Category Archives: News

It’s World Oceans Day!

Happy World Oceans Day! The ocean brings us all together, it can teach us, it can heal us, it can inspire us, it can entertain us, and it can protect us, but it turn, we need to love our ocean back. Unfortunately, we are in a place in society where our monetary desires have come before valuing the health of our planet and our ocean. Today is a day reserved to cherish and celebrate our blue planet while combining international efforts to preserve this amazing ecosystem and resource.

Roughly 71% of our Earth’s surface is covered in water and it contributes limitless resources toward our survival and wellbeing. Most importantly, the ocean is the major contributor of the oxygen that we need to breath every second (70%). Phytoplankton and algae are continuously producing more than double the amount of oxygen that comes from our terrestrial plants and without it, we would be hurting. The ocean also keeps our atmosphere clean; it stores the majority of Carbon Dioxide and other harmful gases that contribute to the depletion of our ozone layer. Aside from making the air that we breathe, the ocean provides us with many of the chemicals and pharmaceuticals that heal us when we are sick. It also keeps us healthy in sustaining us by cleaning the water we drink and supplying us with nutrients in food. Unlimited benefits can be sourced back to the big blue and we owe it to the ocean to give back.

Today on World Oceans Day, be aware that YOU can be the change that helps our oceans rebound from the damage that we, as a society have inflicted.

According to the World Oceans Day foundation, we can all contribute to the cause by following these steps:

  • Change Perspective– Discuss the ocean with your friends and family, see what their knowledge of the ocean is and how they perceive our impacts.
  • Learn– Research and discover the wonders of the blue and consider how we can change our behavior and benefit our oceans for a better future.
  • Change Our Ways– It isn’t as hard as you think to change your individual influence on the ocean. If you are aware, participate in your community, and inspire others to do the same, your actions will be felt for years to come.
  • Celebrate– Spend time at the beach and in the water, enjoy what the ocean has to offer and celebrate it! Even if you are far from the ocean, you still benefit from the ocean’s bounty; be aware and be thankful.

Happy World Oceans Day!

http://www.worldoceansday.org/

https://www.nationalgeographic.org/activity/save-the-plankton-breathe-freely/

Hydrothermal Vents

Life was once thought to be completely dependent upon our closest star, the sun. Even in the deep, dark depths of the ocean where no light penetrates, organisms ultimately rely on the productivity from the sun-bright shallows above for their food. In 1977, scientists discovered that this belief was wrong. At the bottom of the Pacific ocean, near the Galapagos Islands, a team tasked with photographing the Galapagos rift found something no one thought was possible. An abundance of life. An area that was thought to be akin to a desert now resembled a rainforest. How was this possible? 

hydrothermal Chemosynthesis. When orghydrothermal ventsanisms use energy from chemical reactions to create food. These chemical reactions are spewing from the ocean floor—from hydrothermal vents.  A hydrothermal vent is a fissure, or a crack in the planet’s surface. The vents are created when seawater meets magma. As the cold seawater is heated by magma a series of chemical processes take place. The water becomes acidic and metals begin to leach from rocks, as this new fluid rises and reaches the ocean—cold and oxygen laden—once more, chemical reactions quickly begin to occur and create compounds like hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide. These compounds are absorbed by bacteria who then use them to chemosynthesize. These bacteria are the base of the food chain for the hydrothermal vent ecosystem. Mussels, clams, giant tube worms, and crabs flourish here. 

hydrothermal vent

 

The latest data from NOAA explains that there are potentially 550 hydrothermal vent sites around the world. Only 5% of the ocean’s floor has been mapped—who know what else we might find down there.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtFFmDGIsa4

https://www.whoi.edu/main/topic/hydrothermal-vents

World Penguin Day

Although Wednesday, April 25th is officially World Penguin Day, it’s never a bad day to celebrate these charismatic flightless birds! Penguins’ distinct waddle, fluffy feathers, and stout body shape make them one of the most objectively adorable animals on our planet. But they aren’t just cuddly organisms. On the contrary, they are efficient predators and are resilient in the face of some of the most challenging climates on earth.

