Adorable sea otter

If you need to change your mood today — or for fun and lightheartedness — take a look at this adorable sea otter video found on Monterey Bay wildlife photographer Efren B. Adalem’s website (Ooh! Look! Photography)…

Efren’s otter pictures are used in the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s newly remodeled sea otter exhibit.

To view Efren’s stunning wildlife photograph gallery, visit Ooh! Look! Photography, here:

From Efren… “I am enjoying documenting the birds and wildlife in the Monterey Bay area of California. We live in one of only three fresh water wetlands left in California.

This special place needs to be protected for all the migratory birds that need wetlands to survive. Ooh! Look! Photography donates a portion of its profits after taxes to The Watsonville Wetlands Watch.

And yes, I adore sea otters!

Related Links:

Lolako.com’s post, The Sea Otter’s One-Eyed Peak…

More on sea otters here (link to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Web Cam)

America’s Oil Boom – US projected to overtake Saudi Arabia as #1 oil producer by 2020

Related to my post yesterday (countries paying the highest and lowest gasoline per gallon), today’s topic on Tom Ashbrook’s On Point programThe North American Energy Revolution — looks at the blessing and the curse as North America becomes the new fossil fuel powerhouse.

Does this mean we need not worry about supply and increasing our consumption and dependence on oil? And the curse part, will this halt the incentive to move towards a cleaner, greener alternative energy source if there is this new abundance of oil here in the US? And what of our climate and environment?

To listen to the radio program episode, click here

For Monterey, California related blog post on this topic, please visit the Local Nomad’s “South Monterey County Land to be Auctioned off for Oil Development”.  Excerpt:

….The Monterey Shale, the largest oil-shale reservoir in the country, is estimated to hold some 14 billion barrels of oil. The federal government is preparing to lease out a large chunk of it for oil development, spanning Monterey, Fresno and San Benito counties.

Bloomberg.com’s article Oil Shockwaves From U.S. Shale Boom Seen by IEA Ousting OPEC

…North America will provide 40 percent of new supplies to 2018 through the development of light, tight oil and oil sands, while the contribution from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will slip to 30 percent, according to the International Energy Agency.

Moss Landing Marine Marine Laboratories (MLML) Open House Photos

This year, I finally made it to the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) Open House, held April 20 – 21st, 2013.

Take Time MLML Moss Landing

Entrance to Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, Moss Landing, California

From the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories About Us page:  (link to website here):

History – Since establishment in 1966, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) has grown an international reputation for excellence in marine science research and education, and is the second oldest marine lab on Monterey Bay.

Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) administers the Master of Science in marine science program for California State Universities in northern and central California, and is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in both education and research.  An outfitted marine operations department, active research diving program and state of the art equipment allow for cutting edge research in a wide variety of disciplines including: marine ecology; the biology of marine plants, invertebrates, fishes, turtles, birds and mammals; oceanography and marine geology; chemistry and biogeochemistry…

…The lab is situated in an excellent location for the study of the marine world. The Monterey Submarine Canyon, the largest such feature on the west coast of North America, begins within a few hundred meters of the Moss Landing harbor and the MLML research fleet. To the east of MLML is the Elkhorn Slough, the largest tract of tidal salt marsh in California outside of San Francisco Bay, and an important site for shorebirds and fishes. To the north and south are sand dunes, sandy beaches, and extensive kelp forest habitats along the rocky shoreline. Some of the most productive kelp forests and intertidal areas can be found in this region. MLML also is located between two large upwelling centers, which provide nutrients that stimulate an incredible amount of productivity but also provide a wealth of opportunities to study coastal oceanic processes.

My intention was to walk the new MLML coastal boardwalk, take a quick walk around the facilities and return with my grandchildren. Schedules did not allow for the return, so I am eager to visit again next year with my grandsons.

Below are the photos using the new WordPress gallery format.  More details next year!

Blobfish fish index blogAnd oh, despite everything else to learn about the world of marine science, if you are curious and want to learn more about the “internet famous” blob fish, visit the fish index blog, here or click on the photo.

A deep-sea fish, the blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus) inhabits the deep waters off the coasts of mainland Australia and Tasmania.  Though rarely seen by humans, it is internet famous perhaps due to its rather unique (or familiar?) face.  Just Google “blob fish” and check out the images for yourself…

Related article – Santa Cruz Sentinel: More than 2,000 visit Moss Landing labs

And for more on MLML, visit the Moss Landing Marine Labs’ blog – The Drop In  and Drop-in to the “real-life tales” of graduate students at the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in California, and find out what being a marine biologist (or chemist or geologist or physicist…) is all about!

Geek news to shark tracking? There’s an app for that!

It seems that there really is an app for everything.

