tv Earth Focus LINKTV September 3, 2020 9:00am-9:31am PDT
announcer: on this episodede of "earth focus," ocean acidification caused by global warming is dramatically affecting marine life. in california, partnerships are forming between cocommercial fisheries, scientists, and community members to helelp the endangered abalone adapt and survive. [slide projector clicking] different announcer: "earth focus" is made possible in part by a grant from anne ray foundation, a margaret a.
cargill philanthropy; the orange county c community foundation; and the farvue foundation. [surf crashing] [distant chahatter] man: it was a big thing. it was a big tradition for generations, you know, just, for me, as 3 generarations. i k know some l s that are 4th generation of really kind of rock-picking and then evolving into diving and harvesting the abalone. and it's just--it's an incredible opportunity. it's--the ocean's free to go into. there's education, there's science, there's a physical workout. it's really just sort of a magical... oppoportunity, r really a rich t of a lot o of the locals' lives here. abalone brbrought a lot of people herere that--it was tir big vacation of the year. . come
over with, you know, mom, dad, and the grandkids and camp out and relive the memories that they had when th were children. wowoman: abalone is a hot topic across california because the harvest of abalone is deeply embedded in ththe culture of californians, going back to indigenous communities that lived here before our colonizatition. dougug bush: it't's justst likea garden snail, excecept instead f eatingng your basisil and yourur lilittle baby y arugula ststar's eating seaeaweed. one shell anda foot. this is what you eat. this is just a a big, muscular foot that it crawls a around and hols onto the rock. krkristin aquililino: abalone ha realally importatant economic it on this ststate. thehey supporta lucrative e commercial fishery r decades. they also supported a recreaeational fishery that brought about $45 million to t e north coast of california until recently, and they support rereally sustatainable aquaculte in the statate. woman: the red abalone fishery
was a major fishery, recreational fishery on the north coast for dedecades and de really critical for the culture of california fofor that time. we had to recommend to the fish and game commission that it be closed after several years of severe impacts to the kelp forest. lackey: it's definitely affected business, and my tours have been greatltly affecteded for the a b diving. and they estimate thatat it's, youou know, anywhere fromm $44 to $ $54 million out of ouor local economy, just from the abalone,e, and that really hurt. with busininess down, , you kno, considererablyless than 50%, it's almost at a break-even point for r me. i'm hanging in there. i'm still l doing it. the economy is on everyone. you know, the gas stations, the markets, the hotels, state parks.
catttton: we've been n surveyine kelp fororest for ththe last 200 yearars now. we've seeeen a seve decline of the kelp forest and severe impact toto the algal communities, and those are directly impmpacting the abalone fishery because the abalone rely on the k kelp for food. soso w'e had 4 years of severe starvation conditions for abalone and other herbivores in the system, and we're seeing evidence of mass mortalitities of thehe abalone n the wild. so the kelp forest has declined dramatically, basically, becausu of this run of incredibly warm water we've had on the california coast. basically, you know, the warmest the california coast has gotten in recent history for the longest peririod of timeme. so that is e first symptom of broader global change that we are expecting along the california coast. catton: : this is what it loloos like to bebe underwater in a bul kelp fororest. this is what we used to survey through, and
today, where we are seeing this vast expanse of no bull kelp, the culmination of these--this persistent starvation is, in part, due to an exexpansion of e purple u urchin population. and purplele urchins are a natural part of the system. we're seeing these urchins, which are little balls of spines, basically, with a mouth on the bottom that will start to form feeding fronts and mow down everything that they come across on the reef. lackey: it really started to change quickly. we sawaw a lotot more purple urchinins. the kelp started to not look as healthy. we really stararted seeing the lastst kelp, more urchins,s, ani think therere were a lot of peoe surprisesed. man: when n we started this urcn removal project, it was really small. it was jujust a few peope that really wanteded to do
