Monitoring Acidification in the Mid-Atlantic

By Kim Hernandez, Coastal Planner with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Member of the TCS Board of Directors.

Imagine a coral reef without corals, estuaries without oysters or crabs, a seafood feast without scallops. It may seem dramatic, but as the carbonate chemistry in the oceans, coastal bays, and estuaries changes due to a warming climate, this could be a future reality. Fortunately, a network of scientists, tribal, federal, and state agency representatives, resource managers, and industry partners are working together in the Mid-Atlantic to prevent the region from having to imagine that type of future. Meet the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Acidification Network, or MACAN.

MACAN works to develop a better understanding of the processes associated with estuarine, coastal, and ocean acidification and to predict the consequences of those processes for marine resources. They also work to devise local strategies that enable communities and industries to better prepare.

As a network of people, MACAN is poised to communicate and collaborate across agencies and industries to address the challenge of acidification. MACAN is coordinated by Kaity Goldsmith [1] and Grace Saba [2]. According to Kaity, “this cooperative regional approach fosters collaboration, encourages sharing of information and best practices, and helps advance mutually agreed upon goals.” The network enables the effective use of limited resources by focusing those resources on the highest regional priorities and reducing duplication of effort.

I sat down with Kaity and Grace to better understand the issues MACAN is addressing, and to learn how TCS Members can benefit from this work.

As a network of people, what types of professionals are engaged in your network? Can anyone be involved?

MACAN includes scientists (academics and government), resource managers (all levels and types of government), affected industry, and interested partners. If someone is interested in learning more and engaging in the conversation around estuarine, coastal, and ocean acidification in the Mid-Atlantic region (south of Long Island, New York down through Virginia) they are more than welcome to be involved.

Do you often collaborate with other ocean acidification networks?

There are many other Coastal Acidification Networks (CANs) around the country – the California Current Acidification Network, or C-CAN, on the west coast, NECAN in the northeast Atlantic, SOCAN in the southeast Atlantic, GCAN in the Gulf of Mexico, and AOAN in Alaska. We interface with them all regularly via one-on-one phone calls and group discussions. There’s a lot we learn from each other since we are all at varying stages of projects about the topic of acidification. The group of CAN coordinators are very helpful to one another and create a great resource. We are currently working closely with NECAN on a project coordinated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) North Atlantic Regional Team to develop communications products that we hope will create additional understanding around coastal and ocean acidification to Network members in the two regions. We will also be co-hosting a webinar through EBM Tools [3] on October 2nd from 1-2PM EST with NECAN.

MACAN has held previous webinars on various stakeholder perspectives (such as perspectives from natural resource managers and perspectives from commercial shellfish industry). Is there a key take-a-way that you’d like to share from these webinars?

MACAN has hosted 2 webinar series (8 total webinars) thus far and we hope to continue to host these webinars into the future. This is a young topic particularly in this region and these webinars provide an important opportunity for the MACAN members to learn about research efforts and member perspectives. As MACAN coordinators, these webinars provide us additional opportunities to learn about what research questions are being asked in the community and how we can promote monitoring and research that helps to answer those questions. I think a key take-away from the two webinars you mention is that there are still very basic questions we need to answer in this region to help resource managers and industry to prepare for the potential impacts of acidification, such as when and to what degree acidification will be an issue.

Is MACAN taking steps to answer those questions?

As we continue to pursue the goals of MACAN, we hope to continue to provide opportunities for our members to become involved. For the past 9 months we have been working to develop two white papers that delineate research priorities and a monitoring guide for the region that complement each other and hopefully become a basis for continued efforts around research and monitoring for the Mid-Atlantic. Network members have been crucial in the development of both white papers. We hope to finalize these in the fall of 2018 and begin to promote filling in gaps identified in both white papers in the future. We are also working on continued efforts to identify how to best address the needs of our network members and industry partners through an upcoming outreach strategy that should kickoff in the upcoming months. We also plan to continue to update the MACAN website so that it remains an information hub for the region.

Thank you to MACAN – and all the CANs – for doing this critically important work. Is there anything else you’d like TCS members to know?

I think for MACAN, being that we are a young Network, the thing we want TCS members to know is that there is a wealth of knowledge and expertise around ocean and coastal acidification in this region and we are working to coordinate this knowledge in a way that efficiently targets the region’s most pressing questions. If TCS Members are interested in learning more, our website,, provides a great hub of information that we welcome everyone to look through. If anyone is interested in joining the Network or learning more, they can email us at

[1] Kaity Goldsmith is a Program Manager with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO), and is a Co-Coordinator of MACAN.

[2] Grace Saba is an Assistant Professor with the Center for Ocean Observing Leadership in the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University, Ocean Acidification Lead at MARACOOS, and is a Co-Coordinator of MACAN.

[3] To learn more and to register for the webinar visit:

Understanding the Path of Hurricane Destruction: 2017 Hurricane Season Recap

By Lisa Graichen, Climate Adaptation Program Coordinator, University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension and New Hampshire  Sea Grant

Editors’ Note: This story is the fourth contribution to the TCS Storm Stories series.

The 2017 hurricane season was the most expensive in US history, with an estimated $265 billion in damages from 17 named storms, easily surpassing the previous record (2005) of $159 billion, which saw 28 named storms including Hurricane Katrina. Adding the West’s wildfires brings the 2017 damages total from large-scale hazard events to over $300 billion [1].

While recovery efforts from last year’s extreme events are still underway, we also need to think ahead toward preparing for the 2018 hurricane season while we have the chance. Between climate change and ever-growing coastal populations, we can’t afford not to learn from these recent extreme events. This past hurricane season offers lessons in the importance of using social media, integrating social science, and addressing equity issues in our preparedness work.

