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Education

Iain Kerr visits Warner Babcock Institute

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This past Monday, Ocean Alliance CEO Iain Kerr visited the Warner Babcock Institute in Wilmington, MA which is just down the road from our Gloucester headquarters, to meet with his good friend John Warner.

John Warner is one of the founders of green chemistry and is a leader in the field. One of the many subject areas he specializes in is developing less toxic alternatives for a variety of consumer products. John was recently awarded the Perkins Medal, which is considered by many to be the most prestigious award in the field of chemistry.

As we look to understand and curb the flow of environmental toxicants made by humans in to the world’s oceans, the type of work John is doing is essential. The problems our oceans face from pollution are twofold: we need to understand the effects of man-made environmental toxicants on wildlife, and we also need to develop nontoxic alternatives. John is certainly a pioneer in this field.

John and his team developed the 12 principles for Green Chemistry – which are now considered an industry standard.

The 12 Principals of Green Chemistry

1) POLLUTION PREVENTION

It is better to prevent waste than to treat and clean up waste after it is formed.

2) ATOM ECONOMY
Synthetic methods should be designed to maximize the incorporation of all materials used in the process into the final product.

3) LESS HAZARDOUS SYNTHESIS
Whenever practicable, synthetic methodologies should be designed to use and generate substances that possess little or no toxicity to human health and the environment.

4) DESIGN SAFER CHEMICALS
Chemical products should be designed to preserve efficacy of the function while reducing toxicity

5) SAFER SOLVENTS AND AUXILIARIES
The use of auxiliary substances (solvents, separations agents, etc.) should be made unnecessary whenever possible and, when used, innocuous.

6) DESIGN FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY
Energy requirements should be recognized for their environmental and economic impacts and should be minimized. Synthetic methods should be conducted to ambient temperature and pressure.

7) USE OF RENEWABLE FEEDSTOCKS
A raw material or feedstock should be renewable rather than depleting whenever technically and economically practical.

8) REDUCE DERIVATIVES
Unnecessary derivatization (blocking group, protection/deprotection, temporary modification of physical/chemical processes) should be avoided whenever possible.

9) CATALYSIS
Catalytic reagents (as selective as possible) are superior to stoichiometric reagents.

10) DESIGN FOR DEGRADATION
Chemical products should be designed so that at the end of their function they do not persist in the environment and instead breakdown into innocuous degradation products.

11) REAL-TIME ANALYSIS FOR POLLUTION PREVENTION
Analytical methodologies need to be further developed to allow for real-time in-process monitoring and control prior to the formation of hazardous substances.

12) INHERENTLY SAFER CHEMISTRY FOR ACCIDENT PREVENTION
Substance and the form of a substance used in a chemical process should be chosen so as to minimize the potential for chemical accidents, including releases, explosions and fires.

It was a positive, inspiring visit and we hope to be back soon!

Operation Toxic Gulf Video – Pantropical Spotted Dolphins

By | Education, Gulf of Mexico, Odyssey, Operation Toxic Gulf | No Comments

We had some very high energy visitors to the RV Odyssey during Operation Toxic Gulf 2014–pantropical spotted dolphins riding our bow long enough that we could capture this video with our bowcam. These dolphins are 6 to 7 feet and are recognized by the dark “cape” on their backs. We can’t say for certain but they seem to be having a pretty good time:

You can also watch bowcam videos of sperm whales and Atlantic spotted dolphins.

The Whale Guitar: Six-String Activism

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Whales are a species of sound. They live in a world of sound, communicate through sound, and captured the world’s attention when Roger Payne and Scott McVay discovered that they sing songs. Roger, in addition to being a biologist, is also a musician, and it became his life’s work to share their songs and inspire a passion to protect them.

Whale Guitar scrimshawIt’s no surprise then that artists and musicians, poets and composers are drawn to whales. This is how the Whale Guitar came to be. Read More

Biopsies! Why?

By | Education, Gulf of Mexico, Operation Toxic Gulf, Roger Payne | No Comments

A Special Guest Post by Ocean Alliance President and Founder Dr. Roger Payne:

Between 2000 and 2005 Ocean Alliance ran The Voyage of the Odyssey, a research expedition that circumnavigaged the globe measuring background levels in sperm whales of a series of contaminants. We came back with over 900 samples from sperm whales which we had analyzed for a suite of contaminants. The worst offending molecules turned out to be toxic metals—not just mercury and lead but Chromium, Aluminum, Silver and several other highly toxic metals. Read More

SnotBot and SnotShot Are Coming to Gloucester Harbor

By | Education, Ocean Alliance News, Technology | No Comments

This June we will be moving ahead with SnotBot and SnotShot trials in Gloucester Harbor with our partners at Olin College of Engineering. SnotShot is a device we’ve built to simulate whale blows, SnotBot is a machine that will collect these exhalations looking for viruses, bacteria, DNA and hormones.

