Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sea Shepherd’s New Interceptor Vessel Revealed

Ecorazzi: Sea Shepherd’s New Interceptor Vessel Revealed
The Sea Shepherd officially announced their new replacement for the sunk Ady Gil at a fundraising benefit in the Hollywood Hills this evening — and Ecorazzi’s Megan Blanchard was on the scene interviewing celebrities and supporters. More on the evening later, but for now, here are some first (cell phone) shots of the new ship that will be joining the Bob Barker and the Steve Irwin during Operation No Compromise this coming December.

Anyone else think this thing looks like a Klingon ship from “Star Trek”?

[UPDATE: All signs currently point to this ship being the former "Ocean Adventurer 7" -- a 115ft stabilized monohull twin diesel powered vessel launched in 1998 for the purpose of circumnavigating the world in less than 80 days. She did it in 74 days, 20 hours, 58 minutes; setting a Guinness World Record in the process. Ironically, that record would be shattered 10 years later by none other than the Earthrace; aka, the Ady Gil.]

[UPDATE 2: At the presentation, Sea Shepherd said that while they've secured the vessel, they've yet to fully pay for it. In addition, it does not have a name, but that any interested donors with deep pockets ($1m+) should certainly contact them. For now the ship is simply being called the "Interceptor".]

[UPDATE 3: Video of the Ocean Adventurer (for charter trips) added below.]

[UPDATE 4: Paul Watson left a comment below saying, "Just a few details on the new vessel. We have not named the vessel yet because we are looking to sell naming rights. Although not paid for, the vessel has been secured. We just need to pay back the loan. The vessel will depart with the Bob Barker and the Steve Irwin with a completely refitted new engine and two propellers. It is larger than the Ady Gil, not as fast, but fast enough for our purposes, it is stronger, carries more crew, fuel and supplies and will suit our needs perfectly. We now have three ships, an upgraded helicopter, eighty crew, new equipment and I believe we will be more effective this year than last year, and last year was a very effective year. I was very tempted to name the vessel “Godzilla.” but we need a sponsor."]

[UPDATE 5: Some higher-res photoshopped images (as suspected, the ship hasn't been given the full SS color scheme yet) courtesy of Kadi Thingvall added below.]

(Images referred to are YouTube videos, which my kindle readers will need to visit YouTube to see.)

BP dispersants 'causing sickness'

Aljazeera: BP dispersants 'causing sickness'

Investigation by Al Jazeera online correspondent finds toxic illnesses linked to BP oil dispersants along Gulf coast.

Dahr Jamail Last Modified: 28 Oct 2010 14:48 GMT
Email ArticlePrint ArticleShare ArticleSend Feedback

Denise Rednour of Long Beach, Mississippi, has been sick with chemical poisoning since July [Erika Blumenfeld]

Two-year-old Gavin Tillman of Pass Christian, Mississippi, has been diagnosed with severe upper respiratory, sinus, and viral infections. His temperature has reached more than 39 degrees since September 15, yet his sicknesses continue to worsen.

His parents, some doctors, and environmental consultants believe the child's ailments are linked to exposure to chemicals spilt by BP during its Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.

Gavin's father, mother, and cousin, Shayleigh, are also facing serious health problems. Their symptoms are being experienced by many others living along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

Widely banned toxic dispersants

Injected with at least 4.9 million barrels of oil during the BP oil disaster of last summer, the Gulf has suffered the largest accidental marine oil spill in history. Compounding the problem, BP has admitted to using at least 1.9 million gallons of widely banned toxic dispersants, which according to chemist Bob Naman, create an even more toxic substance when mixed with crude oil. And dispersed, weathered oil continues to flow ashore daily.

Naman, who works at the Analytical Chemical Testing Lab in Mobile, Alabama, has been carrying out studies to search for the chemical markers of the dispersants BP used to both sink and break up its oil.

According to Naman, poly-aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from this toxic mix are making people sick. PAHs contain compounds that have been identified as carcinogenic, mutagenic, and teratogenic.

Fisherman across the four states most heavily affected by the oil disaster - Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida - have reported seeing BP spray dispersants from aircraft and boats offshore.

"The dispersants are being added to the water and are causing chemical compounds to become water soluble, which is then given off into the air, so it is coming down as rain, in addition to being in the water and beaches of these areas of the Gulf," Naman added.

"I’m scared of what I'm finding. These cyclic compounds intermingle with the Corexit [dispersants] and generate other cyclic compounds that aren’t good. Many have double bonds, and many are on the EPA's danger list. This is an unprecedented environmental catastrophe."

Commercial fisherman Donny Matsler also lives in Alabama.

"I was with my friend Albert, and we were both slammed with exposure," Matsler explained of his experience on August 5, referring to toxic chemicals he inhaled that he believes are associated with BP's dispersants. "We both saw the clumps of white bubbles on the surface that we know come from the dispersed oil."

Gruesome symptoms

"I started to vomit brown, and my pee was brown also," Matsler, a Vietnam veteran who lives in Dauphin Island, said. "I kept that up all day. Then I had a night of sweating and non-stop diarrhea unlike anything I’ve ever experienced."

He was also suffering from skin rashes, nausea, and a sore throat.

At roughly the same time Matsler was exposed, local television station WKRG News 5 took a water sample from his area to test for dispersants. The sample literally exploded when it was mixed with an organic solvent separating the oil from the water.

Naman, the chemist who analyzed the sample, said: "We think that it most likely happened due to the presence of either methanol or methane gas or the presence of the dispersant Corexit."

"I'm still feeling terrible," Matsler told Al Jazeera recently. "I'm about to go to the doctor again right now. I'm short of breathe, the diarrhea has been real bad, I still have discoloration in my urine, and the day before yesterday, I was coughing up white foam with brown spots in it."

As for Matsler's physical reaction to his exposure, Hugh Kaufman, an EPA whistleblower and analyst, has reported this of the effects of the toxic dispersants:

"We have dolphins that are hemorrhaging. People who work near it are hemorrhaging internally. And that’s what dispersants are supposed to do..."

By the middle of last summer, the Alabama Department of Public Health said that 56 people in Mobile and Baldwin counties had sought treatment for what they believed were oil disaster-related illnesses.

A dispersed oil tar ball in Orange Beach, Alabama [Erika Blumenfeld]

"The dispersants used in BP's draconian experiment contain solvents such as petroleum distillates and 2-butoxyethanol," Dr. Riki Ott, a toxicologist, marine biologist, and Exxon Valdez survivor, told Al Jazeera.

"Solvents dissolve oil, grease, and rubber," she continued, "Spill responders have told me that the hard rubber impellors in their engines and the soft rubber bushings on their outboard motor pumps are falling apart and need frequent replacement."

"Given this evidence, it should be no surprise that solvents are also notoriously toxic to people, something the medical community has long known," Dr. Ott added.

"In 'Generations at Risk', medical doctor Ted Schettler and others warn that solvents can rapidly enter the human body. They evaporate in air and are easily inhaled, they penetrate skin easily, and they cross the placenta into fetuses. For example, 2- butoxyethanol (in Corexit) is a human health hazard substance; it is a fetal toxin and it breaks down blood cells, causing blood and kidney disorders."

Pathways of exposure to the dispersants are inhalation, ingestion, skin, and eye contact. Health impacts include headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pains, chest pains, respiratory system damage, skin sensitization, hypertension, central nervous system depression, neurotoxic effects, genetic mutations, cardiac arrhythmia, and cardiovascular damage.

Even the federal government has taken precautions for its employees. US military officials decided to reroute training flights in the Gulf region in order to avoid oil and dispersant tainted-areas.

Growing number of cases

And Al Jazeera is finding a growing number of illnesses across the Gulf Coast.

Denise Rednour of Long Beach, Mississippi, has been taking walks on Long Beach nearly every day since the disaster began on April 20, and she is dealing with constant health issues.

"I've had health problems since the middle of July," she said. "At the end of August, I came home from walking on the beach and for four days had bloody, mucus-filled diarrhea, dry heaves, and blood running out of my ear."

Karen Hopkins, in Grand Isle, Louisiana, has been sick since the middle of May. "I started feeling exhausted, disoriented, dizzy, nauseous, and my chest was burning and I can’t breath well at times," she said.