Figure 1. Data from:,,

How is climate change affecting extreme weather?

While there are many factors that contribute to extreme weather, the following points are clear:

  • Warmer oceans provide more energy for storms, so we expect more intense storm events.
  • There is more uncertainty about the effect of climate change on hurricane frequency. The overall number of hurricanes may drop, but the proportion of stronger hurricanes may increase.
  • Regardless of changes in hurricane strength and frequency, storm surges will be higher due to higher sea levels.
  • Warmer air holds more moisture, leading to more intense rainfall. “Hurricane rainfall is projected to rise 7% for each degree Celsius rise in tropical sea surface temperatures” [2].
  • Higher ocean temperatures may also contribute to larger and longer lasting storms.
  • The range of hurricanes may expand as ocean temperatures rise, leading to storms in places that haven’t experienced them before (e.g., Ophelia, which hit Ireland and the U.K. this past fall).
Figure 2. Hurricane Ophelia in Cornwall (Getty Images)
Figure 2. Hurricane Ophelia in Cornwall (Getty Images)


Time series data from the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information clearly suggest that the number of billion-dollar disaster events is growing over time. Extreme weather is becoming our ‘new normal’, and we will need to embrace ‘expecting the unexpected’ as our modus operandi.


Figure 3. Time Series of U.S. Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters (NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, 2018).
Figure 3. Time Series of U.S. Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters (NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, 2018).

What can we learn from the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season?

The importance of social media. This is evidenced by headlines like, “‘Please Send Help.’ Hurricane Harvey Victims Turn to Twitter and Facebook” (Time Magazine), “Hurricane Harvey: 5 Ways Social Media Saved Lives in Texas” (San Diego Union-Tribune), “Social Media Plays Growing Role in Guard’s Hurricane Response” (, and others (see graphic).


The 2017 storms showed the power of social media in providing real-time information, requesting help, documenting impacts, and checking on friends and family members.

George Washington University media professor Nikki Usher reflected in an opinion piece for the San Diego Union-Tribune, “We’ve seen disasters through Facebook where you can mark yourself safe and there have been movements toward giving people a chance to check in—but this is one of the first real disasters where you see rescuing via social media, you see images that the media couldn’t possibly get” [3].

While there were many positive stories about social media posts leading to rescues and other benefits, there are caveats – some reported hoaxes like insurance scams or the risk of identity theft due to sharing personal information. In addition, calling 911 remains the standard rescue request approach, so those who tweeted help requests instead may not have received assistance.

The main social media lesson here is that all of us operating in the coastal management/emergency response sphere need to engage in using social media during storm response, but we need to also identify best practices as we enter this relatively new territory.

The importance of social science. “Why don’t people evacuate?” was a question that came up over and over again on media coverage of the storms.

I think one role coastal managers can play is to help raise awareness about common reasons people choose not to evacuate and help communities address those barriers in the future. For example, some may be physically unable to leave their homes due to a disability, others don’t want to leave their pets behind, and some are afraid that their homes might be looted if they leave. Others may recall experiences from a previous storm event and are confident that they can ride out the next one.

Generally, those with limited financial resources can’t leave as easily, and some describe feeling a responsibility to stay and look out for their neighbors. In addition, many people’s evacuation decisions are influenced by whether evacuation orders made by local or state governments are voluntary or mandatory. These are legitimate factors in people’s decision-making, and we need to make sure our emergency preparedness and response communications help address these barriers (and work to improve the dialogue around this in the media where we have opportunities to do so) [4].

An example of audience segmentation related to hurricane response comes from coastal Connecticut (see graphic below). A 2014 survey of Connecticut residents in Coastal Evacuation Zones A and B found there to be five hurricane audience segments: “First Out” residents (21%) are anxious and eager to leave if a hurricane is in the forecast. “Constrained” residents (14%) are aware of risks and willing to evacuate but face barriers to doing so. “Optimists” (16%) doubt a hurricane will occur, but these coastal residents are willing to evacuate if one does occur. Twenty-seven percent are “Reluctant” to evacuate but will leave if ordered to. Lastly, the “Diehards” (22%) are confident they can safely ride out hurricanes at home [5]. Effective communication about preparedness will likely look different for each of these audiences.

fig6There is a growing body of social science research and risk communication best practices available that many of us our familiar with, but we could work more with media outlets to incorporate these principles before, during, and after storm events.

Bringing equity issues to the forefront. There are a lot of layers here, and no easy answers.

While extreme weather events don’t discriminate in whom they impact, low-income individuals, disabled individuals, and communities of color tend to be disproportionately affected [6]. For example, those who are already economically vulnerable have fewer resources to invest in flood insurance and are less able to sustain loss of income from disrupted employment during storms.

As described above, physical and economic vulnerabilities play a big role in preparedness and decisions to evacuate. University of North Carolina at Greensboro Professor of Sociology Steve Kroll-Smith provides some insight: “A disaster creates a clean slate for communities – a moment when things could be otherwise. However, what ends up happening is that we rebuild the inequality that existed prior to the recovery… In a society like ours, disaster relief processes are inevitably administered via market principles, including the potent notion of whether or not an applicant for relief is determined to be ‘market worthy.’ A market society is, by its very nature, going to recreate the inequalities that existed prior to the disaster” [7].

In 2017, there was a noticeable disparity in media coverage of the storm impacts on different places, and a lot of dialogue about the disparity in federal response to different places. While there are challenges in directly comparing the storms’ impacts and responses, it was hard not to notice some differences.