something about ththe urchin exexplosion because the e depart hadn't been doing anything. we removed 57 7 tons of purple ururchins, between the recreationalal and the commercil divers. our program is now what i considider a success, ok, , so give y yourselves a big round of applauause, please. [cheering] this event basically was spawned by the closure of abalonone seasons. you knonow, t a ab seasons were closesed due to the lack o of kelp andnd the incrers number of f urchinin that were preventing the kelp from coming up. so, you know, basically, our r best chancnce of gettitinn abalalone fisherery back is s to somethining about ththe urchin fifirst. therere's no way to prt what'll happen. things change, bubut a lot ofof the thingngs te know, a lot t of the bususinesss thate know arere in threat, are in danger of closing now, and as thisis progresses more, will ben danger of closing. you know, t e commercial fisisheries, the recreational f fisheries--if ththere's no kelp, there's no fish. catton: one of the t things that
the watetermen's alliance i is g to help progress our goals is to enengage the a abalone diviversd otheher recreatitional divererse area that are passionate about helpining to bring back the kekp forerest, to target the purple urchins inin their recreationall harvest.t. [overlrlapping chahatter] russo: in 2013, there was an abnormal spawning event with the purple urchin in sonoma, where they spawned in deep water and it washed ashore, basically the entire sonoma coast. so what happened then is you have the kelp trying to come back in the cold-water years, but in an abnormally large population of purple urchin. so every time the kelp would pop up, it was dog-piled by urchin, so there's an urgency t to getting this doe sooner rather than l later. catton: so we're here to estimate the number, the total numbers of urcrchins that are
being caught. we're taking a look at the sizes of those urchins and looking athahat their condition is, what thehe'e been e eating. man: i t think the big thihing s that t they--y k know, when thte kelp comes back, whehen the kelp come back, that't'll briring the abs back. man 2: i've been ouout here divg for abalone for decades,nd we've got thihird and fouourth generaration coming up that we wantnt to preseserve all t thisr ththem and foror everyone e elst to mention the ecoconomy out he. it just--it's a very special place, andnd to have the i induy brings a lot of momoney to the econonomy, and we'd likeke to se this economy built back up. man:n: and it's emotional, you know? ? because hehere--this is where i learnened to abalone-di, you u know, backck in 1999, you knknow, and to see what't's hapd toto it is, yeyeah, it's really- it's really hard to look at. catton: it's a really community-building kind of event, and it's really fabulous to see so many people energized and engaged with helping to restorore the kelplp forest. man 3: because t this is our plplayground. . we love ththis.s is--when you're talkiking about
environmentalism, you're talking of people who come o out there d we play,y, we love this place.ee don't t want to sesee it hurt.te want t to have somomething tha's renewablble and suststainable. % of all the abalonene now in mendndocino are e dead because theyey've starved to o death. w, 95% of a all the abalone in sona county are dead. we will n never dive there again. man 4: it's... it's s beyond words just how bad it's gotten. [water bubbling] aquilino: so here's an abalone. it's got--you know, it just looks like a garden snail in these respiratory wawaters here. this is number 037. abalone are
basically just like a big suction cup with an adorable face. we are now in the white abalone captive breeding lab. this i is a really exciting g pe wherwe try to o make the b babi, the baby white abalonene that wl bebe the animals that gogo out n the wild and help save the species. so these gu in thesee troughs were just booted out of the nursery over there behind you because that's where we're going to s send all ththe new animals that we prproduce thisis year, and these are e all the os that we produced in 2018, in all--this whole rack. and i can pull up a really tiny one and put it on my finger. swezey: and these guysys are all the same age, right? aquilino: they're all the same age, so it's s really amazing te size variation that we see in these animals. there's a lot of genetic variation in abalone, and d that's good news in some ways, when we think about climimate change because t there might t be a lot of geneticc adaptations thatat they have tht natural selection can act on. we're helicopter parents to every one. swezey: yeah, every white abalone is sacred in this lab.