Out of the 17 species in the penguin family, one of the most well-known is the Emperor Penguin. The largest of all penguins, Emperors live year-round in arguably the most unforgiving environment on our planet: the Antarctic. To survive in temperatures as low as -76°F, Emperors live socially, partitioning duties to ensure the continuity of their species. After laying a single egg, females will embark on a two-month journey in search of prey. During their hunting trip, these females will dive down to 1,850 feet for as long as 20 minutes in search of fish, squid and krill. They are aided by their dense bones and stiff flippers, which make flying impossible, but allow the Emperors to dive and swim with high efficiency. Meanwhile, males of the flock remain huddled together for warmth, carefully protecting their female’s egg. These males will rotate through outer and inner positions in the flock, allowing some to warm up in the middle while others bear the brunt of the cold in the outer flanks. Upon the females’ return, they will regurgitate food for their newborn chicks, and the males will swap out, now having their chance to take to the ocean in search of food. Without the cooperative tendencies that Emperor Penguins have developed over thousands of evolutionary years, their species would be long gone in such a trying environment.
Penguin

While Emperors tough out long winters in the Antarctic, every other species of penguin either leaves during the coldest months, or simply occupies a milder climate year-round. The smallest of all penguins, reaching an average of 13 inches in height, is the Little Blue Penguin, which can be found along the coasts of Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania. Unlike the Emperor Penguin, Little Blues dive in short spurts of about 35 seconds at a time, reaching a maximum depth of 230 feet. But although Little Blues are small, they are mighty. Little Blues have been known to escape from their primary natural predators: skuas, gulls, and sheathbills. Unfortunately, human-sustained predators like rats, dogs, and cats have taken their toll on Little Blue numbers.

Anthropogenic threats to penguins don’t end with predation on Little Blues. Perhaps the most imposing issue for these flightless birds is global climate change. As air and water temperatures warm in the Antarctic, vital ice sheet breeding grounds that Emperor and Adelie penguins need are melting away. A study conducted by the World Wildlife Foundation in 2008 predicted that in 40 years, 50% of Emperor penguins could be wiped out due to the impacts of climate change.
Penguin Day

So, what can you do to help out our feathery friends on the other side of the globe? Well, start by celebrating World Penguin Day! Then, think of ways that you can reduce your carbon footprint in order to slow global climate change. Maybe try biking to your friend’s house instead of catching a ride, or reducing the amount of meat you eat! Any little effort helps, because just like the Emperor penguin, if we all work together, we can ensure the continuity of an entire species!

Sources:

https://www.bas.ac.uk/about/antarctica/wildlife/penguins/

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/e/emperor-penguin/

http://www.penguins-world.com/little-blue-penguin/

https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/penguin

Full Moon and the Tide

 Picture this: A crab scuttles into a damp rock crevice.
Snails chug along rock faces, secretings mucus along the way.
Barnacles, glued in place, retreat into their protective shells.
An aggregation of anemone’s grab little pebbles with their tentacles. Hugging them close. All in an attempt to retain moisture and avoid desiccation — these critters all call the intertidal zone their home.
In other words, they are all reliant on the ocean’s tides: the daily rise and fall of the sea’s surface.
These organisms have all developed unique adaptations to help them deal with air exposure for several hours in a given day. Lucky for them, tides are predictable. In simple terms, tides are predicted by our understanding of the lunar cycle. The gravitational pull between the sun and the moon, and consequently its affect on the ocean, is dependent on positioning. When the moon is full, the orientation of the sun, the earth, and the moon look like this:
Moon tides
They are aligned with one another. This is when gravitational pull is at its strongest and causes the oceans to bulge. Right after a full moon the difference in height between a consecutive high and low tide, called a tidal range, is at its greatest. Another phrase for this effect is called a spring tide.
moon tides 1

Sunrise and Shine!