FiveThirtyEight analyzed media coverage for Hurricane Maria and Puerto Rico and compared coverage for Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma in Florida, finding that Hurricane Maria and Puerto Rico got comparatively little online and cable TV coverage [8].


The United States Virgin Islands and other islands in the Caribbean were devastated by hurricanes as well, but they received even less media coverage and federal response than Puerto Rico. [9].

All of the storms seem to have faded into history, but people are still recovering and still need support. As of December 29th (about three months after hurricane Maria), half of Puerto Ricans were still without power [10]. It also became apparent that “nearly half of Americans don’t know Puerto Ricans are fellow citizens” which speaks to some even larger awareness and understanding issues [11]. There is certainly a lot of room for improvement in how we keep the dialogue going and keep the support coming long after the immediate aftermath and to all affected places and communities.

Seizing the educational opportunity. The 2017 hurricane season sparked a fair amount of dialogue about the “500-year-storm” and “100-year-floodplain” terminology. Here are just a few examples:

  • “Houston is experiencing its third ‘500-year’ flood in 3 years. How is that possible?” (Washington Post)
  • “’500-year’ rain events are happening more often than you think” (CBS News)
  • “A ‘500-Year Flood’ Could Happen Again Sooner Than You Think. Here’s Why.” (New York Times)
  • “Hurricane season ends and FEMA 100-year floodplain to be expanded” (KHOU)
  • “Builders Said Their Homes Were Out of a Flood Zone. Then Harvey Hit.” (New York Times)
  • “It’s Time to Ditch the Concept of ‘100-Year Floods’” (FiveThirtyEight)
  • “Hurricane Harvey shows how floods don’t pay attention to flood zone maps – or politicians” (Washington Post)

While the top priorities after storm events are of course safety and recovery, there are significant educational opportunities related to climate change during these times. Some argue it is insensitive to discuss climate change soon after hurricane events, but I think it would be irresponsible not to have climate change be a central part of recovery and rebuilding efforts. We need to ensure that decisions made now incorporate science, take into account likely future conditions, and work to tackle equity-related issues.

With about six months left until the next hurricane season begins, we certainly have a lot of lessons to digest from the 2017 season and a lot of preparedness work to do. What other lessons did you take from the 2017 storms? How are you preparing for 2018? Please write your thoughts in the comments box below.






[1] Mooney, C., and Dennis, B. (2018, January 8). Extreme hurricanes and wildfires made 2017 the most costly U.S. disaster year on record. The Washington Post. Retrieved from

[2] Sneed, A. (2017, October 26). Was the Extreme 2017 Hurricane Season Driven by Climate Change? Scientific American. Retrieved from:


[4] Resnick, B. (2017, September 10). Why some people never evacuate during a hurricane, according to a psychologist. Vox. Retrieved from and Graham, D.A. (2017, August 25). Why Do Some People Decide to Ride Out Hurricanes? The Atlantic.Retrieved from

[5] Marlon, J., Leiserowitz, A., Feinberg, G., and Rosenthal, S. (2015, June 29). Hurricane Attitudes of Coastal Connecticut Residents: A Segmentation Analysis to Support Communication. Yale Program on Climate Communication. Retrieved from

[6] Davies, D.M. (2017, December 8). Texas Matters: Issues of Equity after Hurricane Harvey. Texas Public Radio. Retrieved from

[7] Bedrosian, A. (2017, November 16). Sociology Professor Explores Impact of Disasters on Identity, Inequality. University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Retrieved from

[8] Mehta, D. (2017, September 28). The Media Really Has Neglected Puerto Rico. FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved from

[9] Belluz, J. (2017, October 3). It’s not just Puerto Rico: 6 other Caribbean island nations are in crisis after the hurricanes. Vox. Retrieved from

[10] Robles, F. and Bidgood, J. (2017, December 29). Three Months After Maria, Roughly Half of Puerto Ricans Still Without Power. The New York Times. Retrieved from

[11] Dropp, K., and Nyhan, B. (2017, September 26). Nearly Half of Americans Don’t Know Puerto Ricans Are Fellow Citizens. The New York Times. Retrieved from


Benevolent hearts abound during the holidays, and not just on Giving Tuesday. Here are a few quick ways you can support the coasts throughout this holiday season.

  1. Make a point to visit you favorite local coastal spot in November, December, and January and bring friends. While strolling, kayaking, or bird watching make sure they know about the significance of the area and any management issues they can play a role in as community members.
Sanctuary designation will allow NOAA programs to supplement and complement existing state and local programs that aim to protect, study, interpret, and manage this unique area. Photo Credit: Daryl Byrd.
Foe example, if you are in the Maryland area, visit Mallows Bay. It is a proposed National Marine Sanctuary. Designation would allow NOAA programs to supplement and complement existing state and local programs that aim to protect, study, interpret, and manage this unique area. Photo Credit: Daryl Byrd.


2. Shop for the Holidays using Amazon Smile. 
Did you know Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of purchases to your charitable organization of choice using AmazonSmile? Click the Amazon Smile link before you start your online shopping with Amazon and make sure to choose The Coastal Society. Happy Shopping!


3. Buy TCS Merchandise – it is a Great Gift for Co-Workers!
Not sure what to get a colleague for your office holiday Grab Bag? How about a cellphone case with TCS logo, a mug or reusable water bottle, a TCS polo shirt or a 3/4-sleeve woman’s raglan t-shirt? Select from other styles and colors, too. Purchase here.


4. Donate Directly to TCS Today. 
Your direct donation to The Coastal Society supports our ongoing work to foster dialogue, forge partnerships and promote communications and education, and support young professionals and students in their professional development.  You can donate via the TCS website. 


