Author Archive

Smithsonian chooses Duffy to lead Tennenbaum Marine Observatories

Smithsonian chooses Duffy to lead Tennenbaum Marine Observatories

[Hot off the presses, from the VIMS announcement] Professor Emmett Duffy of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William & Mary, has been appointed director of the Smithsonian’s Tennenbaum Marine Observatories, effective September 16. He will be the first to lead this new initiative, a major long-term project to study coastal marine biodiversity [...]


Taking the pulse of ocean life

Taking the pulse of ocean life

We tend to keep track of things we think are important—blood pressure, how many calories are in that muffin, hurricane tracks, stock prices, celebrity rehab details. But sometime we don’t know what’s important until it’s too late, and that ignorance can come back to bite us. Hence the annual physical exams that are standard in [...]


I’m a grazer, baby

Our intrepid colleagues at DSN were, as ever, out in front on this. Thanks for the shout-out y’all! And, just as a teaser, we are in final stages of analysis of the ZEN 2011 global seagrass experiment. Stay tuned for actual scientific results! Soon . . .


Coolification of scientists – live!

Coolification of scientists - live!

[Editor's note: This is the second guest post from our intrepid graduate student teachers and heroes of scientific awesomeness Lindsey Kraatz, Sam Lake, Daniel Maxey, and Stephanie Salisbury. This post is a companion to their interview on NPR, which you can listen to here:  With Good Reason. Thanks for making us all seem cooler. Y'all rock!] [...]


The ZEN of seagrass

David Williard of The College of William and Mary has done a nice video featuring our work in the Zostera Experimental Network (ZEN): NOTE: The dude abides.


Demise of reefs in Belize? Coda

Demise of reefs in Belize? Coda

[I was happy to receive a lot of comments on our most recent blog post from the field in the New York Times. Since the space available to respond to those comments on the NYT site is limited, I've elected to do so here.] Thanks to all for your comments. I have always considered myself [...]


Reef Reminiscences: The way coral reefs were

Reef Reminiscences: The way coral reefs were

What was the world like back in the day? Are the fantastic stories all just legends? With the notable exception of Jacques Cousteau, few people were taking pictures of the undersea world a few decades ago, not only because the technology was more difficult and expensive and less available, but also because we tend to [...]


Belize field log 2012: Witness to a murder

Belize field log 2012: Witness to a murder

[The fourth installment, and I'll confess my favorite, in our New York Times "Scientist at Work" field log.] Sunday, July 8 As the sun breaks the horizon, I sit in a wooden chair at the edge of the backreef, an eye on the weather horizon, gratefully sipping the first strong coffee and gauging what the [...]


Oceans of Garbage

Great infographic from the folks over at mastersdegree.net. Created by: MastersDegree.net


Belize field log 2: Social breakdown on the reef

[The second installment in our New York Times "Scientist at Work" field log.] Wednesday, July 4 Our hunt yesterday produced a good haul of shrimp species, but, alas, none of the social ones we’re searching for. I worked with my former Ph.D. student, Tripp McDonald, long into the night identifying the shrimp. Though little known [...]


Biodiversity and the battle for Planet Earth: The graphic novel

[Editor's note: It’s been a big month for the science of biodiversity and an exciting time to be a part of it. Last week, Nature came out with its issue commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Rio meeting that first put biodiversity on the world's radar screen and spawned the Convention on Biological Diversity. The [...]


North Carolina legislature makes history yet again, proposing to outlaw sea level rise

[Editor's note: OK, I know we live in crazy times, and getting crazier by the day. But this one is so utterly, bat-doo insane, masochistic and over-the-top that I can't resist and must quote verbatim. By Scott Huler at From Scientific American blogs. John, Craig, Kevin Z, Andrew, et al -- what the ___ is [...]


Happy International Day for Biological Diversity!

Not only that but Marine Biodiversity (yeah, it caught us by surprise too — I think the Convention on Biological Diversity needs some marketing advice . . .) Anyway, they have a cool logo which is worth a post in its own right. Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, today, 22 May 2012, is the official International [...]


Online Encyclopedia of Life hits a million pages

The Encyclopedia of Life has hit a million pages!  From ScienceDaily: The Encyclopedia of Life has surged past one million pages of content with the addition of hundreds of thousands of new images and specimen data from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). Launched in 2007 with the support of leading scientific [...]


Twilight of the giants in taxonomy

[Adapted in part from my recent review at Faculty of 1000] In an important sense, nothing exists until it’s given a name.  And in the living world of organisms, names—official, scientific names—are assigned by unique creatures called taxonomists, experts in the minutiae of structure and biology of particular groups of organisms, working according to a [...]


Biodiversity, simply

Have you ever been flummoxed trying to understand — or explain — the concept and importance of biodiversity? Your prayers have been answered. This short video is an absolute gem of intuitive, attractive, concision (en español, with subtitles): HT to Julia Whitty at Mother Jones.


Impacts of biodiversity loss rival those of climate change and pollution

Current estimates suggest we are now, or soon will be, in the grip of earth’s sixth mass extinction of species. This is of course a tragedy in many ways—but will it really affect us in any substantial way? With the thundering hooves of all the other apocalyptic horsemen bearing down on us—global warming heating, hypoxic [...]


And everyone’s huggin’ each other and swimmin’ through this liquid space atmosphere

That’s what I’m talkin’ about. Verbatim, and there’s more where that came from, some of it surprisingly coherent. From the Ocean Rap Archive: Anthony Kiedis of Red Hot Chili Peppers, lover of the Ocean, circa 1990: ht to Lars Gamfeldt


Going with the flow – on a planetary scale

We tend to think of ocean currents – when we think of them at all — as stately, slow-moving rivers in the sea, as I believe Ben Franklin himself first referred to the Gulf Stream. But in reality the patterns of water movement across the earth’s surface are extraordinarily complex. Nothing gives you a more [...]


Smackdown 2012: Where’s the science?

When was the last time you heard aspirants to the post of leader of the free world holding a reasoned debate about the role of science in American society or the future of the country? Umm, I mean not counting foaming at the mouth about moving to moon colonies  after slashing and burning the planet [...]


Great Decision 2012: The future of the ocean

How can we save the world?  What can an average Joe Blow on the street like us, without a colossal wad of cash to pay nefarious lobbyists, do to nudge the ship of state in the right direction? One answer, not very sexy but  more effective than just changing your light bulbs, is active participation [...]


Money and the root of all climate change denial

[I started writing this as an addition to a string of interesting and thoughtful comments on John's excellent post, which questions whether it is really the incompetence of scientists that's responsible for the failure of this country to recognize climate change. But decided to post it up here  instead.] There are a host of factors [...]


Fish, Sustainability, and Used Cars: Guest post by Dr. Martin Smith

[Editor's preface: Yesterday, we opened our discussion of seafood eco-labeling with a guest post by Dr. Tim Essington of the University of Washington. Today we present the second perspective on the Marine Seafood Council's report on environmental certification of seafood products. Dr. Marty Smith is the Dan and Bunny Gabel Associate Professor of Environmental Economics [...]


Is seafood certification the answer to sustainability? SeaMonster asks Dr. Tim Essington

[Editor's preface: How should the conscientious piscivore forage in the complex ecosystem of the modern market? Those of us who love seafood but want to do the right thing are confronted with a blizzard of information and advice  -- often conflicting -- on the status of marine fish populations and the various management measures intended [...]