I start this week out with renewed optimism and enthusiasm about the future of ocean sciences for several reasons. First, I’ll start by congratulating the winners of our 20th annual National Ocean Sciences Bowl Finals…first time national champs Santa Monica High School! I salute all the competitors – from new faces, like the first team from Arkansas to compete at Finals (Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts) to a team that competed at 10 of the 20 Finals (Virginia’s Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School). I was astounded by the intelligence, dedication, and spirit of these young scholars. In addition to the competition, the students also had an opportunity to learn of future career paths, hear from experts in the field, and explore unique ocean venues on field trips. Thanks to all our speakers, career mentors, field trip supporters, judges, volunteers, and especially our hosts at Oregon State University for their role in making the 20th NOSB Finals such a success. You can read more details about the weekend (including who won the James D. Watkins Sportsmanship Award and the Science Expert Briefing portion of the competition here). I already find myself looking forward to the 21st NOSB Finals next year, which will be in Boulder, Colorado.
Riding high on my enthusiasm from the competition, I headed up the coast to visit COL member institution, the University of Washington. UW houses an amazing ocean science and technology program, with a unique combination of undergraduate and graduate studies as well as impressive research programs and facilities (including the R/V Thomas G. Thompson and the Cabled Array that is part of the OOI program we manage for NSF). My thanks to all the faculty, program managers, and especially students who shared their research and science passion with me.
After a red-eye flight back to D.C (made slightly better than most red-eye flights due to the inspiring events of the previous week), I was able to attend part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s 87th Ocean Studies Board Meeting, where I also moderated a panel that included incredibly bright staffers for senators who are part of the Senate Oceans Caucus. The bipartisan recognition of the extreme importance of ocean science and technology by these devoted individuals and congressional leaders they support was quite evident and encouraging – you can read more details below [link to story].
In conjunction with the OSB meeting, I closed out the day (and the fortnight) at the Roger Revelle lecture in D.C. by Dr. Dawn Wright of ESRI and Oregon State University (again!) – both members of COL! Dr. Wright mesmerized me with her insights into how scientists are just beginning to consider how dynamic and static ocean data that is geospatially and temporally fused. This enables them to rapidly access, analyze, and present information like never before, representing as much of a shift in the mapping of ocean data as did the advent of GPS and electronic charting over sextants and paper charts that I used when I first went to sea … not that long ago.
So yes, I am renewed and inspired, by the incredible people, technology, and institutions that are all associated with our Consortium and our ocean’s future, which does indeed seem a bit brighter on this first day of May.
RADM Jonathan W. White, USN (ret.)
President and CEO
Consortium for Ocean Leadership
Turtle Power: Endangered Species Spawn On Florida Beaches
Once May rolls around, mama sea turtles will make their way to Sarasota County for nesting season. They arrive quietly in the wee hours, so chances are, you will never even notice them. That said, it may come as a surprise that Sarasota County has the highest density of turtle nests on the Gulf Coast, hosting up to 6,000 nests a year, and the east coast of Florida hosts up to 40,000. Even more impressive, Florida’s beaches host the largest aggregation of nesting loggerheads in the world. Seeing hatchlings emerge from the nest is an amazing experience. “You can’t even count them all as they pour from the nest and make their way to the ocean without a care in the world, just the instinct to follow the light,” says Kristen Mazzarella, a biologist with Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium.