Seatrec Quarterly Deep Dive

Spring 2020

It seems like an entirely different universe and light-years ago when we were at the Ocean Sciences Meeting (OSM) in February. All we had to worry about then was connecting, brainstorming, and being inspired about the scientific research addressing environmental challenges and raising awareness of the global dimension of the ocean.

In the weeks since then, our vantage point has switched from being immersed in the oceans to being confined to a 4-wall reality. The oceanographic community, with the exception of some scientists in Antarctica, is profoundly affected by the pandemic. We hunker down to survive and our field research remains out of reach. Countless oceanic research missions have been suspended and existing missions like MOSAiC’s polar expedition crew are stranded due to airline travel restrictions. While some of us are getting by on Zoom, most of us, old and young salts alike, are going stir crazy as our ocean observation has been limited to the virtual. As Wildlife Conservation Society scientist Emily Darling stated, “You can’t Skype meetings with corals.” Our persistent connection with the ocean is on an indefinite pause in this new normal, which can change daily.

Despite uncertain challenges on land and sea, we remain confident about one thing —research and innovation must and will continue. Ocean observation will become even more important for understanding our world, addressing changing climate, discovering new medicines and species, and protecting our critical supply chains.

Dive deeper for Seatrec’s Q1 updates, our favorite research, zoological escapes, and oceanic activity that have been keeping us afloat.

SEATREC UPDATE

🚢 Sea Trials

Just before OSM, we were fortunate to have completed our second sea trial. We powered a Sea-Bird Scientific Navis float with two Seatrec SL1 energy harvesting modules, profiled to a depth of 1000 meters. Our SL1 greatly enhances the capabilities of floats to enable longer lifetime, more frequent sampling and sensor payloads, and elimination of battery waste when the profiler becomes derelict.

Dr. David Fratantoni (left) and Michael Zedelmair (right) after the successful deployment and recovery operation. (Photo: Cole Arrington)

🏆 Awards

We were especially honored to win The Powering the Blue Economy™: Ocean Observing Prize, sponsored by the Department of Energy (DOE) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Here’s our award-winning video:

“The natural world is a solace in times of crisis.” — Sir David Attenborough

🔊 What We’re Listening to

While we don’t know if a tree that falls in a forest with no one around makes a sound, we can tell you what an iceberg calving in the arctic sure sounds like.

🐧 Who Let the Penguins Out?

For a few of our favorite zoological escapes, check out Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium penguins experiencing life on the other side of the glass.

📹 MBARI and the Sea Otter Cam

🐢 Yoshi Sets a Record

Yoshi, the loggerhead turtle who spent 20 years in captivity, still remembered she had business to take care of on the other side of the ocean and completed a record swim.

The Twilight Zone and COVID-19

Our cherished voice of the Blue Planet, Sir David Attenborough, made a plea calling for deep ocean seabed mining to be banned since mining can lead to disastrous consquences. In addition to irreversible loss of biodiversity, deep water corals and microscopic microbes at the bottom of the ocean have been used as anti-virals, particularly against coronaviruses. The marine compound griffithsin was extracted from the red algae Giffithsia, native to coral reefs around the Canary Islands, and identified as a potential inhibitor to the MERS coronavirus. There are 40 other marine compounds that have antiviral properties.

Bionic Corals

Cambridge researchers are now 3D-printing bionic corals. These aren’t just scaffolds for fragile microorganisms — they’re literally built out of them!

Image Credits: Cambridge University

Hope for 2050 Restoration

Other promising news came from Professors Carlos Duarte of KAUST and Callum Roberts from the University of York for their work on rebuilding marine life. This important research provides the world with essential recommendations on how to protect species, harvest wisely, and restore habitats by 2050.

Repurposing the Guest Room for Science

We love how Dennis Stanley is #keepingthefaith and his glider work going.

Summary

That’s it for our first Deep Dive. We’re hoping we can all safely ease back to the seas soon, continue our research and even discover anti-virals in the ocean floor sponges. Until then, we wish you and your families health and safety. Our salt marshes, mangroves, seagrasses, coral reefs, kelp, oyster reefs, fisheries, megafauna, and the deep oceans await us. And perhaps during this time, some beleaguered fisheries might just bounce back.

Yours from at least a fathom away,

Team Seatrec

Makers of thermal #energy harvesting systems that create #electricity from temperature differences in deep #ocean waters to power #floats and #gliders.