1planet1ocean is out. Ocean Doctor is in.

1planet1ocean is out. Ocean Doctor is in.

1planet1ocean is out. Ocean Doctor is in.

1planet1ocean is out. Ocean Doctor is in. The reason? When my daughter came up with, “Ocean Doctor,” it was clever, catchy and immediately caught on as my moniker and even as the name of my radio show. 1planet1ocean – a project of The Ocean Foundation, served us well since 2004, but in a frenzy of New Year cleansing and simplifying, I felt it best to let go of the old and embrace the new. [Read more...]

Deep Reflection: Alone in the Dark at 1,300 Feet Below

DeepWorker 6 filming Giant grenadier  (Albatrossia pectoralis)

I am inside a tiny, 1-person submarine beneath the Bering Sea, hundreds of miles offshore from the Alaskan coast. There are 1,300 feet of water between me and the surface. I’m here as part of a Greenpeace-led expedition to shed new light on the unexplored depths here.

It’s freezing cold, completely dark, and forbidding and it’s utterly beautiful. [Read more...]

Want to Help the Gulf of Mexico? Kill Your Lawn.

Want to Help the Gulf of Mexico? Kill Your Lawn.

The Lawn has Become as much of an American Icon as Baseball and Apple Pie. But at What Cost? (Photo credit: From the cover of “The American Lawn” by Georges Tevssot)

Since 1948, radio station KBMW has been serving as the “Voice of the Southern Red River Valley,” a tri-state area including North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota, boasting some of the “richest farmland in the United States.” So why did they want to interview a city boy who lives for salt water? To update their listeners on the BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, and most importantly, tell their listeners how they could help. Like so many of us, they feel a deep connection to the Gulf, even from more than 1,200 from water’s edge, and the daily images of oil erupting from the BP well has led to palpable frustration. It’s hard to watch and not be able to help. Truth is, KBMW’s listeners are more connected than they may realize, and they can materially help the Gulf of Mexico — and their own neighborhoods, by just getting outside and doing some gardening.

[Read more...]

Rebuilding the Gulf’s Shattered Fishing Industry ? On Land

Today NOAA announced further fishing closures in the Gulf of Mexico due to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Now a total of 37 percent of federal Gulf waters are off limits to fishing, an area of nearly 89,000 square miles where NOAA considers fish and shellfish potentially too toxic for human consumption. For a region where commercial fishing is a vital part of the economy, the future of the region grows increasingly uncertain with each barrel of oil spewed into the deep Gulf waters.

There’s a solution: Rebuild the Gulf of Mexico fishery on land. Investing in “next-generation” sustainable land-based, closed-containment recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) could keep the Gulf region in the seafood business profitably, while creating green jobs and reducing fishing pressure on wild stocks. What is “next-generation” RAS aquaculture? From the outside, many of the systems look like an ordinary warehouse. Inside, they’re a specially-constructed system of pumps and filters that recycle 99 percent of their water and grow healthy and heathful fish without chemicals, antibiotics or genetically-modified anything. [Read more...]

2010: The Year We Wake and Act

Like closing your eyes after staring at a light bulb, the image of the vast, dark spill haunts me like an after-image that just won’t go away after more than a month of poring over satellite images and nautical charts of the vast BP oil spill spreading throughout the Gulf of Mexico. At some point, as I pondered the growing dark mass, I recalled the eerie 1984 film, 2010 (the sequel to Arthur C. Clark’s 2001: A Space Odyssey) and the massive dark mass that consumed the planet Jupiter. And it seemed a tad spooky that the year the author chose when Jupiter would face its ginormous black swath of destruction was…2010.? Not knowing where it would lead me, I decided I had to indulge my right brain today, so I cracked my knuckles, opened Photoshop and this image is the result.? [Read more...]

The Gulf of Mexico: What’s at Stake

This video highlights the vast diversity of marine life throughout the Gulf at risk from the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster. The video provides an underwater tour of the Gulf by sub and scuba, encompassing the U.S., Cuba and Mexico. Produced for the opening of the first State of the Gulf of Mexico Summit in 2006, it was also shown before Congress on 5/19/2010 as part of the testimony of Dr. Sylvia A. Earle.

