Sun, Jun

By: Elena Kobrinski Keen, Doctoral Candidate, Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi

Decommissioning of offshore oil and gas infrastructure has become a focal point of attention in the United States and globally due to an unforeseen moving target: financial responsibility and cost estimation. By law, all offshore oil and gas structural material must be removed, and this process is known as decommissioning. However, events that have unfolded in the past two years in U.S. regulation have highlighted that this legal requirement is not easy to implement. Faced with a $2.3 billion dollar current estimate in backdated decommissioning costs and an outward projected estimate of $30 to 40 billion and counting, the U. S. federal government is looking for answers. They are pressing for a quick response from an oil and gas industry whose financially lucrative interests on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) in the Gulf of Mexico are under the strongest governmental challenge in decades.

An Interview with Kerry Koepping, Director of the Arctic Arts Project

The Arctic is changing, but most of us never see it. Sure, we see the headlines from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the images of stranded polar bears, and the occasional stock clip of a calving glacier, but the truth is that the majority of the Arctic remains unpopulated, remote, and beyond the direct observation of most people.

By: Kira Coley

Hidden under the rolling waves, Earth’s giants glide up from the deep ocean. Although whales spend most of their time submerged underwater, they must breach the ocean’s surface to breathe. This simple act of life makes them especially vulnerable to ship strikes, which are often fatal. In the north-east Atlantic, it is the fin whale that is most at risk of collision with the growing swarm of traffic flowing relentlessly over their submarine home. On a global scale, the incidence of ship strikes is thought to be largely underestimated, with many going unreported. This year, Europe’s leading whale and dolphin conservation charity, ORCA, is working in conjunction with the UK’s Brittany Ferries to further understand how whales respond to large vessels. Through pioneering research, they strive to provide evidence that can help the industry discover much-needed solutions for the problem of ship strikes—a deadly problem that is impacting whale populations across the globe.

First of a Series on the Changing Face of Marine and Coastal Research and Implications for the Future

By: Harlan Doliner, Chair of the Maritime Group and member of the Environmental Group at Verrill Dana LLP, President of the Marine & Oceanographic Technology Network (MOTN) and Ariadne Dimoulas, Oceanographic Researcher, Marine Educator, and Science Communicator based in Portland, Maine

Could meaningful marine and coastal research data be collected by the public? Could scientists, having larger amounts of useful data than they could obtain on their own, examine the correlations and produce reports shared with the civilian contributors? This partnership between scientists and groups of people who monitor conditions in their environment using reliable standards, and sometimes inexpensive sensors, could be important in promoting collaboration through many different user groups, a process that has been called “citizen science.”

Dr. Hugh Sealy is Canadian by birth and Barbadian by descent. He obtained his Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical) from McGill University, Montreal, Canada. He completed a Master of Science in Environmental Pollution Science at Brunel University, Middlesex, U.K. and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Environmental Science at the University of Liverpool, U.K. He is the recipient of a Barbados Scholarship and a Commonwealth Scholarship. Dr. Sealy has over 25 years of experience as a project manager, professional engineer, university lecturer, and environmental scientist. Currently, he teaches at St. George’s University in Grenada.

South Florida’s Vulnerable Coastline

In October 2014, astronauts aboard the International Space Station took a photograph of Florida (below), which clearly shows why Florida’s coastal regions are especially vulnerable to sea-level rise.

South Florida is ground zero for sea-level rise, and it is not only a problem that must be considered for the future. It is impacting the residents of South Florida right now. The average elevation of Miami-Dade County is just six feet.

A Day in the Life of a BSEE Inspector

By: Guy Hayes, Public Affairs, BSEE

The backbone of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) is the inspector workforce. Like a non-commissioned officer in the military, these dedicated men and women set the standard and uphold the core values of the organization.

They are on the front line, ensuring that the goal of BSEE’s mission—the safe and responsible development of our nation’s domestic offshore energy resources—is enforced.

By, Kira Coley, ECO UK Correspondent

Generating an estimated $29.8 billion per year from fisheries, tourism, and coastal protection, coral reefs are one of the most important ecosystems on Earth. And now, the latest climate research suggests they are soon to become one of the most endangered. New climate model projections developed by scientists at the University of Miami, NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic, World Wildlife Fund, and United Nations Environment provide a coral bleaching “doomsday clock” and reveal which of the world’s underwater cities will be the first casualties of climate change. Governments and conservationists must act now to reduce emissions and prioritize the protection of reefs that may still have time to adapt to the inevitable warming seas.

