Aquarius — World’s Last Undersea Lab — Loses Funding, Faces Decommisioning

Aquarius Reef Base

Aquarius Reef Base (Photo: NOAA)

For 25 years, the Aquarius Reef Base, an undersea laboratory that sleeps six?off of Key Largo, has served as host to numerous marine biologists and NASA astronauts. Even the Ocean Doctor has paid a visit to Aquarius. But after years of declining budgets, the Obama administration has eliminated the base’s funding, and the world’s last remaining undersea lab is faced with decommissioning — or finding its own funding. NPR reports that Dr. Sylvia Earle and other researchers are now conducting a mission of outreach and education in Aquarius to help save it.

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Cuba Offshore Oil Drilling: Why We’re Not Ready

The 53,000-ton the Italian-owned, Chinese-built Scarabeo 9 is a state-of-the-art, semi-submersible ultra-deepwater drilling platform capable of working in up to 12,000 feet of water depth with a 50,000 foot (9.5 miles) drilling depth capacity. The platform has accommodations for full-time support of up to 200 workers. (Source: ?Background on Scarabeo 9? in CubaStandard.com by Jorge Pi?on,)

The 53,000-ton the Italian-owned, Chinese-built Scarabeo 9 is a state-of-the-art, semi-submersible ultra-deepwater drilling platform capable of working in up to 12,000 feet of water depth with a 50,000 foot (9.5 miles) drilling depth capacity. The platform has accommodations for full-time support of up to 200 workers. (Source: “Background on Scarabeo 9″ in CubaStandard.com by Jorge Pinon,)

As I write this, a massive offshore oil platform makes its way around the southern tip of the African continent on its journey from Singapore to its final destination within 50 miles of some of our nation’s most environmentally sensitive waters. By year’s end, it will be in operation to drill the first exploratory well more than a mile deep in Cuban waters.

Shortly after Cuba’s discovery of offshore oil more than six years ago, I met with my colleagues at the University of Havana who had just been briefed by the state-run oil company, Cupet (Cubapetroleo). Models predicted that 90 percent of oil from a blowout would be transported northward to the Keys and up along Florida’s East Coast, impacting Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and beyond. The question is, of course, are we ready to deal with such a catastrophe? [Read more...]

The Top 10 Countdown: Your Favorite Episodes of 2010

The Ocean Doctor on WebTalkRadio.net

December 27, 2010:

It’s our end-of-the-year party and retrospective where we count down your top 10 favorite episodes of the year and enjoy highlights from each of them. If you’ve missed any past episodes of “The Ocean Doctor,” here’s your chance to catch up and discover shows you?d like to hear in full. Find them all at oceandoctor.org/radio

The Ocean Doctor airs weekly on WebTalkRadio.net. Want to listen on your iPod, iPhone or mp3 player? Download the mp3 file or subscribe on iTunes and don’t miss a single episode. See the complete list of episodes.

Follow The Ocean Doctor on TwitterBecome a Fan on Facebook!

Submit a question and I’ll try to answer it on the air. Even better, record your question or comment on our special message line and I might play it on the air. Call: (805) 619-9194. You can also leave questions and comments for this episode below.

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This Week’s Guest is YOU — The Ocean Doctor LIVE! Broadcast

The Ocean Doctor on WebTalkRadio.net

December 20, 2010: It’s the premiere of “The Ocean Doctor LIVE!” where YOU are the guest! We get a surprise visit from one of our past guests and talk oceans, coast-to-coast. Also: If I were a Great White, I wouldn’t eat you.

The Ocean Doctor airs weekly on WebTalkRadio.net. Want to listen on your iPod, iPhone or mp3 player? Download the mp3 file or subscribe on iTunes and don’t miss a single episode. See the complete list of episodes.

Follow The Ocean Doctor on TwitterBecome a Fan on Facebook!

Submit a question and I’ll try to answer it on the air. Even better, record your question or comment on our special message line and I might play it on the air. Call: (805) 619-9194. You can also leave questions and comments for this episode below.

Like the show? Learn how to become a sponsor. [Read more...]

Seacamp: 45 Years of Immersive Education That Works

The Ocean Doctor on WebTalkRadio.net

October 4, 2010: The Ocean Doctor attends the 45th anniversary celebration of Seacamp, a unique marine science summer camp in the Florida Keys that has reached more than 200,000 young hearts and minds through its summer program and its Newfound Harbor Marine Institute program during the rest of the year. We visit old friends, and chat with Irene Hooper, the original director who remains very involved, continuing to impart her leadership and vision to ensure the next generation grows up with a special place in its heart for the oceans. David tells his most famous Seacamp story about a canoe and two mischievous dolphins. And we hear the latest from the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The Ocean Doctor airs weekly on WebTalkRadio.net. Want to listen on your iPod, iPhone or mp3 player? Download the mp3 file or subscribe on iTunes and don’t miss a single episode. See the complete list of episodes.

Submit a question and I’ll try to answer it on the air. Even better, record your question or comment on our special message line and I might play it on the air. Call: (805) 619-9194. You can also leave questions and comments for this episode below.

Like the show? Learn how to become a sponsor. [Read more...]

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.

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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.

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50 States – Leg 2: Florida – Oceans vs. Rocky Horror

Leg 2 was going far too smoothly. My flight to Tampa was early. The rental car bus arrived immediately. I didn’t get lost. The sun was shining. Maybe you’re like me, but when things start going this well, I get nervous. Turns out my gut feelings were right. Things were about to get…silly.

Like the expedition’s first leg to California, Leg 2 was also to familiar territory, to a state I had once called home: Florida. My many years in Florida, teaching at Seacamp in the Florida Keys, as president of The Conservancy of Southwest Florida in Naples, and co-chair of the Everglades Coalition, means that I’ll be returning here twice more to honor the flood of speaking requests I was honored to receive.

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Wishing You a Year of Unscripted Happiness and Discovery

Sometimes planning is overrated. Sometimes thinking is overrated. Sometimes the best things happen when you just act. That’s what happened on my 50th birthday. Though it’s a concept I had thought about before, what’s become the “50 Years – 50 States – 50 Speeches Expedition” was an idea that literally popped into my head on the morning of my birthday. I knew if I thought about it too much — with all the challenges,
logistics, and complications — I’d talk myself out of it. So I announced the ambitious project to give speeches at no charge to schools in all 50 U.S. states (plus territories), and in so doing, dove into the deep end of a new endeavor that is rapidly taking on a life of its own. And that’s the best part of it.

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