• An Ocean of Possibilities: NEW Shark Program

    Posted on September 20th, 2016 Catherine Courtier No comments

    By Catherine Courtier, Ocean Connectors Shark Intern

    Photo Credit: Bridget Altman

    The ocean is a vast and foreboding place, but also a place of complex and unexpected beauty. When I chose to pursue my Masters of Advanced Studies in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, I knew I wanted to be involved in something bigger than a lab space. I wanted to put my time and effort into research and education that would not only make a difference in the environment, but in society as well. What better way to do this than by educating the next generation of marine conservationists! My passion for the ocean and all of its amazing creatures began when I was young, which is why I feel so strongly about what Ocean Connectors is doing. I can’t imagine growing up in a community so near to and with such close ties to the ocean, without a chance to get to know, love, and explore those incredible resources.

    After completing my Masters degree at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, I was awarded the Edna Bailey Sussman fellowship, which has allowed me to work with the amazing individuals at Ocean Connectors!  Ocean Connectors utilizes interdisciplinary education programs to target underserved schools to promote an early interest in environmental issues.  They currently have three established education programs focusing migratory species (a 4th grade sea turtle program, a 5th grade whale program, and a 6th grade sea bird program) which enable them to involve students and their families in coastal conservation, increasing their desire to protect and take responsibility for marine resources.   The Sussman Foundation awards fellowships to graduate students studying environmental science so they can complete an unpaid internship with a conservation-based organization of their choice. Ocean Connectors received funding from the Save Our Seas Foundation to develop a thresher shark science curriculum, which will extend the Ocean Connectors programs from elementary into middle school.

    Why Thresher Sharks? Because they’re Jaw-some!

    For the past couple months, I have been working towards fulfilling Ocean Connectors’ long-time desire to expand their youth education programs by creating a curriculum for middle school students focused on the three species of thresher shark, all of which can be found off the coast of California and Mexico. We chose the thresher shark because of its local presence, migratory behavior, and classification as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Topics covered in the curriculum include information on thresher shark life history, habitat and migration patterns, conservation status, threats, management, and history as a commercially and recreationally fished species. In addition to doing my own independent research, I have had the opportunity to connect with shark researchers from NOAA and Shark Advocates International, local fishermen, and shark specialists. This project will culminate with the completion and implementation of an education module for middle school students in National City, bridging the gap between hard science and education, and making it more understandable and accessible.

    Photo Credit: Doug Perrine

    In addition to the thresher shark program being a wonderful complement to Ocean Connectors’ existing curricula on migratory birds, sea turtles, and whales, this project provides a platform from which to educate young minds on two very important concepts: 1) that sharks are much more than the bad reputation the media has slapped on them, and they in fact play crucial ecosystem roles, and 2) the concept of overfishing, wherein we have “fished down the food chain”, removing large apex predators like sharks, and communicating to the next generation that resources found in the oceans are exhaustible, and sharks need our protection and research.

    A Chance for Collaborations

    Through this project I have been fortunate to make connections with leading shark and ray conservationists and researchers. Below are some of the inspirational individuals who have contributed to the Ocean Connectors thresher shark program. Thanks for your support!

    Daniel Cartamil, PhD
    – Researcher at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, CA
    – The focus of his academic research is on biology of top predators within the coastal ecosystem
    – Much of his current research is focused on areas of the artisanal elasmobranch fishery off the Pacific coast of Baja California Sur

     

     

    Sonja Fordham
    – Founder and President of Shark Advocates International in Washington, DC
    – Sonja has been directly involved in countless shark conservation actions such as the first US fishing limits on sharks and rays, US and international finning bans, and listings for sharks under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)

    Laura K. Jordan, PhD
    – Co-founder and CEO of World Below the Waves in San Diego, CA
    – The primary focus of her academic research has been on elasmobranchs (sharks, skates, and rays) in   areas such as functional morphology, ecomorphology, and behavior

     

    Dovi Kacev, PhD
    – World Below the Waves in San Diego, CA and NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, CA
    – The focus of his current academic research involves using genetics to better understand population dynamics of mako and thresher sharks in the Pacific, so as to better design efficient and effective management plans for both species

    Stay tuned to the Ocean Connectors Resources page, where soon we will be posting our new thresher shark curriculum!

    If you are interested in hearing more about what Ocean Connectors does, please feel free to get in touch with me using the form below! 

