Chesapeake Bay – Two weeks in photos

March for the Oceans

Regardless of your location, you can take action to protect the oceans! A healthy ocean means a healthy society. Phytoplankton is a microscopic ocean-dwelling algae that uses sunlight and carbon dioxide to produce energy and oxygen. They produce more than 50% of the oxygen that makes up our atmosphere, which is more than the amount of oxygen produced by all the rainforests combined. Keeping the phytoplankton happy and healthy has a positive effect for the rest of the world. For those of you in the Chicagoland area, you can support the oceans by attending and participating in these events, starting June 8th. Those who live a bit farther away, check out the Inland Ocean Coalition website (link below) to find out if there is a chapter near you!

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Learn more about the Inland Ocean Coalition

Beginning of Summer Playlist

May is quickly becoming June, and summer is fast approaching. Here are some of my current favorite happy, sunshiny, summery songs. Some are old, some are new, a few are old and new to me. Enjoy!

  1. Constellations (Jack Johnson)
  2. Anna Sun (Walk the Moon)
  3. Art Exhibit (Young the Giant)
  4. Pretty Shining People (George Ezra)
  5. South (Hippo Campus)
  6. Saturday Sun (Vance Joy)
  7. Sun is Shining (Axwell Ingrosso)
  8. Pink Lemonade (James Bay)
  9. Winds of Change (St. Lucia)
  10. Ants Marching (Dave Matthews Band)
  11. Good as Gold (Moon Taxi)

PS- I listen to *mostly* alternative music, which is reflected in this playlist!

 

Seagrass Spree

This past week, as well as next week, I have been in Oyster, VA (a new East Coast adventure!), in a two-week field study course about the Marine Biology of the Chesapeake Bay. Today, we volunteered with The Nature Conservancy to collect seagrass (eelgrass, to be precise, known scientifically as Zostera marina). Since 1999, when this part of the Chesapeake Bay was barren and completely void of seagrass, the population has been revitalized. Now, the majority of the seafloor is covered with the leafy grasses flowing in the waves, drifting with the ebb and flow of the tides.

The Nature Conservancy Website

Of the collected seagrass, about half of the leaves contain seeds. Upon returning to the mainland, the seagrass was put in a large tank with seawater, sourced directly from the bay, where it will be kept for about a week until the seeds fall. These seeds, once mature, will be sown in the northwest parts of the bay where recolonization has not been as successful.

There are natural causes of seagrass populations dying off, and humans are also playing an integral role, positive in some cases and negative in others, towards their recovery. The original decline in population was due to the combination of a quickly spreading disease (labyrinthula) and the intensity of hurricanes around the same time. It is now the interference of human action that hinders the recolonization of seagrass in the northwest parts of the bay.

Although this southern part of the Chesapeake, where we collected and where I am studying, is doing very well in terms of restoration and increasing biodiversity, the northwestern areas are not doing as well. One cause of this slow regrowth is due to nutrient runoff from nearby farms, which increases the amount of algae in the area, reducing the sunlight available to seagrasses. With less sunlight to use for photosynthesis, these aquatic plants aren’t thriving as they could be, or should be. This affects the variety of other sea animals that can live and thrive in the area, as well as oxygen production in the water, which can then migrate out into our atmosphere. It may seem like a simple seagrass problem, and there are also implications beyond the presence of seagrass. The existence and prospering of seagrasses is vital to the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

As a group, we spent two hours floating above seagrass beds, swimming along and collecting the leaves. I loved the experience, any occasion to throw on a wetsuit and float in the ocean for hours is a treat for me. However, it is the hope that eventually, the bay will be healthy enough for the seagrass to thrive and spread on its own.

Link to article about seagrass collection

Film Review: Fishpeople

Fishpeople had been on my (long) list of movies to watch for months before I actually saw it. A quick 48 minutes, this film is packed with the dynamic beauty of the ocean, and interesting water people who interact with the sea in various meaningful ways. For some, the ocean is a source of food. For many, it is therapeutic, the calm of waves washing over them the same way they wash over the beach. Others consider it a play space, surfing their days away. These are not mutually exclusive, many fishpeople consider the ocean to envelop all of these things, plus more.

