• CMBC Grads making Waves

    Posted on June 14th, 2017 Chris Knight No comments

    We once again take a few minutes to follow some of our CMBC graduates as they make a difference in the world of marine science


    STEPHANIE NEHASILSTEPHANIE NEHASIL (MAS-MBC 2010) has received an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship award and was admitted as a PhD student into the UCSD Department of Biology.  She will be working with the Kurle lab and NOAA SWFSC on how environmental variability drives predator-prey dynamics in the California Current Ecosystem.







    ERENDIRA ACEVES (MAS-MBC 2009ERENDIRA ACEVES (MAS-MBC 2009) has completed her Ph.D. at the Bren School(UCSB) working on the ecological and social impacts of Gulf of California Pelagic Fisheries. Focusing primarily on artisanal fisheries, her research seeks to understand the social and ecological consequences of different spatial management tools to inform policy-making.











    JENNIFER MCWHORTER (MAS-MBC - 2014)JENNIFER MCWHORTER (MAS-MBC – 2014) is featured in this 13 minute clip about what she does as Public Relations Coordinator for the Coastal Data Information Program (CDIP) and the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System (SCOOS).

    “In my current position, I communicate various applications of oceanographic data observations to a broad audience of stakeholders. My time is split between the Coastal Data Information Program (CDIP) and the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System (SCCOOS) both of which focus on applied science. CDIP owns and operates a network of 65 wave buoys around the entire U.S. including the Puerto Rico, Guam, the Marshall Island, Palau and American Samoa. ”


  • The Loss of Reef Urchins

    Posted on May 12th, 2017 Chris Knight No comments

    This is a cross post from Dr. Richard Norris on facebook who, along with Dr. Katie Cramer, have recently produced a short film documenting their very cool research on the relationship between urchins, damsel fish, and human exploitation on the coral reefs of the Caribbean:

    “Here’s a new video on work that Katie Cramer and I have done on the tangled interactions between urchins, fish, algae and reef heath in the Caribbean Mesoamerican Reef. We tracked the abundance of long-spined urchins over 3000 years to understand their role in reef health. The surprise was to discover that human over-fishing, encouraged the growth of algae-farming damsel fish, who compete with algae-grazing urchins. The resulting bloom of algae has contributed to reef die-off in recent years… Turns out we need those top predators after all…similar to the links between wolves and stream vegetation in Yellowstone, and Orcas and kelp in Alaska.”


  • What to do with decommissioned Oil Rigs In California?

    Posted on May 5th, 2017 Chris Knight No comments

    The future ex-oil rig Holly.

    On April 17th, Venoco oil announced that they would be ceasing operations on platform Holly, which lies about 2 miles offshore of UCSB in the Santa Barbara Channel. Because the rig is in California state waters, the California State Lands Commission has ordered a complete removal of the rig and capping of the well and restoration of the site to as natural a state as is possible. While this is seen as a big victory by many environmental groups, there are quite a few voices in the ocean community that see leaving some or all of the underwater structure as a way to preserve a unique and burgeoning ecosystem.


    Holly holding bait fish in abundance during the 1970's. Photo and copyright by Bob Evans.

    Holly holding bait fish in abundance during the 1970’s. Photo and copyright by Bob Evans.

    Established when these rigs were first constructed in the 60’s and 70’s, extensive and complex ecosystems flourish underneath the platforms that lie just off California’s coast. As evidenced in studies, it is fairly well agreed that these rig reefs produce large amount of biomass comparable to any marine fish habitats globally.

    So the question is, should we accept the trade-off of keeping some structure in place to preserve these unique ecosystems? I think there is a good argument to do just that. For Throwback Thursday, I’m presenting some pictures of rig Holly from the 1970’s when the amazing animal and plant communities were first being discovered by local divers. Taken by Bob Evans, founder, creator, and the “force” behind the Force Fin, these great photos give an early glimpse into what many people now regard as one of the richest undersea communities you’ll likely encounter.Force fin

    For more information on the process of conversion, visit the folks at Blue Latitudes and Rigs to Reef. Also, special thanks to Bob Evans for giving us a cool glimpse into the life under the rigs.

    In this day and age where science is under attack and pristine wild spaces are under threat, the chance to save something so special is something we need to consider. Take a look at these amazing photos and I think you’ll agree.

    We’ll see see you out there.