Over the weekend, I found out — from a nice young techno wiz of course — about Appy Geek, an app that lets techno geeks track all the latest news from all the top providers.

appy geekThat is of course, if you MUST keep up with all things Android, Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Samsung, HTC, smartphones, tablets, gadgets, Windows, start-ups, science, video games, internet and etc.

The unsettling part is when I googled Appy Geek and landed on a webpage, there was a notice that the app is compatible with my specific phone (and my specific wireless carrier).  Kinda creepy, though at this point, I don’t know if I really want to know how THEY know…

And for an app that relates locally to the Monterey Bay and conservation efforts, there is also the Shark App — a project by Marine biologist Barbara Block, winner of the 2012 Rolex Award for Enterprise, to monitor the activity of sharks off the coast of California and increase public awareness of the marine environment.

Excerpt from an article on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species…

Barbara Block has been studying the ocean for more than 30 years. Between 2000 and 2010 she was co-chief scientist for the Tagging of Pacific Predators (TOPP) programme and part of the Census of Marine Life. The information from these projects identified “hotspots” in the ocean off the coast of California where upwelling currents in the California Current during spring provide nutrients that cause plankton blooms which in turn attract fish and large marine predators such as sharks.

buoy_rolex_awards_bart_michiels

Photo by Bart Michiels via IUCN Red List website

Barbara will use her Rolex Award to fund the construction, testing and deployment of three listening buoys that will be located in marine sanctuaries at three California hotspots. Each time a tagged shark swims within half a kilometer of a buoy its presence will be detected and the information will be sent not only to Barbara’s laboratory but also to ordinary citizens across the world that have downloaded the new Shark Net app.

wave glider

The bright yellow, seven-foot long Wave Glider and fixed buoys will transmit data from tagged animals between Monterey Bay and Tomales Point. (Kip Evans) – photo via www.theepochtimes.com

To Barbara, engagement with these marine animals is key if people are to understand why they need to be protected.

To download the free Shark Net – Predators of the Blue Serengeti app, click here (compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.3 or later.)

Related Links:

Lola Jane article The man-eater label: Shark attack or a shark encounter?

Article from The Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/nov/18/barbara-block-sharks-app

Article from the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ –  http://www.iucnredlist.org/news/tracking-sharks-with-the-rolex-awards-for-enterprise

Whalefest at Old Fisherman’s Wharf, Monterey

The Whalefest at Old Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey — Whale Watching Capital of the World — continues today, starting with a 10:00AM Beach Clean Up with The Wahine Project.

Today, the Museum of Monterey (MoM) theater is the venue for lectures and documentaries from the 2012 BLUE Ocean Film Festival, beginning with a collection of shorts (Fish Tale: My Secret Life as a Plankton, Ocean Oases, Sea Jellies: A summer Swarm in Monterey, Oceans at the Tipping Point and Ocean Giants), and the film Planet Ocean at 2:30PM.

Looking over the lighthouse exhibit at Museum of Monterey

Yesterday, my grandsons and I watched the inspiring film Ocean Frontiers at the Museum of Monterey.

Learning and blogging about environmental issues often becomes DEPRESSING because there is so much going wrong and the problems seem overwhelming, and insurmountable.

The movie Ocean Frontiers focused on positive work that promotes better health for our oceans.  By working together, farmers from Iowa can directly impact the health of the Gulf waters by creating wetlands and reducing fertilizer use. Endangered whales are saved when a variety of organizations combine research and teamwork to re-route shipping traffic at a busy Boston Port.

A contingent of local environmental organizations and businesses lined the path from the Customs House Plaza to the Old Fisherman’s Wharf.  We visited a few booths yesterday.

The Pacific Shark Research Center (PSRC) at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) booth, showing Jun and Gabriel shark teeth.

Exhibiting a shark fin at the Pacific Shark Research Center (PSRC) at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) booth.

National Marine Sanctuary Foundation Booth

National Marine Sanctuary Foundation Booth

American Cetacean Society Booth

American Cetacean Society Booth

American Cetacean Society Booth — great poster that shows different whale sizes… man at the bottom right by the elephant

What does whale baleen feel like?

Like a brush! Jun also compared it to his bristly polar bear Christmas ornament from Eco Carmel, made of buri palm.

Squid for Kids booth from the Hopkins Marine Station was a popular stop

Squid dissected – at the Squid for Kids booth, Hopkins Marine Station

For more on squid — see an earlier post, jumbo Humboldt squid washing up on central California beaches (and one trapped in the Monterey Aquarium’s tide pool).

Squid for Kids painting and stamping station — sometimes they use real squid ink!

Chalk Art during Whalefest at the Old Fisherman’s Wharf – Monterey

Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Booth

Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Booth – making ocean creatures

Among my grandsons favorite activity was the United States Coast Guard area, as they  were allowed to board their inflatable Search and Rescue Coast Guard motor life boat.

