• 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! 

  • Trouble Convincing the Skeptics?

    Posted on April 22nd, 2010 mgabiati No comments

    As a CMBC graduate, I’m surprised to find that I just can’t convince certain skeptics that Climate Change is real and caused by humans.  If these skeptics are elderly motor-heads, any discussion of climate change becomes an attack on their way of life and love of cars. Although I can cite specific research like the Keeling Curve, or even speak of specific man-caused climate events like the Dust Bowl and Lanai’s first rain storm (because of the planting of thousands of Norfolk Pines), these claims seem to fall on deaf and sometimes steaming ears.

    I’d like to start a discussion on what evidence has been successful in convincing the most skeptical people that climate change and carbon concentrations are a) increasing b) due to human activities and c) will have a catastrophic effect on our way of life if left unchecked.

    Or in other words: How can I coax my dad’s car buddies into recycling?

  • Some obervations from Copenhagen…

    Posted on December 8th, 2009 grant 2 comments

    I can actually walk right into the main negotiations and watch.  UN interpreters know LOTS of languages.  I did not need to bring my sunglasses to Copenhagen.  I did need to bring a power converter to plug in my computer.  Watching a booth is a great way to meet a lot of like-minded people.  Copenhagen is a very expensive city.  I am not very good at operating in a country that speaks another language, even when everyone in that country also speaks English.  I just find myself acting very shy (and therefore eating a candy bar for dinner…).  I must know more Spanish than I thought because I don’t have these same problems in Mexico.  It is totally dark here at both 8 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon.  Despite my insistence that I have defeated jet lag, I have been up since 4 this morning.  It’s now 7.  Time to get ready for a new round of getting the word out.  Don’t forget the ocean!!

    Also check out the dedicated COP15 Scripps delegation website/blog at www.sio.ucsd.edu/cop15.

  • Join the IGERT team!

    Posted on October 30th, 2009 emily No comments

    Sproul_CMBC_summer08Good news, graduate-school-applying friends!  You’ve found a great potential home for your awesome interdisciplinary self–  The IGERT program in Global Change, Marine Ecosystems and Society is now accepting fellowship applications!

    The main goal of the IGERT program is to get people talking with one another across disciplines to solve complex problems.  And this is more than the occasional beer you might have with that guy in the anthropology department.  Truly, the IGERT program aims to have students tackle issues from all sides through increasing each student’s knowledge-base, interdisciplinary training and experience, and collaborations.  The faculty under the IGERT umbrella are an incredible bunch.  It’s hard to not enjoy watching Dick Norris get the twinkle in his eye when discussing the strata lining Black’s Beach, listening to Naomi Oreskes on a roll about the misinformation campaign for global warming, or talking with Ted Groves about the economics of turtle conservation.  Plus, one of the coolest parts of CMBC is the student body.  I know I speak for others when I say that my fellow CMBCers and Scrippsonians have been essential to my growth as a student and scientist over the past year.  To mention study groups, mentoring in the lab, international training underwater, and long discussions over coffee would not even begin to describe this support.

    Check out the blog for profiles of past and present CMBCers to get a sense for this incredible student body and the work coming out of CMBC.  But in the end, you just need to apply and join in!