  • Good Morning from La Jolla

    Posted on September 7th, 2016 Chris Knight No comments

    SIOP9.16

  • California Fish and Wildlife makes Big Fish Save in Sacramento

    Posted on May 5th, 2016 Chris Knight No comments

    While you may not think that rescuing fish from a flood control basin would be interesting, read this release from the DFW regarding the rescue of hundreds of fish near the Sacramento Delta and you might change your mind. With ESA-listed species included, hundreds of salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon were removed from the Fremont and Tisdale Weirs  and re-released into the Sacramento River this month.

    Making this rescue all the more interesting is that DFW technicians implanted many of the fish with tracking devices to provide scientists with both survival and spawning data. In addition, DNA testing was conducted on the salmon to determine specific seasonal runs. Very Cool. Read the release below.

    Click on the photo to see the full release. Photo courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife

  • Throwback Thursday – SIO’s First Dive Safety Officer

    Posted on April 28th, 2016 Chris Knight No comments

    With Christian McDonald being honored this week by the Los Angeles County Underwater Unit, it’s only appropriate to take a look back at the first DSO at Scripps, Conrad Limbaugh. Pictured below, Connie was truly the innovator in terms of the use of scuba equipment in scientific studies. Starting at UCLA in 1949, Limbaugh moved to SIO in 1950 and started to develop the standardized training that became the basis not only for the scientific dive community but  for the entire new burgeoning recreational scuba movement in the United States. Appointed “Dive Safety Specialist” in 1953, Limbaugh spent 7 years at SIO helping change ocean research as we know it. Tragically, he died in a cave diving incident in 1960 at the age of 36. Today, there are multiple awards named for Limbaugh including the Conrad Limbaugh Award for Scientific Diving Leadership by the AAUS. The color picture below was provided from the private collection of Dr. Andreas Rechnitzer, a good friend of Connie’s and an amazing SIO figure in his own right. You can read more about Connie here and Andy here.

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    Conrad Limbaugh 1957

  • SIO’s Christian McDonald honored by Los Angeles County

    Posted on April 24th, 2016 Chris Knight No comments

    Last night, Scripps Scientific Diving Officer Christian McDonald was named an honorary Underwater Instructor by the Los Angeles County Underwater Unit at the programs annual awards dinner for his contributions supporting their Underwater Instructor Certification Course. This program, developed in 1954 by LA County lifeguards participating in the then newly developed SIO scientific diving course, is the worlds oldest public safety program and has certified over 1100 underwater instructors since. Christian joins only 7 other persons, including SIO DSO emeritus James Stewart and SIO graduate Dr. Wheeler J. North, as honorary instructors for the county of Los Angeles. Congratulations Christian.

    ChristianMC

    Christian McDonald at San Pedro Port’s O Call April 23, 2016

  • CMBC Graduate Students take on the UN in Paris this week

    Posted on December 5th, 2015 Kate No comments

    “The oceans are extremely important, not only to our climate, but to our health and our global ecosystems…. For climate change, they play a central role. About a quarter of carbon emissions that we emit every year end up in the ocean.”

    -Yassir Eddebar, PhD candidate, CMBC, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

    This year’s United Nations Conference of the Parties in Paris will write a treaty to address climate change. It’s taken decades to get here. UCSD has sent several graduate students to the conference to learn about and participate in the global system of science policy.

    Read more about their work this week in their blog on the San Diego Union Tribune.

    Watch Yassir on KPBS just before they left for Paris:

    Check out the CMBC student group, Ocean Scientists for Informed Policy on Facebook and YouTube.

     

     

     

  • Welcome to the Edge of the World (preview)

    Posted on November 12th, 2015 Kate No comments

    What would life be like if you chased truly wild places … for work?

    Each year I’m lucky enough to travel for fieldwork. I’m a PhD student here at Scripps, studying coral reef ecology. Each year I make short videos to communicate our work, our lives as a rock stars… I mean scientists… and the truly wild landscapes we briefly call home. This year I focused on the people behind the science. What kind of person takes a job on an (almost) deserted island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? Do you have what it takes? Would you want to? Below is a teaser trailer for a mini-mini-documentary coming soon. Everyone has their own path to happiness. For some of us, that path is winding, isolated and full of weird hairy spiders. For the love of science, nature, and exploration: Welcome to the Edge of the World.

