Friday, September 7, 2012

Photographic Friday -- September 7th

This week's photograph is another one that I took. I went sailing with my dad last Friday, and snapped this picture on my GoPro as we were motoring out of the Santa Cruz Harbor. We were hoping for some sun, but did not get any until hours later, just as we were returning to the harbor. I was also hoping to spot some wildlife on this excursion, but beyond a few pelicans, seagulls, and some sea lions lazing around on the mile buoy, all we saw were some pesky SUPers and kayakers who insisted on paddling around in the middle of the harbor channel. THE NERVE OF THEM!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Sincere Apology

As some of you may have noticed, I have not been posting much over the last few days. For that, I would like to apologize. The beginning of my second year at UCLA is rapidly approaching, and so recently, much of my time has been devoted to a number of school-related activities. Along with packing and dealing with move-in logistics, I have also been working on creating a curriculum vitae and preparing cover letters for applying for lab positions. Not only are preparing these things rather stressful and time-consuming, they also require a bit of writing, so I have had little extra time and/or desire to do extra writing.

However, fear not! I am hoping to have my letters all completed and sent off by this weekend, so I will likely be putting out some new posts next week! Hooray! And I will have lots to write about with so many things going on and coming up (applying to get into an awesome lab, getting my passport for ANTARCTICA and TAHITI, being excited about The Daily Ocean, etc...). Until then, please be patient and check out how adorable this polar bear is!

Photograph by Paul Nicklen, from

Friday, August 31, 2012

Photographic Friday -- August 31st

Hello! And welcome to the first ever Photographic Friday! I have decided that my blog needs to be more eye-catching. To make it so, I will be scanning the interweb for interesting photos during the week and then posting my favorite on Friday! This first photograph is one that I took near Ano Nuevo, CA in February 2011.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

To Healthy Bodies and Healthy Oceans

"There's no escaping the fact that everything we eat has a global impact. So try and learn as best you can what that impact is and then take the first step to minimize it." - Barton Seaver

Chef Barton Seaver, of Washington, D.C., currently holds the position as my favorite TED speaker.

Chef Seaver's talk adresses sustainability and ocean conservation, just like those of Sylvia Earle and Brian Skerry. However, while they discuss global fisheries and marine protected area, Seaver discusses something that is much closer to home -- Dinner! Seaver calls for eating restorative seafood, which entails eating sustainable varieties of seafood while also doing what you can to help threatened species recover and unthreatened species thrive.

One might ask, "How can I help aquatic species thrive while still enjoying seafood?" Seaver has an all too simple answer to this question. And that is to reduce portion sizes of protein (seafood or other) and to compensate by increasing helpings of vegetables. Coincidentally (or not), shrinking our protein portions while compensating with piles of veggies is also an excellent way to attain a healthy weight. This is the main point that I think everyone should take note of: Seaver's suggestion to increase vegetable consumption while also reducing protein portions will not only increase the health of our oceans, but will also increase the health of our bodies. 

When it comes to concerns about ocean conservation and sustainable food options, it is very easy for people to act disconnected and aloof. But this is no surprise. The ocean is waaaayyy over there while the empty stomach is aching right here. I admit that when I get hungry, my mind is very focused on securing nourishment, while not necessarily contemplating how obtaining that nourishment is going to impact the world around me. On the other hand, concerns about health and diet are much more likely to be on the mind of an average human being, and so, theoretically, are much more likely to influence our actions. And this is what makes Seaver's insight so powerful; by choosing to eat sustainable seafood in appropriately-sized portions, you are not only doing the ocean a service, but you are also doing a favor for your body and your health.

Being healthy is great, and doing good for the oceans is an excellent side effect! So let us all shrink up those protein portions, pile on that plant matter, and I will raise a toast to your health and the health of our oceans.

For more from Chef Seaver and some tasty looking recipes, check out his website!
For information on sustainable seafood options, check out the Explore More page!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Brian Skerry and His Underwater Camera

Brian Skerry, an underwater photographer for National Geographic, takes some pretty incredible photographs:

 Photograph By Brian Skerry

 Photograph By Brian Skerry

Photograph By Brian Skerry

Not only does Skerry take spectacular photos of ocean creatures, but he also uses those images to spread awareness about issues that plague our oceans.

What a great guy. Check out his TED Talk* at the bottom of this post!

Skerry's talk is a masterful combination of powerful photographs and carefully chosen words. He very effectively uses the images that he has created to emphasize the need for change in the way that we interact with our oceans. There is not much more for me to add, as my words cannot begin to compete with the images that Skerry has to pair with such words. So please, just watch the video. The one last, notable thing that I have to add is about Skerry's mention of marine protected areas (MPAs). Just like Sylvia Earle and her TED Talk, Skerry spends the last few minutes of his talk discussing MPAs. He tells of his experience photographing at a MPA (specifically, a marine preserve) near New Zealand, and how only 20 years of protection have transformed it from an urchin barren, back into a bountiful kelp forrest. Skerry's anecdote provides further support for Earle's position that a much larger percentage of our oceans ought to be protected.

"So I think the message is clear. The ocean is, indeed, resilient and tolerant to a point, but we must be good custodians." - Brian Skerry

For more of Brian Skerry's photography, visit his website!

*Yes, I know this is my second post in a row that I spend trying to get you all to watch a TED Talk, but these really are awesome videos. I can guarantee you that this will not be my last TED Talk post. :)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sylvia Earle on the "Blue Heart of the Planet"

"I wish you would use all means at your disposal -- films! expeditions! the web! more! -- to ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas, hope spots large enough to save and restore the ocean, the blue heart of the planet." - Sylvia Earle

For those of you who do not know Sylvia Earle (do not feel bad, I did not know anything about her unti I was instructed by my Oceanography professor to watch her TED Talk), she is an aquanaut and ocean advocate. I would tell you more, but I would rather you just watch her TED Talk!

