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Thu August 30, 2012
Living Lab Week in Review: Bowhead Sighting, Stoney Controversy
The local science institutions have been brimming with news lately. We'll do this rundown in geographical order, starting on the outermost tip of the Cape and working our way back.
Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies announced earlier this week that it has confirmed the identity of a whale sighted with a group of right whales off Orleans in March as a bowhead whale - the first bowhead to be sighted this far south in the North Atlantic, and the first example of social interaction between right whales and bowheads. Dr. Cynthia Tynan, who leads research at the Center for Coastal Studies on the impacts of climate change on marine mammals, suggested that low sea ice extent may have played a role in allowing the whale to go where most bowheads don't. Or it might just be a very confused whale.
Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve has received a $1.2 million grant from NOAA for capital improvements to its Falmouth headquarters, including a research dock; new labs, offices, and classroom space; new signage and LED lighting; energy efficient windows and a photovoltaic installation.
Woods Hole Research Center researchers have produced the first detailed map of forests - and the carbon they store - in the continental U.S. The data provide an important baseline for tracking future changes. You can see the map in the September issue of National Geographic or check out the data for yourself at ESRI’s ArcGIS online mapping service.
MBL is stirring up controversy with the announcement that the institution is considering selling its waterfront property abutting Stoney Beach in Woods Hole. Despite assurances that the beach would remain public despite private development of what is now tennis courts and a parking lot, a petition asking MBL to cancel its plans has attracted hundreds of signatories.
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has a number of missions underway at the moment (any moment, for that matter). The Ocean Acidification Pteropod Study team is back at sea this week after two returns to port caused by equipment failures. If you've never heard of ocean acidification or a pteropod - or even if you have - I recommend checking out their Charismatic Microfauna blog.
And finally ...
Schmidt Ocean Institute isn't exactly local. But founders Eric and Wendy Schmidt have Nantucket connections and the nascent institute's research ship R/V Falkor was just in Woods Hole a few weeks ago, so we'll call it close enough. Anyway, their blog post about 'sneaking up' behind Tropical Storm Isaac is a perspective on the high-profile storm that you won't find in mainstream media coverage.