  • Sometimes a perfect day…

    Posted on July 20th, 2015 Dick Norris 1 comment

    It is always good to be reminded why I like being a professor, and this was one of those days. Every summer we have lead a CMBC cruise to the offshore waters of San Diego. This year we  made two amazing net hauls next to the Coronado Bank. The first was from ~200 m and was full of some 170,000 tuna crabs–the harbingers of el Nino–who have been mass stranding on the beaches of late. Well, now we know where they come from! I felt like I was on a trawler from the days-of-yore before industrial fishing. This haul also had a neat octopus, urchins, fish and spider crabs.

    Then came the mid water tow at 550 m, and it was loaded with wonders too–the kind that Hollywood film makers should love and are the stuff of nightmares as you toss and turn in the dawn hours. We caught three kinds of Dragonfish, two species of Hatchet Fish, an angler, a Snipe eel with a whiplike tail, and the most wild of all–a Loose Jaw, that looks like it was mangled, but really has almost nothing holding its jaw in place!  These fish reside in a world that is physically not that far from ours (it probably takes 5 minutes to walk 500 m!) but is almost totally different anyway!  Majesty! Wonder! Thrills! And Fascination!

    What gets me is how alien their world is. These are fish attract their prey with lighted lures, sense their prey by pressure, and make sure they don’t lose their prey by attacking with huge nasty teeth.  The hatchet fish have eyes that permanently look upward to spot the faint shadow of prey above them.  And most everybody has rows of photophores on their bellies to keep from casting a shadow on some larger fish below them. The photophores are like miniature flood lights, complete with a black case and a crystalline lens. The world is full of things more bizarre and exciting than most people know. Beat’s landing on the moon any day…It really was one of the great adventures in my life….

    Best is to have a crowd of students to share the adventure.

    A Loose Jaw (Malacosteus) from the mid water off San Diego. Note the red and silver light organs under the eye.  The fish has a jaw that can be swung forward to engulf prey bigger than it....Check out the hooks on the teeth--I've seen those before in the fossil record!

    A Loose Jaw (Malacosteus) from the mid water off San Diego. Note the red and silver light organs under the eye. The fish has a jaw that can be swung forward to engulf prey bigger than it….Check out the hooks on the teeth–I’ve seen those before in the fossil record!

    Greg Rouse on the hunt for monoplacophorans. We got lots of neat sponges, starfish, limpets and bryozoans, but no monoplacs for the 5th year running....

    Greg Rouse on the hunt for monoplacophorans. We got lots of neat sponges, starfish, limpets and bryozoans, but no monoplacs for the 5th year running….

    Another strategy in the deep is to be transparent... Evolution somehow managed to make the compound eyes of these amphipods almost completely transparent.  The eyes, by the way are the whole front end (!!)...vision must be pretty important even at 550 m in the ocean....But what can you see if your photo-sensing pigment is transparent?

    Another strategy in the deep is to be transparent… Evolution somehow managed to make the compound eyes of these amphipods almost completely transparent. The eyes, by the way are the whole front end (!!)…vision must be pretty important even at 550 m in the ocean….But what can you see if your photo-sensing pigment is transparent?

    Tuna crabs sure are cute....They swim by pumping their tails backwards trailing their long claws behind them.....

    Tuna crabs sure are cute….They swim by pumping their tails backwards trailing their long claws behind them…..

    The crab-pile, along with a few urchins and fish...There is still is a bounty in the sea...  We put this bounty back in the ocean and I was amazed to see that quite a few, perhaps the majority, swam away  kicking their tails...back to the ocean depths. But we did observe a blue whale lurking nearby, so perhaps this is whale food....

    The crab-pile, along with a few urchins and fish…There is still is a bounty in the sea… We put this bounty back in the ocean and I was amazed to see that quite a few, perhaps the majority, swam away kicking their tails…back to the ocean depths. But we did observe a blue whale lurking nearby, so perhaps this is whale food….

    Too many tuna crabs--a Otter-trawl load with more crabs than I have ever seen. Greg Rouse estimated 170,000.  We shoveled them back into the sea and I imagine a fair number survived since they were wriggling all over the deck. But both amazing and a bit distressing to catch so many.  The trawl filled up almost immediately upon reaching the bottom. We either went through a swarm  of them, or there are a Sh*t-load of crabs out there at 200 m!  Phil Zeroski for scale....