If you have ever seen a sunrise or sunset then you can appreciate the beauty of seeing the sun peek over the horizon at 6 am or fall under the horizon at 6 pm. The peace and serenity of these moments allow us to see the sun in a whole new light then during the middle of the day. Sunrises and sunsets are characterized by seeing blazing red and orange colors filling the sky compared to the blue sky that we are so familiar with. Today we are going to explain why the sky in the early morning and evening is just so darn beautiful!

First off, let’s explain why the sky is normally blue in the first place. The sun produces the light that we see during the day, as the sun passes through our atmosphere it encounters many gasses that it bounces off of. In the electromagnetic spectrum of the visible light that we can see, think ROYGBIV, the colors span from red that has the longest wavelength to blue and violet which has the shortest wavelength. As the light that we see passes through our atmosphere blue light reflects off of the molecules of gas that fills our sky. Furthermore, when blue light is reflected it is then portrayed in the sky and produces the sky blue we see every day. Red light has a much longer wavelength and is thus able to pass right through the gasses. This phenomenon is called Rayleigh Scattering which also explains why the sun is yellow in our sky.

sunrise

Now, how about the red color you get from sunrises and sunsets! Well in the middle of the day the path for the light to reach us is short and therefore only blue light is reflected and is seen. But at dawn and dusk the path for the light to travel is much longer and has to pass through much more air causing the blue light to be completely scattered. This allows red and orange light to make it through because of that large wavelength. If there are clouds on the horizon then you get an even more beautiful setting as they can reflect the red and orange light as well.

sunrise 1

Another reason why you could get glorious sunrises and sunsets are from the presence of natural and manmade aerosols in the atmosphere. Aerosols are solid or liquid particles in the sky that come from natural sources such as forest fires or volcanic eruptions or from manmade sources like pollution. These aerosols provide for the very dramatic bright red sunrises and sunsets that one would see over a large city such as Los Angeles!

All in all, the phenomenon called Rayleigh Scattering is responsible for the beauty of the sky both the blue in the middle of the day and the red and orange at dawn and dusk. Natural and manmade aerosols are also responsible for brilliant sunsets and sunrises. Now all you have to do to enjoy these sunrises is to wake up early enough!

Sources:

http://earthsky.org/earth/beautiful-sunrises-and-sunsets

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fact-or-fiction-smog-creates-beautiful-sunsets/

Diatomaceous Earth

All of you know what earth is. Many of you know what phytoplankton are. Some of you know what a diatom is. But what in the world is diatomaceous earth?! First, let’s define what the “diatom” in diatomaceous earth means: diatoms are microscopic phytoplankton, which are incredibly common in all bodies of water. This plankton has been an important part of the food chain and the earth for millions of years! When prehistoric diatoms would die, they would fall to the bottom of their habitats, be it rivers, lakes, oceans, or ponds. Diatom cell walls are made up of silica, and after millions of years of these little guys stacking up on each other, they formed white, chalky, silica deposits that we call diatomaceous earth.

Diatomaceous Earth

On Catalina Island, we have these silica deposits located in some of our trails! In fact, if you have ever hiked our shrine loop, you can see some right from the trail. To look for diatomaceous earth, just look for white rock that is chalky and crumbly. This means that the land that you are hiking on was once underwater and surrounded by tiny phytoplankton! Whoa!

Now that we know what diatomaceous earth looks like, let’s learn about some of its uses. Scientifically speaking, it is amazing evidence that many islands came from the ocean and is a great indicator of how productive and nutrient-rich the oceans were at the time that these islands were formed. Today, humans have found a multitude of uses for this algae-turned-stone. One popular use is as an alternative to pesticides to kill insect pests. Diatomaceous earth can be easily ground into a powder and used to dehydrate insects as it can soak up moisture and oils from the insects’ exoskeletons. Furthermore, we use it many beauty products such as face washes and toothpaste as it is abrasive and can gently scrape off dead skin and plaque. Amazingly, this ancient algae chalk is edible! Farmers feed food-quality diatomaceous earth to their cows and other animals to combat parasites. We can eat this stuff as well. In fact many bakers put it in their bread, as it helps to preserve the grain. Many believe that this stuff makes you live a longer life by cleansing your colon and ridding you of parasites too!