By: Michael Arora, Director of Marine Ecological Surveys, Reef Arabia

In 2001, the Bahraini-owned Environment Arabia Consultancy Services WLL (EACS) was established as the first environmental consultancy in the Kingdom of Bahrain, primarily to undertake Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) and marine baseline surveys. In the 16 years since, they have worked on some of the region’s most prestigious projects, including the Palm Diera and World projects in Dubai, the new causeway linking Bahrain to Saudi Arabia, and the US$2.7 million Bahrain Artificial Reef Project.

By: Bill Streever, ECO Contributor

If still among the living, Dutchman Cornelis Drebbel might be justifiably proud of the vessels now under construction in a small city a mere 90 miles south of his birthplace. Why? Because in 1620, Drebbel, invented the world’s first submersible on behalf of King James I, a man who might be described as a wealthy patron. Today in Breda, a small Dutch company called U-Boat Worx creates submersibles, also on behalf of customers who might be described as wealthy patrons.

By: Eric Gustafson, MBA, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Gulf of Mexico Foundation, Mexico Cuauhtemoc Leon, Ph.D., Co-Founder and Technical Director, Gulf of Mexico Foundation, Mexico

Mangroves are one of the most valuable tropical ecosystems worldwide because they offer numerous ecosystem services that allow sustainable fisheries production, community development, and coastal protection against the types of meteorological events that will be increased by climate change (storm surge, sea level rise, coastal erosion, and floods, among others).

By: Amy Wold, Research Communications, The Water Institute of the Gulf

Along the northern Gulf of Mexico coast, few things have had a greater influence on Louisiana and the current dramatic coastal land loss the state faces than the Mississippi River.

Built over thousands of years as the river flipflopped across the landscape looking for the shortest and steepest way to the Gulf of Mexico, south Louisiana’s delta landscape grew and eroded depending on the river’s whim. Levee construction, river shortening, dike fields and other control works began soon after the arrival of European settlers—and through the decades each flood event brought about higher, stronger and wider levees on either side of the river channel.

By: Dr. Nathan Waltham, Principal Research Scientist, Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER), James Cook University, Queensland, Australia

Dr. Michael Rasheed, Principal Research Scientist, Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER), James Cook University, Queensland, Australia

Mr. Kevin Kane, Senior Manager Environment, North Queensland Bulk Ports, Queensland, Australia

By: Guy Hayes, Alaska Region Public Affairs Specialist, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement

Six miles north of Alaska’s Arctic coast, a 5acre manmade island juts out from the Beaufort Sea amidst the sprawling Arctic. It is Northstar Island, created almost 20 years ago to develop an oil pool 12,500 ft below the seabed. On this August day, rippling water surrounds the tall cranes and several large buildings that are the island’s most prominent features. Soon, however, snow will blanket the island and the blue waters will change into ice thick enough to support supply trucks. Sunlight will be virtually nonexistent. Even at this time of year, shifts of workers will keep the oil flowing. Their roundtheclock dedication brings 10,000 barrels of oil to the surface every day, over four million barrels a year.

By: Kira Coley, ECO UK Correspondent

An ever-changing patchwork of blues and greens, the sea is a colorful blend of suspended particles and the pigments of phytoplankton. While microscopic in size, these tiny ocean-dwelling plants influence climate and the atmosphere and form the base of the marine food web. Satellite-based ocean color imagery captures the vibrant world of phytoplankton and their relationship with the marine environment. As we enter the human-influenced age, our footprint on the variegated ocean can be seen from land and space as shifting climates, pollution, and excess nutrients cause changes within planktonic communities and impact the surrounding ecosystem. The arrival of new high-resolution field technology opens the door to the next generation of satellite-based sensors that help scientists understand how these organisms are responding to the changing climate and what this means for the health of our oceans.

When people think about international communications, they often regard satellites as the primary medium of modern international communications. This is simply not the case. Over 98% of international communications are carried by a relatively small number of fiber optic submarine cables. The confusion is understandable. The idea that bits of data travel at the speed across the ocean depths on unseen cables is hard to comprehend, but it’s true. The tremendous volume of data carried at low cost by modern fibre optic submarine cables dwarfs the limited capacity of higher cost satellites. In fact, the capacity of a single transatlantic cable has increased by a factor of 100,000 in the last 25 years!

