In a sea of daunting ocean news, here’s the good stuff, the reasons we keep at it, the ocean wins.
Here’s the good news!
Plastic eating microbe found.
Frozen yogurt spoons, water bottles, toothbrushes, iPhone covers—tons of plastic is floating in the ocean, killing marine animals and changing the marine environment. Now researchers have found something that looks like it can help: microbes that eat the stuff.
Surf Win 1: Ma’alea saved.
In a world of increasing surfers and scarce quality surf spots, we can’t afford another wave destroyed by the encroachments of development. Killer Dana was buried under the Dana Point Harbor. Stanley’s was buried by a freeway onramp to the scenic 101 near Santa Barbara. Trestles, one of the best waves in Southern California, was under threat from a toll road development. Surfers rallied and it was saved, then it wasn’t. Ma’alea, which some call the fastest wave in the world, on Maui, was threatened by a harbor development, but after 23 years of fighting it, a group of surfers have won, and plans to extend the breakwater at Ma’alaea Harbor are being dropped. Long live terminal velocity tube rides!
The time-honored tradition of watching your friends point their tuberiders down the line and run hell-for-leather across the reef has been preserved!
Surf Win 2: Santa Cruz declared World Surfing Reserve.
Though Huntington Beach is known as surf city, Santa Cruz is the surf city of the north; it has far better waves, a deeper surfing history (the surf club was established in 1936 and three Hawaiian princes reportedly surfed there in 1885), and more dedicated locals (read: intensely cold water), it has recently joined a short list of sites designated as World Surfing Reserves.
Fin whaling suspended in Iceland.
A sideways win, but we’ll take it. Fin whales, the world’s second-largest living species, will be spared not because whalers suddenly realized the mistake of killing sentient beings on the endangered species list, but due to a limited market for whale meat, and failure to reach an agreement on deckhand salaries and conditions. Although Minke whale hunting unfortunately continues, this new development means less fin whales are being killed this year. Now if we could just get Paul Watson out of Germany…
Oil exploration stopped during dolphin calving season.
The Federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management stopped Global Geophysical Services Inc. from doing oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico until after until after dolphin calving season. They use seismic equipment with powerful underwater blasts that are known to disrupt marine mammals. Bottle-nose dolphins have died in unprecedented amounts after the Gulf oil spill, and researchers are still studying potential reasons, so the break for dolphin moms and calves is a much needed one.
Solar powered circumnavigation
Yes, Juan Sebastian Elcano did it in 1522 using wind power, in a good old sailboat, but this year Raphael Domjan and crew did it in a powerboat, with a huge array of solar panels and not an ounce of gas. Sure, we’re still some way off from seeing solar panels on every house, much less solar-powered boats in every harbor, but Domjan’s accomplishment highlights that tons of free, clean energy hits the surface of our planet everyday. If nothing else, his trip points out how much more adventuring there is to be done here on earth. Double win!