An extremely active hurricane season, collapsing ice sheets, massive oil spills, and sexual harassment in shark science – What’s up with the Ocean this week?

August 12, 2020

Buckle up and bunker down. NOAA has upgraded its predictions for the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane season to Extremely Active. We enter peak hurricane months without the buffer of a protection dust cloud swirling out of the Sahara, a reminder that climate systems on this planet are profoundly interconnected. We may see up to 25 named storms, eleven hurricanes, and six major hurricanes

Disaster in Mauritius. Mauritius, a small island nation off the coast of Madagascar, has declared a state of emergency following a massive oil spill. The MV Wakashio bulk carrier ran aground on the island’s fringing reef, spilling thousands of tons of fuel oil into the fragile ecosystem. Strapped for equipment, Mauritius is now soliciting hair donations (human hair will absorb oil, but not water) from its residents in a last ditch effort to get as much oil out of the wreck as possible before it breaks apart. 

Collapsing Milne. Canada’s Milne Ice Shelf has collapsed. The last intact ice shelf in Canada split apart in the days leading up to August 2. The satellite images released by Planet Labs are truly astounding. 

The only thing you should care about this Shark Week. Dr. Catherine Macdonald writes for Scientific American on the dark side of being a woman in shark science. Critical reading for anyone working or thinking about a career in marine science. 

Upwelling (the part where Andrew gets on his soapbox)

Earlier this week, we got news of a Evangelical missionary flying into the highlands of Papua New Guinea to preach to an “uncontacted” tribe. Now, I’m just a humble country deep-sea ecologist, but I did teach a robotics class through the University of Papua New Guinea and I have more than a few contacts out there who were happy to point out that the uncontacted tribe was making fun of this dude on Facebook, but it makes me furious that during a pandemic, ostensibly religious folks would put their own personal need for pride and attention ahead of the health and safety of a relatively secluded group of people. We have the potential to be better than the worst of us.