Posted on November 12th, 2015 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.
Posted on July 20th, 2015 No comments
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.
Posted on June 23rd, 2014 No comments
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
Posted on January 26th, 2011 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:
Posted on January 23rd, 2011 No comments
In less than a decades time, Indo-Pacific lionfish have established what appear to be permanent populations along the southeast U.S. coast and into the Caribbean. With population densities in some spots ranging to 1000 fish per acre, these veracious eaters are quickly decimating local fish populations as they start to range towards the Gulf of Mexico and South America. Efforts so far to reign in this dangerous invasive have met with little success but now scientists at NOAA, along with numerous non-profits and local island governments, have come up with a new plan…eat them.
Using a variety of marketing strategies that include cash prizes for most lionfish caught in one year on Grenada, the hope is to turn lionfish into a desirable food-fish with no limits catches being the goal.
The supporters of the effort say that lionfish tastes like grouper or snapper, two highly sought after species. That sounds like good eats to me. If that’s the case, then hopefully this is the recipe that turns the tables on this tropical invasion. I think the effort bears watching and all puns intended, it’s an interesting and unorthodox piece in invasive species puzzle that up until now has challenged fisheries managers. We’ll see.
Posted on January 19th, 2011 No comments
Recently the LA Times ran an article about the city of Ventura reacting to sea level rise as a result of climate change. With the encroachment of Pacific waters on the local shoreline such as at Surfers Point, Ventura officials have been forced to react by taking out crumbling bike paths and eroding parking lots while offsetting diminishing beaches by laying down sand. In moves that were foreshadowed by the city of San Diego in their 2050 report, California’s coastal communities are being forced to take a serious look at the implications of a potential 2 meter rise of our local waters. To get a more detailed look at some of the serious problems facing our state, I’ve attached below an interview with one of the authors of the 2050 report, Scripps Oceanographer and Meteorologist Dan Cayan. He offers a detailed look at the state-wide scale of the problem and some of the possible ways to overt the most catastrophic impacts.
Posted on January 12th, 2011 No comments
It’s easy to think about the ocean as the easily explorable areas that we as humans can readily venture into. Researchers from UNC-Wilmington and Woods Hole are giving us something more in-depth to take in these days…deep water coral. Using an ROV off the NOAA vessel Ronald H. Brown, scientists have explored and mapped extensive sections of 23,000 sq miles of protected deep water off the Atlantic coast. What they are finding is that these coral formations, in waters ranging from 1300 to 3200 feet below the surface, serve much like shallow water reefs, supporting a variety of life similar in composition to their near-shore counterparts. Existing in total blackness, these deep water colonies are adding another chapter to our knowledge of our oceans.
Enjoy the Los Angeles Times article:
Posted on January 9th, 2011 No comments
In an interview this week, retired NOAA Chief Scientist Steve Murawski announced some good news for US fisheries. On the record with the Associated Press, Dr. Murawski was confident in saying that for the first time in recorded history, no fish stocks were being over-fished by US fishers.
The major changes in fisheries management brought about through the 2007 reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens called for a more responsive, ecosystem-based approach to fisheries regulation that had been previously seen with the ultimate 4-year goal of ending all overfishing in the US by 2011. In a March, 2007 interview, Dr. Murawski talked about the road ahead when he said:
“The recent reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act finally gives us the tools we need to end overfishing and rebuild stocks. It also establishes a timeframe to end overfishing on all stocks by 2010. Currently, there are about four dozen fish stocks that are being overfished and these will be difficult challenges from an economic, cultural and political standpoint. The reauthorization gives us the tools, now NOAA must step up to the plate and make it happen”
Now after a long and at-times painful process, fisheries managers and many fishermen feel that they finally have the tools in place to help rebuild damaged stocks and develop stronger and more valuable fisheries in the future. Here’s hoping they’re right.
Enjoy the article below:
Posted on January 5th, 2011 No comments
With the new year, comes news of big changes for fish on the Pacific Coast. In an attempt to make fisheries more sustainable, National Fisheries Service officials are taking the steps to better manage a variety of species through the implementation of a catch-share system. Starting this January, local fishermen will for the first time own shares of respective fisheries based on predetermined annual limits. These shares will be transferable and should give the fishers more flexibility and reduce the incidence of by-catch dramatically. Currently used in managing multiple fisheries in Alaska, fishermen there have seen the value of their catches go up as these better management practices took hold. The plan is not without controversy however as there are predictions by some fishers of contraction within the industry as well as fears of market place manipulation. The first lawsuits have already been filed. That being said, scientists/managers and many fishermen are looking at this as a chance to truly make fisheries on the West Coast sustainable.
Here is a radio interview from NPR with interviews from a variety of participants:
Posted on December 17th, 2010 No comments
On Wednesday of this week, the California Fish and Game Commission voted 3-2 to ban or restrict fishing in 49 newly created reserves on the Southern California coast. As part of the ongoing Marine Life Protection act, final approval was given to sanctuaries that will amount to roughly 15% of local waters in the attempt to replenish damaged stocks while protecting the unique kelp ecosystems for future generations to enjoy and benefit from. This delicate balance between conservation and utilization of the resource has led to a statewide network of reserves that is expected to go fully online by 2012.
To say it’s been a contentious process is a bit of an understatement. Below are links to both the LA Time and Sand Diego Union-Tribune. Make sure to read the comments after the pieces to get an idea just how deep the emotions run. That being said, the hard work of all those involved has once again shown the commitment of Californians trying to protect our state’s marine resources. It’s not just a good day to be a fish in California. It’s also a proud day for all Californian’s to be a part of unique and important process.