Dean Blanchard, who runs a seafood distribution business in Grand Isle, is Hopkins' boss. He too is experiencing similar symptoms.

"They [BP] are using us like lab rats," he explained, "I'm thinking of moving to Costa Rica. When I leave here I feel better. When I come back I feel bad again. Feeling tired, coughing, sore throat, burning eyes, headaches, just like everyone around here feels."

Lorrie Williams of Ocean Springs says her son's asthma has "gotten exponentially worse since BP released all their oil and dispersants into the Gulf."

"A plane flew over our house recently and sprayed what I believe are dispersants. A fine mist covered everything, and it smelled like pool chemicals. Noah is waking up unable to breath, and my husband has head and chest congestion and burning eyes," Williams said.

Like others, when Lorrie's family left the area for a vacation, they immediately felt better. But upon coming home, their symptoms returned.

Wilma Subra, a chemist in New Iberia, Louisiana, recently tested the blood of eight BP cleanup workers and residents in Alabama and Florida. "Ethylbenzene, m,p-Xylene and Hexane are volatile organic chemicals that are present in the BP Crude Oil," Subra said,

"The blood of all three females and five males had chemicals that are found in the BP Crude Oil. The acute impacts of these chemicals include nose and throat irritation, coughing, wheezing, lung irritation, dizziness, light-headedness, nausea and vomiting."

Indications of exposure

Subra explained that there has been long enough exposure so as to create chronic impacts, that include "liver damage, kidney damage, and damage to the nervous system. So the presence of these chemicals in the blood indicates exposure."

Testing by Subra has also revealed PAHs present "in coastal soil sediment, wetlands, and in crab, oyster and mussel tissues."

Trisha Springstead, is a registered nurse of 36 years who lives and works in Brooksville, Florida.

"What I'm seeing are toxified people who have been chemically poisoned," she said, "They have sore throats, respiratory problems, neurological problems, lesions, sores, and ulcers. These people have been poisoned and they are dying. Drugs aren’t going to help these people. They need to be detoxed."

Chemist Bob Naman described the brownish, rubbery tar balls that are a product of BP's dispersed oil that continue to wash up on beaches across the Gulf:

"Those are the ones kids are picking up and playing with and breathing the fumes that come off them when you crush them in your hand. These will affect anyone who comes into contact with it. You could have an open wound and this goes straight in. Women have a lot more open mucus membranes and they are getting sicker than men. They are bleeding from their vagina and anus. Small kids are bleeding from their ears. This stuff is busting red blood cells."

Dr Ott said: "People are already dying from this… I’m dealing with three autopsies' right now. I don’t think we’ll have to wait years to see the effects like we did in Alaska, people are dropping dead now. I know two people who are down to 4.75 per cent of their lung capacity, their heart has enlarged to make up for that, and their esophagus is disintegrating, and one of them is a 16-year-old boy who went swimming in the Gulf."

Despite Heavy Oil, Louisiana Keeps Fisheries Open

Despite Heavy Oil, Louisiana Keeps Fisheries Open
By Dahr Jamail

Weathered BP oil in bays near Southwest Pass, Louisiana.

Credit:Erika Blumenfeld/IPS

NEW ORLEANS, Oct 26, 2010 (IPS) - Massive slicks of weathered oil were clearly visible near Louisiana's fragile marshlands in both the East and West Bays of the Mississippi River Delta during an overflight that included an IPS reporter on Oct. 23. The problem is that, despite this, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has left much of the area open for fishing.

Four days prior, on Oct. 19, federal on-scene cleanup coordinator for the BP oil disaster, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Paul Zukunft, declared there was little recoverable surface oil in the Gulf of Mexico.

Both bays cover an area of roughly 112 square kilometres of open water that surround the Southwest Pass, the main shipping channel of the Mississippi River. While East Bay remains closed for fishing, West Bay was open for fishing when IPS spotted the oil on Oct. 23, despite the fact that the day before a BP oil cleanup crew had reported oil in West Bay to a local newspaper.

"They are literally shrimping in oil," Jonathan Henderson, the Coastal Resiliency Organiser for the environmental group Gulf Restoration Network, who was also on the flight, exclaimed as our plane flew over shrimpers trawling in the oil-covered area.

Others remain concerned about the use of toxic dispersants that BP has used to sink the oil.

"Potential ecosystem collapse caused by toxic dispersant use during this disaster will have immediate and long-term effects on the Gulf's traditional fishing communities' ability to sustain our culture and heritage," Clint Guidry of the Louisiana Shrimp Association told IPS.

"This has been an exercise in lessening BP's liability from day one. I think we're moving into a situation where the PR is saying the area is safe to fish and it's safe to eat, but that's not the reality," he said.

The waters in the East and West Bays are under the jurisdiction of Louisiana's Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), while waters further from the coast are under federal jurisdiction. LDWF does receive input, however, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Earlier on the same day IPS spotted the oil, a spotter pilot for LDWF had flown over the same area and told Southern Seaplanes there was no oil.

"He is the spotter for LWDF and saw that bay, and it is still open," Henderson told IPS. "He should have closed the bay for fishing. So now you can see how sophisticated they are in tracking this. Either this guy is completely incompetent, or has an agenda to keep as much of Louisiana's waters open for fishing as he can, whether there is oil or not. I don't see how he could have flown down there today and not seen it. It's criminal."

When IPS called the LWDF requesting to talk with the LDWF oil spotter, department officials said "that person is not available to comment".

The LWDF website has a number to call in order to report oil sightings. When IPS called that number, the call was answered by a BP response call centre.

On Oct. 23, the Coast Guard claimed that the substance floating in the miles-wide areas of West Bay appeared to be "an algal bloom".

Lt. Cmdr. Chris O'Neil said a pollution investigator for the Coast Guard collected samples from the area, and while they had yet to be tested, "based on his observation and what he sees in the sample jars, he believes that to be an algal bloom."

Fishermen who have traveled through and fished in the area over the weekend, however, refuted these Coast Guard claims.

"I scooped some up, and it feels like oil, looks like oil, is brownish red like all the dispersed oil we've been seeing since this whole thing started," fisherman David Arenesen, from Venice, Louisiana, told IPS.

"It doesn't look like algae to me. Algae doesn't stick on your fingers, and algae isn't oily," he said. "The area of this stuff spans an area of 30 miles, from Southwest Pass almost all the way over to Grand Isle, and runs very far off-shore too. We rode through it for over 20 miles while we were going out to fish, I dipped some up, and it's oil."

Arenesen saw the substance on Friday, the same day it was reported by the Times Picayune newspaper in New Orleans.

"It was at least an inch thick, and it went on for miles," Arenesen said, adding, "It would be easy to clean since it's all floating on the surface."

IPS spoke with Gary Robinson, a hook and line mackerel commercial fisherman working out of Venice who was also in the substance in question recently.

"I was out in West Bay on Oct. 22, and I was in this thick brown foam, about five inches thick, with red swirls of oil throughout it, and there was a lot of it, at least a 10-mile patch of it," Robinson said while speaking to IPS on his boat. "I've never seen anything like that foam before, the red stuff in it was weathered oil, and there was sheen coming off my boat when I came back into harbor. I'm concerned about the safety of the fish I'm catching."

Dean Blanchard, of Dean Blanchard Seafood Inc. in Grand Isle, Louisiana, spoke with IPS about the Coast Guard claim that the substance was likely algae.

"Hell, we got oil coming in here every day, it's all around us, we know what oil is," Blanchard said. "The Coast Guard should change the colour of their uniform, since they are working for BP. We've known they are working for BP from the beginning of this thing. None of us believe anything they say about this oil disaster anymore."

"Everyone, including the feds, are talking about the fact that less of the oil actually reached the surface than was below," Captain Dicky Tupes of Southern Seaplanes told IPS, "And now we're seeing some of that submerged oil surface here. How long will this go on?"

The East Bay area appeared to be completely covered in kilometres-long strands of weathered oil of various colors. While flying approximately 16 linear kilometres across the bay, IPS saw nothing but streaks of the substance across the surface.

"That oil is covering just about the entire length of Southwest Pass," Tupes said.

A recent month-long cruise by Georgia researchers reported oil on the sea floor that they suspect is BP's. While government officials question whether there is oil on the sea floor, the Georgia scientists say the samples "smelled like an auto repair shop".

