• 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

     

     

  • 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.

    Scripps

    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.

    17022259_1873730669551605_5976860427409747856_n

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

  • 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.

    LIMBAUGH CroppedJPG copy

    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.