This documentary examines the lifestyle of six individuals and how the ocean has shaped their life. It embodies the communities that exist within and around the ocean, and how everyone has a unique experience with the sea. The cinematography is beautiful, and the description of each person is concise yet fully relates their story. From Australia to the West Coast, this documentary covers the stories of Dave Rastovich, Kimi Werner, Ray Collins, Lynne Cox, Matahi Drollet and Eddie Donnellan and their sea-related ways of life.

Repost: Alliance for the Great Lakes

Today is a great day to save the Lakes! Donate now to double your impact and protect the inland beaches!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Daily Dose of Wave Beauty

Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing moms out there, and Happy Mother’s Day to Mother Earth! To commemorate the holiday, here are 200 photos of waves celebrating the beauty and power of the oceans. The four oceans of the world are home to millions of species of animals, known and unknown, seen and hidden, mothers, daughters, sons, fathers. Appreciating the oceans, for their beautiful waters and fiery waves, is essential to the wellbeing of the earth.  Mother nature has taken care of us, just like each of our own mothers, and today is a day to appreciate all moms everywhere.

 

Sunrise, Obscured

I recently arrived home after a few days at the beach, in South Carolina, following the end of the semester. The last day I was there, I woke up at 6am to watch the sunrise. I love to get up and see the sunrise, especially in the summer. It is a beautiful and calming way to start the day, especially on the beach. I was out the door and walking across the street to the beach, about 10 minutes before the sun was set to rise. In my sleepy excitement, it was not until I walked down the sloping sand towards the pre-dawn sea that I realized how cloudy it was. The dim light of an early, cloudy morning turned the beach into a blue grayscale, and I realized that the extent of the clouds reached across the horizon, completely obscuring the view of the rising sun. I was bummed, to say the least. My planned perfect morning was disrupted by the weather. Surprise, one cannot rely on nature to follow plans…

Despite my disappointment in the cloud cover, I stayed on the beach until I was sure that the sun had risen, as the sun rises every day even if we can’t see it. Although out of view, the day broke and continued on, as it does every other day. The tides ebbed and flowed, waves crashed towards the beach, the day went on. Morning is my most favorite part of the day; I love that the day is just starting, and look forward to all that it holds. Despite the cloud cover, it was still morning, a start to a new day, and the sun was there, despite the clouds. So, go out and enjoy the morning, even if you can’t see the sun. If you’re more of a night person, stargaze until sleep washes over your eyes, spend the evening in the best way possible. Enjoy your favorite time of day, and make it a great one!

Review: Plastic Eating Enzyme

Enzyme That Eats Plastic Accidentally Found in Lab

Evidenced by the large patches of plastic floating in the seas and trash lined highways, to put it bluntly, we have a problem with plastic pollution. Due to recent scientific discovery of a plastic-degrading enzyme, it seems as though we may have a “solution”. I quote solution, because although this enzyme may help with current plastic pollution, to really take control of the plastic issue, we need to decrease plastic production and plastic consumption. Plastic was once a monumental discovery, and now it is big news that we may have found a way to take back this process that has transformed our daily activities and convenience. It is definitely necessary to decrease the amount of pollution currently floating free in our environment, and this enzyme could be a key player in this process, and to ensure a clean future, we need to decrease our usage of plastic. Not only does the plastic itself have detrimental effects on the environment, plastic production involves the use of fossil fuels, which produces another source of pollution. As incredible as scientific innovation can be (it did bring us plastic in the first place!), sometimes we need to think simply and go back to the source of the issue. If we decrease plastic production, eventually, the need for enzymes to break down plastic will not be necessary. In the meantime, the potential for this enzyme to help clean our beloved oceans is exciting, and could lead to a healthier, happier, blue planet.