It’s here! The Official Schedule for #JacquesWeek 2017!

Jacques Week is only a week and a half away! Join us, beginning July 23 for six nights of classic Cousteau documentaries! From the very earliest films to his last adventures, Jacques Cousteau set the standard for underwater film, adventure storytelling, and conservation messaging. So batten the hatches and haul the sheets, it’s going to be an exciting journey!

Some of these films are available online. Some will require purchase. We’ve provided links to the for-purchase options and alternates if you can’t find them. Links to all available films can be found at the JacquesWeek2017 YouTube playlist.

Jacques Week is not associated with any of the Cousteau organizations. It is a purely grassroots celebration of the man who brought ocean adventure, science, and conservation to the world.

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#JacquesWeek returns July 23, 2017!

I am pleased to announce that Southern Fried Science will once again host Jacques Week, an ocean lovers’ alternative to Shark Week. Three years ago, on a bit of a whim, we launched Jacques Week, an effort to not only provide a respite from the blood-in-the-water, often fake documentaries of the premier basic cable ocean event, but to give us a chance to celebrate what makes ocean documentaries great–compelling stories, stunning visuals, a bit of human connection–with the greatest ocean filmmaker of them all: Captain Jacques Yves Cousteau.

We’ve selected a series of classic Cousteau films to watch together from July 23, 2017 to July 28, 2017. As always, we go to great efforts to find ones that are available online, but we have also selected several that are only available through purchase. Since it’s becoming harder and harder to find some of the classic collections, this year we’re giving you plenty of lead time to track them down. We have selected three films from the Jacques Cousteau Odyssey collection (The Nile Part I and II and Clipperton: The Island the Time Forgot). You can find these on Amazon, eBay, and other online retailers, as well as your local library.

Included this year will be a series of discussions on Twitter and Facebook, as well as Facebook live. The official schedule will be released the week before (though, if you follow me on Twitter, you already have some idea what we’re planning). Follow the #JacquesWeek hashtag for news, announcements, discussion, and Cousteau trivia.

We aren’t associated with any of the Cousteau organizations. This is a purely grassroots celebration of the man who brought ocean adventure, science, and conservation to the world.

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Help an ocean student catch a break!

The Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON), located at the very tip of Louisiana’s boot, is a special place. The only marine lab in Louisiana, LUMCON serves public universities and supports marine science for the entire state. I had the pleasure of visiting LUMCON late last year to lead an underwater robotics workshop for local high school students. It’s also currently lead by Dr. Craig McClain, commander of the good ship Deep Sea News.

The legendary Dr. M is currently fundraising for LUMCON’s summer programs, introducing K-12 students to marine science, supporting college course, and providing ongoing education programming.

LUMCON educators and scientists provide quality education at the university, K-12, and public levels; teaching marketable skills while increasing societal awareness of the environmental, economic, and cultural values of Louisiana’s coastal and marine environments.

We work hard to ensure our education programs are as affordable as possible. Indeed, our course tuitions are among the lowest in the nation. However, student tuition is still a barrier for low income students. Our Executive Director, Craig McClain, was one of these students. Had it not been for a scholarship provided by a generous donor, he wouldn’t have been able to participate in the LUMCON summer courses that would launch his career.

You can break those barriers by supporting a student with a donation to our Scholarship Fund.  Donate by April 15th to ensure a student can engage with marine science in the Summer of 2017.

Head over to the LUMCON Donation Page and help support students!

Help a student catch a break!

How Millard Fillmore reshaped the oceans in a quest for guano.

President Millard Fillmore

The numbers are in, and over the last eight years, President Barack Obama has protected more ocean than any other president in history. His expansion of NOAA and implementation of a National Ocean Policy will impact ocean health and fisheries management for generations. By almost any measure, he has had the biggest impact on the ocean of any modern presidency. Which raises the obvious question: is President Obama the most influential ocean president in history? Not by a long shot. That honor has to go to the president who’s policies have fundamentally shaped and reshaped how we view and control ocean territory, who laid the foundation for almost all the ocean protections we currently enjoy, and who set the precedent for the American Empire. That man is President Millard Fillmore, and he did it all for bird poop.

1850.

Agricultural science is beginning to understand that soil is not just soil, but a collection of nutrients that are slowly drawn from the ground by growing crops. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are crucial ingredients. The Industrial Revolution is pushing agriculture away from passive crop re-nourishment processes and towards intensive, fertilizer-driven farming. Fertilizer producers can’t keep up. At the same time, the American whaling industry had reached its zenith and began to fall. Coastal whales were harder to find and the bold men of Nantucket ventured out across the Pacific in search of the last great whaling grounds.

