Monday, September 08, 2014

James Nestor's fantastic new book "Deep" reviewed

James Nestor’s new book “Deep” is a treat.  I enjoyed reading it from beginning to end, and although I wanted to rush through, I forced myself to put it down because I wanted to think about what I was reading.  I recommend it highly to anyone interested in the ocean or human performance. 

I was surprised at how much I learned, even though I’m a marine scientist with a Ph.D. and a freediver.  I enjoyed the stories of freediving with amazing people doing interesting things underwater, and it was fun to go through Nestor’s personal challenges as he tried to learn to freedive.  Throughout, Nestor manages to convey what it feels like to do ocean research (lots of waiting and lost gear), and his stories took me out to sea. 

The stories of renegade science were new to me, and I enjoyed reading about research outside the strictures of academia.  There is much to learn in the ocean, and Nestor found some unique people that are worth reading about. 

This is easily one of the top ocean books I’ve ever read, and I’ll be keeping it on my shelf to read again sometime.   

Friday, August 01, 2014

The jellyfish are coming

Kiss your salmon goodbye.  Jellyfish are now 86% of the life in Puget Sound, a sign of things gone badly wrong.  Nutrient soup from your poop, Noctiluca blooms (red-orange streaks in the water) and the fish start disappearing.

Note:  proper scientific caution dictates weaselly caution words like perhaps and maybe should be in this post, so consider them to be here.

(See p. 27 of link for the 86% finding)

Puget Sound in trouble?

I just saw a very scary presentation.  Scary, that is, for oceanography wonks.

It looks like Puget Sound is changing in ways that people won't like.  Fewer fish, lower oxygen, more jellyfish.  Thanks to nutrients from sewage treatment plants and some surprising food web changes.

You'll know you're seeing it happen if the waters light up, bioluminescence from Noctiluca blooms, as in the funky YouTube video of waving a stick in water at night.  I know I do this all the time, don't you?

If you're interested in some hard-core oceanography that explains the hypothesis, check out this presentation.  Wow, I wondered why I've been seeing so many big jellyfish in the Sound on my twice-daily sampling cruises (ferry commutes).

For now, I'm going to go cry in my beer over the lost fish of Puget Sound.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Ocean fertilization experiment reviewed

Remember the rogue scientists who sprinkled iron in the Pacific Ocean off Canada?  Did it work?

Andy Revkin reviews the evidence and comments on the significance of the results.  The iron made a plankton bloom, but the experiment was too small to be significant beyond that.  No big impact on CO2 or salmon.

One thing's for sure, this subject isn't going away.  Ocean engineering and climate engineering will become increasingly topical and controversial if we fail to fix our CO2 problem by switching to clean energy.

By the way, I'm reading an interesting new book on rogue ocean scientists, it's a fascinating subject.  More later...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Zombie orcas in Washington

Seattle's orcas are poisoned by PCBs and other toxic chemicals, and they're among the most toxic marine mammals in the world.  Here in "nice" Seattle, we're not-so-nice to our neighbors, dumping PCBs and other toxic chemicals into their home.  

Efforts are underway to stop the poisons, but some say we should go ahead and poison the sound because it's too costly to stop.  It's wrong to try to save jobs by poisoning our neighbors, and we have to stop.