5. Encourage a friend or colleague to become a member of TCS. 
Our strength (and fun!) comes from the network of coastal professionals and students. Members receive our coveted monthly jobs list, a subscription to the international journal Coastal Management, TCS Blog digest, & more! Send them this link.



By Emily Tripp, Publisher and Editor of

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in Marine Science Today and is reprinted here as part of a TCS-MST Collaboration

Aquaculture is one of the fastest growing sectors of agriculture in the world. It’s seen as a way to handle the increasing demand for seafood without putting additional pressure on wild fish populations. However, it has its own set of challenges, ranging from the food given to farm-raised fish to wastewater treatment.

View from inside a Hawaii offshore aquaculture cage. Photo credit: NOAA.

View from inside a Hawaii offshore aquaculture cage. Photo credit: NOAA.

A new study from the University of Illinois shows that a simple, organic system may clean aquaculture wastewater effectively and inexpensively.

In this new system, water from a fish tank enters a bioreactor (a long container filled with wood chips) at one end, flows through the wood chips, and exits through a pipe at the other end. While flowing through the container, solids settle and bacteria in the wood chips filter out nitrogen, which is a highly regulated pollutant.

The researchers compared four flow rates (the amount of time water has to flow from one end of the bioreactor to the other) and found that the optimal time was about 24 hours.

“The long and the short of it is that the bioreactors worked great,” Laura Christianson, assistant professor of water quality at the University of Illinois, lead author of the study, and bioreactor expert said. “They worked as a filter for the solids and took nitrates out. But for systems that need to move a lot of water in a short amount of time, we recommend an additional microscreen filter to settle some of the solids out before they enter and clog up the bioreactor.”

To learn more:

Reprinted from:


By Amanda Leinberger, NOAA Coastal Management Fellow with the Puerto Rico Coastal Zone Management Program and TCS Communications Subcommittee Member.

Editor’s Note: This article is also published on Marine Science Today as part of a TCS-MST Collaboration

Ecosystem-based Adaptation is good for communities and the environment as it promotes community engagement, restores natural habitats, and builds local resilience. The experience of a small island in the Caribbean is case in point.

Map of the Lesser Antilles. Photo credit: Google.

In the turquoise waters of the Eastern Caribbean Sea sits Grenada, a small island of about 105,000 people. The island is the southernmost of the Windward Islands and is located between Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to the north and Trinidad and Tobago to the south. Due to its location, Grenada is prone to natural hazards such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, landslides, and tsunamis. The country’s two largest cities, St. George’s and Grenville, are both located on the coast, and people depend heavily on agriculture and tourism for sources of income.

Coastal communities and marine resources on the island have already begun to experience the effects of climate change and are currently at risk from an increase in severe storm events, flooding, sea level rise, coastal erosion, drought, saltwater intrusion of coastal aquifers, and degradation of coral reefs. High coastal population densities, development, and limited land space have made Grenada all the more vulnerable. Damage from events that included two hurricanes, various tropical storms, and multiple extreme rainfall events served as a catalyst for projects focused on disaster preparedness, coastal resilience, and Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) to help protect communities at risk from future coastal hazards.

According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), adaptation can occur in physical, ecological, and human systems and “takes place through reducing vulnerability or enhancing resilience in response to climate change.” Adaptation activities include increasing community members’ knowledge and awareness about climate change effects to actually implementing adaptation strategies like creating a rain garden to help improve stormwater management.

EbA specifically focuses on “the conservation, sustainable management, and restoration of ecosystems to help people adapt to the impacts of climate change (IUCN)” as opposed to hard strategies that sometimes work against natural processes, such as concrete seawalls. EbA, also known as nature-based adaptation or a soft adaptation strategy, consists of multiple co-benefits as it not only protects livelihoods and communities but also restores natural habitat, supports vital ecosystem services, and boosts economies by increasing tourism.

Photo credit: Tom McCann, The Nature Conservancy (found in National Geographic Ocean Views, 2014).

The At the Water’s Edge (AWE) project, a great example of EbA work in the Caribbean, promotes coastal resilience and aids local communities in Grenada in responding to coastal hazards. As part of AWE, a partnership was formed between The Nature Conservancy, the Grenada Red Cross Society, and the Grenada Fund for Conservation as well as other local partners to conduct a Vulnerability Capacity Assessment (VCA). Combining the strengths of these different organizations helped make the process not only nature-based, but community-based as well. The VCA focused on four communities in the Grenville area of Grenada on the east coast of the island: Marquis, Soubise, Grenville, and Telescope. Previous assessments of these sites showed them to be the most vulnerable areas in Grenada for various reasons including their location, dependence on marine resources for income, and damage caused by past extreme events and storms. These communities are situated just steps away from the ocean, leaving them more susceptible to future changes.

Example of mangrove restoration on east coast of Grenada. Photo credit: Amanda Leinberger, 2014.
Example of mangrove restoration on east coast of Grenada. Photo credit: Amanda Leinberger, 2014.

The AWE project represents a holistic, community-based approach to adaptation and coastal management processes. For example, the project used participatory 3-dimensional mapping, which is a method of community based-mapping. The map depicts local knowledge and information like landmarks, houses, resources, and ecological features that would be difficult to express on a traditional or even a digitized map. Community members also attended various meetings and trainings as well as formed part of a community committee that was responsible for leading projects and making decisions.

Mangrove nursery. Photo credit: Amanda Leinberger, 2014.
Mangrove nursery. Photo credit: Amanda Leinberger, 2014.