The research team took 78 cores of sediment and only five had live worms in them. Usually they would all have life, said University of Georgia scientist Samantha Joye, who went on to call the affected area a "graveyard for the macrofauna".

"The horrible thing is they've been inundated with this oily material... There's dead animals on the bottom and it stinks to high heaven of oil," Joye added.

University of South Florida's Ernst Peebles said the oil on the floor if the Gulf "is undermining the ecosystem from the bottom up".

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Underwater patrols to nab coral thieves from January

The Underwater patrols to nab coral thieves from January
Dive sites closure extended

ALOR SETAR: Underwater patrols will be conducted at the 42 marine parks nationwide from January to nab those who damage or collect corals.

Marine Parks department director Dr Sukarno Wagiman said 100 enforcement personnel would be conducting the patrols to nab these culprits.

He said the stricter enforcement was aimed at to prevent damage to corals.

He said those caught could be fined under the Fisheries Act but did not specify the amount.

Dr Sukarno also said the temporary closure of several dive sites at three marine parks since June due to coral bleaching has been extended.

He said this was because the corals at these sites have yet to fully recover.

He said some of the corals had only recovered by between one and two percent.

“When we first gave the time frame for the temporary closure until the end of this month, we thought that it would give ample time for the corals to recover.

“It seems the corals need a much longer period of time to recover,” Dr Sukarno said Sunday when met at a seminar on coral protection organised by Tourism Malaysia here.

He said the department had yet to decide when the dive sites would be reopened to the public.

It was reported in June that several dive sites at the Pulau Tioman marine park in Pahang, Pulau Redang marine park in Terengganu and Pulau Payar marine park in Kedah were temporarily off-limits to divers and snorkellers until the end of October.

The sites were affected by coral bleaching, a phenomenon caused by global warming that has increased sea water temperature by 2C to between 28C and 29C.

The affected dive sites are Pulau Chebeh and Batu Malang in Pahang; Teluk Dalam, Tanjung Tukas Darat, Tanjung Tukas Laut, Teluk Air Tawar, Pulau Tenggol and Teluk Bakau in Terengganu; and Teluk Wangi, Pantai Damai and Coral Garden in Kedah.

Pulau Regis, Pulau Soyak and Pulau Tumok in the Tioman marine park have also been temporarily closed.

Palau Announces Massive Marine Sanctuary

Palau Announces Massive Marine Sanctuary
NAGOYA, Japan, Oct 25, 2010 (IPS) - One of Japan's closest allies declared over the weekend that all of its oceans - more than 600,000 square kilometres - would be a sanctuary for whales, dolphins, dugongs, sharks and other species.

"There will be no hunting or harassment of marine mammals and other species in our waters," said the Honourable Harry Fritz, minister of the environment, natural resources and tourism of the Republic of Palau.

"We urge other nations to join our efforts to protect whales, dolphins and other marine animals," Fritz said at a press conference during Oceans Day at the meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan.

Japan has long sought to overturn the global ban on commercial whaling and has actively solicited and received Palau's support for many years. Japan is its second largest source of development aid after the United States. Japanese tourists frequent the islands since many people speak some Japanese.

"Palau now supports conserving marine mammals, along with sharks and other species," said Susan Lieberman, director of international policy for the Pew Environment Group, a large U.S. NGO.

"This is a very significant announcement," Lieberman told IPS.

"Japan remains our very good friend, and we would like to work in harmony to achieve what we both want," said Fritz.

One of the world's smallest nations, with 22,000 people, Palau is an island in the Pacific Ocean, some 800 kms east of the Philippines and 3,200 kms south of Tokyo. Japan occupied Palau after World War I and Japanese immigration was encouraged until World War II when the U.S. occupied the region.

A year ago at the United Nations General Assembly, Palau's President Johnson Toribiong announced that the waters in its economic zone, about the size of France, would be a shark sanctuary. Scientists have said about half of the world's oceanic sharks are at risk of extinction, mainly due to the practice of catching them for their fins.

Palau is also home to at least 11 whale species, including a breeding population of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) that can dive more than three kms deep in search of prey. As many as 30 other whale and dolphin species may also use the rich waters around Palau, Fritz said.

"This sanctuary will promote sustainable whale-watching tourism, already a growing multi-million-dollar global industry, as an economic opportunity for the people of Palau," he said.

There has been a global ban on commercial whaling since 1986. However, Japan kills 600 to 900 minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) and a few fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) each year in the Antarctic for what it calls "scientific research", which is allowed under the ban.

Norway and Iceland also hunt a limited number of whales off their coasts. Those countries and some others have lobbied hard to end the ban on commercial whaling of some species such as the minke, where populations are estimated to be well over a million.

Most whale species have critically depleted populations, including those in the Pacific, due to past commercial whaling largely by foreign companies, Fritz noted.

Palau's sanctuary may be in name only, with just one boat supplied by Australia but operated by the Palau government to patrol the vast region. "We are thankful to Pew for a recent grant for fuel so they can go out more than twice a month," he told IPS.

"Last August I received a report from the U.S. officials in Guam showing more than 850 vessels fishing illegally in Palau's waters," Fritz added.

Some of those were prosecuted and fined by Palau government, he confirmed. They also have an agreement with the small Pacific island state of Niue to do aerial patrols of their shared waters.

Scuba diving, snorkeling and other forms of tourism are the major foreign revenue source for the country, said Lieberman.

"Whales and sharks are worth far more alive than dead to the people of Palau," she said.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Team SPAWAR Gliders Embarked Aboard USNS Pathfinder for At-Sea Testing

Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System: Team SPAWAR Gliders Embarked Aboard USNS Pathfinder for At-Sea Testing
SAN DIEGO - The Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command's USNS Pathfinder embarked Littoral Battlespace Sensing Gliders, Oct. 21 while ported at Naval Base San Diego. The unmanned undersea vehicles, also known as UUVs, are undergoing at-sea testing, Oct. 22 to Nov. 6.

Team SPAWAR's major contribution to USNS Pathfinder's capabilities will be realized over the next six months. The Battlespace Awareness and Information Operations Program Office will be acquiring and providing up to 150 LBS gliders for deployment aboard the Navy's seven T-AGS ships, which includes USNS Pathfinder.

"We will be charting new territory in really deep water," explained Brian Granger, a SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific engineer and lead for the glider testing. "For the first time we'll be testing the gliders at a depth of 1,000 meters to characterize the sea floor at 3,500 meters."

The T-AGS class of oceanographic survey ships has sizeable daily operating costs. Granger noted the ability to employ multiple gliders will be a "force multiplier" in terms of gathering a vast amount of data for the same operating cost.

According to Randy Case, PMW 120's LBS-UUV assistant program manager, the gliders can provide capability that exceeds what is available today. "They have the potential to contribute far more substantially toward the Navy's Information Dominance goal of deploying remotely piloted, unattended and autonomous systems that can be adaptively networked to dominate the operating environment than their current mission of conducting oceanographic surveys."

The program office has built a remote glider command and control infrastructure around a government off-the-shelf UUV that is adaptable to various oceanographic missions by removing and replacing the sensor payload. "It shouldn't be very difficult to see where this technology could be applied elsewhere in the Information Dominance domain," said Case.

USNS Pathfinder provides persistent environmental surveillance that allows mission planners to better calculate how to execute mine warfare and antisubmarine operations.

For example, the data collected enhances navigation - and specifically subsurface navigation for submarines - because only a small percentage of the world's oceans is charted to modern standards. Atmospheric and oceanographic data collected is used to determine thresholds and limitations for special warfare operations.

"Gliders are unmanned underwater vehicles that have no propeller. They travel in a saw-tooth pattern using changes in buoyancy for propulsion," explained Clayton Jones of Teledyne Webb Research, which is under contract to produce the gliders for PMW 120. "This low-speed propulsion minimizes energy consumption, enabling long endurance missions despite a limited battery payload."

Each glider will host a payload suite of sensors that will measure the physical characteristics of the water column as the glider routinely descends and ascends in the ocean. The gliders can operate up to 30 days autonomously with a standard battery and can operate up to eight months with a lithium battery.

The contract for the first 15 gliders was awarded in August and delivery of the first batch to the Naval Oceanographic Office is expected to begin first quarter of fiscal year 2011. SSC Pacific provided PMW 120 with system engineering expertise during the program's development phase and will continue to provide technical assistance during the production and sustainment phases. The glider team consists of SSC Pacific, Portland State University and Applied Operations Research, Inc. personnel.