By: Malcolm Smith, Author of Gone Wild: Stories from a Lifetime of Wildlife Travel

Dr. Smith is a biologist and former Chief Scientist at the Countryside Council for Wales. His latest book, Gone Wild, includes 30 short stories about local people, spectacular places and the special wildlife the author sets out to find. These hugely entertaining tales visit places as diverse as the Florida Everglades, England’s New Forest, Iceland’s offshore islands, the Empty Quarter of the Saudi Desert, the tiny remnants of the Jordan’s Azraq wetland and the impressive oak dehesas of Extremadura. The following is an excerpt from the full volume published by Whittles Publishing and reproduced here with permission. To purchase Gone Wild, visit www.whittlespublishing.com (U.K.) or www.nbnbooks.com (U.S.). Digital versions are available via most online book retailers.

By: Ted Wickwire, Senior Environmental Scientist, Team Leader, and Joe Famely, Environmental Scientist, GIS Manager, Applied Ecology & Sustainability, Woods Hole Group

As evidence of climate change impacts on coastal communities mounts, risk managers and coastal engineers apply models to assess potential impacted areas and identify assets at risk (Bosma, 2016). Traditionally, infrastructure assets (e.g., buildings and roads) are of greatest concern and the consequence of inundation is most readily determined based on engineering criteria (e.g., critical elevations).

By: Bill Streever, ECO Contributor

The roll-on, roll-off vessel M/V Estraden carries trailers, cars, and trucks between Rotterdam and England, making three roundtrips each week. Ignoring a simple control panel on her bridge and two vertical cylinders protruding 18 m above her decks, she looks like other ships of her class. But that control panel and those cylinders are not, at this time, to be found on any other vessel of her class afloat.

By: Gary N Roderick, CEP, REM, CEA and Greg Leatherman, Editor in Chief of ECO Magazine

ECO Magazine is headquartered in the seaside community of Stuart in Martin County, Florida. Perhaps you’ve seen Stuart in the news recently. Images of its algae-tainted water have been shared around the globe on national and international media outlets. There’s plenty of blame to go around for this disaster, and there are both challenges and potential solutions for solving it, but one thing for certain is that toxic algae makes people sick—and not just metaphorically.

Two weeks ago, ECO’s Greg Leatherman visited a matted blue-green algae bloom at Central Marine across the St. Lucie River from Stuart. According to a report issued 26 July 2016 by Martin County, Florida, the algal bloom at Central Marine contains microcystin at a rate of 33,000 parts per billion. The World Health Organization considers anything over 10 parts per billion hazardous, and microcystin can cause nausea, vomiting, rash, fever, and even liver damage.

By: Josh Pruett, PE, Geotechnical Engineer, GeoEngineers, Inc.

Have you ever taken an art class where you made a ceramic bowl, bud vase, or mug? Remember that soft, sticky, gray stuff you lumped onto the potting wheel to shape it? While many people think of “coast” and think white sand beaches, most of what lies under coastal Louisiana is closer to the clay you used in your art class than the sugar sand of Florida beaches. Coastal Louisiana formed as the result of thousands of years of seasonal flood cycles from the Mississippi River, its distributary channels, and neighboring streams. During each flood, the rivers carried sand, silt, and clay mud over their banks, covering the land on either side of the river. Larger, heavier sediment particles fell out of the mud first, leaving mounds of sand and silt near the edge of the river, while clay particles flowed farther out before finally coming to rest. Large floods sent more material over the banks to greater distances than small floods, leading to thin layers of silt and fine sand occasionally interbedded with the generally clay substrate. Generations of marsh vegetation growing, seeding, laying down, and dying—with the next generation growing through the matted fibers of its parent plants—led to an organic profile that transitions from grass, to peat, to organic material intermixed with clay, to inorganic clay several meters below the surface.

By: Jyotika I. Virmani, Ph.D., Senior Director, XPRIZE


We are fortunate to be living in today’s world. Over the past 150,000 years, we have evolved primarily in a local and linear world where most of our activities happened within a day’s walk. Life was relatively constant. Today, the rapid pace of innovation has changed this. Our world is not linear and local anymore—it is exponential and global. Through innovations in communication, medicine, transport, manufacturing, and entertainment, many of us now have the opportunity to travel, enjoy new experiences, and explore new environments—all while having the luxury of staying in frequent contact with our friends and family. Through increased data and access, we now have more control over our personal environment and can be better global citizens.

 ECO Interview

web imageWater Women Inc.

Amanda Cotton is a professional Nikon photographer specializing in underwater imagery. As an avid scuba diver and ocean enthusiast, Amanda's goal is to help the general public embrace the beauty below the waves in hopes that with awareness comes concern. The conservation and preservation of this ecosystem is of the highest priority to Amanda. While she enjoys owning and operating a conservation-minded design/media company, A COTTON PHOTO Creative Works LLC, Amanda takes great pride in working with likeminded organizations that genuinely care about the planet and its inhabitants, both above and below the waves.