Diatomaceous Earth 1

All in all, diatomaceous earth is quite an incredible mineral. Millions of years ago this earthen material used to be alive and well, floating and producing oxygen in all the earth’s waters. Then when they died, they stacked up on each other and were transformed into an edible, bug killing, life lengthening rock that we can see on Catalina Island… how cool?!

For more:

 

Mine, All Mine! – The Mining Boom on Catalina Island

Keywords: 

Catalina Island has a very long and unique history, from the Native American peoples who lived on the island for thousands of years, to the European settlers of the 16th and 17th centuries, and even the movie stars of the mid 1900s. One brief part of Catalina’s history that is often overlooked is the mining boom of the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Mining 1

Catalina had a brief mining rush that actually predates the California Gold rush. In the 1830s, a sea otter hunter and fur trapper named George C. Yount claimed to have discovered gold-bearing quartz in the hills of the Cherry Valley cove. Most people at the time didn’t take the discovery as lightly as Mr. Yount: he only returned to Catalina three times in search of gold, but news of his discovery eventually led to a mining boom on the island.

Mining 2

George C. Yount, or should we say… “The Goldfather?”

Many prospectors flocked to Catalina in search of riches, and found it quite easy to stake a claim and squat on the mostly-uninhabited island. The chances of striking a motherlode on Catalina seemed high, with many prospectors finding traces of silver and hoping it would lead them to a vein. Unfortunately for most miners, there weren’t any veins of pure silver ore, but instead major deposits of galena, which is a combination of Lead, Zinc, and Silver.

Mining 3

A combination of galena (silver) and quartz (white), a likely find in a mine like Black Jack (MineralsBulgaria.com)

Galena itself did have some value, but not to the average prospector — and the mining boom on Catalina faded fairly quickly. Some mines on Catalina continued to operate throughout the years, mining for galena at places such as Black Jack Mountain and Silver Peak, the second and third highest points on the island.

The name Black Jack itself comes from another mineral that is usually found in association with galena, sphalerite. The nickname “black jack” comes from the dark appearance of this “junk” mineral that was often found attached to more valuable lead ores.

Mining 4

Galena with sphalerite (zinc sulfide or “black jack”), quartz, and pyrite (Minfind.com)

Mining 5

When the stock market crashed in the 1920s and the Great Depression hit the United States, the last of the mining operations ceased and mining on the island disappeared, leaving nothing except for a few holes in the ground as evidence of the Catalina boom.

Mining 6

If Penguins have wings, why can’t they fly?

Penguins are an interesting species of bird that are found in the southern hemisphere of our planet. There are around 17 different types of penguins, and these species are all non-flying. They have a semi-aquatic lifestyle and several characteristics that are very different than other types of birds we commonly know. While other birds have adapted wings for flying, penguins have adapted flipper-like wings to help them swim through the water.

Penguins 1

A large group of penguins in the water is called a “raft” and a large group on land is called a “waddle.”

A penguin’s body is constructed perfectly for aquatic life. They have long, streamlined bodies that help propel them through the water. They spend around 75-80% of their life in the ocean, but will mate, lay eggs and rest on land. Spending this much time in the water puts penguins at a high risk for predators, such as the leopard seal. Penguins’ wings play an essential role in helping them to escape from predators in the water, but not so much on land. This is because there are several differences between birds that use their wings for flight and our non-flying penguin friends.

Many flying bird’s wings are constructed of delicate, lightweight bones that help to lift the bird off the ground to reach flight. However, some species of birds such as the penguin, ostrich, and emu have heavy solid bones that make it harder for them to stay in the air. A penguin’s wings are designed perfectly however for gliding through water. They are often referred to as flippers because of their shape. The wings are super stiff and penguins can actually rotate them in different directions at the same time! This helps them act as the perfect paddle to help catch their prey. They can even reach speeds of up to 22 mph and some species can hold their breath for as long as 20 minutes!