In preparation for the trial, Iain Kerr and John Graham recently made a trip to Olin to work with the students of Dr. Andrew Bennett. We sat down as a team to talk about how we could best fine tune the instruments to represent all that we might encounter when we work with wild animals. For example, the SnotShot will sit in a small kayak with a hydrophone in the water to record any propeller noise, a small camera with a microphone to record airborne noise and video the drone approach, a vertical anemometer to check ambient maximum wind speed, and a horizontal anemometer to check maximum vertical wind speed from the drone. Before taking the drones out students at Olin will be flying over a pressure plate to get accurate measurements of downwash created by the drone.

Andrew Bennett and John Graham in front of 3-D printers at work

Andrew Bennett and John Graham in front of 3-D printers at work

The purpose here is not just to do trial flights and collect simulated whale blow data, but also to collect all the info we can about what a whale might hear, see and feel when approached by a drone.

When we move on to animal encounters we will bring the SnotShot with us, as in this type of experiment you always need control data. We need to be able to compare what’s in the water with what’s in the whale blow since a large part of the whale blow is seawater.

Thanks to the students of Olin for all of your hard work—we look forward to seeing you in Gloucester!

 

Meet SnotShot 3.0

By | apr14, Education, Ocean Alliance News, Technology | No Comments

 

Iain Kerr and Andrew Bennett at Olin College

Iain Kerr and Andrew Bennett at Olin College

When you develop any technology to work with wildlife, particularly endangered species such as marine mammals, you want to get all of your prototypes, testing, and dry runs completed before you go out into the field. As we continue to develop our drone, SnotBot, that will be used to collect Exhaled Breath Condensate (EBC or whale blows) looking for viruses, bacteria, DNA, and hormones, we needed a machine that could simulate a whale blow so we could test all aspects of SnotBot including EBC collection protocols, whale approach and effect protocols, and our systems for collecting and bringing back EBC. Read More

What We Found on Our Shoreline

By | apr14, Education, Ocean Alliance News, Paint Factory Headquarters | No Comments

Volunteers for Harbor CleanupIt was a beautiful clear sunny day on Saturday when members of the Gloucester community gathered to clean our harbor. Teams were dispersed all around the city thanks to the coordination efforts of the Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean, Maritime Gloucester, our two Cultural Districts downtown and on Rocky Neck, and our own Rebecca Siswick Graham. After a presentation about ocean trash by the Rozalia Project Friday night, volunteers gathered at their assigned locations Saturday morning for this one-hour effort to collect and record as much trash and recycling as possible. Read More

New Bowcam Footage of Atlantic Spotted Dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico

By | Education, Gulf of Mexico, Ocean Alliance News | No Comments

We continue to review hundreds of hours of bow cam footage from Operation Toxic Gulf, our 2013 joint campaign with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in the Gulf of Mexico following up on the Deepwater Horizon disaster. So far we’ve shared melon-headed whales and rough-toothed dolphins, sperm whales, and now Atlantic spotted dolphins enjoying a calm clear day. Iain Kerr narrates:

Come Meet Iain Kerr this Friday at The Bridge Business Expo

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Iain filming dolphinsThis Friday, March 28th, come and see us at The Bridge Business Expo at Magnolia Library in Gloucester, MA from 4-8 pm. Ocean Alliance CEO Iain Kerr will be on hand from 6-8 to tell you what’s in store this year and answer all of your whale and ocean pollution questions from his 20+ years of experience. Rebecca Siswick-Graham will have whale artifacts, t-shirts for sale, stickers and a free raffle of whale-y items. We’ll be sharing a table with our partners from 7 Seas Whale Watch so you can learn more about the humpback whale population they know so well. Come see the best of what Gloucester has to offer—local non-profits like Cape Ann Art Haven, North Shore Folklore Theatre, and local artisans and businesses from stone carvers to health and wellness providers. There will be wine and refreshments, and lots of fun giveaways and offers so come on down!

Update: SnotBot and SailBot will be there for you to check out.

Ocean Alliance Forms Partnership with 7 Seas Whale Watch

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7 Seas Whale WatchOne of our goals in our new home of Gloucester, MA is to find the passions we share with other groups and organizations in town so that we can work together towards common goals. For us, this means celebrating a vibrant community with a history of survival, and working towards preserving our wild world. A great many of our neighbors share these goals including 7 Seas Whale Watch.

 

Ocean Alliance is pleased to announce that we have formed a partnership with 7 Seas to work together in educating the public about the whales who live off our coast here in Gloucester and about the pollution that affects all of us who depend on the sea.

7 Seas is a family-owned operation with over 31 years of experience with the whales of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. They know the humpback whales of this area as well as they know their friends and neighbors and will share this knowledge with you on their 108 ft. boat the Privateer IV.

7 Seas Whale Watch with humpback“We are very excited to be working with 7 Seas – their enthusiasm and love for the whales is palpable.  We see enormous potential to facilitate our whale conservation mission though this partnership in both the fields of education and science.  I am sure that they will teach us as much as we teach them.” –Iain Kerr, CEO of Ocean Alliance

Roger Payne and Ocean Alliance have been working for whales for over forty years, but in Gloucester we’re still the new kids on the block. We’re thankful to 7 Seas for making us feel welcome in our new home and for helping us to do what we do best – be a voice of reason for the wild world.