Monthly Archives

January 2015

Roger Payne Needs Your Help to Write A Declaration of Interdependence

By | FEB15, Ocean Alliance News, Roger Payne | No Comments

Dear all,

My January wish for this, the month of the year in which I turn 80, is that you will help write a Declaration of Interdependence that the world can subscribe to. There have been dozens of previous such declarations but none that I feel focus strongly enough on the crucial importance of non-human species, or on such not-so-obvious things as the fact that the health of terrestrial life depends on the health of ocean life (and vice versa). Read More

EPA Proposal on Dispersant Use Validates Our Five Years in the Gulf of Mexico

By | FEB15, Ocean Alliance News, Operation Toxic Gulf | No Comments

Sometimes it is hard to measure the direct effects of our work.  As we collect data on marine mammals and our oceans we have two principle goals: the first is to change people’s attitudes as to the importance of our oceans and the second is to collect data that can help policy makers make wise decisions as they relate to sustainable utilization of ocean resources. Read More

Roger Payne is Dedicating His 80th Year to Changing the Fate of Our Oceans

By | FEB15, Ocean Alliance News, Roger Payne | No Comments

50 years ago when I first became concerned about their fate, whales were being hastened towards extinction by whaling. There was no Save-the-Whales movement; in fact, whales seldom crossed anyone’s mind.

 When Scott McVay and I discovered the powerfully lovely songs of humpback whales I saw them as a way to capture the world’s interest in the plight of whales, and I put all of my efforts into stopping the criminal act that turned whales into cat food and cosmetics.

As time passed the movement succeeded in greatly reducing whaling. But a new threat to whales soon emerged that was potentially worse than whaling: ocean pollution. It was caused by the compounds we synthesize to enjoy “better living” through chemistry.

I later realized that it was not pollution alone but many other interconnecting, interacting, positive feedback loops that threatened whales plus many other ocean species—for example: the buildup of CO2 creates ocean acidification which destroys plankton.

In short, my life has carried me from the specific to the general, and what started as an effort to stop a single fatal force from destroying a species has become an effort to stop dozens of forces from destroying life in all its forms, both in the ocean and on the land.

Thanks to global warming and ocean acidification there has never been a more urgent need for action—never a greater need to put all of our time, effort and treasure into changing the way that we and our fellow humans conduct our lives. Life on Earth and civilization as we know it hang in the balance.

In spite of how scary this situation is it also has a hugely positive side: for it offers our generation the most singular opportunity for greatness ever offered to any generation in history. If we seize that opportunity and act we will be admired and loved above all future generations.

Please join me in pledging to dedicate all of our efforts in the next decade to working to change the fate of the oceans.

Each month in this my 80th year I will announce another of my goals and dreams, and describe why I think it is important to whales, to the ocean, and to all life. I will also describe ways in which you can help achieve that dream.

My dream for January comes from what I consider to be the most consequential scientific discovery of the past 100 years—the slow realization that all species are interdependent. This means that the future of each species depends on the future of a great many other species. From this simple natural law we see that it is not possible to save just a single species, unless we also protect the lives of the hundreds of species on which that species’ life depends.

From this it follows that the welfare of some non-human species is as important to the survival of humans as it is to the survival of the non-human species. If we fail to recognize that fact we will have no future—at least none that you or I would care to experience.

My January wish, therefore, is to create a Declaration of Interdependence for nations to ratify. There have been several such declarations previously but none that focused strongly enough on the health of the ocean and on non-human species. I will post a draft of such a declaration on my birthday so you can suggest changes before we send it out in its final form. Ever since 1776 we in America have valued independence; what we must now learn to value even more is our interdependence with the rest of life. It is our only way to reach the future.

– Dr. Roger Payne, President and Founder of Ocean Alliance

New 3-D Printer For Our Robotics Program

By | Ocean Alliance News, Technology | No Comments

We were visited this week by Dana Seero, the President and CEO of CAPINC–a leading Solidworks and Stratasys re-seller in New England. Dana and Jason Matses brought to our headquarters a new exciting tool, not only for our Robotics Program, but also for our educational initiatives–a MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3-D Printer.

Gloucester High School Robotics Teacher Kurt Lichtenwald, a key member of our Applied Robotics Club at the Paint Factory, has demonstrated the 3-D printers at the high school and offered to print us parts when we need them. As much as we appreciate this offer, it’s great to have a machine of our own that we can use on demand and also use to better understand how this technology can be integrated into our Robotics Program.

MakerBot Replicator DesktopI am an advocate for 3-D printers on many levels. To have the ability to make and modify a small part, rather than have to wait a week to have it custom-made and mailed is very exciting. There is also a better use of materials with most 3-D printers nowadays, having the capacity to recycle the material that is not used. The MakerBot Replicator has a small web-linked camera that allows our team members to monitor the status of a project online.

For those of you who would like to learn more about 3-D printing I suggest Avi Reichental’s TED Talk “What’s Next in 3-D Printing.” He gives a great tour through the possibilities of 3-D printing from customized food to sneakers.

Many thanks to Dana and CAPINC for giving us this tool to will expand our research and educational capacity.

– Iain Kerr, Ocean Alliance CEO

[Pictured above: Greg Taylor, Dan Albani, Iain Kerr, Jason Matses]

Roger Payne Makes a Splash on NPR

By | FEB15, Ocean Alliance News, Roger Payne | No Comments

Our phone lines lit up over the holiday break as listeners of NPR’s “All Things Considered” reported to us that “Roger Payne was on the radio right now!” The piece was called “How Pop Music Helped Save the Whales” and it was originally produced by Michael May and Studio 360, but it was rebroadcast on “All Things Considered” just in time for the evening commute. In the piece Roger talks about how his discovery with Scott McVay that humpback whales sing songs became a part of the Save the Whale movement when the world was looking for meaning and inspiration, and Judy Collins talks about the first time she met Roger, when he handed her a tape containing his new discovery.

To our surprise the piece was picked up and shared by conservation groups and whale lovers all over social media and once again people were talking about whale songs. We hope they keep talking.

The Whale Guitar Visits Ocean Alliance

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It’s amazing how you can help whales and our oceans just by using your own personal talents. Jen Long discovered this when she embarked on the Whale Guitar Project. A designer from Providence, Rhode Island, Jen and a group of like-minded individuals–William Schaff, Rachel Rosenkrantz-Riemer and Gwen Forrester, designed and built a remarkable instrument inspired by Moby-Dick and in the style of scrimshaw with the purpose of raising awareness and funds for ocean conservation. We were honored last year when Jen informed us that she wanted to bring Ocean Alliance into the project after following our work. Considering our organization was built on the discovery that humpback whales sing songs, we have always been passionate about the relationship between art, science, and conservation.

Jen Long with the Whale GuitarThe Whale Guitar Project has had some exciting stops along the way, including the recent Moby-Dick Marathon Reading at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, where the guitar was on display and played for those who had gathered to read the classic novel aloud from start to finish.

We were thrilled this week to have Jen and the Whale Guitar visit our headquarters, the Paint Factory in Gloucester, MA, and Jen was kind enough to give the staff an impromptu concert. We look forward to building on our partnership this year with more performances and we thank Jen and her talented team for sharing their time and skills for the benefit of our ocean.