Until March 9, 2013, I’ll be at sea. I love that phrase. At sea. For this expedition, we’re leaving from Jamaica, returning to Antigua, and spending several days on a research program separate from ours. I have a lot of travel and a little downtime to look forward to. When I started going to sea almost a decade ago, this meant that I carried a couple books and dozens of research papers, and traded them around with the rest of the science team, the crew, and the ship’s library.
Now, thanks to kindles and other e-readers, I can carry entire libraries with me, loading them up with all the books I want to read and stockpiling thousands of research papers. This. Is. Awesome.
So, if you find yourself with a kindle and a long stretch of travel time, consider checking out some of my favorite ebooks. I’ve read all of these over the last year and they all look great on an e-reader. This reading list should keep you occupied during the quieter moments of your travels.
Hi everyone. I’m Chuck and I used to blog primarily over at Ya Like Dags?, where my main focus was on interactions between apex predators (sharks mostly, but I also occasionally dabbled in other large fish and sea mammals) and those other top marine predators, humans. This was not in the “shark attack” sense, but in the context of fisheries management. Writing about this subject and living it as part of my research have given me valuable perspective on marine science and conservation that I really didn’t have as a freshly-minted Bachelor of Science.
Unfortunately I see more extreme versions of my old perspective show up in countless blog comments, posts, and tweets by perfectly well-meaning people whose only issue is that they’ve fallen for a simplistic, “us vs. them” attitude towards conservation. Consumptive uses of the ocean, such as fishing, are inherently evil and must be opposed. This no-compromise approach sounds cool and may bring in the TV ratings, but is it truly helpful?
Sunday night at 7:30, David Shiffman and myself will host the first, of what we hope will be many, Blue Pints on Google+. The two of us will get together via Google Hangouts and broadcast a 45-minute-to-one-hour program discussing recent important issues in ocean science, while enjoying a pint of what-cures-you. We’ll provide a link to the live stream (and subsequent YouTube video) here, in this post, as well as announce it over our various social media platforms. We’ll be monitoring the comment thread on the Google+ post, so feel free to ask questions and join the discussion during the hangout.
This week, we’ll be discussing shark fishing, shark finning, and finding common ground in shark conservation. Tune in Sunday at 7:30!
Poor Vindaloo never learned to crow. Photo by Andrew David Thaler.
I awoke one morning early last spring to a noise I has been dreading for weeks, the first crow of a chicken that was not supposed to be a rooster. It took me several minutes to fully register what I was hearing. Rather that the classic cock-a-doodle-do we often associate with the rooster’s crow, the sound emanating from my hen house was an awkward, unstable noise not unlike a turkey squawking through a vat of molasses while being vigorously shaken. Over the next several months, two more cocks arrived crowing, in my flock. All three roosters, different breeds from different parents, made noises resembling nothing like a rooster’s crow. There was no pattern; some mornings they would crow off-and-on for a few hours, other mornings they would, for lack of a better word, gargle for half-an-hour straight.
I raise my chickens from day-old hatchlings. Those three roosters, from my very first flock, had never met an adult chicken. They imprinted on Amy and me and looked to us for guidance. When we introduced them to new food, new water dispensers, even small changes to their habitat (like a particularly terrifying log), we had to teach them. Instinctively, they would scratch for food, and if left to their own devices, they would attempt to eat everything, but for the most part, we had to show them how to eat, how to drink, how to roost. But we could not teach them how to crow.
In a world where words like sustainability are used in many contexts with widely varying meanings, we forget that the environmental community was once very choosy in its wording. Terms have specific meanings such that a single word can communicate a philosophy and accompanying ethics. Conservation and preservation are two such terms. The first denotes an effort to sustain a space or resource for perpetual use. Preservation denotes a fortress-like approach to nature, walling off human influence in order to maintain pristine “wilderness”. The terms are linked to big figures in American history, each of whom established a land ethic according to their philosophy now codified in US law. Continue reading Wording Matters: Conservation vs. Preservation
As Halloween welcomed the world’s seven billionth person, there has been renewed interest in meeting the food, shelter, and water needs of a large and growing global population. One recent article in the Washington Post (10/30/11) attempted to make 7 billion a tangible number that kids can wrap their minds around by describing 7 billion M&M’s filling three Olympic-sized swimming pools. While I think this is a useful exercise, when thinking about 7 billion people, not all people can be counted equally. In terms of resource use, each of the over 300 million United States citizens are like bloated, entitled M&M’s squeezing their smaller brethren out of the pool.
I recently heard an excellent quote about conservation issues. The source of this quote is, of all people, my new home state’s embattled Governor. Mark Sanford, prior to his “hiking the Appalachian Trail” scandal, was a well-respected small government conservative. During a speech about his views, he stated that “the issue of environmental conservation sits squarely on the battle line between government and liberty.”
I really believe that, and too few other environmentalists seem to agree. Although we usually have the best of intentions, every time we make a new conservation policy, the government is telling citizens that they can’t do something. Every time the government tells citizens that we can’t do something, we all lose a little freedom.
I’m certainly not advocating that we stop making new policies to protect the environment. All I’m saying is that it would be nice if more people recognized the human impact of some of these policies instead of demonizing people like fisherman and developers.
As promised, this week’s ethical debate deals with one of the most hotly debated issues in the marine conservation community- the tactics of “Sea Shepherd”.
Though “Sea Shepherd” is most famous (or infamous) for their work with the Japanese whaling fleet, which is featured in “Whale Wars”, they are also heavily involved with the shark finning industry.
Before we get started, I want to say something about the tone of this debate. I know from our own comments sections, even ones that don’t deal directly with Sea Shepherd, that there are strong opinions on both sides of this issue. See last week’s Deep Sea News, particularly the comments section, for an example of this. Here at Southern Fried Science, we recently came up with a new comments policy, which we will be enforcing strictly with this post. DO NOT personally attack anyone, DO NOT try to change the subject to something totally irrelevant, and DO NOT post under multiple names to create the false appearance of a majority (“sock puppetry”). Since the Deep Sea News post covered whale stuff pretty solidly, we will only be talking about shark finning here. WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT WHALING IN THIS POST.