Under this same project, two main EbA approaches were implemented in the Telescope area: mangrove restoration along the shoreline and a pilot coral reef enhancement project off the coast. On an island like Grenada where mangroves occur naturally but have historically been cleared for development, replanting mangroves can bring back a wealth of benefits such as protection from waves, water filtration, and fish habitat. The reefs off the coast of Grenada have also been degraded due to climate change effects as well as land-based pollution sources. The reef enhancement project’s goal was to help with wave attenuation, meaning to
decrease the amount of wave energy reaching the shore thereby decreasing coastal erosion and the risk of damage during high tide and storm surge events.

Climate adaptation often elicits images of giant seawalls separating cities from the sea. Gray infrastructure projects like seawalls are expensive, and they can lead to negative ecological and social impacts like disruption of sand distribution, loss of beach, and elimination of natural habitat. EbA, or green responses, are more sustainable than traditional hard approaches in more ways than one. The work in Grenada demonstrates the importance of natural infrastructure and can serve as an example not only to other Caribbean islands, but to coastal communities around the world.


IUCN – Climate Change Adaptation

Ecosystem-based Adaptation and Climate Change 



Kasey Jacobs with Caitlyn McCrary and Mary Ella Allen, TCS Communications Committee Members

Two weeks ago, a satirical rant about the Mola mola or Ocean Sunfish spurred an online debate among science communicators, fish lovers, and scientists. And The Coastal Society became an unwitting  contributor.

On February  21st, we shared an editorial from Deep Sea News, titled “Ocean Sunfish are the most useless animal (an epic rant)” on the TCS Facebook page. It included a warning about the vulgar language.



The Reaction

Shortly afterwards we received the following private message from a follower:

“Your post about Mola mola uselessness was uncalled for, and a bit odd, given TCS’s mission. I’ve unfollowed you.”

This sparked a discussion among a sub-group of the TCS Communications Committee. We analyzed internally whether the post we shared was inappropriate, which led to a larger discussion on the role of satire and humor in communicating ocean science. Turns out, we were not the only ones who were discussing this.

Around this same time, Deep Sea News removed the editorial and in its place embedded a Facebook post by the author that had the original content included.

The Discussion

The TCS Communications Committee welcomed this opportunity to have a healthy discourse about reaching for new, innovative ways to elicit discussion and debate on coastal issues among our members and followers. For decades, the TCS Bulletin and Biannual Conference were our chosen forums but in this age of social media we have been exploring other avenues like this blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Blue Room Interview Studio, and even Snapchat. Reaching out to the person who unfollowed us because of the post, we learned that the opposition to the editorial was that it was in “completely poor taste” specifically with regard to how it was written and the language used, but moreover that “we’ve got enough of a problem/challenge in the world of fish getting people to look at climate change, pollution, habitat loss and a host of other issues (including things like overfishing) without kicking species when they’re down.”

Alternative Ways to Use Humor to Inform

The follower also brought up good points about how to use the tactic of sarcasm and humor via social media in a better way. They mentioned that “from a social media perspective, there’s any number of ways to couch things like this so that sarcasm is clearer”.

We love that an example of another Mola mola post was given to show an alternative way to demonstrate the absurdity of the species without going negative or “bad-mouthing the critter”.

(Warning: Very Strong Language used…as in hundreds of curses. Do not click if you are at work or school!)

With a little investigation we found a variety of ways this footage has been used by local fishermen, the Boston Globe,, and television outlets in the Boston area that inform the public on the Mola mola. The boaters in the video were even interviewed by Jimmy Kimmel! On the show they were able to discuss just what the fish was and how surprised they were to learn about the Ocean Sunfish.

While the TCS Communications Committee was reaching out to the Facebook follower, Deep Sea News wrote a response to the controversy as well. They went deeper and pulled out information from the scientific literature on the impacts of how we discuss deep sea organisms.

National Geographic and Animal Planet have become known for their presentations of certain fishes as “Monsters of the Deep” and “Sea Monsters” as a way to gain interest, but turns out this trend of using negative humor on social media platforms to further causes is not unique to science communications.  Comedian Jon Stewart and The Daily Show cast and crew are well-known for using this tactic on television and online as ways to raise attention to political issues. But some assert there is a high cost to negative humor, principally creating an “insider” and “outsider” mentality in society.

What Do You All Think?

We want to hear from you! What are your views on the use of humor (positive or negative), sarcasm, and satire in science communications? Can you think of any other examples of its use that you thought were effective?


By Kim Hernandez, Coastal Resources Planner at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. This article is also published on Marine Science Today as part of a TCS-MST Collaboration initiated earlier this year. 

In the tidal Potomac River, about 30 miles downstream from Washington D.C., lay the remains of the “Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay” – over 100 wooden steamships built for the U.S. Emergency Fleet as part of the nation’s engagement in World War I. Dozens of other historic maritime resources also rest in the Potomac River, as well as 12,000 year old archaeological artifacts dating back to some of the region’s earliest Native American cultures. The significance of the area was enough to warrant its listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015. Now, thanks to abundant community support, it is in the running to become Maryland’s first national marine sanctuary.

One of the World War I shipwrecks visible at low tide in Mallows Bay, Maryland. Photo Credit: Kim Hernandez.
One of the World War I shipwrecks visible at low tide in Mallows Bay, Maryland. Photo Credit: Kim Hernandez.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the federal agency with authority to designate an area as a sanctuary, for the first time in two decades has been seeking engagement from the American public to nominate areas with significant community support. As nominations are submitted, NOAA reviews each one in several steps and those that pass the review will be added to an inventory of areas NOAA may consider for potential designation as national marine sanctuaries.

The Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary nomination was submitted in September 2014 by the State of Maryland with a broad-base of local government and non-government support. The nomination itself included letters of support from over 60 community organizations and individuals. Sanctuary designation would allow NOAA programs to supplement and complement existing state and local programs that aim to protect, study, interpret, and manage this unique area.