USNS Pathfinder is designed to gather underwater data in coastal or deep ocean waters. The ship is operated for the Oceanographer of the Navy by civilian contract mariners employed by an operating company for Military Sealift Command. NAVOCEANO scientists and technicians perform surveys aboard the ship for the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command.

This will be the first time the glider team will be able to conduct a sea test on the platform to which glider will be deployed upon. After testing off the coast of Southern California, the goal is to conduct T-AGS "final exam" testing during a Western Pacific deployment in spring 2011.

Owen Phillips, world-renowned JH oceanographer, dies at 79

The JHU Gazette: Owen Phillips, world-renowned JH oceanographer, dies at 79
Owen Martin Phillips, a Johns Hopkins University faculty member emeritus and renowned oceanographer, died on Oct. 13 at his Chestertown, Md., home. He was 79.

Phillips was world-famous for devising a methodology for predicting and describing the shape of ocean waves and, in particular, giant waves—10-story upheavals of the sea surface—knowledge of which is essential for designing ships and drilling platforms capable of withstanding these destructive swells of water.

An engineer and scientist who probed the complex physics of fluids in motion, Phillips spent half a century at Johns Hopkins and was the chief architect of the school’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, formed in 1967. His work in fluid mechanics is widely recognized as having had a profound impact on the field, cutting across traditional disciplines and encompassing practical applications as disparate as the Earth’s crust, its atmosphere and oceans.

“Owen was a true giant in the field of fluid mechanics for his contributions to oceanography and other geophysical flows. Much of our understanding of ocean waves can be traced to fundamental research done by Owen,” said Darryn Waugh, chair of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. “Owen had a huge impact on Johns Hopkins University. Not only did he play a major role in the formation of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, and twice serve as chair, but he also was its first and longest-serving chair, during which time he guided its growth and development into an internationally recognized interdisciplinary center for research and teaching.” Many of Phillips’ former students are now distinguished researchers worldwide.

A prolific writer, Phillips authored more than 100 papers in his field. His 1966 book, The Dynamics of the Upper Ocean, is a standard reference volume for students struggling to understand waves and turbulence, and his 1991 volume, Flow and Reactions in Permeable Rocks, unified the chemistry and physics of certain geological processes and is still used by students today.

Phillips was born on Dec. 30, 1930, in Paramatta, New South Wales, Australia. His father, a veteran of both world wars, moved the family of six to a small country town in northern New South Wales in 1936, then to Sydney in 1944, where Phillips attended high school. In 1948, Phillips entered the University of Sydney in the engineering program, which at the time was among the most rigorous academic training grounds in the world. He earned a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics with highest honors in 1952 and his doctorate at Cambridge University in 1955.

He published his first scientific papers in 1955, and two years later joined The Johns Hopkins University as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering. That year, he published a paper outlining his still-famous and influential theory on ocean wave generation. Three years later, he left for Cambridge, accepting a position as assistant director of research in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics. It did not take him long, however, to discover that the field of oceanography was expanding much more rapidly in the U.S. than it was in the U.K., so he returned to Johns Hopkins in 1963 as a full professor of geophysical mechanics.

In 1965, Phillips was awarded the coveted Adams Prize by the Royal Society of London for his first monograph, Dynamics of the Upper Ocean, published the following year. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1968, at the age of 37. Phillips was chair of the newly formed Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences for the next 10 years, and then again from 1988 to 1989.

He was awarded the Sverdup Gold Medal in 1974, served as president of the Maryland Academy of Sciences from 1979 to 1985 and was elected a fellow of the American Meteorological Society in 1980 and of the American Geophysical Union in 2006.

In April 1998, hundreds of friends and colleagues packed Johns Hopkins’ Shriver Hall auditorium to hear the world’s foremost experts in fluid dynamics pay tribute to Phillips upon his retirement. The turbulence expert was admired for his research acumen and accomplishments, and beloved for his gracious charm, quick sense of humor and generosity of spirit.

“Owen Phillips was genuinely a renaissance man, a true polymath,” said Peter Olson, a colleague of Phillips’ and a professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, last week. “He took a sincere interest in everyone in EPS, and he was unfailingly generous, especially when it came to sharing his thoughts, ideas and insights with colleagues and students.”

Phillips is survived by his wife of 57 years, Merle, and his four children, Lynette Phillips, of Huntington, N.Y., Christopher Phillips, of Albany, N.Y., Bronwyn Phillips, of Baltimore; and Michael Phillips, of Brooklyn, N.Y.

Colleagues and friends in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences are planning a memorial service for Friday, Jan. 21, at a time and place to be announced. When more information is available, it will be posted on the department website,

Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education dedicated

The University of Hawaii System: Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education dedicated
The UH Mānoa Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE) held a blessing ceremony today at 10:30 a.m. to celebrate the completion of a new research facility. The new building will support the missions of C-MORE, a National Science Foundation-sponsored Science and Technology Center.
Among those in attendance were U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye and Dr. Subra Suresh, recently appointed director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Washington D.C.
"The grand opening of this majestic research laboratory is a dream come true and represents a once in a scientific lifetime opportunity,” said C-MORE Director Dave Karl. “I am grateful for the vision and support of the UH leadership, especially Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw and Gary Ostrander, Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education.”

The new research facility, C-MORE Hale, will house state-of-the-art scientific equipment that will be used in conjunction with existing modern fleet of research vessels to study the vital role that marine microbes play in sustaining planetary habitability. The merger of the new land-based laboratory with world-class sea-going support vessels will help position UH Mānoa on the world map as a leader in oceanographic research.
Added Chancellor Virginia S. Hinshaw, “C-MORE Hale brings together an interdisciplinary team to provide educational training opportunities in the field of microbial oceanography to students. The Center further strengthens UH Mānoa as a pioneering and exceptional research institution.”

C-MORE is one of 17 NSF Centers of Science and Technology across the nation, and the only one in Hawai‘i. Its research is focused on examining the role that marine microbes play in sustaining planetary habitability.
“From globally significant science to a vital education and outreach program, C-MORE encompasses the best of Hawai‘i’s research infrastructure and the NSF Science and Technology Center Program,” said Dr. Subra Suresh, director of the NSF.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

GEN: Coccolithophore blooms in the southwest Atlantic

Genetic Engineering News: Coccolithophore blooms in the southwest Atlantic

A study led by Dr Stuart Painter of the National Oceanography Centre helps explain the formation of huge phytoplankton blooms off the southeast coast of South America during the austral summer (December-January). The region supports the highly productive Patagonian Shelf marine ecosystem, which includes a globally important fishery.

Coccolithophores are key members of the marine phytoplankton community. They are abundant in the sunlit upper layer of the world's oceans, often forming vast blooms that can be seen from space.

"Coccolithophores are a complex group of plankton and in many areas of the World Ocean satellite-based observations provide the only information we have. We often have little direct knowledge of the environmental factors coincident with these blooms," explained Painter.

To understand the environmental factors controlling the development of coccolithophore blooms, Painter and his coauthors joined a cruise led by Dr William Balch of the Bigelow Laboratory (Maine, USA) and measured the salinity, chemistry and nutrient levels of the waters overlying the Patagonian Shelf and the shelf break, where the seafloor dips down to the deep seabed.

They also took measurements at the Brazil/Falklands Confluence to the northeast, where two major currents collide. These are the Brazil Current, which carries warm, saline subtropical waters southwards, and the Falklands Current, which brings cold, fresh and nutrient-rich water up from the sub-Antarctic region.

The continental shelf itself experiences strong tides and inputs from large rivers. And to complicate matters further, low-salinity water also enters the Patagonian Shelf region from the Pacific Ocean through the Magellan Strait in the south.

"The marine environment of the Patagonian Shelf region is well known for its complexity but what has been less clear until now is how this relates to the large blooms of coccolithophores in this region," said Painter.

He and his collaborators identified five distinct water masses, each having different characteristics, such as temperature and nutrient concentration. These water masses also varied in the amount of chlorophyll in their surface waters, indicating different levels of phytoplankton production.