 ECO Interview

Conor Knighton CBS Sunday Morning Correspondent

CBS Sunday Morning correspondent Conor Knighton is spending 2016 "On The Trail," taking a yearlong, crosscountry look at America's National Parks, airing every other week on CBS Sunday Morning. From Acadia to Zion, he will be reporting and producing the series of stories from the parks, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service.

 ECO Interview

Loggerhead Marinelife Center

An interview with:

Tom Longo, Senior Communications/Marketing Manager, Loggerhead Marinelife Center Hannah Deadman, Public Relations & Communications Coordinator, Loggerhead Marinelife Center Kerri Allen, Education Manager, Loggerhead Marinelife Center

Heals Turtles, Promotes Education

Over 40 years ago, Juno Beach resident Eleanor Fletcher started what is now Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC) when she noticed the abundance of sea turtles nesting on the nearby shore during spring and summer. She observed that the turtles were threatened by the encroachment of people as they built closer and closer to the shoreline. She campaigned against bright lights along the beach (which confuses hatchlings and can cause them to head in the wrong direction) and personally protected the nests she found—but her chief goal was to educate children about the need for conservation and protection so that sea turtles survive over the long term.

 ECO Interview

Niki Desjardin Head shot web   

An interview with Niki Desjardin, Project Manager, Ecological Associates, Inc.

EAI senior staff have participated in numerous sea turtle monitoring and applied research programs throughout Florida and the Caribbean. These programs have included nesting surveys, nest marking, caging and relocation programs, net capture of juvenile and adult turtles, tagging and recapture studies, coastal lighting evaluations, and environmental impact assessments related to a variety of coastal construction and erosion control projects. EAI staff are authorized to conduct these activities under Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) Marine Turtle Permits (TP #010 and #162). EAI has also written and assisted with the implementation of Habitat Conservation Plans for sea turtles in several coastal Florida Counties. For more information visit www.ecologicalassociates. com.

ECO Interview

An interview with Captain Chris Goldblatt, CEO, Fish Reef Project

A pioneer of the sustainable seafood movement, Christopher Fisher Goldblatt has enjoyed many years as a fishing vessel operator, free dive spear fisherman, and international seafood trader. He has worked in over 30 countries with fishermen and fisheries managers and is the founder and managing director of the Fish Reef Project, which has been given observer status by the International Seabed Authority. Goldblatt is also the author of seven oceanrelated books, contributing columnist to oceanrelated publications, and producer of films for international ocean film festivals.

Compiled by ECO Staff Writer from materials provided by RESTORE The Mississippi River Delta

Louisiana is facing a land loss crisis. Since 1932, the state has lost more than 1,800 sq. mi of land, roughly the size of the state of Delaware. This loss continues today at the alarming rate of a football field every hour.

By: Burton Suedel, Research Biologist, USACE Engineering Research and Development Center

Kevin Kane, Senior ManagerEnvironment, North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation

David Moore, Principal, Ramboll-ENVIRON International Corporation

Kevin Allen, Belfast Harbor Master, Port of Belfast

Rebecca Gardner, Principal Engineer, Anchor QEA AS

John Lally, Coastal/Dredging Engineer, Lally Consulting, LLC

Miran Vanwonterghem, Project Engineer, Agency for Maritime and Coastal Services

Amy Parry, Marine Scientist, Atkins

Todd Bridges, Senior Scientist, USACE Engineering Research and Development Center

The World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure, PIANC (formally the Permanent International Association of Navigation Congresses), produces high quality technical reports, guidelines, briefs, and standards in the field of navigable waterway traffic on canals, rivers, and in ports.

The Value of Navigation Dredged Material to Ecosystem Restoration & Coastal Resiliency

By: T. JordanSellers, Senior Biologist, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, Environmental Branch

E.P. Summa, Chief, Planning Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District

B. Hope, Environmental Manager, PortMiami

C.J. Kruempel, Director of Coastal Services, Tetra Tech, Inc.

D. Nelson, Project Engineer, Great Lakes Dredge and Dock

A. McCarthy, Senior Scientist / Project Manager, CSA Ocean Sciences Inc.

M.S. Fonseca, Ph.D., Vice President, Science, CSA Ocean Sciences Inc.