Penguins 2

A penguin using its wings as flippers to glide through the water!

Some scientists believe that a penguin’s inability to fly comes from where they are located. Since penguins have always lived near water millions of years ago, they had to rely upon the ocean for their source of food. Over time they adapted to become more so an aquatic bird, exchanging true wings for “flippers”. Other scientists suggest that getting off the ground took too much effort for a bird that spent so much time in the water. They have over time adapted to their surroundings and decided to become expert swimmers instead of flyers.

Written by: Brooke Fox

References:

www.animalanswers.co.uk

www.wonderopolis.org

www.news.nationalgeographic.com

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Earth Day!

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Earth Day Hands

The earth is in our hands! Let’s do our best to preserve its natural resources and help protect the environment for generations to come.

Here at CIMI we are super excited to celebrate Earth Day. Earth Day is an annual event celebrated worldwide every year on the 22nd of April. This day was created to help celebrate our planet’s environment and to raise public awareness about pollution, waste, and damage to plants, animals, and ecosystems. Every year on this day, people gather to hold conferences, attend rallies, and participate in a wide range of outdoor projects and activities to help better our planet.

Earth Day Green

It’s easy to believe that one person’s efforts don’t matter, but if we all made some small changes in our daily lives, then we could make a huge difference! You can start by GOING GREEN! Going green means to practice lifestyle habits that lead to more environmentally friendly and sustainable decisions. By going green, you can take baby steps that help minimize harm to the environment and help preserve our natural resources. Over time, these “baby steps” will eventually become a no-brainer lifestyle habit, helping to make our world a better place. We can practice going green by reducing pollution, conserving energy, reducing consumption and waste, and helping to protect our earth’s ecological balance. Here are some fun and easy things you can do to help make a difference and participate in this year’s Earth Day!

Earth Day compost

Recycling and composting! Don’t need that old food that you forgot about in the back of your fridge anymore? Or how about those plastic milk jugs and glass bottles stored in your closet? Think twice before throwing away anything into a dumpster! Most items that can be recycled eventually end up in landfills. Landfills can cause serious pollution problems to the environment by contaminating the groundwater and soil around it. So let’s think before we throw something away. Can it be composted, can it be recycled, or can it be re-used? Let’s not be so trashy and reduce the amount of waste we produce!

Earth Day Water

Conserving water! Our world’s oceans are full of saltwater and cover more than 70% of our planet’s surface. Yet freshwater is hard to come by and is one of our planet’s most valuable resources! Around 783 million people worldwide do not have access to clean fresh water. One way that you can help do your part is to make sure there are no leaky faucets in your home. A leaky faucet that drips at a rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons in one year! You can also cut down on how long you shower for and simply turn off the water when brushing your teeth.

Earth Day light

Conserving energy! Saving energy is always a plus, but saving money along with it is an extra bonus! You can help to save energy by turning lights off when you leave a room, and by washing clothes in cold water whenever possible. Unplugging your appliances when you are not using them is also an easy way to help save energy, and dollars.

Walking to work! Want to be fit and help out the planet at the same time?! If your work isn’t far from home, try biking or walking there once a week instead of driving. Using less gas means you save more money and help to protect the air and offset climate change. You also get the benefit of healthy exercise and can reduce your risk of obesity.

Earth Day Food

Reducing meat consumption! One other health challenge you can try is adding one meatless meal to your diet a week. Meat typically costs more at the store than our fruit/veggie alternatives and it’s even more expensive when considering the environmental and health costs. Water usage for livestock in general is much higher than water usage needed for vegetables and grains.

Earth Day Hug

This Earth Day, hug a tree (it’s proven to be good for you!), connect with nature, stand up for science, pick up trash, take a breath of fresh air, and stop to enjoy everything this beautiful world has to offer. Try to incorporate some of the lifestyle choices listed above in your day, and enjoy the fact knowing that you are making a difference. Although Earth day is only one day of the year, the movement itself can make a huge impact! Challenge yourself to help conserve our natural resources and spread awareness about our environmental and climate changes year round!

