credit: swamibu flickr stream

As the jumbo jet lifts off over the San Francisco Bay, I am nervous. I am on my way to the 12th Seafood Summit in Hong Kong but I usually don’t have concerns about flying. It is a very long flight – 14 hours and 6 minutes to be exact – with plenty of time for last-minute preparations for the panel I am leading on ocean acidification. I should be relaxed; I have attended this event yearly, and I’ll see many old friends and colleagues during three days of important discussions about the future of the ocean and the seafood it provides to us all. But I’m not. I’m anxious. As we reach 36,000 feet, I realize that the pit in my stomach isn’t the result of a new-found fear of flying but the result of what I’ve learned about how ocean acidification is impacting our ocean.

For the last several months, I have worked with three leading ocean experts to craft our panel. While I have spoken at many conferences over the last two decades, this recent process has been one of personal discovery. When I began my graduate studies in the early 1990s, climate change and global warming were not yet household names. Since that time, ocean acidification has emerged as an existential threat to the future of a living sea. Carbon emissions in the atmosphere are increasing the acidity of the ocean, with implications for much of the ocean’s food web.

Continue reading »

What’s in a Number? Insights and Opportunities for Ocean Health

Posted On August 29, 2012 by

Credit: Mario Chow

What if you could take the pulse of the ocean? What if that measure could integrate all the threats and impacts to the ocean, rather than evaluating each one separately?  And instead of dwelling on these negatives, the metric could express the health of the ocean by quantifying and adding up the most important ways the ocean benefits humans.  Most importantly, the measure wouldn’t portray humans as separate from nature, but rather embed us deeply in this “seascape” and empower us – all of us – to chart a course for the future of the ocean.

The newly released Ocean Health Index (OHI) may very well get us there.  The OHI takes on the big issues – pollution, habitat destruction, invasive species, fishing and climate change – and its findings should cause us all to think hard about what we want the ocean to provide.  The short story is that the global ocean scores 60 out of a possible 100 points, with large variation among the 171 countries and territories evaluated.  Whether you view the glass as half empty or half full, there is clearly considerable room for improvement.  Continue reading »

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5 Questions with Underwater Photographer Feo Pitcairn

Posted On August 25, 2012 by

© Feo Pitcairn

Much has changed since a teenaged Feo Pitcairn took his first wildlife photographs and developed them in his parent’s cellar.

For one thing, he’s no longer using that darkroom; his equipment now includes high-definition digital cameras that produce images with up to 40 million pixels.

His work has been showcased at the Smithsonian, on PBS and in countless books, magazines and calendars. And his film “Ocean Voyagers,” narrated by Meryl Streep, has been converted to 3-D and nominated for an award at the upcoming BLUE Ocean Film Festival.

Most recently, he’s transitioned from natural-history filmmaking back to his first love, still photography, and he’s launching an online gallery to share his work with the world.

A former Ocean Conservancy board member and long-time supporter of the organization, Feo has also witnessed a great deal of change in the health of our ocean during his many years as a photographer. He shares his experiences and insights—as well as a slideshow of beautiful ocean images—after the jump.

Continue reading »

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Shark Bites: How Dangerous Are They?

Posted On August 14, 2012 by

Click the image for a high-res version.

The height of the summer beach season means many things: vacations, sleeping in, getting a tan; but for some ocean-goers, one fear can wind up taking over… Sharks.

Over the years sharks have been sensationalized as cold-blooded man-eaters. Peter Benchley’s “Jaws” certainly did a number on humanity when Spielberg brought this terrifying, Megalodon-Great White hybrid to life in the 1975 film adaptation. Since then, sharks have continued to sing a bittersweet symphony in our lives. We are terrified of these animals, yet completely fascinated by their behavior, size, and power.

While sharks maintain their status at the top of the food chain as the oceans’ greatest predator, humans are not on their preferred menu. There are many objects and activities that we encounter much more regularly that are more likely to kill us than the bite of a shark, outlined in our latest graphic above.

For more information about these statistics visit the International Shark Attack File, or Buzzfeed for a leaner version.

How to Make a Good Day on the Water Great: 5 Tips to Reduce Trash

Posted On August 2, 2012 by

Love clean water? Pick up as you go to keep it that way! Credit: JohnCramerPhotography flickr user

With record temperatures coloring the weather map red across much of the country this summer, many of us are seeking relief on lakes, rivers, bays and the ocean. This past weekend, I beat the heat by floating blissfully down the Shenandoah River at Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia in an inner tube.

But right away I saw that my fellow tubers and I weren’t the only things being carried downstream. Around me bobbed all kinds of trash heading for the Potomac River, the Chesapeake Bay and eventually the Atlantic Ocean. Wind and ocean currents might even carry this trash to the North Pacific Gyre, or Pacific Garbage Patch.

My friend Steve and I made a fun and friendly competition of spotting and cleaning up Styrofoam cups, food wrappers, red-and-white fishing corks and even someone’s lost Croc. Continue reading »

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Wallpaper Wednesday: Smartphone Wallpapers

Posted On August 1, 2012 by

Keep the wonders of the ocean at your fingertips with one of this week’s new smartphone wallpapers. Click on one of the images below and save it to your phone or click here for further downloading instructions and other wallpaper selections.

Shells

Download Wallpaper

Bottlenose Dolphin

Download Wallpaper

Harp Seal

Download Wallpaper

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