Inspire future young shoalers by supporting Acid Horizon

Have you heard about Acid Horizon? If you haven’t yet, there’s no time better than now.  Learn how you can help a group of our very own shoalers share an important and visually stunning message about one of the major threats facing our oceans (click here or like it on Facebook). First watch the video below and then read on.

Dr. Erik Cordes (Photo courtesy of Erik Cordes).

Dr. Erik Cordes with Alvin in the background (Photo courtesy of Erik Cordes).

Awesome right? Today we’re lucky to present an interview with Temple University Assistant Professor Dr. Erik Cordes, who specializes in the ecology of cold-seep and deep coral communities, about his work examining the impacts of ocean acidification. A Star Island Corporation Board Member, he’s enlisted the help of life-long Star Island friends Kurt Langer and Ivan Hurzeler to film his cruise in the Gulf of Mexico next April-May on the E/V Nautilus and the dives he’ll be making in the well-known deep sea submersible Alvin.

The dives will give him firsthand evidence on how the deep sea corals he studies have been able to better withstand the changing chemistry of the ocean. Now I know it’s hard to think about how ocean acidification might impact our time on Star Island. Dr. Cordes, who traces his love of the ocean to growing up on Star, explains:

Ocean acidification is going to impact everyone’s life in the near future, if it isn’t already. This past year saw the fewest young oysters settling in Washington state in history. In the Gulf of Maine, ocean acidification will result in increases in disease in lobsters. No one wants to see lobster night affected! (Except maybe some waitrae). The problem in the deep sea is that we are just beginning to understand just how connected it is to the surface.

But to get this message out (more from Dr. Cordes on ocean acidification below) and make the full-length film, they need our help raising funds. They’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign which has only 24 days left. (Kickstarter is a way independent artists fund their creative projects by reaching out to their own communities). As part of their campaign, the filmmaker’s shared with us this appeal to the Star Island community for your help:

A film like this has the potential to inspire young people (and future shoalers) to be better stewards of our oceans and the world’s climate. (The Sundance Film Festival agrees, recenty featuring it on their web site.) Just listen to how the film’s producer and Star Island Corporation Member Kurt Langer describes it:

This is a film we are very proud of because it not only informs the public about Ocean Acidification, but tells a riveting story about the perils of deep-sea exploration and what that means for the scientists and their families.  We will be capturing images from the abyss that no one has ever seen before, and at the same time we’ll be painting an intimate portrait of one of our fellow Shoalers.

Clearly the Star Island connection is very important to the filmmakers. Langer adds:

In a very real sense, this film is a product of Star Island.  All three of us (Erik, Ivan and myself) have been going out to Star since we were in kindergarten.  Our love of the ocean and our sense of responsibility for its well-being are values that we learned on Star.  We know that every Shoaler reading this feels the same sense of stewardship, and that’s what makes Star Island such a special community and unique backdrop for portions of our film.

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Why do gulls stare at their feet?

Ever wanted to know more about the research taking place over at the Shoal Marine Laboratory? Well, some of the work being done investigates the lives of animals which are ubiquitous on the Isles of Shoals.

Keith Mueller, who also runs the site New England Coastal Birds, reports that gulls he has tagged in Rhode Island actually travel quite widely. As he writes, one young bird named V57:

has traveled a long distance for its short life:  it was banded as a chick in July 2012 and was seen at Brownsville Municipal Landfill in Texas in February 2013, then in at Reeds Beach in Burleigh, NJ in May 2013, and now at Rosenhayn [near Deerfield, NJ].

Work studying the gulls at Appledore Island has taken place since 2004 when a bird banding project began. Lead by Dr. Julie Ellis, from Tufts University, it has an important aim. As she writes in her description of the research:

The overarching, long-term goals of this study are to understand the interactions between Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls, their population trends in the Gulf of Maine, and the effects that these two species have on coastal marine communities of New England.

You can follow the day-to-day findings and lives of the gulls on a blog about her research with the birds: The Gulls of Appledore Island. The bird bands look like this:

Bird Y30 in flight, showing off his band (Photo courtesy of Keith Mueller).

Bird Y30 in flight, showing off his band (Photo courtesy of Keith Mueller).

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