Please don’t ride sharks, and other great tips from the new guide to responsible shark diving

Conservation, marine science, Natural Science, Science, sharksMarch 12, 2017

Shark wildlife tourism* is a growing marine industry with big implications for shark conservation. While there are many competing definitions, generally shark wildlife tourism refers to SCUBA dive operators who offer trips that guarantee that you’ll see sharks, often through the use of bait or chum to attract sharks to the divers. This has become a contentious issue in marine science and conservation circles. That’s why last week’s news that  WWF, Project AWARE, and the Manta Trust released the first-ever guide to responsible shark and ray tourism best practices is so welcome. This thorough and well-researched guide guide is designed for dive operators who want to minimize their potential harm to sharks and rays while maximizing the potential conservation benefits of shark wildlife tourism.

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The call of the Chthulucene ?

Climate change, Fantasy, Science FictionMarch 9, 2017

We are currently in the Holocene epoch, and many of us have heard about calls to name the current era (from the industrial revolution) the Anthropocene (which dates back to at least the industrial revolution, if not before): a period when  humans change the essential nature of the planet through their activities (primarily via the production of greenhouse gases).

But what comes after the Anthropocene? Some sort of Mad Max style wasteland perhaps?

Donna Haraway (2015) proposed that there will be a new epoch, the “Chthulucene” where refugees from environmental disaster (both human and non-human) will come together .

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Thursday Afternoon Dredging: March 9th, 2017

Thursday Afternoon Dredging

Cuttings (short and sweet):

Logo by Ethan Kocak

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Help an ocean student catch a break!

#OceanOptimismMarch 6, 2017

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!

Monday Morning Salvage: NOAA Special Edition (call your representatives!)

Monday Morning Salvage

This weekend, the Washington Post reported on a leaked proposed budget from the Administration which includes drastic, agency-breaking cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This comes in the wake of new Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross pledging to protect peer-reviewed researchers and shield NOAA climate scientists from partisan attacks and that the Department of Commerce will continue “to research, monitor and report weather and climate information“. Researchers within NOAA breathed a sigh of relief earlier last week when Ross again reiterated his support for their work, pledge to enhance US fisheries programs, support the satellite program, and talked at length about NOAA’s role within Commerce. Ross’s full statement is available online:

That Ross’s vision seems to directly contradict the president’s proposed budget is curious.

Fortunately, our friends from around the internet have been writing about all the good, important, essential work that NOAA does.

Here’s the thing: The president does not set the budget, Congress does. This is the new administration’s wish list. Call *your* representatives (please don’t waste you time calling congresspeople who don’t represent you, they don’t care and you’re tying up the lines that their constituents need to reach them) and tell them that NOAA is vital to our economy, to our health, and to our way of life and that you oppose any reduction in NOAA’s budget. Find your representatives. Here’s a script for you:

Hello,

My name is [NAME] and I am a constituent of [CONGRESSPERSON/SENATOR].

I’m calling to ask [CONGRESSPERSON/SENATOR] to oppose any reduction in the budget for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

NOAA provides essential services to the American people, including weather services, coastal resilience, hurricane monitoring, and fisheries management. Programs like SeaGrant are the lifeblood of coastal communities, providing education, job training, and research grants to fund local development. NOAA’s Hurricane Center is critical for tracking hurricanes. One-third of the US economy relies upon services provided by NOAA. Any reduction in NOAA’s budget would be catastrophic to the United States’ coastal economy.

Thank you.

If your livelihood depends on NOAA, consider adding “I am a [FISHERMAN/BUSINESS OWNER/AQUACULTURIST/ETC] in [CONGRESSPERSON/SENATOR]’s district and my livelihood and family depend on the services that NOAA provides.”

Thursday Afternoon Dredging: March 2nd, 2017

Thursday Afternoon DredgingMarch 2, 2017

Cuttings (short and sweet):

Logo by Ethan Kocak

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Why do wizards go adventuring ? Or …. you thought that your tenure requirements were tough?!

Academic life, Fantasy, funding, Popular Culture, Science LifeFebruary 23, 2017

Something that has been bothering me for a while, is why do wizards go adventuring?

Source: ClipArtLord.com

Now if you are a big geek like me, you’ll know that practically every adventuring party has a wizard. But these wizards are incredibly unprepared for exploring dungeons and have a shockingly high mortality rate. In the dungeons and dragons* of my youth, a starting wizard had a mere 1 to 4 hit points and was equipped with dagger (or is they were luck a staff). Did these budding Gandalfs get armor? Of course not, they faced ogres and basilisks in the fantasy equivalent of sweat pants.

The statistics of a starting wizard meant that they could easily be killed by a house cat. Also they had just one spell. Cast “light” so that your party could see in a cave, and you were done for the day. If you had the most destructive spell of the first level wizard, you would fire a “magic missile” that always hit, but did a miserable 2 to 5 (1d4+1)  points of damage. So if  jumped by  above mentioned angry house cat, you literally had a 50/50 chance of killing it before it killed you**.

So why do all these highly educated, highly intelligent wizards leave their ivory (or mithril) towers and trudge through cold, dank dungeons with groups of characters that generally make the knights in Monty Python and the Holy Grail look like Seal Team 6  in comparison?

Why does every early career academic pursue elusive gold and put their common sense and lives on the line? Why…? To get tenure of course…

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Rumors of the lesser electric ray’s demise have been greatly exaggerated

fisheries, marine science, Natural Science, Science, sharks, Uncategorized

A lesser electric ray. Photo credit: Brandi Noble, NOAA Fisheries Service

The lesser electric raya small sand-dwelling ray that lives from North Carolina to Brazil, has been considered one of the most endangered marine fish on Earth. A 2005 paper reported that 98% of these rays had been wiped out, a decline attributed to shrimp trawling bycatch. This paper resulted in these animals getting classified as IUCN Red List “Critically Endangered,” the highest risk category for any species that is still found in the wild.

A new paper published today in the journal Endangered Species Research shows that these rays are in much better shape than previously believed. “There is no evidence of a decline in the relative abundance of lesser electric rays,” said Dr. John Carlson, a NOAA Fisheries Service Research Biologist and lead author of the new paper.

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Thursday Afternoon Dredging: February 23rd, 2017

Thursday Afternoon Dredging

Cuttings (short and sweet):

Logo by Ethan Kocak

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Monday Morning Salvage: February 20, 2017

Monday Morning SalvageFebruary 20, 2017

For all our US-based Readers: Happy President’s Day! For everyone else, this is the reason none of you USian colleagues are answering e-mails. Unless they are, in which case, *grumble grumble grumble* *something about work-life balance*

Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)

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