Friday, May 17, 2013

Off the coast

Back to basics... well at least my basics - The Deep Sea.

I know its been a while since I posted something on the deep sea. USAID and the international development world has been rather consuming. The deep sea rarely comes up in that context - though I did have a meeting with Marine Conservation Science Institute a couple of weeks ago. A smile swam across my face when I saw the East Pacific Rise as one of their 'Jewels'.

To the point... there's been a new discovery. I know... this happens all the time in the deep sea, but its a great reminder that we don't even know what's in our backyard.

A new seep was imaged and sampled in Baltimore Canyon earlier this month. Mussels extended as far as they could see -- admittedly from a submarine or ROV camera the field of view is limited by light. They even found sea urchins and sea cucumbers - yeah for echinoderms.

A lithodid crab seen on the mussel bed at 1,600 meters. Image courtesy of Deepwater Canyons 2013 - Pathways to the Abyss, NOAA-OER/BOEM/USGS
These oases of animals are found where methane, hydrogen sulfide or hydrocarbons seep out of the seafloor. The chemicals originate from deposits of ancient sea life... which in turns supports a new communities.

Few cold seeps are known along the eastern coast. The East Coast represents a dispersal challenge -- the larvae of many seep mussels are thought to spend time near the surface where the Gulf Stream could whisk them away. The usual dispersal/connectivities apply -- where do they come from and where do they go?

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center SESYNC

Where humans and environments intersect...
(c) David Lazar
And what a fun meeting place. SESYNC is the closest I'll get to a 'Google' work environment.  Breaks with cookies and soccer - perfect.  Better yet, in between the breaks, I got to work with amazing people on how a healthy marine environment and improved marine governance (aka Marine Protected Areas - MPAs) affect human health on national and a global scale.

This is what happens when big data from usually disconnected sources come together for a mash up. You get a bunch of nerds 'geeking out' in front of white boards.  Ah... white boards full of ideas, mechanisms, and data sources!!  So satisfying. 

If you'd like to learn more about our project, go to: