The more people know about the offshore world, the more they are interested in it.
That’s the idea behind a monthly series that kicked off at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach on Wednesday, January 5, a way to bring together experts, citizens and the curious to talk about wildlife and coastal issues off the coast. from South. California coastline.
“We try to establish a regular cultural event where people come to learn about wildlife and the issues that immediately affect them, like sea level rise or oil rigs and spills,” said Peter. Kareiva, President and CEO of the Aquarium of the Pacific.
The Aquarium of the Pacific at Long Beach has been hosting lecture series for years; these âFirst Wednesdays Seriesâ events will take place both in person and virtually.
The gatherings, which are free to the public, are not limited to the simple presentation of an expert. Instead, it is about organizing an open dialogue on the topics, with meetings and a cocktail after to continue the informal discussions.
âIt used to be the way science was communicated through teas and social events, at social gatherings in homes,â Kareiva said.
The first in the series will feature Chris Lowe, director of the Shark Lab at Cal State Long Beach, who has studied the bounce of great white sharks off the coast and what it means for beach goers to mingle in the same. waters.
âLiving with White Sharks: California’s Greatest Conservation Achievementâ will discuss the latest research on white sharks off the southern coast of California, especially as state protection, better management of white sharks. fisheries and the recovery of marine mammals have allowed the white shark population to recover as well. .
As the shark population explodes, so do the numbers of bathers swimming, surfing and paddling off the coast. But despite more people and more sharks in the water together, attacks on humans remain extremely rare, according to Lowe.
His team uses a mix of technologies, including acoustic transmitters and trackers on buoys, which give alerts when known white sharks pass by, much like a transmitter on a toll road.
The Shark Lab has also partnered with experts from other departments at the school for a fresh take on sharks, such as a psychologist who studies fear and has designed a survey to examine people’s perceptions of creatures, with 400 people who responded.
Another study is a collaboration with an ecotourism specialist who surveys visitors to the area to ask them what their perceptions and thoughts are when they go to the beach and how closures or shark bites impact on ecological tourism.
“How would that influence your willingness to go to the ocean?” How can we use our science and make it accessible to people so they can make better decisions? Lowe asked.
These studies were never done in the United States and are the first of their kind, he said.
Those who want to stay after the conference can attend a âPaint a Sharkâ activity in the Aquarium art gallery and a cocktail party.
After Lowe’s talk, another mysterious sea creature will be in discussion: Killer Whales.
Alisa Schulman-Janger, senior research biologist and co-founder of the California Killer Whale Project, will speak on Southern California killer whales on February 2.
Her passion for killer whales began in the 1970s, when she attended lectures and drew pictures of killer whales from videos to show their differences. She first saw killer whales from shore in 1982, but it wasn’t until two years later that she approached a group off Palos Verdes, in the open sea.
âIt got me a hook, a line and a sinker,â she said. “That was it.”
The California Killer Whale Project follows sightings and groups to help identify and document their appearances and movements.
âIt’s always so interesting and it’s so good to have a project like this where we can have an observation network,â said Schulman-Janger. âPeople get to know individual whales to recognize the superstars of the killer whale world. And sometimes they see them over and over again.
Many people associate sightings of killer whales in the Pacific Northwest, but there have been several sightings off Southern California over the years, including four in December.
She will talk about the differences between different ecotypes, like those called ETPs that live in the eastern tropical Pacific that appeared here a few years ago and hunted dolphins off the coast.
âThey think ‘killer whales’ kill whales. They don’t all do that. You can eat rays as well as dolphins, âshe said. “They just have different cultures.”
Bigg’s transient killer whales, such as the CA51 pod seen recently off Ventura, are more commonly seen offshore.
For Schulman-Janger, their appeal comes from their intelligence, their charisma and their rich cultural life. Often times, they have lifelong attachments, are caring mothers, and will even adopt an orphan orphan.
âEverything about them fascinates me,â she said.
Some of the orcas she studied in the 1980s are still around today, traveling with their children or grandchildren.
The next two topics on the agenda are a little more controversial: offshore drilling and sea level rise.
On March 2, a panel will discuss âThe Future of Offshore Oil Rigsâ and what to do with them after decommissioning, with particular attention to artificial reefs and aquaculture.
The momentum for offshore oil rig decommissioning is strong, Kareiva said. “The question is, what are we going to do with them.”
Some ideas are to promote aquaculture, to raise shellfish. Or they can be used as distance learning modules for schools. They are also great reef habitats often frequented by divers.
“It’s important because there are a substantial number along the coast,” he said.
The April 6 topic includes a discussion by Dr. Liz Koslov, assistant professor in the Department of Urban Planning and the Institute of Environment and Sustainability at UCLA. She documented a “managed retreat” from the coast to New York after Hurricane Sandy.
âIt’s a topic that applies not only here, but to all coastal communities,â Kareiva said. “We want to have topics that can be difficult, but also topics that can inspire fear.”
The series will continue on May 4th with “Seafood: The Human Connection” on June 1st with a “High Tide Student Film Festival” and a talk about “Ending Fossil Fuels: Why Net Zero is Not Enough” on July 6th. The 3rd conference will focus on plankton, while on September 7th there will be a conference on bees and pollinators.
Conferences start at 7:00 p.m. and are free, but reservations are required for a seat. Each event includes a cocktail and social hour at 8 p.m.
Proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID test is required to attend and a mask is required for everyone, regardless of vaccination status.
For more information: aquariumofpacific.org