During the research cruise, a large bloom of the globally ubiquitous coccolthophore species Emiliania huxleyi formed in the sub-Antarctic Shelf Water (SSW), north of the Falkland Islands. The bloom extended north along the shelf break and coincided with the distribution of reflective calcite detected from space, which was otherwise diffusely distributed. Calcite is a carbonate mineral and a common constituent of limestone. It also forms the microscopic plates ? 'coccoliths' ? that surround coccolithophores, possibly for protection.

Chemical and nutrient measurements confirmed that conditions within the SSW were especially conducive for coccolithophore bloom formation, with the right cocktail of nutrients and seawater temperature.

However, the distribution of the SSW is strongly influenced by the shelf break front, which is the focus of intense biological production. It can vary from 20 to 200 kilometres in width determining exactly where conditions are right for coccolithophore blooms.

"The complex interaction of large currents and different water masses clearly exerts strong controls over the position of coccolithophore blooms in this region,"said Painter.

Times of India: NIO to draw up ballast water mgmt plans

NIO to draw up ballast water mgmt plans

PANAJI: The National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) will prepare detailed management plans for the country's eight major ports aimed at the management of ballast water from sailing ships, which cause health and other problems through invasive organisms. "The project envisages carrying out-of-port biological baseline surveys, ballast water risk assessment, developing geographical information system on ballast water management, identifying suitable site for each port for the discharge of ballast water in emergency situations," a NIO source said.

The institute will also conduct on-voyage ballast water sampling and implementation of electronic ballast water reporting form for ships, the source added. A memorandum of understanding to extend the research to the ports of Mangalore, Cochin, Chennai, Haldia, Kandla, Tuticorin, Paradeep and Kolkata will be signed between NIO and the directorate general of shipping (DGS) shortly, NIO sources said. "Marine bioinvasion has been considered as one of the greatest threats that are challenging the health of the oceans," the source said. Explaining further, the source said that 90% of the cargo is transported through sea routes and around 10 billion tonnes of ballast water is loaded and discharged from port to port.

"A variety of living organisms, including pathogens, can enter and thrive in any environment under favourable conditions, posing danger to the ecosystem and human health. Such bio-invasion cases have been documented," the source said. Taking cognizance of the gravity of the bio-invasion threat, International Maritime Organization (IMO) has evolved the International convention for control and management of ship's ballast water and sediments in 2004.

All maritime countries have to adhere to the guidelines and standards set by it. "The ships have to exercise options of mid-oceanic exchange, ballast water risk assessment and ballast water treatment technologies," the source added. NIO has already carried out work for the ports of Mumbai, Jawaharlal Nehru, Mormugao and Visakhapatnam under 'Globallast' and 'Government of India initiative' programmes. This was in the form of port biological baseline surveys, ballast water risk assessment and identification of ballast water discharge sites.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Scripps dives into study of marine sounds

SignOn San Diego: Scripps dives into study of marine sounds

A team of scientists including some at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography have collected loads of data about the effects of sound on marine mammals, with special focus in whether naval sonar can harm them.

With sensors, the group of biologists and acoustic experts spent two months tagging seven species of marine mammals, including blue whales and killer whales, off the Southern California coast.

It was the first time scientists have done a controlled sound-exposure experiment with a Cuvier's beaked whale, an elusive animal most commonly associated with strandings possibly related to naval sonar. Read about that here.

Scientists across several disciplines worked closely with the U.S. Navy to locate Cuvier's beaked whales, said John Hildebrand, a professor of oceanography at Scripps, which is part of the University California of San Diego.

It also was the first time tags were deployed on sei whales and Baird's beaked whales on the West Coast of the United States.

Researchers will take months to analyze nearly 400 hours of data from tags, and thousands of photographs of the marine mammals.

The two-month project is part of a five-year study funded by the Navy and mainly conducted by academics and researchers with coordination by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Friday, October 15, 2010

PR: Lubchenco to headline Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Conference speaker lineup

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Oct. 15, 2010) - Dr. Jane Lubchenco, U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans & Atmosphere and NOAA administrator, will be the opening keynote speaker for a major academic conference on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill Feb. 9-11, 2011, hosted by the University of South Florida, the Florida Institute of Oceanography, Mote Marine Laboratory, and the State of Florida Oil Spill Academic Task Force.

Lubchenco, who played a leading role in the nation's response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, heads a lineup of speakers which also features leading public policy leaders, scientists and energy industry figures. Registration is open for the event, which will be held at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Other announced speakers include:

•John Hofmeister, founder and CEO of Citizens for Affordable Energy, Inc., and former CEO of Shell Oil Company
•U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (Invited)
•U.S. Representative C. W. Bill Young (Invited)
•U.S. Representative Kathy Castor (Invited)
•Randy Bayliss, The Bayliss Consultancy, former Environmental Manager at CBI Americas Ltd, and State OnScene Coordinator for the Lee Wang Zin oil spill in 1980 and the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989.

Conference registration is available at

The event will bring together representatives from academia, government, NGOs and the private sector to consider the issues related to off-shore drilling, discuss the state of research into the impact of the spill and the translation of scientific findings into policy and management decisions for the future. The conference aims to draw international experts from oil-producing nations such as Brazil, India, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Nigeria to consider potential risks and new approaches in mitigating them.

Sessions will cover: Human health issues, geotechnical engineering; regional oceanography; chemical weathering and biological consumption; dispersants; ecological consequences and toxicity; economic and social impacts; and stakeholders, science and policy

The conference is co-chaired by Robert H. Weisberg, Distinguished University Professor of Physical Oceanography at the University of South Florida; William T. Hogarth, Acting Director of the Florida Institute of Oceanography; and Michael P. Crosby, Senior Vice President for Research at Mote Marine Laboratory.

Oral or poster presentations on substantial and original research on all aspects of the Gulf Oil Spill disaster and its impact also will be featured. Additional information is available on the conference website or contact

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Plastics in the oceans debate comes to qualified consensus Plastics in the oceans debate comes to qualified consensus

“Reduce, reuse, recycle” sums up the common ground reached by an environmental campaigner, an oceanographer and a senior plastics industry representative in a debate on marine plastic litter hosted by the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) at its London headquarters last night.

Panellists were David de Rothschild, leader of the trans-Pacific Plastiki expedition on a boat made from plastic bottles ( 22 March), Dr Simon Boxall of the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, and Peter Davis, Director General of the British Plastics Federation (BPF). In the chair was Peter Shukman, BBC science and environment correspondent.

Dr Boxall outlined salient scientific findings on the marine litter problem evident in all five oceanic gyres (north and south Pacific, north and south Atlantic, and Indian Ocean). The circulation time in each gyre is around six years; around 40% of gyre litter is lost on each cycle to the single global deep-water circulation system. Thus “the problem knows no boundaries, and covers the entire planet.”

Boxall said that bulk retrieval of current marine litter is not feasible – “basically, we’re stuck with it”, and efforts must concentrate on preventing future littering.

According to Boxall, on the macroscopic scale, plastic bags cause disproportionate problems in the oceans – they are transported by wind as well as currents, mimic the food prey of wildlife such as albatrosses and turtles, and are usually fatal when ingested.

He noted that marine pollution surveys do not pick up on microscopic plastic particles; which in some locations outnumber phytoplankton and zooplankton – causing foodchain problems. Plastic dust is detectable in UK coastal waters. “The good news,” said Boxall, is that globally there has been no significant increase in particle count from 1986 to 2008.”

Finally, Boxall observed that bisphenol A (BPA) leaching from plastics is significantly soluble in seawater at 30°C, and that the pollutants PCB and DDT are absorbed by spongelike plastic particles.

David de Rothschild denounced the use of what he described as “dumb single-use plastics”, citing as particular bêtes-noires retail plastic bags and water bottles, and styrofoam cups. He advocated that plastic food packaging be drastically reduced by the widespread adoption of farmers’ markets, and the retention of current plastics distribution chains to handle more sustainable alternatives – but queried whether the plastics industry is truly motivated to implement sustainability measures which would harm its own livelihood.

Peter Davis noted that marine plastic litter is now firmly on media and plastics industry agendas – but not regarded as important by most governments. Climate change and overpopulation would surely increase environmental pressure on the oceans.

Davis denied that the plastics industry has no incentive to address waste and pollution through reuse and recycling, commenting “We [in the industry] regard used plastics as a resource, not as waste – we want them back for recycling!”

