It’s been quiet over here at the Ocean Lorax, but not for lack of good ideas and good work that continues to go on to save the seas. Below are two recent talks by extremely talented and smart colleagues of mine—Dr. Ayana Johnson and Dr. Kristen Marhaver— that provide some food for thought when it comes to ocean conservation. Ideas such as “Ocean conservation isn’t about fish. It’s about people” and “Thinking on the big scale of societies and economies” are only two of the many shifts in perspective offered below. Dive in for some inspiration from great Women in Science.

Meanwhile, I’m continuing my focus on my book, SEX IN THE SEA.  I’m thrilled to announce that SEX IN THE SEA was selected as one of Amazon’s Best Science Books of 2016… check it out as a great holiday gift for all the water lovers, science nerds, and party-trivia fans on your holiday list this year!

Ayana Johnson discusses How to Use the Oceans without Using Them Up.



Aquaculture isn’t just about seafood anymore.  The future of sustainable aquaculture lies in farms that not only grow nutritious food, but also offer a robust business that serves multiple sectors of the economy while improving the environment.

“We’re talking about providing biofuel, organic fertilizer, and food while also restoring the environment.”

That’s how Bren Smith, founder of Thimble Island Oysters, summed up his big vision for saving oysters and the planet at a recent workshop put on by Future of Fish.

And how to do that?

Start farming seaweeds (or, as we science nerds call it, macroalgae) in addition to shellfish and/or fish.

It wasn’t the first time I heard this answer. The role of seaweed in saving the seas was something I had begun to think about over four years ago when I invited Stephen Cross to speak on a panel about how entrepreneurs could help save seafood and the sea.   His version of the multi-species model, Pacific SEA-lab in British Columbia, includes sablefish, mussels, sea cucumbers, oysters and kelp. Known as Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA), variations are springing up all over the globe, including a pilot study in the Bay of Fundy to test how mussels and kelp can benefit from (and help counter-act the negative effects of ) established salmon farms and an Israeli company call SeaOr Marine Enterprises that integrates seabream, seaweeds, and abalone.

The future of aquaculture is all about diversifying the products and spreading the risk for ocean farmers.  But the future of the planet is about creating businesses that can help, rather than harm, the ecosystem.  Farming seaweed alongside other marine species does both. It’s one of the opportunities the SOCAP13 Oceans track recently introduced to impact investors. And if that audience gets this big picture, it could really take things to the next level.

The rapid turnover rate of seaweed helps to balance out the slower-growing fish or shellfish, providing a harvestable crop that can help carry the farm when natural disasters (such as hurricane Sandy) or disease threaten the more sensitive species.

For example, Bren’s 300 sq ft plot can grow 24 tons of kelp every three to five months. If you are thinking “that’s a lot of sushi wrappers,” I agree. But kelp is far more versatile than that.  Adventurous and creative chefs are already concocting kelp ice cream, seaweed fettucine, and yes, a happy hour kelp cocktail.  But the use of kelp is not just in the food business.  This nutritious seaweed is also a source of biofuel, and its high nitrogen content makes it a great source of organic fertilizer.

As an investor, these farms offer the opportunity to invest in different sectors of the economy: seafood, agriculture (through fertilizers) and energy.

But, they do something else too.

Growing seaweeds helps to combat climate change and clean the water.  Kelp forests sequester more carbon dioxide than trees on land. This means IMTA farms can serve as a Blue Carbon source—a coastal habitat that stores carbon, helping to reduce the impact of climate change.   At the same time, shellfish and kelp both absorb nitrogen, reducing the effect of terrestrial run-off.  With carbon and nitrogen trading schemes already underway, IMTA ventures offer potential returns based on these environmental services, in addition to the products.

Dozens of IMTA research projects and already-established businesses are underway.  But, to move from pilot project to commercial farm, or from small-scale to large-scale operations, requires funds.  Bren recently turned to Kickstarter to generate the necessary funds to scale his operation (check out the link for a great video about his farm).  But investors can take it to the next level.  If they can see the multiple benefits and investment promise of IMTAs it could really change the financial playing field for ocean health.  I’m keeping my kelp fronds crossed that they do.

Got hip replacement,vaccinated,or heart valve? Thank #horseshoecrabs ur not dead &help keep their oceanic orgies thriving. #sexinthesea http://ow.ly/oQNVR

Failure. It happens whenever you take risks. And you’ve got to take risks to innovate. A theme I heard most powerfully presented by JK Rowling at her Harvard commencement speech a few years ago. Worth watching. It’s repeated now in the light of impact investing. Check it out #SOCAP13 plenaries live stream.Then follow up with Rowling: http://ow.ly/ox4Gb

Get a jump on how entrepreneurs, investors and yes, some scientists, are helping create a new paradigm for saving fish. http://ow.ly/ouCOX

Blogging for SOCAP13 Oceans track. Plenaries start today. The Ocean Track blog provides sneak peaks at what’s to come. http://ow.ly/owmbT #SOCAP13 #socent

Gearing up 4 my first SOCAP. R u attending? Don’t miss the OCEAN track and our morning breakfast talk sessions. http://ow.ly/ouCwG

New post up for my blog on Sex in the Sea: “50 Shades of Grunion Run.” Soft porn for grunions. If only they could read it (and buy the book)…


Thanks to Andy Leider for link to this fantastic article about how science journalists explain the inexplicable. Story, characters, and great analogies all in there. Simple formula, difficult execution. Inspired by those who master the craft, humbled in my own attempt to achieve it. http://ow.ly/omztl

Anglerfish by Group D Creative Collective

Anglerfish by Group D Creative Collective

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but really, most anglerfish are far from what one might consider beautiful. They are impressive, amazing looking fish, for sure, but “pretty”…that’s a stretch. Or at least it was. Group D Collective managed to create some enlightening and stunning renditions of these deep sea mamas (all the big anglerfish are gals, the males being but tiny little sacs of sperm stuck onto their sides) for the VIVID light festival in Sydney last summer.  Came across them while researching “dwarf males” for Sex In the Sea.  As they say in Australia, these really are “beauties, mate.”

Another example of how design and art can bring awareness to the lesser-known marine life that cruise the depths.