    This is an aquaculture experiment conducted under Holly to test the potential to grow out red abalone. Come for the shellfish and stay for the groovy retro 70’s dive gear. Photo and copyright by Bob Evans.




  • CMBC Alumni Making Waves

    Posted on May 3rd, 2017 Chris Knight No comments

    This week, we’re taking a look at 2 alum who are making a difference in shaping both the way we manage and measure the health of our oceans as we look for the best ways to protect them.

    PALOMA AGUIRE (MAS-MBC 2015)PALOMA AGUIRRE (MAS-MBC 2015) after serving her John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship at the Office of US Senator Cory Booker, she is continuing her awesome ocean career at the Pew Charitable Trusts working as their Federal Fisheries Policy Analyst. Her primary responsibilities include leading efforts to advance ecosystem-based fishery management and maintain core fish conservation requirements in federal legislation and regulations through policy analyses, public comment letters on proposed rules, legislative proposals and summaries.

    Look here for more information about the work the Pew Trust is doing towards Federal Ocean Policy.


    MELISSA OMAND (PH.D. 2011)MELISSA OMAND (PH.D. 2011), currently an Assistant Professor for the University of Rhode Island, was recently named one of the 10 scientists to watch by Science News. She has been studying the mechanisms — such as currents and the dining and dying of microorganisms — that move carbon and nutrients through the ocean. Understanding these movements and their effect on the oceans ability to absorb carbon dioxide are being recognized as vital to “predicting the fate of our climate.”

    To learn more about Dr. Omand’s very cool work, Science News has got you covered:



  • CMBC Alumni Making Waves

    Posted on April 19th, 2017 Chris Knight No comments

    As a new feature to the CMBC blog “A view from the pier”, we want to take a little time and highlight some of our CMBC graduates and the amazing work they are doing as they help shape the future of our oceans.

    In our first installment, we feature AMBER JACKSON & EMILY CALLAHAN (MAS-MBC 2014), who are currently being profiled in Scripps Explorations Now. They co-founded  Blue Latitudes, an organization that uses scientific research to form a comprehensive study of the ecological, socio-economic, and advocacy issues surrounding California’s Rigs-to-Reefs law and program while providing neutral and scientifically based consulting services to various clients. Working with gas and oil companies and environmental groups, their goals include the assessment of existing structures and determining whether they are good candidates for Rigs-to-Reefs conversion. Supporting unique ecosystems with previously unmeasured economic potential, Blue Latitudes is helping determine the future of these oil rigs that are nearing the end of their service lives. All told, some pretty cool and relevant work that may have a big impact on the nearshore waters of the Southern California Bight.

    Enjoy an amazing look at the prolific and unique marine life that exists under the platforms.







  • TBT – The Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Los Angeles County Underwater Unit 1966

    Posted on March 9th, 2017 Chris Knight No comments

    A lot of people don’t know this but formal dive training as we know it today was born out of a relationship between the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the County of Los Angeles in the early 1950’s. As a matter of public safety in response to a rash of scuba-related deaths, officials in Los Angeles decided to develop formalized standards and procedures to create a system by which divers could be safely certified. The newly formed County Underwater Unit, looking to pursue a point of authority in the field, reached out to SIO and their Dive Safety Specialist Conrad Limbaugh for help developing standardized training for recreational divers. This resulted in the first formal instructor training program for scuba certification. The rest is history. All, and I mean all, of the current training agencies and their procedures can be traced directly back to the Los Angeles County program and this pioneering partnership.

    The partnership continues as every year the Los Angeles County Underwater Instructor Certification Course returns to SIO for a weekend of hard ocean training and expert lectures. The photo below is from 1966 and it marked the first year the county handed out the Conrad Limbaugh Award, accepted posthumously by Connie’s widow Nancy. This award remains one of the most prestigious honors in diving.

    When people ask you where diving started, you can now tell them. See you out there.


    In the foreground, the large man walking away is Dr. Glenn Egstrom, Dive Officer Emeritus for the University of California system and a dive master for the 1966 UICC.


    2017 UICC Candidates being briefed at Scripps Pier by SIO Diving Safety Officer and 2016 Conrad Limbaugh Award winner Christian McDonald.

  • 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


  • 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.

    LIMBAUGH CroppedJPG copy

    Conrad Limbaugh 1957