Celebrate Earth Day by reading through our research summaries and sustainability tips for April!
APRIL 7: RESEARCH SUMMARY - MANAGED RETREAT
Sea level rise causes beaches, marshes, and other marine ecosystems to migrate as their environment changes, but human communities are slow to take the hint. This paper noted that currently, the main actions in place to deal with damage from sea level rise are reactionary (think flood property buyout programs where governments pay for damaged properties after they are flooded.) But these reactionary solutions only cost governments money repairing and removing damaged properties over and over again. This solution also isn’t always equitable, because not everyone is able to gain access to funding to find new property or repair theirs after it is damaged.
With this in mind, lawyers and researchers are looking into more preventative measures that can be taken to address the sea level rise we know will soon come. One of these measures is called “managed retreat,” where systems are put in place to equitably relocate people to areas that will be safe from future sea level rise. Managing this moving in advance allows relocation to be more thoughtful and equitable because there is more time to plan. While this might sound difficult and the cost of history in property cannot be measured, it is far preferable to panicked migrations that are certain to happen if we do not prepare.
Remember to come back tomorrow to learn about how you can aid in supporting communities in managed retreat.
RESEARCH: A Concerted and Equitable Approach to Managed Retreat. Kavitha Chintam et al. 2021.
APRIL 8: SUSTAINABILITY TIP - STRENGTHEN COMMUNITIES
Concerned about sea level rise in your community? Need access to persuasive data? You can use NOAA's Sea Level Rise Viewer to view sea level rise under different scenarios, marsh migration, high tide flooding, and vulnerability. This database is a useful tool in helping communities quantify and visualize risks associated with sea level rise, as well as help create disaster evacuation plans - and it’s FREE!
APRIL 14: RESEARCH SUMMARY - KELP TRANSPLANT
Kelp forests are important ecosystems that have unfortunately been declining globally, most likely from human impacts. In an experiment in the Sept-Iles region in Canada, scientists transplanted the kelp species Alaric esculenta (badderlocks) and Laminaria saccharina (sugar kelp) into two marine environments; a bay, and then outlying islands outside of it. The researchers monitored kelp distribution and survival in response to abiotic conditions such as temperature, wave activity, light, turbidity, sedimentation, and salinity. They found that while sugar kelp could survive in both habitats, badderlocks was unable to live to maturity in the bay because of increased sedimentation and decreased light availability.
RESEARCH: Drivers of kelp distribution in the Gulf of St. Lawrence: insights from a transplant experiment. Picard et al. 2022.
APRIL 15: SUSTAINABILITY TIP - CRAZY FOR KELP
Though natural kelp forests are on the decline, aquafarmed kelp is on the rise! Kelp is easily grown and harvested, making it a very sustainable resource. Kelp can be used for food, bioplastics, cosmetics, animal feed, biofuel, and more. Check your local grocery store for things like sustainable seaweed snacks!
APRIL 21: RESEARCH SUMMARY - NASTY NANOPARTICLES
In a study done last year, researchers used an emission scanning electron microscope with high-resolution to determine if there were toxic nanoparticles in the Caribbean Sea, and if so, identify what toxic ones were present.
Arsenic, cadmium, lead, magnesium, nickel, and vanadium were all found. High levels of titanium dioxide and asbestos were also found. These elements and minerals can be very dangerous, and cause a major imbalance in marine ecosystems. This study will hopefully further environmental policies in the Caribbean on containment mitigation, so that these toxic nanoparticles will no longer pollute marine waters.
RESEARCH: Identification of hazardous nanoparticles present in the Caribbean Sea for the allocation of future preservation projects. Silva et al. 2021.
APRIL 22: SUSTAINABILITY TIP - PREVENTING POLLUTION
Are you wondering if a company or organization is polluting the environment? You can use the Environmental Protection Agency’s free search tool to check! You can type in a company name, address or zip code, and see what their Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) has been over the last 12 or more quarters. If any EPA regulations were violated, they are listed on a company’s TRI Report.
APRIL 28: RESEARCH SUMMARY - NO PAY DAY
How prevalent are unpaid and pay-to-play internships in marine science? A 2021 study found that nearly half of the internship opportunities available to those with a bachelor’s degree were either unpaid or pay-to-play. Over half of these unpaid internships also required some previous experience working in the field.
This study also found that 60% of the organizations offering unpaid and pay-to-play opportunities hadn’t published any scientific papers in the last three years.
As these kinds of experiences become more common and increasingly expected by potential employers, they can create a barrier for people who want to pursue marine science. It can be difficult to justify taking on an unpaid position and for some, it’s impossible.
APRIL 29: SUSTAINABILITY TIP - BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS
So how can you help break down the barriers built by unpaid and pay-to-play internships as they become more and more common? You can support organizations, like Minorities in Shark Science, that cover the cost of workshops and field experiences for women and gender minorities of color interested in shark research! These workshops provide professional, hands-on training for free, giving participants the experience they need at no cost to them!
If you’re an employer, you could consider not requiring internship experience for an entry-level position. You could also try to keep in mind that a lack of internships doesn’t equal a lack of experience or interest; an applicant just may not have been able to afford to go unpaid.
Most importantly, if you’re a student or early in your career, don’t believe that you can’t be a marine scientist because you can’t afford to pay internship fees or go unpaid! Let’s work to change the culture around participation in marine science together.