Creating Reefs with Tanks and Ships

Posted by Scott A. On February - 8 - 2011

It’s been two weeks since I found myself talking with a great crew over at the National Geographic Society.  The topic was oceans, more specifically artificial reefs, and to be honest I was begging for something to get me back in the swing of discussing our seas.  Well, 14 days later, a layover in Denver, [...]

Will Climate Change Alter Sea Turtle Populations to the Point of Extinction?

Posted by Scott A. On June - 15 - 2010

Our planet is an intriguing concoction of variables that meld together for successes spanning the organization of life (species, populations, communities, and ecosystems).  It is literally an evolutionary process that is ecologically driven.  And as a genotypic sex determined species, we seem to have an inherent fascination with the mysterious adaptive significance of environmental sex [...]

Proposal to save whales means lifting whaling ban and sanctuary harpooning

Posted by Scott A. On May - 28 - 2010

It’s probably not much of a limb to go out on, but I’m pretty sure there is a clear majority and mandate by Americans to halt whaling, let alone lend official support and endorse such actions by other nations.  And I think I may enter the frigid waters and tackle our own policies regarding indigenous [...]

Killing Sharks: Is Ocean Science Compatible with Ocean Conservation?

Posted by Scott A. On May - 12 - 2010

I’ll be perfectly honest…I’ve been sitting on this essay from Conservation Biology for the last week or so as I mulled over my approach on breaching this topic.  At one point I envisioned the title as Torn Between Ocean Science and Ocean Conservation; clearly a manifestation of the dilemma with which I was trying to [...]

Atlantic Bluefin Tuna: Conservation Thwarted by Profits

Posted by Scott A. On March - 18 - 2010

An organization that delegates [tries to] policy without any foreseeable recourse at their disposal is simply a Think Factory.  They ‘THINK’ they can get offenders to comply merely on the basis of suggestion.  Perhaps this tactic works in the world of science fiction when the wave of a Jedi’s hand is all that is needed [...]

Creating Reefs with Tanks and Ships

Posted by Scott A. On February - 8 - 20117 COMMENTS

Photos and article found in the February 2011 issue of National Geographic magazine, on newsstands January 25

It’s been two weeks since I found myself talking with a great crew over at the National Geographic Society.  The topic was oceans, more specifically artificial reefs, and to be honest I was begging for something to get me back in the swing of discussing our seas.  Well, 14 days later, a layover in Denver, and a swipe of the forehead for finally catching up on a backlog of graduate classes, I’m ready to engage in a little ocean diversion.

Although I have not been personally involved in the creation of artificial reefs, the idea of restoring habitat is something that I do engage in quite frequently.  And just because these restoration projects involve burrowing owls and in some cases the installation of artificial burrows, were talking about communities, ecosystems, and species.  But unlike my work in a grasslands, building artificial reefs definitely involves a stunning array of….you name it.

“Even officially sanctioned ones are often created from distinctly odd materials, including decommissioned subway cars, vintage battle tanks, armored personnel carriers, oil drilling rigs, and specially designed beehivelike modules called Reef Balls (Relics to Reefs, National Geographic Society, Feb. 2011).”

After getting past the visuals of a submerged tank or ship, there are those concerned about the impact of artificial reefs on the biodiversity of natural reefs and the potential problems of increasing overfishing.  But, I’m going to forgo jumping into that debate for the time being, and instead take a moment to share a few photos, encourage you to check out the article, and allow you to weigh the pros and cons for yourself.

Photo: David Doubilet/National Geographic

 Upholstered with luminous sponges and corals, the bridge of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Duane attracts schools of smallmouth grunts—and divers. The ship was intentionally sunk in 1987 off Key Largo to create an artificial reef 120 feet deep.

Photo: David Doubilet/National Geographic

 In the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico, steel pillars supporting a gas platform make a vertical reef encrusted with tube sponges.

Photo: David Doubilet/National Geographic

 This M60 is one of a hundred tanks sunk in 1994 in a 1,200-square-mile zone of artificial reefs off the coast of Alabama. The 50-ton tanks survive hurricanes better than lighter, less stable objects.

*Photos posted with permission of the National Geographic Society.

