Surfing Oceanic Data

The ocean is massive and it’s experiencing massive change thanks to climate change and humans depleting its resources. We know this, but we don’t know the extent of the harm done to the oceans nor many other aspects of life in the seas.

A surfer and engineer, Benjamin Thompson, decided to do tackle these problems. He invented a special fin for surfboards that can collect data about the planet’s waters while one enjoys some fun recreation

In a world that grows more “Big Data”-obsessed by the day, the amount of information we have on the world’s oceans remains curiously small. In fact, according to the National Ocean Service, less than 5 percent of the world’s oceans have been explored. There’s good reason for that. “You put anything in the ocean, and it gets pounded to death, critters grow on them, the temperature changes, and ions corode the metal,” says Paul Bunje, senior director of oceans at the XPRIZE Foundation. “Stick something in the ocean, and it wants to get destroyed very quickly.”

It’s particularly tough to collect information near the shore, where waves are crashing. An innovation like Smart Phin could change that. “Surfers are going in the water everyday. They’re in the most critical, hostile zone, and they’re doing it willingly, and they’re doing it for free,” Thompson says. “We’re chopping of a whole section of the cost of research, and that could be a real paradigm shift in the way data is collected.”

Read more.

Read More

Save the Oceans!

What’s a marine biologist doing talking about world hunger? Well, says Jackie Savitz, fixing the world’s oceans might just help to feed the planet’s billion hungriest people. In an eye-opening talk, Savitz tells us what’s really going on in our global fisheries right now — it’s not good — and offers smart suggestions of how we can help them heal, while making more food for all.

Read More

Time for an Ocean Cleanup

We recent looked at Illinois banning microbeads, which will cut back on plastic pollution in large bodies of water. But what about the plastics that are already in the oceans? That’s where Ocean Cleanup comes in.

Right now, the young organization is raising $2 million through crowd funding to do a large-scale cleanup of plastic trash floating in the ocean. They have successfully completed a pilot study and are about to start a larger feasibility study before moving on to the final goal. Now is your chance to help contribute to saving the oceans!

  • At least one million seabirds, and one-hundred thousand marine mammals die each year due to plastic pollution (Laist, 1997)
  • Lantern fish in the North Pacific Gyre eat up to 24,000 tons plastics per year (Davidson & Asch, 2011)
  • The survival of many species, including the Hawaiian Monk Seal and Loggerhead Turtle, could be jeopardized by plastic debris (Derraik, 2002)
  • Plastic pollution is a carrier of invasive species, threatening native ecosystems (Barnes, 2005)
  • The Ocean Cleanup

    Read More

    Japan Ordered to Stop Whaling and Complies

    Japan has long been criticized for its “scientific” whaling and now the UN has asked them to stop. Japan defended itself by saying that their ships who were slaughtering whales were doing so in the name of science – a defence nobody believed.

    In a lengthy ruling, the presiding judge in the Hague, Peter Tomka, said Japan had failed to prove that its pursuit of hundreds of mainly minke whales in Antarctic waters every winter – under a programme known as Jarpa II – was for scientific purposes.

    “The evidence does not establish that the programme’s design and implementation are reasonable in relation to achieving its stated objectives,” Tomka said.

    “The court concludes that the special permits granted by Japan for the killing, taking and treating of whales in connection with Jarpa II are not for purposes of scientific research,” he added, before ordering Japan to cease its whaling programme “with immediate effect”.

    Read more about the ruling here.

    The really great part of this is that Japan will actually stop whaling!!!

    “However Japan will abide by the judgement of the court that places a great importance on the international legal order and the rule of law.

    “We will abide by the decision of the courts and although we will consider a concrete future course of action very carefully, upon studying what is stated in the judgement, we will cease the current research whaling program in the Antarctic pursuant to the judgement.

    Read More

    Blackfish Documentary Hurts SeaWorld

    SeaWorld is an entertainment company that has large aquatic mammals in captivity performing tricks for humans. Their entertainment shows look impressive, but what goes on behind the scenes is rather scary. The good news is that in 2013 this aquatic animal abuse got mainstream attention.

    In Canada, the Toronto Star ran an exposé on Marineland (similar to SeaWorld). In the USA a documentary on SeaWorld, Blackfish, has impacted attendance at both companies. Now that people know the poor conditions animals are held in, people have stopped supporting these misbehaving companies.

    Seeing these animals can be impressive but we shouldn’t forget what the animals are used to.

    In a recent interview, he explained that killer whales, which can cover 100 miles a day in open waters, don’t bother humans in the wild. Indeed, there’s only one documented case of an orca biting a surfer (in 1972), and even that incident was more likely an accident than an attack (the surfer was wearing a wetsuit and may have resembled a seal).

    But captivity is a different story. Killer whales are kept in tight quarters, fed a diet of thawed fish, and routinely separated from their calves. These circumstances, according to Kirby, “create stress in these animals,” often to the extent that they lash out.

    We also shouldn’t forget the power that even a small group of people can have:

    What’s more assured is that, in an era of increasing corporate dominance, a low-budget investigative work can still send shock waves through an established corporation with a once pristine reputation. “SeaWorld used to be the darling of the media,” said Kirby.

    Read more here.

    Thanks to Jeanette!

    Read More