As evidence of industry commitment, he cited progress with the Plastics 2020 Challenge to divert plastics from landfill in order to reduce climate change impact, address the energy deficit, and achieve a step change in the efficient use of resources. Operation Cleansweep is dealing with loss and waste of raw material pellets, with health and safety as well as resource benefits.

While applauding plastic bag re-use schemes, Davis noted that that bags form “a tiny proportion” by weight of the total plastics waste stream. He endorsed eliminating excess packaging, but noted that an appropriate minimum is necessary since “64m UK citizens need three safe, fresh meals per day, delivered via a 24-hour supply chain.”

On marine BPA pollution, Davis noted “a clean bill of health” for the chemical from the European Food Standards Agency (, 4 October).

A lively session of questions from the audience of several hundred RGS members and guests followed. Asked about the potential of biodegradable plastics, the panel noted that the relevant bacteria are killed by a saline environment, so biodegradation must happen before the waste reaches the sea. Peter Davis cautioned that, excellent as biodegradables are, they only suit a limited range of applications.

A questioner asked whether there are viable alternatives to plastic for farmers packing foodstuffs – and how these would be received by the market (especially the supermarkets).

The panel agreed that dumping of rubbish by multinational companies on poor countries (e.g. on the West African coast) must cease, through political pressure or otherwise.

Asked why recycling symbols on packaging are not explained to consumers, the panel responded that the code is intended mainly for local authorities and recycling contractors – but that consumer education could only be beneficial.

The panel concluded that marine littering would best be tackled through behavioural change – for instance:

• education and enforcement against littering by beach visitors, illegal dumping at sea and poor port management

• refundable deposits on plastic drinks bottles, analogous to previous common practice with glass bottles

• stronger measures against fishermen losing or dumping tackle at sea

• diverting and composting the high proportion of biodegradables which currently go to landfill

• much more consistent recycling by local authorities, spreading best practice to the worst performers

• coastal clean-up initiatives.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Savannah Now: Skidaway Institute to get LEED Gold Certification

Skidaway Institute to get LEED Gold Certification

The Savannah Branch of the U.S. Green Building Council will present a LEED Gold Certification plaque to the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography at an awards ceremony Oct. 19 at 6 p.m.

The award is being made because the Marine & Coastal Science Research & Instructional research center has achieved LEED Gold certification because of work that was completed by Choate Construction Co. in mid-2009.

Through the project team's utilization of a sustainable construction rating system that integrated careful analysis of eco-friendly choices, the building exceeded its original certification goal of Silver.

The new facility allows the Skidaway Institute to expand its research in several areas such as the development of new technologies associated with ocean observation systems, discovering the diversity of species and their interactions in the marine environment, and the assessment of factors affecting the environmental health and integrity of Georgia's coastal zone.

Choate will offer tours of the facility, showcasing the facility's sustainable features. Immediately following, Choate will sponsor the inaugural event for the USGBC-GA Savannah Branch Emerging Professionals Committee.

Appetizers and beverages will be available. The event is free and the public is encouraged to attend.

The Emerging Professionals, or EP, is a committee of the USGBC-GA Savannah Branch, and is dedicated to the promotion of sustainable development and green building practices within Georgia's building industry.

Their mission is to serve as a point of entry for emerging professionals into USGBC GA and the green building movement while developing resources and networks to support their evolution into dynamic, visionary leaders who are dedicated to the creation of a sustainable future.

"We're looking for young professionals and students who want to invest in the green building movement as a cornerstone of a sustainable society through volunteerism and education," said chair Joshua M. Simpson. "We are a diverse, energetic group who also welcomes members from non-construction related industries, including but not limited to hospitality, law, marketing/ advertising, financial/ lending, local and state government, sciences, and fine arts."

Choate is one of the largest commercial building general contractors in the southeastern United States, with offices in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Founded in 1989, Choate provides preconstruction, construction, construction management and design/build services with the singular focus of delivering the highest quality finished product, on time and within budget.

Areas of specialty as a general contractor and interior contractor include: healthcare and biomedical; office buildings; technology; warehouse and distribution centers; industrial and manufacturing centers; governmental buildings and student housing; senior living; automotive dealerships and professional auto racing teams; and water treatment. For more information, visit

The Savannah Branch of the U.S. Green Building Council - Georgia Chapter is dedicated to promoting sustainable design and green building throughout the Creative Coast while seeking to educate the public on the long-term benefits of green building and how sustainable design can be integrated or implemented into one's life. For information, visit

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 Seal dies of cancer at Oceanography Institute

Seal dies of cancer at Oceanography Institute

VietNamNet Bridge - A spotted seal has died of brain tumor at the Nha Trang Oceanography Institute.

The 60 kilogram animal had been partially paralyzed after a cancer in the lung spread to its brain, the institute said Saturday.

An autopsy showed a huge tumor in its lung and several smaller ones in its head.

The seal had been caught by a fisherman in the central Quang Ngai Province in 2008.

The spotted seal (Phoca largha), considered a "true seal," inhabits the ice floes and waters of the northern Pacific Ocean and adjacent seas.

The species is moderately abundant but faces numerous threats and several major subpopulations have declined in recent years, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The only seal left now at the institute is a 30-kilogram fur seal netted in a shrimp-farming lagoon in Thua Thien-Hue Province last month.

The young animal was handed over to the institute after protracted negotiations with the fisherman who caught it.

Source: Tuoi Tre

San Diego Source: One Scripps building under way; other stymied

San Diego Source: One Scripps building under way; other stymied

The $55.5 million, 120,000-square-foot National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Southwest Fisheries Center at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla is proceeding as planned.

But the nearby $26.5 million, three-story 38,000-square-foot (gross) Marine Ecosystem Sensing, Observation and Modeling (MESOM) Laboratory is not. MESOM has hit an obstacle, or is considered to be one. It's blocking the ocean view -- and in La Jolla, that's just not done.

Back to normal soon

Dear readers,

You may have noticed that posting here has been intermittent in the last few weeks. That's because I was busy packing for a move, then driving and am now unpacking from that move in my new house. So it's been tough.

Now, however, I'm in the new house, settled in, so Seaborn should be able to take off in the way I envisaged it.

Thanks for your patience.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

PENINSULA WOMAN: Moriarty gathers grants to keep marine life center afloat

PENINSULA WOMAN: Moriarty gathers grants to keep marine life center afloat
By Diane Urbani de la Paz
for Peninsula Woman
PORT ANGELES -- Deborah Moriarty lives in an ecosystem of diverse organisms: federal grant-makers, fourth- and fifth-graders, and this weekend, Crab & Seafood Festival-goers.

Her workplace, the Feiro Marine Life Center on City Pier, sits in the middle of today's feasting -- and through the rest of the year it's a hub for learning, thanks in large part to Moriarty's efforts.

As the Feiro's administrative and education coordinator, she's working to ensure the survival of this nonprofit aquarium and science center despite the struggling local economy.

Moriarty is the one on the Feiro's three-person paid staff who searches the sea of grant-awarding groups for new money.

Just last week, she dived into the proposals for two: a yearlong grant from the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, and the B-WET -- Bay Watershed Education Training -- funding to bring hundreds of grade-schoolers from the Crescent, Sequim and Port Angeles school districts on field trips and creekside walks.

So Moriarty spends a lot of time shut in her office, away from the water and the kids. But she seems to relish the hunt for fresh infusions of money, said Betsy Wharton, a member of the Feiro's board of directors.

"She is tireless," Wharton said. "Every time I talk to her, she's got an application in," for another grant.

Moriarty doesn't shy away from grant-makers she's never dealt with before, Wharton added.

Then there's the other element of her job, the part that gives her a shot of energy: interacting with visitors, many of whom happen upon the Feiro while awaiting the Victoria ferry.

People come from all over -- including from the country's vast, landlocked expanses -- so "this may be their only opportunity to learn something about the ocean [that] we take for granted," Moriarty said. "They're just passing through; they come in not expecting to learn. It's been an eye-opener to see how much education we can do," in a short window of time before the ferry horn blows.

Moriarty, with Feiro educator Bob Campbell and program assistant Kendra Fors, reminds people that the center's animals and plants all come from the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and specifically Port Angeles Harbor.

It's a hotbed of life we're living in, goes the message; now's your chance to go out and explore it.