The original nomination cited improved opportunities for public access if the area is designated a sanctuary. Photo Credit: Stephen Badger.
The original nomination cited improved opportunities for public access if the area is designated a sanctuary. Photo Credit: Stephen Badger.

In addition to protecting the fragile remains of the shipwrecks, the nomination also cites opportunities to expand public access, recreation, tourism, research, and education. The area is contiguous to the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, the Star Spangled Banner National Historic Trail, the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail and the Lower Potomac Water Trail, allowing paddlers a unique glimpse into our Nation’s history.  Below the water, the area offers important habitat for popular recreational fisheries, including Striped Bass and White Perch. Above the water, ghostly shipwreck hulls jut out and provide perches for migrating waterfowl and thriving populations of Bald Eagles. The middle Potomac River truly is a historic and ecological treasure.

Four months after the original nomination was submitted, NOAA announced it would add the area to the inventory of nominations that are eligible for designation. It is important to note that the original nomination in September 2014 did not designate anything; it only suggested that NOAA consider designation. The January 2015 announcement meant NOAA would now seriously consider a sanctuary in the Potomac River – a huge step forward for the dozens of community supporters.

The ghostly shipwreck hulls lure recreationalists and historians to this area of the Potomac to get a unique glimpse into the past. Photo Credit: Kim Hernandez.
The ghostly shipwreck hulls lure recreationalists and historians to this area of the Potomac to get a unique glimpse into the past. Photo Credit: Kim Hernandez.

Nationally, the designation process is a separate public process that, by law, is highly public and participatory and often takes several years to complete. Nominated areas go through four main steps with NOAA before it is determined whether they are designated or not: (1) Scoping: NOAA announces its intent to designate a new national marine sanctuary and asks the public for input on potential boundaries, resources that could be protected, issues NOAA should consider and any information that should be included in the resource analysis; (2) Sanctuary Proposal: NOAA prepares draft designation documents including a draft management plan, draft environmental impact statement that analyzes a range of alternatives, proposed regulations and proposed boundaries; (3) Public Review: The public, agency partners, tribes and other stakeholders provide input on the draft documents. NOAA considers all input and determines appropriate changes; and (4) Sanctuary Designation: NOAA makes a final decision and prepares final documents. Before the designation becomes effective, the Governor reviews the documents. Congress also has the opportunity to review the documents.

Many birds, such as the osprey pictured here, have built nests atop the shipwrecks. Bald eagles are also often seen nesting along the shoreline. Photo Credit: K. Thayer.
Many birds, such as the osprey pictured here, have built nests atop the shipwrecks. Bald eagles are also often seen nesting along the shoreline. Photo Credit: K. Thayer.

For Mallow’s Bay, NOAA considered the nomination action until October 2015 when they issued a formal “Notice of Intent” to designate. Along with the Wisconsin – Lake Michigan National Marine Sanctuary, which is going through this same designation process right now, the Potomac River has the potential to be the home of one of the first new national marine sanctuaries designated in nearly 20 years.

In early spring 2016, a federal, state, and local government committee formed to grapple with all of possible management questions a sanctuary designation could spark. Currently, that committee is developing the draft documents required for the sanctuary – including an environmental impact statement and management plan. If all goes as planned, drafts will be available for public comment sometime in late 2016 and designation of this World War I paragon will coincide with the 100-year anniversary of the United States’ entry into the world war, in April 2017.

Sanctuary designation will allow NOAA programs to supplement and complement existing state and local programs that aim to protect, study, interpret, and manage this unique area. Photo Credit: Daryl Byrd.
Sanctuary designation will allow NOAA programs to supplement and complement existing state and local programs that aim to protect, study, interpret, and manage this unique area. Photo Credit: Daryl Byrd.

If designated, the proposed sanctuary would be managed jointly by NOAA, the State of Maryland, and Charles County, Maryland. The original coalition of organizations and individuals at local, state, regional, and national levels that supported the nomination –  including elected officials, businesses, Native Americans, environmental, recreation, conservation, fishing, tourism, museums, historical societies, and education groups – will continue to help mold the vision for the sanctuary and ensure effective protection and management moving forward.



For more information about the Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary nomination, visit:

For more information about the National Marine Sanctuary Program and nomination process, visit:

Kim Hernandez is a Coastal Resources Planner with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Chesapeake and Coastal Service. She assists with the coordination of state and regional ocean planning, with the planning and implementation of the Mallows Bay – Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary, and with programs that address coastal hazards and climate resiliency. She also serves as the agency representative on a number of planning bodies and stakeholder groups throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.

Editor’s Note: TCS members working on a national marine sanctuary nomination are invited to contribute a story on your proposed site and current efforts moving through the nomination process. Story ideas or full submissions can be sent to the TCS Communications Chair at kaseyrjacobs (at) gmail (dot) com.


By: Tom Bigford, American Fisheries Society Policy Director and TCS Past President, with Erin J. BryantAssistant Professor of Ocean and Coastal Policy, Sea Education Association, and Kimberly Hernandez, Coastal Fellow with Maryland Department of Natural Resources*, (TCS Communications Subcommittee Members)

The Best of The Coastal Society (TCS) 2015: community conservation events, career opportunity announcements, networking; TCS does it all for current and future coastal professionals.


#1 The New TCS Blog! Addressing legal issues, legislative action, international events, and coastal management strategies


Credit: TCS


The Coastal Society has celebrated 40 wonderful years of the Bulletin since Volume 1, Issue 1 in May 1976. The blog is meant to fill the space of the Bulletin in an updated format. Members have the opportunity to write about their work, students can write about their research, and Board members can use it as a forum to make Society announcements. Please reach out to Caitlyn McCrary with blog topics.