And of course, as much as this was learning all about the ocean and conservation, you cannot go home without first getting a specialty lollipop from the candy store at Old Fisherman’s Wharf.

The boys had a blast and yes, we plan to go again today.

Jumbo Humboldt squid washing up on central California beaches (and one trapped at the Monterey Bay Aquarium tide pool)

Photo of Humboldt squid by Monikichi, via Wikipedia.  Caught off Viña del Mar, Chile.

This past Saturday, my daughter and grandson Gabriel found Humboldt squid stranded at the Moss Landing & Salinas River State Beach, and over the weekend, there were reports of hundreds of stranded and dead Humboldt squid in areas along the Central California coast.

Also known as jumbo squid, the Humboldt squid (Dosidicus gigas) are predatory and can grow up to 5 feet long.

Think squid for calamari steaks, and not the small  “market” squid — the calamari rings that many of us eat for appetizers.

Market squid (Doryteuthis opalescens) only grow to about 11 (28cm) inches long.

Named after the Humboldt Current (and the naturalist Alexander von Humboldt) these squid are normally found at depths of 660 to 2,300 ft (200 to 700 m) — and in the Sea of Cortez, in Baja, Mexico.

On Sunday, we were at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where we watched a Humboldt squid swimming in the aquarium’s tide pool.

According to a Monterey Bay Aquarium staff member, the Humboldt squid was trapped in their tide pool after high tide.  Apparently, this has not happened in 28 years at the Aquarium.  I checked the opening year of the Aquarium — 1984 — which means this has never happened before…

The Monterey Bay Aquarium building sits on the edge of Monterey Bay.  Photo above of outdoor deck and the tide pool behind the Monterey Bay Aquarium building.  Photo LolaKo.com

The Great Tide Pool at Monterey Bay Aquarium.  Photo Lolako.com

It was a rare opportunity to see a Humboldt squid swimming in an enclosed area…and all from the comfort and safety of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s deck overlooking the tide pool.

We found out that squid swim backwards by pumping water through valves near their heads.  It was odd to see the squid moving about with its tentacles and head behind, instead of in front of the movement.

A baby Humboldt squid trapped after high tide in the Monterey Bay Aquarium tide pool. Leaning over the deck area, we watched — and I photographed with my phone camera — the squid swimming around the tide pool.  Coral and cream color creatures to the left of the squid are starfish that live in the tide pool.

What a lucky day to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium!

Really….how often do you get to watch a Humboldt squid swimming without having to actually be in the water?  It is probably one of those days my grandsons will remember.

Interesting information from Wikipedia on the Humboldt squid:

El Niño factors

Although Humboldt squid are generally found in the warm Pacific waters off of the Mexican coast, recent years have shown an increase in northern migration. The large 1997-98 El Niño event triggered the first sightings of Humboldt squid in Monterey Bay..

Then, during the minor El Niño event of 2002, they returned to Monterey Bay in higher numbers and have been seen there year-round since then. Similar trends have been shown off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and even Alaska, although there are no year-round Humboldt squid populations in these locations.

This change in migration is suggested to be due to warming waters during El Niño events, but other factors, such as a decrease in upper trophic level predators that would compete with the squid for food, could be impacting the migration shift, as well.

Ocean Acidification

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that by the end of this century, ocean acidification will lower the Humboldt squid’s metabolic rate by 31% and activity levels by 45%. This will lead the squid to have to retreat to shallower waters, where they can take up oxygen at higher levels.

Here is a video from local news reports…did these baby Humboldt squid eat toxic algae?

Related Links:

Illustration by Rena Ekmanis (www.renaekmanis.com)

From UCSC Science Notes 2012: The Sea Longs for Red Devils

Article by Daniela Hernandez dives into a giant marine mystery — and why the elusive Humboldt squid has abandoned a Mexican fishery in need.  With illustrations by Rena Ekmanis.

Image of market squid from www.fishwatch.gov

California Market Squid – from NOAA, FISH WATCH U.S. Seafood Facts

…California’s market squid fishery is unique for several reasons. Fishermen usually fish for market squid at night directly (more here)

More reasons to prevent plastic waste from entering our waters

A fish caught with a beverage ring around its belly in Lake Ontario PHOTO Jim Bodenstab via 5Gyres Newsletter.

Photo of basking shark with plastic ring around her nose. Credit: Craig Whalley via 5gyres.org blog

And why we should all be participating in beach clean ups…on our own, or through regularly scheduled clean up efforts by organizations like Save Our Shores (for Santa Cruz and Monterey County, California beaches).

Photo via 5Gyres.org

 

It seems an insurmountable task, when we use plastics for….well… just about everything!

Unfortunately, we currently recover only about 5% of the plastics we produce, so we have to decrease — and better yet — eliminate as much plastics as we can from our daily activities.

We can do this!