It’s a frightening premise, and it’s happening right now. A Sea Change follows the journey of retired history teacher Sven Huseby on his quest to discover what is happening to the world’s oceans. After reading Elizabeth Kolbert’s “The Darkening Sea,” Sven becomes obsessed with the rising acidity of the oceans and what this “sea change” bodes for mankind. His quest takes him to Alaska, California, Washington, and Norway as he uncovers a worldwide crisis that most people are unaware of. Speaking with oceanographers, marine biologists, climatologists, and artists, Sven discovers that global warming is only half the story of the environmental catastrophe that awaits us. Excess carbon dioxide is dissolving in our oceans, changing sea water chemistry. The more acidic water makes it difficult for tiny creatures at the bottom of the food web to form their shells. The effects could work their way up to the fish 1 billion people depend upon for their source of protein.  A Sea Change is the first documentary about ocean acidification, directed by Barbara Ettinger and co-produced by Sven Huseby of Niijii Films.

Lucky for me, the film is making the rounds to San Francisco and although I have to check my schedule, I do believe there’s a slot available to make one of the showings.  I encourage you to mark your calendars and attend a screening as well…perhaps we’ll even have a chance to meet in person, have an ocean conversation, and enjoy this award winning documentary with other ocean conservationists.

A Sea Change:  Imagine the World without Fish
Wednesday, January 26th 2011 6:00 PM
Saturday, January 29th 2011 2:00 PM
San Francisco Public Library, Koret Theatre, Lower Level
100 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102


Best Green Film, Kosovo International Documentary Film Festival; Grand Prize, Feature Documentary, FICA International Environmental Film Festival; Dumosa Award for Best Coastal Film, Cottonwood Environmental Film Festival; Best Nordic Country Film, Polar Film Festival; Aloha Accolade Award, Honolulu International Film Festival

For more information about the film, visit

For screening details click here

Video: Dolphin protects pup from shark attacks

Posted by Scott A. On November - 5 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

Censorship?  I wish I could say “Get the hell outa here” but we are living in the real world after all.  And when that rock is an ocean world and millions of dollars are at stake from the harvesting slaughter of cetaceans it is damn obvious why “severe” reporting restrictions have been placed on a meeting between Taiji leaders and ocean activists at the behest of the Japanese mayor.

“There’s no compromise to be made. There will be no stopping of our activities until the harassment, capture and slaughter of both dolphins and whales on this planet ends,” said Sea Shepherd member Scott West (AP).

On November 1st, Ric O’Barry, The Cove, released a Statement of Non-Participation on his blog, Save Japan Dolphins, and went on to say that he had intended to have a constructive discussion:

“I was expecting and looking forward to a frank dialogue on how the dolphin hunt and the sale of toxic mercury-contaminated dolphin meat to the Japanese public can be terminated, while guaranteeing the financial livelihoods of the Taiji dolphin fishermen and their families.” (Read the entire post)

But even after the Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan went on the record recently by saying, “We must stop this great extinction in our lifetime” and the government pledging $2 billion to help other nations reach species-preservation goals, the Associated Press highlighted what I thought was pure irony:

In Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku told a news conference that dolphin hunting “is part of Japan’s long-held cultural tradition.”

So if I understand correctly, Japan is willing to pay for other nations to get on board with marine species protection but to do so at home would literally break a bloody tradition. To that I can only say traditions are meant to be broken!

I urge you to support Earth Island Institute and  Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project.

Associated Press Article: Japan dolphin hunt town meets with activists

Photo credit:

Happy Halloween: Ocean style!

Posted by Scott A. On October - 31 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

$2 billion bribe to slaughter dolphins, harpoon whales

Posted by Scott A. On October - 28 - 20101 COMMENT

Oh the ocean conservation irony!  Well, things are certainly on a roll in terms of paradoxes hitting the headlines over the last couple of days, but this time it’s not about underfishing.  My intuition says there’s a payoff in the works; perhaps some good PR, maybe a few feel good dollars to hopefully get the world to close their eyes, or perchance it is simply a BRIBE…a $2 billion dollar dolphin slaughter, whaling kickback if you will.

According to a report by the Associated Press, Japan (the country harpooning whales for “scientific research”) has pledged $2 billion dollars to:

“…help developing nations reach species-preserving goals that are being debated at a U.N. conference…”

Wow!  I know what you’re thinking, “How could this offer by the great whaling nation get any more poignant?”  No worries as I have a quote that will make you realize the country permitting the butchering of dolphins is gung-ho for marine conservation.

“We must stop this great extinction in our lifetime,” Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said at the conference in Nagoya, southwest of Tokyo.

Hmmm, profound indeed and glad to see Japan is committed to preserving whales, dolphins, tuna, etc.  Now I’ll remove my tongue from my cheek and continue on with my day knowing our oceans are in good chopsticks hands.

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