#2 TCS hosted Coastal Career Day November 14, 2015 at The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA


Credit: TCS


Coastal employers and other professionals met and talked with students about jobs in marine and coastal industry, government, science, and conservation.

For more, see


#3 TCS posted dozens of job ads, hosted meetings on cutting-edge topics, and welcomed new members in 2015

TCS members receive marine and coastal job listings and connect with marine and coastal professionals at meetings.

TCS and Restore America’s Estuaries will co-host a conference in December 2016

Credit: TCS


For more, see


#4 Duke Chapter Triathlon Raises Money with Fun


Credit: TCS


The annual Neuse RIVERKEEPER™ Foundation Sprint Triathlon in Beaufort, NC, raises money to help keep the Neuse River basin clean and pollution free. And the organizers and athletes have a pretty good time.

For more, see


#5 TCS Chapters Host Blue Drinks


Credit: TCS


Blue Drinks is “an informal social networking event” focused to facilitate connections in the marine environmental community.

For more, see


#6 University of Rhode Island’s Bass Rock Road Beach Sweep a Success


Credit: URI Coastal Society


A URI Coastal Society chapter beach clean-up required a run for more trash bags to contain the collected items.

For more, see


#7 Oregon State University’s King Tides Photo Party Publicizes How Far Future Tides Will Reach


Credit: OSU TCS


Oregon State University’s chapter of TCS celebrated smart coastal planning by photographing King Tides

For more, see


#8 Eckerd College’s TCS Chapter Cleaned the Beach at Ft. De Soto


Credit: Eckerd College


Eckerd College’s TCS Chapter organized a beach cleanup at Ft. De Soto.

For more, see


#9 East Carolina University TCS Chapter Initiates Blog


Credit: ECU TCS


East Carolina University’s TCS chapter started a blog in 2015.

For more, see


#10 Your favorite chapter events! Send us your news!


Student chapters of the Coastal Society actively pursue coastal management innovation and career advancement activities at Duke University, East Carolina University, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Oregon State University, Eckerd College, and the University of Rhode Island

For more, see


By: Tom Bigford and Mo Lynch

TCS has run its Annual Giving Campaign since 2012, and is now considering a shift from an end-of-the-calendar-year event to a continuous opportunity. The idea has been under consideration since this past Valentine’s Day when we announced our “I Love/Heart the Coast” effort.  Additional inspiration was provided by the family of Mo Lynch, our current Treasurer, a very long-time TCS member (since 1976, perhaps the longest membership streak of anyone), a past TCS President, the program lead for TCS16 in 1998 in his hometown of Williamsburg, Virginia, and an extremely fine gentleman and professional friend to many.

Mo Lynch, a pioneer of ocean leadership–then, now, and always

“…an extremely fine gentleman and professional friend to many.”

His family recognized his good deeds and commitment to TCS, so when his 80th birthday approached during our 2015 Annual Giving Campaign, siblings and others sent a flurry of donations to TCS in his name.  At last count, TCS had received eight generous donations based on multiples of Mo’s age, all now destined for a good cause. Once again, Mo has provided leadership. Let us all live to 100 and have family members so inclined to donate to our Society!

Mo, Sister, and Brother
Mo Lynch (left) with his sister and brother


By:  Erin J. BryantAssistant Professor of Ocean and Coastal Policy, Sea Education Association, and Kimberly Hernandez, Coastal Fellow with Maryland Department of Natural Resources*, (TCS Communications Subcommittee Members)

Coastal management took some big leaps forward in 2015 in many regions and sectors. Here are a few inspiring highlights, from Washington state to the Caribbean, and from climate change resilience and marine protected areas to green infrastructure technology and citizen science.

What else happened? Send TCS a message so we can pass along your coastal management news. What Was Green in 2015 … in the World of Coastal Management? Or at least noteworthy?

*TCS Leadership and Committee Chairs contributed to this article

#1 Sea Grant Tools Help Communities Become More Resilient

Photo Credit: Sea Grant

In January 2015 Sea Grant launched the National Sea Grant Resilience Toolkit. The toolkit is a compilation of tools and resources that have been developed over the years by the Sea Grant Network to help local communities become more resilient.

For more, see:

#2 Living shorelines practitioners gathered because marshes and wetlands beat seawalls in protecting human and wild resources

Photo Credit: Restore America's Estuaries
Photo Credit: Restore America’s Estuaries

Restore America’s Estuaries and the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation held the first gathering of the living shorelines community after NOAA’s Living Shorelines guide outlined how to promote living shorelines as a shoreline stabilization technique to preserve and improve sheltered coastline habitats and the benefits they  provide. New research finds that wetlands, marshes, and other natural barriers are more effective than concrete at protecting coasts.

For more, see:—Newsletter-.html?soid=1117698342948&aid=wF4X0WQ8kSg

#3 NOAA, federal partners design ‘early warning system’ for freshwater toxic algal blooms

Photo Credit: NOAA

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will study satellite data information on Harmful Algal Blooms to protect freshwater from contamination and help protect the American public.

For more, see:

#4 Coastal wetland restoration can now earn carbon credits globally

Coastal restoration work. Photo Credit: Restore America's Estuaries
Coastal restoration work. Photo Credit: Restore America’s Estuaries

The Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) will now allow salt marsh, seagrass, mangrove, and other tidal wetland restoration projects to count for carbon credits.

