Dear Friends,
In the four months since we have left Alotau, I've seen really exciting and thought-provoking pieces appearing under our fellows' bylines. I was lucky enough to see a few of you in Fiji, and I am always so happy when I see your names pop up in my email inbox.
This blog was an experiment, and I am very pleased with how it went. I hope my successor can pick it up (or perhaps one of you will?) and help it grow.
As you all know, I am moving to a new position with COMPASS, where I will be the new assistant director of science outreach. My contact information is not changing for now, and I hope you will each continue to include me in your lives and your work.
I wish you all the best,

14 February, 2008

International Coral Reef Symposium

To attend the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA
July 7 to 11, 2008

Applications Due March 7, 2008
Open to reporters, editors, science writers and freelance journalists in print, broadcast and online media.

SeaWeb, a global, non-profit organization, is offering travel scholarships for media to attend the world’s preeminent summit on coral reef science and management. At this year’s International Coral Reef Symposium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida from July 7 to 11, the media will have access to leading ocean experts from around the world and to press briefings on the latest scientific findings, as well as a field trip to see firsthand the threats to coral reefs.

About the Symposium:
Held only once every four years, the International Coral Reef Symposium will host more than 2,500 international scientists, policy makers, managers and conservationists. This year’s symposium occurs during the 2008 International Year of the Reef. Key focuses of the symposium include the challenges that climate change, overfishing and pollution pose to coral reefs. Symposium sessions will be held in a question-driven format, with reports and breaking news on:
  • The emerging link between ocean acidification and coral reef health
  • Diseases killing coral reefs around the world
  • Recovery of coral reef ecosystems following bleaching episodes
  • Effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)
For more information, please visit
For detail about the application procedure, follow the "Read More" link

About the Application Process:
Scholarship applications should be submitted to SeaWeb by Friday, March 7, 2008 to
A limited number of scholarships are available to media from North America, the Caribbean, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and the Pacific Islands. The scholarships, which will be applied to travel and/or accommodation expenses, will be based on need, point of origin and the ability of the media organization to help defray costs. Interviews may be conducted to obtain additional information following application. Scholarship recipients will be announced by early April 2008.

To apply, please submit the following (not to exceed three pages):
  • Brief CV or bio, including concise descriptions of key coverage as it relates to coral reefs, oceans, science or the environment.
  • Three clips or samples of coverage, especially any pieces relevant to this issue.
  • Freelancers should include a list of outlets that routinely publish your articles and provide contact information or letters of interest from two outlets that are interested in news from the symposium.
  • List of coral reefs issues are of interest to you.
  • Description (not to exceed one page) of why you would like to attend the symposium, how your coverage would benefit, story angles you would like to pursue, and details on your media outlet and audience.
Support for this program is provided by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the 11th ICRS Local Organizing Committee.
Read more!

04 February, 2008

Ocean slowing warming, researcher says

Byline: Jonathan Ng, Feb 4, 2008. Daily Utah Chronicle

Instead of obsessing about the roots and causes of global warming, the public should focus on the role the ocean plays in climate change and how bodies of water can act as heat regulators, said Marcia McNutt.

Marcia K. McNutt, president and CEO of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, gave a lecture -- "Changing Climate: It's All About the Oceans." -- in the Skaggs Auditorium on Jan. 30. Photo Credit: Teresa
McNutt, who is the president and CEO of the Monteray Bay Aquarium Research Institute, talked about the correlations between the changing climate and the oceans in the Aline Wilmot Skaggs Auditorium on Wednesday. The institute, where she has worked for more than 10 years, is the "NASA of the oceans," she said, where among other things, researchers develop real-time ways to monitor events in the oceans. During the lecture, McNutt said even though oceans comprise 71 percent of the planet and 97 percent of the Earth's surface, it is easy for the public to be consumed by issues of climate change and possible theories that might impact global warming without thinking about how climate change and the oceans affect each other.

Oceans are the largest modulators of global climate change and in turn, they are critically impacted by long-term changes in the weather, she said. The burning of fossil fuels is releasing too much carbon dioxide and increasing the green house effect, which is warming the planet. However, if it weren't for the oceans, climate change would affect the Earth in a larger way, McNutt said.
"The fact that we haven't seen more warming up to the present is thanks to the oceans," McNutt said.
The oceans are huge regulators of heat, as they move around the surface of the planet and have absorbed 30 times more heat than the atmosphere since 1955.
"So, next time you go outside and don't feel baked on a hot summer day, say, 'Thank you, ocean,' because this is what's keeping global warming from being worse than it is," McNutt said.
A common misconception is that melting ice is responsible for the rising sea levels. However, that contributes about half as much to rising sea level as thermal expansion, McNutt said. Because of the burning of fossil fuels, the oceans are absorbing one million tons of carbon dioxide per hour, causing the oceans to be more acidic. This issue is the main focus of the research, to discover how ocean ecosystems will adapt to higher acidity and even impact the possible extinctions of fish and plants.
Fifty percent of the oxygen humans breathe comes from the plants in the ocean, which is another reason the public should be concerned about the oceans, McNutt said. Later this year, the institute will conduct an experiment where researchers will enclose a space underwater and control the acidic level of the water in that space -- allowing organisms to come and go -- to see how they interact with the acidity.
"This stuff is really important to me, and the ocean perspective was something that I've never heard before," said Hailey Allen, a senior in biology. "The biggest thing I think is reducing CO2 emissions. So, don't drive your car, if preventable," Allen said.
The lecture was the third of four in the Frontiers of Science lecture series. Jim Degooyer, a spokesperson for the College of Science, said the goal of these series is to bring world-renowned scientists from across the country to Salt Lake City and provide a public lecture that's accessible to a wide audience and involves the larger community in the scientific frontiers that are happening right now.
Read more!

03 February, 2008

Pacific's floating rubbish dump 'bigger than US'

Check out this fascinating story about a phenomenon of rubbish floating in the northern Pacific that threatens the ecosystem.

IT has been described as the world's largest rubbish dump, or the Pacific plastic soup, and it is starting to alarm scientists.
It is a vast area of plastic debris and other flotsam drifting in the northern Pacific Ocean, held there by swirling ocean currents.,23599,23156017-23109,00.html
Read more!