Okay, all I will tell you is that she is amazing, and she has numerous important things to say. Like how the ocean is our "life-support system," "the blue heart of our planet," and how we need to act now to protect it, before it is too late. Sylvia is a huge advocate and supporter of increasing the percentage of the ocean that is protected by marine protected areas (MPAs), and I cannot think of anything much better for someone to advocate for. Pollution, development, climate change, and non-sustainable fishing practices are all major threats to our oceans, but the installation of a properly-enforced MPA would theoretically protect a chunk of ocean from three out of the four of those dangers. How can you argue against that?

Watch the video, so you can hear from Sylvia not only what is wrong with our oceans today, but how we can make it right.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Explore More!

I am starting to get really excited about this blog as I discover more and more things that I can do with it! I have several different ideas for interesting additions that I can make, but the first idea that I decided to act upon was the creation of the Explore More! page! This page is essentially a collection of links to resources that I have found and that I wish to share. My hope for this page is that it will constantly be expanding as I continue to add new sources of news, information, entertainment, and amusement, all somewhat (loosely) related to marine science.

The order in which new links are added to the Explore More! page will likely correlate with my current projects and interests. Recently, I have taken an interest in sustainable seafood because I see making responsible choices about seafood as an opportunity for anyone and everyone to contribute to ocean conservation efforts. And not only is it a very accessible area of ocean conservation, but it is also a very influential one, especially in terms of the positive effects it can have on our oceans' fisheries. If there were no demand for Bluefin Tuna or Orange Roughy or Swordfish, then there would be nothing for fishermen to gain economically by going after these creatures. And with nothing to gain, there would be no reason for the continued exploitation of such fisheries. Seafood consumers hold much of the power in determining which sea creatures are sought after, so I encourage everyone to do their research and to only put their money towards seafood varieties that are that are caught or farmed in an ecologically sound manner, and are not in danger of being overexploited.

My use of the word "research" makes it sound like selecting sustainable seafood is a lot of work. But this is simply not the case, so fear not! The first three links that I have posted to my Explore More! page are FishOnline, Seafood Watch, and Fish2Fork. All three of these sites are exceedingly useful for figuring out which seafood you should buy, and at which restaurants you should buy it. So please take a look, either by clicking on the links in the above text, or by clicking on the Explore More tab that is at the top of this page.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Do What You Love

Picking a path, an educational and career path, is difficult. There are so many things that we are taught by our society to take into consideration. In what career will I be the most successful, financially? What job will bring me the most prestige? The most status?

While mulling over all of these considerations, it is very easy to lose track of what ACTUALLY matters when choosing a path. And that is selecting an area to study that is interesting to you and that you enjoy, and that will eventually lead to getting you a job that you love. When I first started at UCLA, I had completely lost sight of this all-important consideration. So I spent weeks upon weeks wandering to my classes, bouncing between plans of medical school, psychology, and whatever else fit my mood. Nothing seemed to stick. So I just kept trying out new paths.

Then, one evening as I sat at my computer watching House, I heard a small pop that indicated a Facebook chat. Switching windows, I saw that my cousin Tristan had sent me a link. Not recognizing the website, I hesitated for a second, thinking it may have been a hack. But then Tristan followed up with a message, reassuring me that the video was amazing and inspiring and that I just had to stop and take the time to watch it. So I watched it. And I am so very glad that I did.

This video, featuring a short talk and then some video footage by surf photographer Mickey Smith, is an awesome illustration of how doing what you love is really the key to a fulfilling life and a life that you can be happy with. It inspired me to contemplate what I am most passionate about. What my mind was immediately drawn to was my high school marine biology class and the trips that I took with that class to Catalina Island and the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. Those experiences were life-changing for me because they solidified my love and fascination with nature, especially marine life. So with the messages from this video spinning around my head, and the memories of my amazing experiences at Catalina and OPI refreshed in my brain, I came to the conclusion that by studying marine biology, I would be giving myself the opportunity to spend my life studying and working with what I love. So that is what I decided to do.

I hope you enjoy this video as much as I did. And thank you Tristan and Mr. McBride.

Do The Things You Love by Mickey Smith

Thursday, August 2, 2012

On My Way To New Coasts

Hello everyone and welcome to my new blog! During my first year at UCLA, I have spent hours pondering and deliberating what sort of direction I want to take with my education. I started out thinking medicine, and then changed my plan to psychology. But neither of those options really felt right to me. After taking an ecology class winter quarter, and then an oceanography class during the spring, I was lucky enough to stumble upon what does feel right; and that is pursuing a degree in marine biology. Since my decision to study marine biology, I have also chosen to minor in both conservation biology and atmospheric and oceanic science.
One of the crazy, awesome things about going to a university like UCLA is the phenomenal amount of opportunities that being a part of their academic community allows you to access. And it is these opportunities that have inspired me to create this blog. During spring quarter of 2014, I will be lucky enough to spend several weeks in Tahiti to get a taste for conducting my own field research. A few months before that, at the tail end of December 2013 and into January 2014, I am striving to be a part of an expedition to Antarctica, alongside other students and faculty from UCLA and a handful of other universities. I am so thrilled to have these opportunities available to me and I hope that they are only the beginning of career in marine science that is riddled with chances to experience nature at its most beautiful and most untouched. So here is to the beginning of my new journey, on my way to experiencing new coasts.