Two days after our return to land, we wanted to give the 2016 West Coast Ocean Acidification Cruise blog a final send-off (‘we’ being the Leg 2 at-sea bloggers Spencer, Meghan and Katie – aka ‘SMK’ – and shore-based editor Meg). It’s been an incredible experience to explore and learn along with the scientists on board, and we’ve greatly enjoyed sharing the experiences of this ship with you.
Parting thoughts from SMK: This cruise has been about documenting the changes in the chemistry of our ocean, and exploring how those changes are impacting marine life. What’s important to remember here is that these changes have been wrought by human activity. Our ceaseless combustion of fossil fuels is warming the planet and acidifying the oceans, and every choice you make impacts this process in one way or another. If you want to become more involved in the ongoing fight for the present and future health of our oceans, you can advocate for the creation of marine sanctuaries and protected areas, choose sustainable and locally-sourced foods, and use energy wisely. Everyone can play a part in the protection and conservation of our oceans. Let us know how you are participating in the comments section below.
Finally, we want to say “Thank You”. Thank you to our chief scientists, Dr. Simone Alin and Dr. Richard Feely, for ensuring that every blog post reflected NOAA’s commitment to understanding and stewardship of the environment. Thank you to Dr. Meg Chadsey, our on-shore editor, for coordinating with our outreach partners, finding useful links and photos, and giving invaluable advice and direction. Thank you to our outreach partners for helping spread the word about our efforts. Thank you to all the scientists and crew onboard who shared their research, thoughts, and poetry with us. Finally, thank you to all of our readers for joining us on this adventure. We hope you learned something!
Parting thoughts from Meg: People who have been at sea for a long time often speak of ‘land legs’ – a rocking sensation that persists for days after returning to solid land. I don’t know if there’s an equivalent term for blogging, but whatever it is, I’ve got it.
After so many weeks of round-the-clock communications with ‘SMK’ and Leg 1 coordinators Emma and Melissa; Chief Scientists Dick and Simone; and all of the other contributors, my email inbox feels a little lonely! Fortunately, my NOAA PMEL colleagues are already thinking about other topics and research missions that could sail under the WestCoastOA flag, so you’ll probably be hearing more from me in the future!
If you’ve been enlightened, entertained or amazed by the stories in this blog, I hope you’ll keep tuning in – there are so many other ‘fantastic voyages’ to follow. To highlight just a few: the NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center blogs; the National Ocean Service blogs; NOAA’s Teacher at Sea program; Climate.gov’s ENSO blog about the El Niño/La Niña cycle in tropical Pacific; NASA’s Earth Observatory blogs; and my latest favorite, the Ocean Exploration Trust’s Nautilus Live site (live broadcasts and archived footage from seafloor exploration–the April 2015 Rare Sperm Whale Encounter with an ROV episode in the ‘Highlights’ menu is not to be missed!).
If you’ve become hooked on ocean science, opportunities to learn more abound. Want to stay current with the latest ocean acidification research and policy developments? The Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre (OA-ICC) hosts a timely news stream and provides links to dozens of other resources. If your interests are more general, the NOAA Education Resources Ocean and Coasts page has something for you. NOAA’s Climate.gov website is an excellent source of science and information for a climate-smart nation. In the shameless plug department, there’s Washington Sea Grant, which offers a wealth of K-12 activities for budding marine enthusiasts, like NOAA Science Camp and ORCA Bowl (don’t live in the Pacific Northwest? Check with your regional NOAA office about local camps and programs; The Bridge will also point you towards marine education resources). Finally, I stumbled upon the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute’s terrific interactive Global Carbon Cycle website while searching for links for the ‘Alkalinity’ post, but hadn’t found a way to work it into the blog (until now 😉). This is just a start; get out there and explore!
If you’ve been inspired by the passionate concern our scientists have expressed about declining ocean health, I urge you to get engaged. The single most important thing any one person can do about acidification and other CO2-driven impacts on marine ecosystems is to speak up. Talk to your family, community and policy makers about these threats, and support those who seek to address them. To paraphrase the final panel in this cartoon, communicating your concern can be ‘surprisingly effective.’
Thank you for sailing with us. Until next time!