Moriarty, of course, sees lots of kids -- and adults -- with iPods and cellphones and BlackBerrys. She still believes they can't hold a candle to the multisensory feast outdoors.

"There are a lot of distractions," she said. "But nothing can replicate being outside, having your feet in the sand," on Hollywood Beach.

"We learn our place in the world best when we're out in it," she said.

Moriarty, 48, grew up on a ranch in rural northern British Columbia, where her father homesteaded outside Fort St. John.

She went to the University of British Columbia in Vancouver to study marine science and oceanography, and then to work for the British Columbia Tourism Department and later the British Columbia Winter Games.

"Both of these jobs gave me great insight into working with volunteers and with visitors -- very applicable to my work at Feiro," she said.

But as a young woman out of college, she was also hungry to travel the world.

She took off for Europe, and in Portugal she met Stephen Moriarty, an attorney from Washington, D.C. They married 25 summers ago and moved to Joyce to raise a family.

Moriarty chose to stay home to bring up Louise, now 23, Jack, 22, Katie, 20, and Elisabeth, 16.

When all four were in high school, their mother went back to school. In 2005, she finished her bachelor's in environmental policy and planning at Peninsula College, through Western Washington University's Huxley College of the Environment.

Having volunteered at the Feiro soon after arriving on the Peninsula, Moriarty knew the center's history: the late Art Feiro, a high school science teacher, built it in 1981 after obtaining federal grant money and holding local fundraisers. The city of Port Angeles provided for the center for 28 years, but then the recession hit hard, precipitating deep cuts.

The Feiro's average annual operating budget is about $120,000, Moriarty said; the city contributes $20,500 of that.

"This past year, because of a number of extra awards for facility upgrades and education programs, our budget was quite high at $193,000," Moriarty added.

What she didn't say is that she helped win those awards.

"She's good at that. She digs around [for a new grant] and chases it down," said Campbell. "Grant-writing is a nerve-wracking thing. She worries and doesn't sleep until she's done with it."

The center just received another grant, Moriarty added, from the Bonneville Power Administration to fund installation of solar panels.

"It will reduce our utility bill," she said, "and give us another opportunity for education."

This past week, Moriarty was crunching numbers on the Marine Mammal Stranding Network application. If she's successful, the network funding would create a new position for a certified worker to deal with whales and other mammals stranded anywhere in the Strait of Juan de Fuca district, from Diamond Point to the West End's Pacific beaches.

She's also finishing the B-WET grant proposal, which she hopes will fund watershed walks along Peabody Creek for elementary-school-age children.

These field trips are up-close, hands-on experiences that reveal the changes in the creek ecosystem, from the stream's natural setting to its urban stretch.

The youngsters also learn how to care for their local creek and ocean.

"We have four simple messages," Moriarty said. "Pick up your dog waste; wash the car on the lawn, since the ground is the best filter; reduce fertilizers and pesticides on your garden, and only rain down the storm drain."

Soap suds, paint and motor oil shouldn't be allowed to run off down the street because, she explains, "it all ends up right here in our harbor."

Last year, then fifth-grader Austin Moore of Port Angeles summed up the Feiro message on a poster that Moriarty is holding onto.

"We are all connected by the water of the world," the poster reads. At the bottom, smaller: "Think about what you do."

Moriarty hopes to share that message today with a larger-than-typical Sunday audience: that of the crab festival, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Feiro receives a portion of proceeds from the event, and every little bit helps. But there's another benefit out there: a clearer understanding that Cancer magister -- the Dungeness crab -- belongs to a wider web of Port Angeles Harbor residents, from plankton to humans.

"We always ask that question," as October approaches, Moriarty said: "How to gently educate people at the crabfest."

There's a lot of bad news about the ocean out there, she acknowledged. It can get overwhelming. But Moriarty finds renewal in simple conversations, connections with people who come into the Feiro.

"When I get away from my desk and talk to one person," she said, that's what lifts the spirits.

Then she quoted Elisabeth, her youngest, who likes to say that her mom is "trying to save the world, one crustacean at a time."

And, here on the pier, one person at a time.

Friday, October 8, 2010

University professors receive $250,000 grant

University professors receive $250,000 grant
A team of LSU professors and students have received a $250,041 to investigate the salt industry of the ancient Mayan civilization, according to a University press release.

Latin American studies professor Heather McKillop and oceanography and coastal sciences professors Harry Boyd and Karen McKee will join a researchers from Auburn University-Montgomery to conduct the study, titled "Ancient Maya Wooden Architecture and the Salt Industry," funded by the national science foundation.

The scientists will attempt to reconstruct the environment and buildings of the period to study how the Mayans obtained, stored and used salt.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Scripps researchers, UCSD chemists to create center devoted to chemistry's influence on climate

Scripps researchers, UCSD chemists to create center devoted to chemistry's influence on climate
Scripps researchers, UCSD chemists to create center devoted to chemistry's influence on climate
October 6th, 2010

Scientists in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego have won a grant to study prevailing mysteries about how chemistry influences climate and atmospheric processes.

The $1.5 million National Science Foundation award forms the Center for Aerosol Impacts on Climate and the Environment (CAICE), which aims to determine how the chemical composition of aerosol particles and the chemical reactions occurring at their surface impact Earth's climate. Until now, studies focused on determining the impact of aerosol chemical processes on climate have been conducted on either highly simplified model systems in the laboratory, making extension to real-world conditions challenging, or under overly complex atmospheric conditions, making deduction of the underlying driving mechanisms cloudy. As a result, chemical processes associated with aerosol particles are poorly constrained in most computer models used for climate predictions.

"We're going to understand how real systems behave and how chemistry affects climate," said the center's principal investigator Kim Prather, an atmospheric chemistry professor who holds appointments in the UCSD Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry as well as at Scripps Oceanography. This knowledge will be used to dramatically improve the representation of aerosol chemical mechanisms in global climate models, and how they impact climate processes such as cloud formation, cloud lifetime, precipitation patterns and direct aerosol absorption.

The center is designed to bring together experts in all areas of chemistry, with physical, chemical and biological oceanographers with the intent of determining how chemical processes impact climate from the molecular scale all the way to the global scale.

"We're understanding at a fundamental level when chemistry is important," said Prather.

To overcome hurdles to observation, the award, which in later phases could direct as much as $40 million toward the center, will support the modification of an existing wave tank on the Scripps campus to create CAICE's research centerpiece, a closed chamber that can simulate ocean-atmosphere interactions. Researchers will add various atmosphere-changing ingredients — from carbon dioxide to phytoplankton to varying levels of light — to measure the effects of different variables.

"We're going to build an ocean and then we're going to build an atmosphere over the ocean," said Prather. "We'll be able to do all kinds of experiments in this microcosm."

The test tank, currently used to generate waves for fluid dynamics studies, could be ready for the center's experiments by January 2011.

The center will include research led by investigators in UCSD's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Scripps who represent fields ranging from fundamental chemistry to biological, chemical and physical oceanography. Co-investigators and advisors from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry include Timothy Bertram, Mario Molina, Robert Pomeroy, Francesco Paesani and Mark Thiemens. Scripps co-investigators and advisers include Grant Deane, Lynn Russell, Lihini Aluwihare, Brian Palenik, Andrew Dickson and Veerabhadran Ramanathan.

CAICE will also feature an educational component that will be integrated into science education programs at Birch Aquarium at Scripps. Prather said a key focus of the center will be to reinvigorate K-12 science education through environmental measurements. The initial educational partners include Paul Ecke Central Elementary School in Encinitas and Castle Park High School in Chula Vista, two schools that are working with UCSD scientists to incorporate related marine and atmospheric studies into their science curricula using the center's outreach budget. National Instruments, Horiba, TSI, Inc. and Nanocomposix are the initial industrial partners of CAICE and will provide state-of-the-art measurement tools. Efforts are under way to identify other key outside collaborators and partners to work on scientific issues, as well as educational and outreach activities.

