Over the last few months, I’ve been digging into the confusing tangle of laws that protect marine mammals and regulate the use of drones–small, semi-autonomous vehicles used by both researchers and hobbyists to observe whales and other marine mammals. You can check out the outcome of my findings over at Motherboard, where I just published Drones Would Revolutionize Oceanic Conservation, If They Weren’t Illegal. The quick and dirt summary is that there is no legal way to fly drones near whales, at the moment, but there are ways to do it responsibly while we work to catch regulations up with technology.
In working through these guidelines, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how we can use this new technology to aid ocean conservation. Below are my top 10 favorite ideas for using drones to save the ocean.
1. Monitor our coastlines for poaching and other illegal activities.(more…)
A curious vessel sits atop a few struts in the Barcelona harbor. Passing tourists could be forgiven if they thought the small, wooden craft was a prop from the golden age of film or a quiet monument to the work of Jules Verne. It is neither. This ship, built from olive wood and clad in copper, is perhaps the most remarkable seagoing vessel of its time. She is Ictíneo II, the first true submarine.
Narcís Monturiol i Estarriol was a Catalonian revolutionary, utopian iconoclast, and proto-feminist writer who argued that the government, rather than the church, should oversee marriage licenses. He founded several newspapers–which were often shut down after a few issues–including La Madre de Familia “to defend women from the tyranny of men” and Spain’s first communist newspaper, La Fraternidad.
After years of scaring pregnant women away from fishy nutrition, the FDA is finally updating its recommendations to encourage them to eat 8-12 ounces of low-mercury fish a week. That’s 2 or 3 meals per week in order to support fetal growth and development. Curious about what fish are low mercury? Stay away from tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, swordfish, shark, and king mackerel and limit albacore tuna to 6 ounces a week. Better options include “some of the most commonly eaten fish such as shrimp, pollock, salmon, canned light tuna, tilapia, catfish, and cod”. For locally caught fish, you should check with your local authorities. The new recommendations aren’t final – read the draft and write in if you want more information that would help you make safe and healthy seafood choices. Here’s some things you should consider. (more…)
The mainstream media doesn’t always have the greatest reputation for accuracy when it comes to reporting stories about sharks. Inspired by this brilliant campaign, I decided to “adjust” the headlines of some particularly absurd recent news stories about sharks.
After over a month of planning, it’s finally time to unveil my new ocean acidification project: Bad Gas! Watch this video to learn how to turn a Soda Stream into a miniature ocean and explore the impact of ocean acidification.
As this experiment continues, it will develop into a series of lesson plans for science teachers to use in the classroom. If you’re following along or joining in with your own tiny ocean, leave a comment below and keep us updated on your progress.
I’ve just returned from the second Sharks International, a scientific conference for shark and ray researchers, which was held in South Africa. With nearly 300 researchers and conservationists from more than 38 countries in attendance, the conference was a fantastic learning and networking experience, and a huge success.
In addition to countless talks focusing on cool discoveries about amazing animals and important conservation issues from all over the world, I don’t think I ate one meal at a table with fewer than 4 countries represented. Our lab, the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program at the University of Miami, gave 3 scientific presentations, including my own, which was well-received and resulted in some fascinating discussions. The “social media for scientific outreach” workshop I gave had more than 50 people attend, resulting in a couple of dozen scientists newly joining twitter.
Speaking of twitter, more than 7,000 tweets (including re-tweets) were shared using the conference hashtag #Sharks14 ! Below are links to 8 Storify stories I made: 4 plenary sessions and 4 days of scientific presentations. * Scientists, if any of the tweets about your talk are incorrect, please alert me in the comments and I’ll edit or delete them immediately. *
It’s an open secret that I’ve been struggling over the last few years to keep Southern Fried Science growing while making it financially sustainable. Ocean outreach matters, because the oceans matter. Many of us believe that protecting the oceans is the most important thing we’ll ever do. Our survival depends on a healthy ocean. So we write about overfishing and shark finning, climate change and ocean acidification, mining and trawling and bycatch runoff. And, since, as St. Jacques once said, “people protect what they love”, we do what we can to make people love the ocean as much as we do.
For most of its existence, Southern Fried Science and my other outreach projects have been funded by science. Research grants, outreach fellowships, even graduate student stipends went towards keeping our servers running. But science funding is in crisis, and that model is no longer valid. In a disturbing reversal, today, income from outreach related work–selling articles, consulting for NGO’s, running workshops–is being used to fund my scientific research. Neither model is viable.