Oct 21, 2009

If it’s sustainable, shove it in your pie hole.

A few years ago, I was down in Key Largo, FL for a ROV conference. It wasn’t a huge gathering, so I met quite a few people because of the intimacy of it all. I met the former director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which was pretty rad. He had moved on to a smaller aquarium somewhere up in the northeast. He gave a presentation on the uses of the ROV for large and small aquariums. When he was still in California, they had an ROV at Monterey Bay for kids to explore the bay behind the building. He also mentioned that they used their little sub to retrieve dead bluefin and yellowfin tuna in one of their bigger tanks. He said they would use the grabber to hold on to the keel right behind the caudal fin, and then pull up the tether to bring the dead fish up to the surface. Crazy.

I love me some aquariums. I’ve wanted to visit Monterey Bay for a while now. I’d also like to visit Churaumi Aquarium in Okinawa, Japan. We just had some friends move to Okinawa, so it may be in the realm of possibility. Check it.

Not only does the Monterey Bay Aquarium provide attractions to the public, but they spearheaded the Seafood Watch program. Seafood Watch educates the public on sustainable seafood choices and raises consumer awareness about the importance of buying sustainably caught seafood. You can view the advisory list here. I’m pretty sure they have also an app for the iphone.

I just took a look at their sushi guide and I noticed that one of my favorite things to order was on the avoid list. Freshwater eel (unagi) is caught or farmed in a way that harms the environment. I never would have guessed. Even though I’ll die a little bit inside, I guess I’ll have to order something else.

Additionally, the Monterey Bay Aquarium just released a benchmark research report about the state of seafood. It’s called “Turning the Tide: The State of Seafood”. It’s a report to be read by the general public on the impacts of commercial fishing, management, aquaculture, and humans growing demand for seafood on our marine environment. If you eat anything that comes from the ocean, read it.

Along with the release of the report, the aquarium has launched a campaign to ask top chefs and culinary leaders to pledge to never serve red “Avoid” items on the seafood watch list. There were even some celebrity chefs on the list, including Alton Brown (I’m a big fan).

It’s hard to make good food choices. People are screaming at you to buy organic, buy local, buy sustainable. But, the majority of us simply look at something we want and we eat it. Unfortunately it’s not that simple anymore. We have to painfully look past the growling stomach and think of where it came from, what it was fed, and how it was caught. We've lost the luxury of eating whatever crosses our path. If we educate ourselves a little bit, we could make some better food decisions.

I'm not one to judge or come down on people for eating something that may have harmed the environment to obtain...But, if I catch you eating bluefin I will shank you.

article link.

Oct 5, 2009

Sea Trees? part deux

Sorry for the lack of writing as of late. I guess its been a mixture of bloggers block and sheer laziness.

The epic saga of the sea trees continues...

We made it back out to the Gulf for some more ROV/Hook Selectivity experiments last week, and it was a fun trip. Kate, a colleague of mine, and her friend Kristy drove from LSU to join the field crew (Btw, I love to use the term "colleague"...it's so humorously academic and pretentious. I can't say it without laughing and rolling my eyes). We also recruited some other charter boat captains and deckhands to help with the fishing. So we had some real cooperative research going on with an equal mix of fishermen and scientists. The ROV worked well, we caught some big fish, and the weather was perfect. Our final stop of the day brought us to the sea trees.

We arrived at a different area of the tree ledge a little further away from our last trip. We sent down the ROV to conduct the transects, and the water looked to be a little more murky than last time. There also seemed to be a higher density of tree stumps, with quite a few trunks that were several feet in diameter. It must have been an old forest. There were flounder everywhere. Flying the ROV near the bottom, I would kick up one every few feet. I also kicked up the silty sediment whenever the machine would get close to the bottom. It looked like the bottom of a lake.

After the transects, we attached the grabber arm to the ROV.

Fetch the stick boy. Get the stick...go get the stick!

It was like being inside the biggest crane grabber game in the world. But instead of going after a pokemon plushie, I had to grab a stick. The ROV grabber has one directional movement, open and close. So it's alot harder than you'd think to grab something.

I went the entire day without any advice from anyone about my piloting skills. But for that ten minutes, I had 5 back seat drivers.

Innuendos. So, so many.

I thought maybe it would feel petrified or something, but it looks and feels like any stick that you'd find in your backyard. Hopefully we'll get this carbon aged pretty soon. How old do you think it is?