    Kate Masury (MAS-MBC-2015) with some of our load of tuna crabs…

    Too many tuna crabs--a Otter-trawl load with more crabs than I have ever seen. Greg Rouse estimated 170,000.  We shoveled them back into the sea and I imagine a fair number survived since they were wriggling all over the deck. But both amazing and a bit distressing to catch so many.  The trawl filled up almost immediately upon reaching the bottom. We either went through a swarm  of them, or there are a Sh*t-load of crabs out there at 200 m!  Phil Zeroski for scale....

    Too many tuna crabs–a Otter-trawl load with more crabs than I have ever seen. Greg Rouse estimated 170,000. We shoveled them back into the sea and I imagine a fair number survived since they were wriggling all over the deck. But both amazing and a bit distressing to catch so many. The trawl filled up almost immediately upon reaching the bottom. We either went through a swarm of them, or there are a Sh*t-load of crabs out there at 200 m! Phil Zeroski for scale….

    The world really is stranger than we can know...This thing is a 'Snipe eel" (Nemichthys)--a true eel that has this amazing jaw whose upper mandible curves upwards away from the lower jaw!  The jaws are lined with dinky teeth that point backward into the gullet--a veritable Chinese finger trap in the fish world. Even more remarkable is the tail.... About half the body length is a tail about the thickness of thread, but the vertebrae apparently run to the end.  What is that 'whip' used for?  A lure? Pressure sensing? Feeling the prey before a strike? "Feeling" up its sweetie before some other kind of behavior?

    The world really is stranger than we can know…This thing is a ‘Snipe eel” (Nemichthys)–a true eel that has this amazing jaw whose upper mandible curves upwards away from the lower jaw! The jaws are lined with dinky teeth that point backward into the gullet–a veritable Chinese finger trap in the fish world. Even more remarkable is the tail…. About half the body length is a tail about the thickness of thread, but the vertebrae apparently run to the end. What is that ‘whip’ used for? A lure? Pressure sensing? Feeling the prey before a strike? “Feeling” up its sweetie before some other kind of behavior?

    Hatchet fish from the mid water in the Coronado Trough off San Diego.  Its eyes look up to search the overlying water for the shadows of prey and its belly is lined with light organs to avoid casting a shadow that could make the fish somebody else's lunch!  It would pay to be a vampire in the deep!

    Hatchet fish from the mid water in the Coronado Trough off San Diego. Its eyes look up to search the overlying water for the shadows of prey and its belly is lined with light organs to avoid casting a shadow that could make the fish somebody else’s lunch! It would pay to be a vampire in the deep!

    This octopus was delighted, no doubt to be released back to the sea  after making a home in my glass basin...

    This octopus was delighted, no doubt to be released back to the sea after making a home in my glass basin…

    Dragonfish type 2 (the Viperfish, Chauliodus).  These guys have more massive teeth than the other two species. ...Perhaps they go for really big game...The lure under the jaw is actually a modified dorsal fin!  ...deeply amazing, if you ask me!

    Dragonfish type 2 (the Viperfish, Chauliodus). These guys have more massive teeth than the other two species. …Perhaps they go for really big game…The lure under the jaw is actually a modified dorsal fin! …deeply amazing, if you ask me!

  • Welcome to CMBC Summer Class 2014 Blog Series

    Posted on June 23rd, 2014 kmengerink No comments
    What steps can communities take to improve resilience to coastal disasters?

    What steps can communities take to improve resilience to coastal disasters?

    We are happy to announce that the CMBC Summer Class 2014 will be sharing its ideas about ocean and coastal resilience through a series of blogs.  You can visit the blog to learn about biodiversity and resilience, economic vulnerability and resilience, and how human impacts may affect the resilience of an ecosystem and a community.

    Kathryn Mengerink, SIO Summer Course Coordinator 

  • Talking About Banning Off-Shore Oil Drilling

    Posted on January 26th, 2011 Chris Knight No comments

    The recent rise in gasoline prices has got a lot of lawmakers looking for ways to bring the prices down for their constituents and it seems the solutions always  come back to drilling offshore here in California. Despite a pledge from President Obama to not allow any new drilling off the West Coast, there still remains a uneasy feeling among Pacific range lawmakers. This has led Senators from California, Oregon, and Washington to propose new legislation formalizing the Presidents un-codified pledge. Though it’s not expected to gain much traction in the Republican-controlled house, it’s a shot across the bow that shows West Coasters are serious about there being no new drilling in our local waters. Enjoy a more in-depth article from the LA Times below:

    LA Times ARTICLE