Waiting for the Oil?

Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys

On July 18, 1975, the tanker Garbis spilled 1,500 to 3,000 barrels of crude oil into the warm, turquoise, coral-rich waters roughly 26 miles south-southwest of the Marquesas Keys, Florida. The oil was blown ashore along a 30-mile stretch of the Florida Keys, east of Key West. I was 16 and enjoying my second summer at Seacamp, a marine science camp on Big Pine Key. Rumors of the spill raced throughout the campus until finally, instructor James Smithson decided to find out for himself what menace might be approaching. He took a small away team aboard his 21-foot Mako, “Isurus,” and made haste south toward the reef tract. We waited impatiently for word back as the sun fell to the horizon and scattered its tranquil orange glow across the water. What I saw next filled me with dread. The Isurus entered the harbor, its white hull stained with enormous swaths of dark brown oil. In that moment the menace was no longer abstract, and to my young mind, everything we treasured — the corals, the mangroves, the fish, the turtles –was on the brink of extermination. [Read more...]

OMG, I Thought You Were Dead!

You’ve seen it in the faces of infants when they recognize their mother’s smiling face above. You’ve seen it on the face of an old friend across the room when she suddenly recognizes you…after all those years. And Doug Shulz, producer at Partisan Pictures, saw it clearly on my face, when he tapped me on the shoulder and pointed toward an old friend I hadn’t seen in nearly 35 years.

When we humans recognize a friend, our faces convey it with a distinctive widening of the eyes. Combine that with the surprise of seeing someone we aren’t expecting to see, our eyes grow even wider, often accompanied by a cartoon-like jaw drop. Judging from Doug’s expression while observing my face, I can only imagine how wide my eyes were. Since we were 20 feet beneath Cuba’s Gulf of Mexico waters, it must have been difficult for him to discern between an expression of surprise and delight versus a textbook example of wide-eyed diver panic. My eyes were transfixed on my old friend with a funny name whom I hadn’t laid eyes on since I was a teenager. Larger than life, vibrant, and embracing the sun, my friend was very much alive and healthy, clearly enjoying the good life in Cuba.

[Read more...]

A Message to Eastern Airlines, 35 Years Late

Eastern AirlinesRemember Eastern Airlines? I do. And I’m forever grateful to the long-gone carrier for transporting me to a new world exactly 35 years ago, a world that I’ve never left. On June 24, 1974, I boarded Eastern Airlines flight 35 in Philadelphia, sat myself in seat 12A, a window of course. Scheduled departure was 900am. The Boeing 727 rumbled down the runway, and two and half magical hours later, a 15-year-old teenager from Philly found himself in Miami, Florida, eager with anticipation of catching his first glimpse of the Florida Keys, wherever they were. I didn’t know. Someone had to draw a map for me on a napkin.

[Read more...]

Can Cuba’s Mysteries Help Save the World’s Coral Reefs?

Healthy elkhorn coral in Cuba's Gulf of Mexico (Photo by Abel Valdivia)Until that tranquil morning in late June 1974, the sum total of my SCUBA diving experience had been in a landlocked state, in a stifling, moldy indoor YMCA pool in the Philadelphia suburbs and a Pennsylvania quarry, flooded with icy soup-green water. Barely comprehending the new world of pungent humidity, mountainous afternoon cumulus clouds, and lush tangles of flowering succulents I experienced at water’s edge during my first visit to the Florida Keys, I was wholly unprepared later that morning when I found myself seated in sugar-white sand with 40 feet of warm, clear aquamarine water above my head. As impossibly multi-colored fish passed slowly within reach before my wide 15-year-old eyes, my gaze broadened as I marveled at the towering jetties of coral around us, living layer cakes of corals upon corals, brown and mustard rock-like structures, encrusted with brilliant red, violet and orange coralline fans and branches, swaying in the warm, nourishing current and, like eager spring blossoms, reaching toward the dancing sunlight scattered on the surface above. [Read more...]