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.

Imagine an Amazon.com of sustainable seafood.  It would have an impressive variety of fare, from clams and oysters to crabs, ling cod, and salmon.  It would be available 24 hrs a day, with delivery direct to your door, all with the simple click of the button. And now, consider that with every delivery, and every bite, you could take pride in directly supporting fishers who are supporting the environment.

Welcome to the world of i love blue sea, an online marketplace providing sustainable seafood sourced directly from fishers, vetted for quality, reliability, and responsibility.

It’s a simple idea turned into an effective business by “fishermen, surfers, dreamers, foodies and entrepreneurs,” as they claim on their website.  Based on Fisherman’s Wharf, SF, these guys and gals have opened up a whole new channel for funneling sustainable seafood into the hands and bellies of seafood lovers around the country.  It’s another example of how entrepreneurship can help turn the tide on a drowning seafood industry—an proof that profit and sustainability can go hand in hand, or at least, hook and hand.

I only stumbled across the website recently, on a hunt for numbers on how many oysters Americans consumed a year.  Their site was noted for the variety of oysters they provide, and I was impressed by the diversity of their selections across the board.  I plan to investigate further, wanting to learn more about how they manage to provide free shipping, while giving better prices to fishers and better quality (and conscience) to customers.  But, from the looks of it, i love blue sea is serving as an honest link in a far more simplified chain, connecting consumer with producer, feaster with fisher.

A virtual marketplace for seafood that benefits the sea, the foodies, and the fisher? I think this could be love.

Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina. Photo by pclvv

Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina. Photo by pclvv


Sometimes, the best answer to a question really is another question.  I’m convinced that this is the case when faced with the common query these days:

“What is the one thing you recommend I should do to help stop climate change?”

It’s a fair question. And it often follows from presentations or events where a certain effect of climate change has been brought into focus. Such was the case during a question and answer session at the Waimea Film Festival, with Chasing Ice Director Jeff Orlowski and producer Paula DuPré Pesmen.  But, instead of stumbling through the familiar “top ten” list of things people can do, Orlowski responded, “I don’t know. It depends on you—and I don’t know you. To answer your question, I need to know: what are you good at?”

At first, this response might seem a dodge, or at the least, frustrating, for someone who just wants to be given a simple answer.  And there is some risk that in providing a response that requires some thought, we may dilute the participation levels of the crowds.  “People are too busy to think about it…just tell them what to do” is a common sentiment.

But, Pesmen and Orlowski provided a compelling argument for why that approach just doesn’t make sense:  it all comes down to passion.  Each one of us has our own interests, our own skill sets that we can bring to the table. And when we act based on those, we tend to follow through and have more impact. When it comes to Climate Change, the solution just requires each of us do SOMETHING.  The technology is there. The economics are there. What is preventing sound action on Climate Change is political will. And to create that, we need a massive shift in public engagement in the issue. We need everyone who is “too busy” to become engaged—to show that this is something that they care about.

The best way to make that happen is to encourage individuals to do something that draws from their own interest, their own skills, their own personal passion.

So, if you are an artist, paint. If you are an activist, create a demonstration. If you are a stay-at-home mom, teach your kids about energy saving and share your lessons with fellow moms. If you are good at writing, help organizations create editorials for the local paper. If you commute, start a carpool.  Each and every one of those things matters. Each shows a shift in public consciousness and values.

Orlowski used his talents as a filmmaker to create a documentary. Pesmen used her talents as a producer to move the film onto a larger stage.  The folks with the Crochet Coral Reefs project used their love of crocheting to raise awareness. The question is: what will you choose to do?

The Chasing Ice website has a “Make a Difference” section that provides both simple, concrete steps and more open-ended suggestions for how we can all make a difference.  The Learn section includes links to many fantastic resources and organizations that can serve as launch pads for your own interest. It’s a great place to start. But remember, there is no silver bullet to solve this. Let the answer to the question reflect your own colorful flare. Whatever your passion, make that your action. That’s the way to create true change.

Message in a Bottle Frontside: interactive chalkboard where people write their wish for the ocean. by Brazenworks.

Message in a Bottle Frontside: interactive chalkboard where people write their wish for the ocean. Renderings by Brazenworks.

I was recently asked to serve as a science advisor for an extremely cool public art project called Message in a Bottle. The project is still pending approval, but is part of a group of proposals by designers, techies, and artists to help raise public awareness of ocean issues through art.

Funded by Blue Trail, this initiative will take advantage of the crowds drawn to SF for this year’s America’s Cup by installing several temporary, interactive art projects along the main walkways where the Cup festivities will be centered. I had never heard of Blue Trail before and am really excited to see the work they are doing to foster “Imagination + Innovation for Ocean Sustainability.”

And I have been absolutely blown away by the talents of “Team Peepshow”, the brilliance behind what I think is by far the BEST project proposed (OK, so I am biased. What do you think, having viewed the other contenders?)

Message in a Bottle: backside cabinet of curiosities for people to explore

Message in a Bottle: backside cabinet of curiosities for people to explore. By Brazenworks.

To have the opportunity to think creatively and work as part of a multidisciplinary team to accomplish bold, beautiful messages that can truly create impact—well, that is just about the best kind of “work” I can imagine. As a scientist, there is nothing more fun than sharing my knowledge and watching it become transformed into a cabinet of curios.

Message in a Bottle Backside: cabinets to be filled with ocean curios and facts to intrigue and inspire. Rendering by Brazenworks.

Message in a Bottle Backside: cabinets to be filled with ocean curios and facts to intrigue and inspire. Rendering by Brazenworks.

I am humbled by the extreme expertise and amazing caliber of design and execution that Brazenworks and the entire team put forth. (How did they make the bottle look so real, so already there??!!) Thank you, Heidi Q. for inviting me on board this journey. Projects like this restore my faith in people as a force for good (and beauty) on the planet. This is one bottle the oceans will benefit from having come to life.

Working With Fishermen to Keep Them Fishing for the Future

Great news on TNC’s innovative program to help fishers continue to fish, and do so sustainably, into the future. By working with the fishery, rather than pushing against it, TNC is using novel market incentives to affect positive change from within.  Read more about the history of the program here.