The Beacon: KC's blog

Oceana Meets With WTO on Fisheries in Geneva

Leading up to what will be one of the heaviest fisheries negotiating rounds in recent memory at the World Trade Organization, Oceana is in Geneva this week holding its Board of Directors meeting. Oceana is working to stop fishing subsidies by working with the WTO to produce new trade rules.

The board had a chance to meet with WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy, and Oceana was also welcomed into the Australian Mission, where CEO Andrew Sharpless spoke briefly on the state of the oceans and how the WTO can help.

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Oceana is Vivanista's Cause of the Month

Our friends at Vivanista have named Oceana their cause of the month. A site featuring unique articles for women who want to live a philanthropic lifestyle, Vivanista featured Oceana’s Stop the Drill campaign in light of the oil spill in the gulf.

They are such fans of Oceana’s work to protect marine ecosystems and restore the bounty of the oceans that they decided to highlight us as their monthly cause. Take some time to check out Oceana's page on Vivanista and the rest of the philanthropic content they have to offer!

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Going Once, Going Twice...

Okay, so stop me if you've heard this one…

What happens when four top NGOs team up with a world renowned art dealer for Earth Day?

You get an unprecedented partnership that culminates in Christie’s First Annual Green Auction: A Bid to Save the Earth. Wait, did you think I was telling a joke?

Oceana, along with Natural Resources Defense Council, Conservation International and The Central Park Conservancy, NBC Universal, Barney’s of New York, Deutsche Bank and Target have been working to put together the April 22 auction that takes place at Christie’s in Rockefeller Center in New York as part of the 40th celebration of Earth Day.

Christie’s is waiving its usual fees, so every penny from the live auction and silent auction goes to the four charities. A ton, and I mean a ton, of amazing artwork and items are up for bid the night of the event, but you don’t have to be at the event to make a bid to save the earth.

Today the online silent auction launches and along with the artwork and items up for bid there are a boat-load (pun most definitely intended) of experiences on the block including swimming lessons with Oceana supporter and gold medalist Aaron Peirsol (with a $5,000 bid as of 10 a.m. this morning) and sailing lessons with Ocean Conservation Yacht Club Commodore Kristen “The America” Berry.

Here are a few of my personal favorites:

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A Sea of Football Fans

Hey there ocean fans… are you ready for the NFL playoffs? No? Well even if you aren’t, the animals at the National Aquarium in Baltimore and the New England Aquarium sure are ready for the first round when the Baltimore Ravens play against the New England Patriots this Sunday afternoon.

Jen Bloomer, the Media Relations Manager for the National Aquarium and good friend of mine, just sent me an email with videos from each aquarium rooting for their respective teams.

Check out some of Baltimore’s other birds (Margaret and Louise) showing what they think the Ravens will do to the Patriots.

“We know the Ravens aren’t the only birds in town that like to destroy things,” Jen told me as we exchanged some pro-Ravens emails today. “Margaret and Louise love to show off for our visitors and the camera, and apparently love to support their fellow birds!”


Not to be outdone, the Harbor Seals at the New England Aquarium fired back with a message of their own.

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Bob Ballard, the Great Explorer

bob ballard

 Image via wikimedia commons.

If you tuned into "60 Minutes" this past Sunday, you had the pleasure of watching a two-part report on Dr. Robert Ballard and his lifetime of undersea exploration. What is Bob Ballard's story, you ask?

Underwater adventure? Check. Mysterious shipwrecks? Check. Secret missions for the U.S. Navy? Check. Unknown creatures from the deep? Check. What doesn’t this story have!?

Ballard discovered the wrecks of the Bismarck and Titanic as well as a species of tube worm surviving at the bottom of the ocean, living off the energy provided by thermal vents.

I first heard of Ballard when I was in middle school and I was enamored with the television series SeaQuest. He was their technical advisor and was behind much of the science in the show (I am pretty sure I just outed myself as a giant nerd).

Ballard has dedicated his entire life to finding out what is beneath the surface of the ocean. He has discovered hundreds of shipwrecks, but he is most proud of his tube worm discovery. This find, off the coast of the Galapagos Islands, rocked the science world. It made scientists reevaluate how life can form. These organisms evolved without the benefit of sunlight. They evolved in the dark on the ocean floor. It was kind of a sucker punch to photosynthesis.

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Picturing Oil Pollution

I appreciate a well-placed advertisement, and not just because I work on Oceana’s Marketing and Communications team. Many times I have hopped off the DC Metro at the Farragut West station to have one of the art museum displays catch my eye.