S.R. Conger, Engineering Technical Lead, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District

C. Pomfret, Senior Project Manager, Great Lakes Dredge and Dock, LLC.


In 2015, over 118,000 seagrass plants were transplanted into a newly filled 17.1acre dredge hole in Miami, Florida. The Project  involved filling the historical dredge hole with navigationdredged material and seagrass planting as part of environmental mitigation  requirements for the deepening and widening of Miami Harbor, Phase III. It is on course to be one of the largest and most successful  actively planted seagrass mitigation projects to date.

By: Steve G. Buschang, Director of Research and Development, State Scientific Support Coordinator, Texas General Land Office, Oil Spill Prevention and Response Program

Someone once said, “Adventure is just bad planning.”

Most of us in the spill response community already experience enough adventure. So we plan, and then revise those plans. Whether it be industry personnel planning the movement of a rig to a location to begin drilling in 8,000 ft of water, or state and federal wildlife refuge managers devising protection plans for a nearly extinct species, or federal agencies and/or state agencies planning for catastrophic events on a more regional level, we contrive scenarios based on our amassed knowledge from science and experience with countless past spills and exercises into what we hope will aid us in the next “BIG” event.

By: Helen Dubach and Ed Owens, Owens Coastal Consultants

Current practice for the detection of surface oil on shorelines following a spill focuses on systematic visual aerial and/or ground-based observations. This is a straightforward process in which oil can be observed directly. Visual or video aerial survey techniques are suitable for Heavy and Moderate surface oiling categories but may not be able to identify Light, Very Light or Trace categories. Aerial or ground surveys (on foot or by boat) may not be able to locate surface oil that is hidden by vegetation in salt marshes, reed beds, river bank shrubs and trees, or in between boulders and rip-rap.

The Complex and Emerging Story of Johnson’s Seagrass

By: Dr. Mark S. Fonseca, Vice President of Science at CSA Ocean Sciences, Inc. and
Dr. Jeanine L. Olsen, Professor of Marine Biology at Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences, University of Groningen, The Netherlands

By: Keith Martin, Partner, Chadbourne & Parke LLP

Deepwater Wind has a $290 million, 30-megawatt (MW) project under construction in the Atlantic Ocean 3 miles from Block Island off the coast of Rhode Island. The project will use 5 Haliade™ 150-6 MW offshore wind turbines built by Alstom.

By Greg Leatherman, ECO Editor

In 2013, a 20-year old Dutch man named Boyan Slat founded an ambitious effort to clean up plastic debris floating in the Pacific. The Ocean Cleanup has deployed a proof-of-concept, published a feasibility study and just completed a key reconnaissance effort. Slat, who has been the subject of much praise and criticism, is confident that it can all be done in a decade.

The project is preparing for full-scale deployment by 2020. Meanwhile, they’re focused on the project’s first operational pilot array, 2000 m long, in coastal waters halfway between South-Korea and Japan. Even at just 2% of the length of the full-scale technology, it will be the longest floating structure ever deployed on the oceans.

Critics say the project could do more harm than good. Slat says he is solving a global crisis that demands answers on a grand scale. Who is right?

Compiled By: ECO Staff Writer

In August 2015, an intensive research effort in Greenland began to study some of the key processes contributing to sea rise. Among these processes is the rapid melting of the Greenland ice sheet. Researchers intend to answer just how fast changes are occurring and how much sea rise they could cause.

By: Mark Perry, Executive Director, Florida Oceanographic Society

Florida’s Indian River Lagoon is east of Lake Okeechobee between the small coastal towns that make up the Treasure Coast and the Atlantic Ocean. People here rely on tourism, fishing, and the associated services, such as real estate, for a large part of their economy. The problem is, another aspect of the Florida economy—big agriculture—has taken precedence over the livelihoods of those who live on the Treasure Coast as well as the survival of many sensitive estuarine species.

EcoAnalysts: Life in Water Frequently, we post a mystery macro invertebrate to our website as part of an ongoing contest that challenges website visitors to identify a digitally captured microscopic image to the highest taxonomic resolution. The person who e-mails the correct answer receives a prize, and those who identify the most macro invertebrates in a year win a grand prize. Often the winners are macro invertebrate taxonomy experts, marine taxonomy students, or professors in the field.

Wetlands on the Gulf of Mexico coast provide a number of ecological and ecosystem services that are vital to the health of our local bay systems and surrounding environments. They provide essential habitat for numerous fish, shellfish, and bird species throughout the Gulf coast, many of which are endangered or threatened. They also provide many ecosystem services or services that benefit humans. For example, over 95% of the commercial and recreational fish species found in the Gulf of Mexico, including red drum, spotted sea trout, and brown shrimp, rely on wetlands at some stage in their life cycle. They also improve water quality, reduce shoreline erosion, and absorb wave energy during storms.

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