"We are delighted that the Center for Aerosol Impacts on Climate and the Environment is being established," said Birch Aquarium at Scripps Executive Director Nigella Hillgarth. "We are looking forward to collaborating on outreach programs that are designed to bring awareness to schools and the public about this cutting-edge research on aerosol particles and oceans, atmosphere, climate, chemistry and biology."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cordoba Times: Students study oceanography and oil spills

Students study oceanography and oil spills
Published on October 4th, 2010


Share via G-Mail Share via Yahoo Mail Share via Delicious Digg this article Share via Fark Share via Stumbleupon Share via Twitter Share via Facebook Change article font size Print this article Email this article Create a Shortlink for this article Send this article to Promobot

This August, nine high school students from around the country traveled to Cordova and completed the Ocean Science and Leadership Expedition, a summer intensive course led by the Prince William Sound Science Center.

For 10 days, the students studied principles of oceanography and marine environmental issues, especially focusing on oil spills, and developed leadership skills in a wilderness learning environment.

Students traveled from as far away as New York and Florida, with several coming from the Gulf Coast on first-time scholarships awarded through a partnership between the Science Center and Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium. For them, OSLE was an opportunity to share their experiences from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, learn insights from the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and develop an understanding of ocean systems to help them make sense of the changes to their home environment.

'I really wanted to learn as much as I could about oil spills and how to properly respond,' said Danielle Wall, a high school senior from Sarasota, Fla.

In Cordova, Science Center researchers and educators taught the students about concepts in physical and biological oceanography and the science of oil spills through classes and laboratory activities. In Valdez, students visited the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens' Advisory Council to learn about the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the activities of the Regional Citizens' Advisory Council.

'I would love to be part of starting an RCAC along the Gulf,' said Cierra Martin, a high school senior from Hurley, Miss.

The group also toured the Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Center to learn about oil transportation through Prince William Sound.

As a wilderness expedition, the course included a kayaking trip to Columbia Glacier and along the coast of Valdez Arm. Although some of the planned kayaking was stymied by bad weather, the students were thrilled to paddle among icebergs and camp on remote beaches in Prince William Sound. On one of those beaches, the group conducted a marine debris cleanup, collecting 202 pieces of trash.

The students' culminating project at the end of the course was a half-day oil spill scenario, in which they used everything they had learned to decide how to respond to a mock oil spill in Prince William Sound.

Spill role play
Playing roles in the Incident Command System, a standardized system for emergency response, as well as other stakeholders, the students first used their oceanographic knowledge to forecast the trajectory and impact of the spill, then decided how best to respond.

In the midst of making cleanup decisions and assessing shorelines and ecological impacts, the students also had to negotiate contracts with fishermen and issue press releases.

'I thought that this project was interesting and informative. Both working with the incident command system and with the 'public' was important, and let me develop a respect for those people handling the Gulf oil spill,' reflected William Dou, a high school sophomore from New York City.

Many of the students were attracted to OSLE by their interest in pursuing careers in marine science, and the course provided opportunities for firsthand interaction with the marine environment that confirmed their ambitions.

Students were able to earn college credit for the course from Prince William Sound Community College, and gained experiences and knowledge to bring back to their schools and communities.

'This trip was like nothing I've ever done before and it changed my life,' said Martin at the end of the trip. 'I'm so glad that I had this experience, and it's going to take me so far in life.'

The OSLE was presented by the Prince William Sound Science Center with support from Prince William Sound Oil Spill Recovery Institute, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Prince William Sound Regional Citizens' Advisory Council, Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, BP, and Conoco Phillips.

-- Alice Dou-Wang is an education specialist for the Prince William Sound Science Center.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Marine science textbook to be corrected

Marine science textbook to be corrected

The antievolution sidebar in a marine science textbook recommended for approval in Florida will be removed. The textbook in question, Life on an Ocean Planet (Current Publishing, 2011), was under fire after the grassroots pro-evolution-education organization Florida Citizens for Science charged that its sidebar on "Questions about the Origin and Development of Life" was "simultaneously actively misinforming, at odds with state standards, and ultimately irrelevant to marine science."

The Orlando Sentinel (September 23, 2010) reported that state education officials stated that the publisher agreed to remove the sidebar, and a week later, the newspaper's education blog (September 30, 2010) quoted excerpts from e-mail correspondence from the publisher to the state department of education confirming that the sidebar would be removed: "We will also review all of the curriculum components and remove any content that refers to the information on these pages."

Eileen Roy, a member of the Alachua County School Board who was on the committee and voted against the textbook's approval, told the Sentinel's blog that she feared that the "very, very egregious ... discussion of evolution" might be reflected in the rest of the textbook. She also said that she worried that, if the textbook were approved, it would be adopted by the Florida county school boards that in 2008 adopted resolutions opposing the proposed improvements to the treatment of evolution in Florida's state science standards.

Subsequently, Dean Allen, the vice president and general manager of Current Publishing told the Sentinel's education blog (October 4, 2010) that the sidebar was intended to provide a "critical thinking exercise for students" and not to undermine the teaching of evolution. "Everywhere else in the book we teach evolution," he said, "and we teach it to the Sunshine State standards." He confirmed that the sidebar would be removed from both the printed and the electronic version of the textbook.

Here's the article from Sept 23, 2010 that tells about the sidebar:
A sidebar in a marine science textbook recommended for approval in Florida is "packed with good ol' fashioned creationist language," Florida Citizens for Science charges. The text in question, Life on an Ocean Planet (Current Publishing, 2011), was recently recommended for state approval by the state's instructional materials adoption committee on a 7-2 vote, according to the education blog of the St. Petersburg Times (September 22, 2010). But as FCFS's president Joe Wolf wrote to Florida Department of Education Commissioner Eric Smith, the sidebar on "Questions about the Origin and Development of Life" is "simultaneously actively misinforming, at odds with state standards, and ultimately irrelevant to marine science." Smith has the final say in the textbook adoption process, and Wolf recommended that the sidebar "should be removed entirely, as there is so little information that is either correct or useful to make it worth retaining."

The sidebar makes a variety of historical and scientific errors. For example, it claims that in the Origin of Species "Darwin proposed that life arose from nonliving matter"; it equates microevolution with genetic drift; and it contends that selective breeding demonstrates genetic drift. Moreover, although the sidebar acknowledges that "the vast majority of biologists (probably more than 95%)" accept evolution, it also airs, without attempting to debunk, a variety of creationist claims (which are attributed to unnamed "skeptics"). Among these claims: that the fossil record "does not contain the many transitional species one would expect," that "evolution doesn't adequately explain how a complex structure ... could come to exist through infrequent random mutations," that transitional features could not be favored by natural selection, and that "the hypotheses that ... chemicals can lead to abiogenesis are highly debatable."

The St. Petersburg Times's education blog cited a Florida Department of Education spokesperson as stating that the committee's vote to recommend Life on an Ocean Planet for approval included the provision that the publisher remove two specific pages — presumably the problematic sidebar. But FCFS isn't so sure about what was recommended, reporting, "Information we have about the committee vote indicates that they voted to approve the textbook overall, and then a second vote was called for to remove the sidebar. That second vote failed but a compromise was reached to 'fix' the sidebar." FCFS added, "Further muddying of the waters comes from there being two versions of the textbook: an electronic one on CD and a print one. It's unclear whether the votes pertain to both versions or just one since it looks like the committee only reviewed the electronic one."

What lies under the sea we sail on?

What lies under the sea we sail on?

Scientists in Australia have joined colleagues from around the world to conduct the first global census of life under the sea.

The Census of Marine Life is a 10-year scientific initiative to assess and explain the diversity, distribution, and abundance of life in the oceans.

The first census project, chaired by Dr Ian Poiner, CEO of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, included more than 2700 scientists from 80 countries and 670 institutions. They took part in 540 expeditions, amounting to 9000 days at sea.

“The health of our ocean environment is critical to our industries and our way of life,” Senator Carr said. “The knowledge we have gained through the Census team will help us to improve our ocean management and protect our natural marine treasures.”

Dr Poiner said: “The first global census of marine life shows life in planet ocean is richer, more connected and more altered than expected”.

The Great Barrier Reef and Ningaloo Reef formed part of one of the 17 census projects. As part of the survey into coral reefs, between 300 and 500 new species were discovered.

The Census has also created the world’s largest repository of data about marine species, including nearly 30 million records of marine life - publicly available for the first time - 2,600 research papers and 34 books.

The Census of Marine Life was officially released last night in London and can be viewed at

For more information on the Innovation, Industry, Science and Research portfolio, including the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the CSIRO who took part in the Census, visit