References:

www.earthday.org

www.care2.com

www.meatlessmondays.com

www.eia.gov

Written By: Brooke Fox

Images:

  1. Earth hands: Clipartfest.com
  2. Go green: Clipartfest.com
  3. Recycling chart: Vassar Sustainability
  4. Water conservation: Emaze
  5. Light switch: Nilza
  6. Walk bike: Greatist
  7. Veggie heart: Getstronghealth.com
  8. Tree hug: Shutterstock

Happy Manatee Appreciation Day!

Manatee Appreciation Day is a day devoted solely to raising awareness about these marine mammals. Once on the endangered list, the manatee is now severely threatened. But what makes manatees threatened in the first place, and what exactly are these creatures? The manatee is a very large, fully aquatic, marine mammal. They are commonly called sea cows because of their resemblance to cows on land. Unfortunately, the water is too cold here in California for manatees to live, but they enjoy living in warm tropical waters, like off the coast of Florida! They are slow plant-eaters and often graze on vegetation that grows in the water. They can reach up to over 1,000 pounds eating this vegetation, and can reach lengths of up to nine feet! Manatees spend about 50% of their day sleeping submerged underwater and surface only to take in a breath of air. They can hold their breath for approximately twenty minutes, but tend to surface every few minutes for air.These mammals are threatened due to habitat loss, boat collisions, and becoming entangled in fishing lines. Habitat loss in many coastal areas is one of the most significant reasons for decline in manatee populations. This is because there has been a lot of damage to marine vegetation, which manatees depend on for food. In the United States alone, there are said to be only around 3,000 manatees left in the wild.

Manatees at Florida power plant

A group of manatees is called an “aggregation.”

Boat collisions are another huge reason that manatee populations are suffering. Manatees are slow-moving animals, typically cruising around at speeds between three and five miles per hour. Fast moving boats may not be able to slow down or stop before colliding with a manatee, therefore, many areas have done their best to reduce boat speeds to protect these gentle giants. In many of these cases, manatees die from their injuries that are associated with these collisions.

A Florida manatee swimming near a boat’s propeller.

Manatees frequently become entangled in fishing line, which is another reason these animals are threatened. Fishing lines, hooks, and nets can easily become attached to the animal, causing them to get an infection. Entanglement can also cause manatees to drown, leaving them to be pulled under the surface, unable to get a breath of air.

So what can we do to help? If you live near bodies of water that have manatees in them, always be cautious. When driving boats through manatee zones, BE ALERT! Always obey the speed zones and remember that these sea cows could be coming up to the surface to breathe at any time. When near water that manatees could be in, do not feed or approach them. This could get them more used to humans, which in return could be harmful to their health. Something else we can do not only for manatees, but also for marine life all around us, it to pick up trash whenever we see it. This habit could save so many of our favorite marine friends’ lives! You can also celebrate Manatee Appreciation day by telling a friend or sharing this blog! Lets help spread awareness about our favorite type of cow… obviously, the sea cow!

Manatee pair

Don’t forget to Celebrate Manatee Appreciation Day just like these two happy manatees!

Written By: Brooke Fox

 

For more, check out:

https://humanesociety.org/issues/help_manatees.html

https://defenders.org/florida-manatee/how-you-can-help

https://savethemanatee.org

https://thewinterdolphinchronicles.wordpress.com

WECOME TO THE CIMI BLOG

We would like to thank you for visiting our blog. Catalina Island Marine Institute is a hands-on marine science program with an emphasis on ocean exploration. Our classes and activities are designed to inspire students toward future success in their academic and personal pursuits. This blog is intended to provide you with up-to-date news and information about our camp programs, as well as current science and ocean happenings. This blog has been created by our staff who have at least a Bachelors Degree usually in marine science or related subjects. We encourage you to also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, and Vine to see even more of our interesting science and ocean information. Feel free to leave comments, questions, or share our blog with others. Please visit www.cimi.org for additional information. Happy Reading!

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