Last week I was stopped in my tracks by an advertisement for the Corcoran Gallery of Art. The creative was highlighting two current exhibits at the museum, Sargent and the Sea and Edward Burtynsky: Oil. A large thumbnail of the John Singer Sargent painting, En Route pour la pêche, is what caught my eye. The painting shows a family walking along a beautiful beach. Right next to it was a Burtynsky photograph of an oil refinery.  

The Corcoran’s website describes Burtynsky’s exhibition as revealing “the effects of oil on our lives, depicting landscapes altered by its extraction from the earth and by the cities and suburban sprawl generated around its use.” He also set out to comment on the approaching end of the oil supply.

The juxtaposition of the two images could be a coincidence, but I hope it gives others pause -- and makes them consider the impacts of offshore drilling and oil pollution on our oceans. And if they need a clearer picture, all they have to do is glance across to the other platform to see our new ad:

Oceana ran this ad, and several others like it, so that museums don't become the only place to see the beauty the oceans have to offer. The expansion of oil drilling on our coasts, especially in Florida, threatens the oceans and all the life within them.

I like museums, but I prefer the real thing.

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Robots - EEK!

An urgent and disturbing news story came across my desk this week and I felt the need to share it. ROBOTS ARE TAKING OVER THE OCEAN! Maybe I am getting ahead of myself… let me back-peddle.

Oceans cover more than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface and the majority of them are unexplored. As oceanographer Robert Ballard put it on the Colbert Report last February, one year of NASA’s budget would be able to fund 1,600 years of NOAA’s exploration budget. Translation: There is a lot we don’t know about our own planet.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, the good folks over at Scripps Institution of Oceanography have been developing a way to explore and monitor the oceans. The solution: robots.

The idea is that large groups, up to hundreds, of autonomous underwater explorers (AUEs) would swarm around in the ocean like a school of fish. They would report data back to larger “mothership” robots.

The potential benefits of this project are great. This type of monitoring can give us a better idea of how certain pollution affects the ocean. It can also give scientists a better picture of where they might advise for marine protected areas.

Right off the bat, that sounds good. But at what cost?

Are we unleashing swarms of drone robots that will someday become self-aware like Skynet? Will these robots rise up in an attempt to establish dominance over the human race?

Okay, so both those scenarios are far fetched. But any time you introduce something new into an ecosystem, be it biological or not, there needs to be a measure of caution exercised… even if the eventuality is not submission to our robot overlords. Just look at Nutria!

This probably is not the start of a robot–led human apocalypse, but just in case I am keeping my dad, John Connor, on call and hoping the people at Scripps consult with Isaac Asimov in their programming.

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Flying Jellyfish: Sign of the Times?

One of the stranger marine phenomena that we have been a witness to over the past few years has been jellyfish blooms in the Mediterranean Sea.

Science has not been able to find a point-source for what causes jellyfish blooms, but it is believed to be a combination of increasing water temperature as a result of climate change, the reduction of predators, and eutrophication caused by runoff.

But why am I talking about jellyfish now? Well, a man in Madeira Beach, Fla. decided to make them an airborne menace. He was allegedly pretending to drown and then hurling the blobs at unsuspecting teenagers.

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A 'Steller' Guy

steller's sea lions

I was going to bed last night and I flipped on the Discovery Channel to find a show called Nature’s Most Amazing Events: Pacific Feast . It was a documentary on the marine life of the northern Pacific and the ins and outs of how they chow down.

When I tuned in, a group of Orcas (not sure if it was enough to constitute Pod status) were ramming and injuring a sea lion. The poor guy didn’t have a chance. So it goes in nature.

Normally, I wouldn't have blinked twice, but then I heard the narrator say the particular species of sea lion in peril: the Steller’s Sea Lion .

The name “Steller” rang a bell with me, as it likely does with you. I recalled a conversation I had with my biology professor in college where I was telling him about a Thunderbird spotting in Alaska and he rebuffed me, saying it was probably just a Steller’s Eagle .

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More on Blue August

Last week I posted about Discovery Planet Green’s Blue August Month of programming. While their sister network, Discovery, has been celebrating shark mania, Planet Green has been celebrating the entire ocean and all bodies of water around the planet.

They just posted this promo for the month’s programming:

Check out the awesome ocean line-up here. They have all eight episodes of Blue Planet which is a truly amazing series – think Planet Earth but all focused on the ocean. I also highly recommend Cracking the Ocean Code.

Planet Green’s website is also featuring some great Oceana Content. They have a page for the January Jones Shark PSA, a page featuring Oceana videos highlighting three things you don’t know about ocean conservation and a page that is home to a slew of Oceana videos.

Keep tuning in to Planet Green and checking the website and we will keep you posted as they add more Oceana content. Happy Blue August!

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