For more, see:

#5 Rhode Island’s Block Island offshore wind farm set to be first in nation

Photo Credit: Deepwater Wind
Photo Credit: Deepwater Wind

The first offshore wind farm in the United States, the 30 megawatt, 5 turbine Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island is scheduled to be online in 2016. Soon, the Block Island Wind Farm will not only supply most of Block Island’s power, but also reduce air pollution across southern New England for years to come.

For more, see:

#6 Tetra Tech designed the western hemisphere’s largest, most energy-efficient desalination plant for San Diego, CA

Desalination pipeline Photo Credit: Tetra Tech

Tetra Tech designed the desalination plant and pipeline, and coordinated the project with agencies, to supply fresh water to San Diego County.

For more, see:

#7 The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Report to Congress and the President summarized the GLRI’s first five years of study, restoration and management

Photo Credit: Michigan Dept of Environmental Quality
Photo Credit: Michigan Dept of Environmental Quality

Toxic substances, invasive species, non-point sources of pollution, research, evaluation, outreach, and partnerships are GLRI’s focal areas.

For more, see:

#8 EPA’s Green Infrastructure Wizard, or GIWiz, provides access to tools and resources that can support and promote water management and community planning decisions

Photo Credit: EPA
Photo Credit: EPA

GIWiz is an interactive web application that connects communities to EPA Green Infrastructure tools & resources. Users can produce customized reports.

For more, see: or

#9 RESTORE the Gulf Act funded research priorities announced for Gulf of Mexico

Photo Credit: NOAA

The plan includes these research priorities, especially as they relate to fisheries:

  • Models, decision-support tools, and monitoring technology for natural resource managers;
  • Understanding how the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, its natural resources, and its coastal communities are connected;
  • Capacity to predict the impact of climate change and severe weather on the Gulf of Mexico and its natural resources; and
  • Indicators for measuring the long-term status and health of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem.

For more, see:

#10 Georgia Sea Grant Uses New Smartphone App to Map King Tide Flood

Photo Credit: Georgia Sea Grant
Photo Credit: Georgia Sea Grant

The Sea Level Rise app, created by Norfolk, Virginia-based Wetlands Watch and developer Concursive, is being pilot tested to capture tidal flooding events up and down the East Coast, including by Sea Grant programs in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

For more, see

#11 Smart Coastal Management in Washington: Coastal Hazards Resilience Network and Marine Spatial Planning Move Forward

Washaway Beach Photo Credit: Washington Coastal Hazards Resiliency Network
Washaway Beach
Photo Credit: Washington Coastal Hazards Resiliency Network

The Washington Coastal Program’s new regional partnership boosted coastal community resilience by helping local planners find tools for disaster response and recovery. Washington moved toward a comprehensive marine spatial plan by mapping seabirds, mammals, and seafloor features.

For more, see:

#12 California Sea Grant and the California Coastal Commission produced Sea Level Rise Policy Guidance

Photo Credit: California Coastal Commission
Photo Credit: California Coastal Commission

California’s Sea Level Rise Policy Guidance document briefs the best available science on sea level rise for California and tells the Coastal Commission how to plan and regulate for sea-level rise. The guidance document makes general recommendations intended to be adapted to the needs of specific geographical areas. Sea Grant and CCC will periodically revise the guidance document to address new sea level rise science, information and approaches to sea level rise adaptation, and new legal precedent.

For more, see:

#13 Planners prioritized resiliency in 2015’s Florida Transportation Plan as leaders saw projections of 6-10 inches of sea-level rise by 2030

The 2015 update estimates sea level rise of between six and ten inches above the 1992 mean sea level by 2030 Photo Credit: Florida Department of Transportation
The 2015 update estimates sea level rise of between six and ten inches above the 1992 mean sea level by 2030
Photo Credit: Florida Department of Transportation

Climate resilience features prominently in the December 2015 update of the Policy Element of the Florida Transportation Plan, which defines goals and objectives for the next 25 years and establishes the policy framework for expenditure of state and federal funds. Included in the plan’s seven policy goals is “Agile, Resilient, and Quality Infrastructure,” with the objective to “increase the resiliency of infrastructure to risks, including extreme weather and other environmental conditions.” Southeast Florida Climate Compact’s projection guideline now includes a long term planning horizon to the year 2100 and local sea level rise rates due to local processes.

For more, see: and

#14 Climate Central announces America’s Preparedness Report Card

Massachusetts gets an A in climate change impact preparedness   Photo Credit: States at Risk: America’s Preparedness Report Card
Massachusetts gets an A in climate change impact preparedness
Photo Credit: States at Risk: America’s Preparedness Report Card

The States at Risk report found that Florida and Louisiana face enormous coastal flooding threats, far greater than any of the other 22 coastal states. Florida alone has 4.6 million people projected at risk (living in the 100-year coastal floodplain) by 2050. Louisiana has 1.2 million. Overall, states are more prepared for coastal flooding than for any other threat. Florida, however, is not among them. Florida earned an F for coastal flood preparedness, due to its average level of readiness in the face of enormous current and future risks. Louisiana, which is far better prepared, earned a B-.

For more, see:

#15 Identifying Virgin Islands Areas Most Vulnerable to Climate Change

Photo Credit: Landscape Conservation Cooperative Network, C&R Dunn, Flickr
Photo Credit: Landscape Conservation Cooperative Network, C&R Dunn, Flickr


The Nature Conservancy with help from multiple agencies and organizations like the Caribbean Landscape Conservation Cooperative (CLCC) – one of a network of private-public sector LCC groups created by the U.S. Department of the Interior – identified areas in the Virgin Islands that researchers agreed are most likely to feel the greatest negative impact of global warming and possible ways to mitigate the situation.

For more, see: