• 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
    platform-holly

    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.

    AbFarm_Holly_Bob_Evans

    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:
    https://www.sciencenews.org/article/melissa-omand-oceanographer-sn-10-scientists-watch?mode=pick&context=172