Nature Blog Network

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Carnival of the Blue #9: Make 2008 a Blue Year!

2008 is the year to LIVBLUE: "Live like you love the ocean." That is why are ocean bloggers. The ocean holds a special place in all of our souls. A place where life came about, evolved and was cradled. A historical refuge from extinction. A place where bountiful resources nurtured early civilizations. A superhighway and living market for modern civilizations. Yet a place where we can rest our weary bodies, contemplate and find inspiration.

But the ocean is heaving and sighing with the weight we have put on its back. Its bounty is growing scarcer, its resources diminishing. Once a refuge, now plastic and debris, oil spills, toxic chemicals and metals, munitions dumping, and other ailments have made the watery milieu an obstacle course for its inhabitants and there are no do-overs in this game. This may not be news to most of us. As ocean bloggers, we become accustomed to catastrophe, often the harbinger of bad news.

There is another route we can take. We can become messengers for sustainability, accountability and reformation. Humans have a close connection to the water. We are evolved from it. We are born into it. We bath in it, letting it embrace us as we cleanse ourselves. We drink it and made up of it. Not all humans will share in the full enthusiasm and passion of an ocean blogger, but they are interested in the ocean, even if never having been there. They eat from its cornucopia. They buy products that were shipped across the seas on ocean liners. They feel a pain and sense of loss when shown oil-covered seagulls and otters, or sea turtles and sharks wrapped up in thin fishing wire. I have faith in people that they generally want to do whats right.

I am calling upon all ocean bloggers to use the power of the proverbial pen in 2008 to dedicate their writing not to solving these issues. Politicians and policy-makers do read us. Everyday people read us. Our pen is better suited to educating people on not what the problems, but why they exist, who is responsible, what can be done at a local level and how to sustain a lasting commitment to the health and sustainability of our oceans and its resources.

A few weeks ago I organized and gave a session on Real Time Blogging in the Marine Sciences at the North Carolina Science Blogging Conference with my ocean blogging colleagues Peter Etnoyer from Deep Sea News, Jason Robertshaw from Cephalopodcast, Rick MacPherson from Malaria, Bedbugs, Sea Lice and Sunsets and Karen James from The Beagle Project. It was a learnign experience for myself and I think its safe to say for everyone involved, be it the co-moderators and the audience.

Real time blogging to me is the art of bringing the excitement of discovery and the process of being a discoverer to the front door of the average citizen. It captures the immediacy of the moment in all of its unedited glory. There was a lot discussion generated, which would have gone on if it weren't for the 70 minute time limit. Rick has a great analysis of our session, so I won't belabor the point here. Jason video-taped the session and has it archived here for your viewing pleasure. Additional coverage includes photos from myself (here and here too), swag from Rick, commentary and analysis from Peter and Karen as well. I came away from the whole conference with a renewed interest in blogging as a tool for public discourse and now feel more determined than ever to blog, one of several reasons I have joined the crew at Deep Sea News.

But this Carnival of the Blue is not about me, its about ocean blogging. I feel, in the water, that 2008 is going to be a big year for the Blue. It is the International Year of the Reef. Conversation has already been going on reef conservation in anticipation of this event. In 2008, I expect ocean blogging to increase, more bloggers, more discussion, more solutions. Last month, Mr. Byrnes gave us an excellent entry into this year with Carnival of the Blue #8. The Carnival of the Blue, started by Mark Powell at Blogfish, is showing steady growth. I hope it continues and that there will be more submissions from new ocean blogs and other blogs that are talking about ocean related issues. This month we have a mix of both.

Before you continue reading, head over to Cephalopodcast and start playing the latest internet radio program offered by Jason Robertshaw. Among the many pearls of marine news Jason finds, this episode also features an interview Mark Powell where they discuss the Carnival of the Blue and ocean blogging. His soothing radio voice will make a wonderful narrative while you peruse this carnivals offering.

Corey at 10,000 Birds tells us of his discoveries of the maritime avifauna on the Santa Cruz island, part of the California's Channel Islands. In particular the Island Scrub Jay, a close relative of my favorite bird from my Monterey days, the Western Scrub Jay. Special bonus: a pod of dolphins on the boatride!

A common theme ocean is that of "shifting baselines". A term coined by marine biologist Jeremy Jackson to refer to the idea that each generation has different view of what the baseline is because they only remember what the world was like when they were growing up. Jennifer Jacquet at the Shifting Baselines blog illustrates this point well with a discussion of baselines shifting as evidenced through ship captain's logbooks. Sheril Kirshenbaum at The Insection tells us that the next hot fishery is Hagfish. Which makes me wonder, will fish sticks soon be fried hagfish slimeballs? As Jennifer would say, "... just another shifting baseline..."

Public perception is important to individuals and corporations. Some ways of perceived can be clever while other irritating at best. Rick at Malaria, Bedbugs, Sea Lice and Sunsets explains the history behind the mermaid in the Starbucks logo and discusses what is the marine world equivalent of the cute and cuddly mascot, Woodsy Owl. Additionally, Miriam at The Oysters Garter wonders why Oceana is trying to spread its conservation message by spam.

Photo from The Saipan SCUBA Diving Blog

Rick McPherson again offers us brief natural history of the Crown of Thorns sea star. The ending is not a happy one for Indonesia's corals. But thankfully for the Marianas, The Saipan SCUBA Diving Blog tells us that the humphead wrasse is one the few predators for the toxic Crown of Thorns. Unless, of course, its hunted away. An excellent lesson on the natural history of this fish, Saipain SCUBA brings it home with an intense discussion of the conservation of large reef fish, politics, spearfishing, tourism and the economy. This is the editor's choice for this month's Carnival of the Blue.

Emmett Duffy at The Natural Patriot offers us beautifully narrated journal entry from his latest research excursion to Jamaica where he was "filled with a powerful sense of calm and gratitude and harmony". So touched was he by his jamaican experience he named this new species of social shrimp Synalpheus irie, irie being rastafarian for "high emotions and peaceful vibrations".

Last month, sushi was on several bloggers minds. Deep Sea News (starting with this), Blogfish, and Shifting Baselines (starting with this) weigh in. Kate Wing at the NRDC switchboard would like to point out that tuna don't even get respect on broadway!

Finally, Mark H at the Daily Kos, in his marine life series, shows us the anatomy of the gastropod shell laden with pictorial examples.

Addendum: In my late night haze I forgot to plug the Systema Brachyurorum. The Raffles Museum blog has made this comprehensive publication available to the public to encourage a concrete taxonomy, use of names and guide to identification oof brachyuran crabs.
"This 286-page work contains 6,793 valid species and subspecies, 1,271 genera and subgenera, 93 families and 38 superfamilies, making it the most comprehensive to date. And with references as recent as January 2008, it is also the most up-to-date."
That is it for this edition of the Carnival of the Blue, Kate Wing will be hosting #10 in March. Remember to live like you love the ocean.

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