In these voyages, the whalers found numerous tiny, often uncharted islands in the Pacific. These remote islands were refuges, not just for weary sailors, but for generations of seabirds. From these seabirds rose great mountains of guano, guano rich in the nutrients plants crave. Guano was the solution to the fertilizer crises.

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Fun Science FRIEDay – Harnessing Synthetic Biology to Fight Ocean Pollution

Plastics, more importantly microplastics, clog our oceans. This phenomena in the ocean has been likened to smog around cities. These plastic particles are dangerous because they can absorb toxins, subsequently be consumed by zooplankton and invertebrates, and bioaccumluate up the food web to fish that are consumed by humans. A study in Nature found that 25 percent of seafood sold contains microplastics! There has been a recent awareness of the unseen harm that exists when plastic pollution in the ocean degrades into microplastics. A report in Environmental Research Letters estimated that “accumulated number of micro plastic particles… ranges from 15 to 51 trillion particles, weighing between 93 and 236 thousand metric tons.” That is cray cray. Despite a better awareness of the impact of microplastics on marine ecology, we still have a poor spatial understanding of microplastics in the ocean. The presence and density of microplastics is determined by trawling the ocean (i.e., researchers go out with a net and physically count the pieces of plastic they pick up). As you can imagine, this is not very effective.

Conceptualization of plastic degrading in the ocean. (Photo credit: Archipelagos Institute)

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Now, More Than Ever, America Needs an Ambassador for the Deep Sea.

That ambassador is Bathynomus giganteus, the giant, deep-sea isopod.

A giant deep sea isopod on the sea floor. Photo via NOAA Photobank.

A giant deep sea isopod on the sea floor. Photo via NOAA Photobank.

Conservation has long had the concept of Flagship Species—popular, charismatic species that serve as rallying points for conservation awareness and action. Formalized within the framework of conservation marketing, flagship species are focused around particular goals and audiences. Think of the WWF’s Giant Panda, Polar Bears and a thousand different arctic or climate change campaigns, or even the American Bald Eagle, whose decline galvanized the country into action. These animals are iconic. They connect people to species and ecosystems in crisis. They are Flagship Species.

The Giant Deep-sea Isopod is not a flagship species. The Giant Deep-sea Isopod addresses a much more fundamental issue: despite being the largest, most diverse ecosystem on the planet, most people have no direct connection, no frame of reference, for the deep sea. Read More

Diversity is Resilience

We stand at a crossroads.

Southern Fried Science has occupied a unique niche in the online ocean community. We have defended commercial and recreational fishers as often as we have opposed them. We have at times stood behind ocean conservation policy and at times pushed back against excessive legislation. We have criticised those within our community and those without. We have been radically libertarian and radically socialist and every label in between.

We are comfortable joining the long call, the great song that booms from the belly of a blue whale, and circles the world as it echoes through the community.

We are comfortable being the lone cry of dissent, pushing back against the onslaught of righteous exuberance.

We have never sought consensus, only common ground.

For almost a year now a phrase has been rattling around inside my head. At first it was just  catchy cadence, something to use on the next article. But the more I thought about it, the more I came to understand what it really means; how deeply it permeates almost every aspect of life on this planet.

Diversity is resilience. Read More

We love giant isopods and America should love them too!

14884452_10101639425674614_3310426167506511986_oSouthern Fried Science loves giant isopods. There are few deep-sea animals more iconic, more charismatic, more weird and wonderful, than the deep-sea isopod. The biggest of the deep-sea isopods, the giant deep-sea isopod, Bathynomus giganteus, is a quintessentially American beast. It dwells in the deep Gulf of Mexico. The bulk of its known range falls within the United States Exclusive Economic Zone. It was first collected by American scientist Alexander Agassiz (though it was formally described by his colleague and collaborator French zoologist Alphonse Milne-Edwards). Tough on the outside, soft on the inside, fiercely independent yet able to work in massive aggregations to consume the bloated carcass of a whale, alternately terrifying and adorable, I can think of no better animal to represent the deep water of the United States better than our own Bathynomous giganteus.

So today, with an historic election looming, we decided it was past time to reflect on the things we love, the things that unite us, the things that fill us with wonder, and call upon Congress to officially adopt the giant deep-sea isopod as the National Deep-sea Animal of the United States. Read More