Visit  5gyres.org and take the Plastic Promise: 

I promise to:

  • Bring my own water bottle, mug, utensils and reusable bag.

  • Say ‘No Plastic Straw Please” when I dine out.

  • Buy what’s in the least amount of plastic packaging.

  • Pick up 5 pieces of plastic pollution I see littered whenever I’m out.

  • Engage family, businesses and co-workers to make this promise too.

Related articles: Lolako’s 12 Minutes (the average use time of a plastic bag) and Trash and Plastics Vortex in the North Pacific

Who is Rachel Carson…and the MBARI Open House

On a foggy day last week, Jeff and I walked from the Potrero Rd. entrance to the Moss Landing beach, past the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) and towards Phil’s Fish Market & Eatery.

Rather large driftwood — drift LOGS, really, at Moss Landing Beach

On the way back, we decided to take the road and frontage trail, instead of walking back on the beach.  On Sandholdt Road, we noticed this ship, the Rachel Carson, at the Moss Landing Harbor.

We wondered….who is Rachel Carson?

Note: The photo does not do justice to the rather new, shiny ship.

I did not think anymore about the Rachel Carson ship — and these set of photos — until reading the “Your Town” section of today’s Monterey County Herald.  Excerpt:

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute will hold an open house from noon to 5PM Saturday at 7700 Sandholdt Road.

At 12:45PM, aquarium executive director Julie Packard will christen the institute’s newest ship, the R/V Rachel Carson.

Other activities include talks about the expeditions to the Gulf of California and Sargasso Sea, a tour of the labs, a look at ships and undersea robots used in the deep-sea excursions, and workshops where children can build their own remotely operated vehicles.

According to the MBARI website, the R/V Rachel Carson “will serve as a replacement for both the R/V Zephyr and R/V Point Lobos, and will be able to launch both ROVs and AUVs, as well as conduct multi-day expeditions”.

The new research vessel was named Rachel Carson in honor of the American marine biologist and conservationist.  Click here to view a better image for the R/V Rachel Carson, on the MBARI Press Room page.

Rachel Carson wrote the book Silent Spring and is credited with advancing the global environmental movement.  Excerpt from Wikipedia…

Late in the 1950s Carson turned her attention to conservation, especially environmental problems she believed were caused by synthetic pesticides. The result was Silent Spring (1962), which brought environmental concerns to an unprecedented share of the American people.

Although Silent Spring met with fierce opposition by chemical companies, it spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy, which led to a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides, and it inspired a grassroots environmental movement that led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Carson was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter.

The open house also celebrates MBARI’s 25th anniversary.  The presentation schedule is as follows:

  • In the PACIFIC FORUM: Extending MBARI’s reach
    12:00 Volcanoes of the Gulf of California ~ Jenny Paduan
    12:30 Video ~ no speaker during christening of R/V Rachel Carson
    01:00 Volcanoes of the Gulf of California (repeat) ~ Jenny Paduan
    01:30 Monterey Bay: A window to the world ~ Chris Scholin
    02:00 Secrets of the Sargasso Sea ~ Alana Sherman
    02:30 ESP around the world ~ Jim Birch
    03:00 Secrets of the Sargasso Sea (repeat) ~ Alana Sherman
    03:30 ESP around the world (repeat) ~ Jim Birch
    04:00 Exploring the Gulf of California ~ Steve Haddock
    04:30 Exploring the Gulf of California (repeat) ~ Steve Haddock
  • PRESENTATIONS in the VIDEO TENT:
    12:15 Mysteries of the Deep (live presentation)
    01:00 Mysteries of the Deep (live presentation)
    01:30 Deep-sea video
    02:00 Mysteries of the Deep (live presentation)
    02:30 Deep-sea video
    03:00 Mysteries of the Deep (live presentation)
    03:30 Deep-sea video
    04:00 Mysteries of the Deep (live presentation)
    04:30 Deep-sea video

For further details, please visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) website.

Our trail walk back towards Potrero Road…

Foggy Moss Landing Harbor

Beach Sagewort (Artemisia pycnocephala) is the most common, California native plant, found around sand dunes. This one encircled by non-native — and aggressive — iceplants, which do not provide food or shelter to native wildlife.

Reward for lost scientific instrument!

Fish & Wildlife Service employee photo, via Wikipedia

Link to Wikipedia article on Rachel Louise Carson (May 27, 1907 – April 14, 1964)

Carson began her career as a biologist in the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, and became a full-time nature writer in the 1950s. Her widely praised 1951 bestseller The Sea Around Us won her a U.S. National Book Award,[1] recognition as a gifted writer, and financial security. Her next book, The Edge of the Sea, and the reissued version of her first book, Under the Sea Wind, were also bestsellers. That so-called sea trilogy explores the whole of ocean life from the shores to the surface to the depths.