so our r research hahas been fod on basic impacts on abalonone, t beyond that, what drives variatioion in that t response? because in o our experiments, we've seen some pretty negative impacts, but then we've seen some abalone that don't seem as affected, that grow more or less normally. . so what is it aboutt those inindividuals? whehen youe these bibig impacts s in other , what is it abobout the guyuys tt are makiking it? whahat in their genetics i is allowingng them to that? and d then couldld we hars that informationon that we're discoverering to basically buiud resiliencece into consnserving d growing the species s in the future? aquilino: our first year of getting this program here at uc davis bodegaga marine laborator, we only had abouout 30 total animals in captitivity. our r ft spawning season, w we created about 2020 more. thahat wasn't g to save e the specieies, but the nextxt year, we e created about, ththe year after that, a few thousand, and in this room, , we have about 30,000 white abalone, well over what is left in the wild. we want as many as possible to survive in order to ensure the future of this
species. hill: krkristin aquilino is thte lead scientist w who has been charged with trying to bring the endangered whitete abalone back from the brirink of extinction. the e project has s been remaray successfulul, but an i interestg thining to thinknk about is s te knknow that ababalone who o aret free out intnto the oceaean tody are actutually going to experiee a different ocean in their lifetime than perhaps the abalone of 50 or a hundred years ago. and so o part of what krisn is thinknking about is, whatat s the e future hold for those whie abalone in the ocean? and part of that future is ocean acidificatation. ocean acidification is a particularly intereresting scientificic problem because i's fundamentatally the chchanging chemistry of thehe ocean due to risising carbon dioxide concentrtration in the atmosphee because of human activities.
when we talk about global wawarming, we'e're ususually tag about t changes inin the averare temperature across the earth's surface, associated with that rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. the cause of global warming is the same cause of ococean acidification, so rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere also caususes the ocecean to fundamentally change in chemistry. in 2007, our research group formed, , and there are a groupf faculty y who work together toty to underststand the impacts of ocean acidifification, and the reason w why is that w we know e ocean is a tremendndous spongegr cacarbon. it just soaks s it upo about 20% to 30% o of what we et to thehe atmosphere through h or activities ends up in the ocean, and that fundamentally changes the chemistry of the ocean
water.r. it reduces the ph o ofe water, makining it more acidic, shshifting it enough thahat organisms absolutely notice e ad arare impacted. we a are asking really funundaml thingsgs about howow animals i e sea wowork, how they make shshe, how they live, and how these chemical changeses might affect all of t those thingngs. i'm using a probe right now toto measure the tetemperature,e, salinity, dissolved oxygen, and ph o of the seawater out here in the cove. we do things like this routinelely both here, but alllp and down the california coast to try to understand how processes lilike ocean a acidificatition d climate change are h happening along this coast.
swezezey: so what we're doing is we'rere measuringng the ph of seawater using this device that's called a spectrophotometer. basically how it worksks is we add a little bt of dyeye to seawater, ththis dye that's called c cresol purple, d it a actually y comples s with hydrogen ion in e e seawater, so it basicalally changeses color n proportion t to the phph of that seawater, and it u usually kindf goes from a purplele to a red. e then putt in this s machine and we shine l light through that seawater, and depending on the cocolor, the m machine is s ablo calculate the exact ph of that seawater. the average e ph of te ocean is about 8.1. we're expecting it t to decline about another .2 to .3 units, possibly more. . you may nonot think thtt ththat is an i incredibly y impt detail, but it actually turns out that animals in the ocean have evolved in a pretty stable ph, that the magnitude of change wewe're e expecting i is much gr
than t they'veve seen in a any t evolutionary period of time. aquilino: all of the caldera instruments come back tomorrowo. swswezey: oh.. hill: so this place will be hummin' staining this weekekend. swezey: ok. hill: we w were particicularly intererested in spspecies alonoe west coast of the u.s. that people would really identify as sort of classisic west-coast species.s. and so wewe began thinking about ocean acidification impacting abalone and other species thatat many people on the west coast, if you're walking along a shore, they're the species that yoyou think k of as being sort off chararacteristically what t you would find on this shore. when an abalone or a clam is making its shell, it is essentially pulling components out of the water. it's pulling building blocks out of the water and making a hard part. and what ocean acidification does is it makes it harder for them to find those building blocks, so they
expend more energy just trying to make a shell to protect themselves from a predator or a crashihing wave or whatever the oceaean is bringing. swezey: we're realizing that animals that build shells and hard parts take calcium and carbonate out of the water and build skeletons with it. the calcium carbonate is very sensitive to the ph of seawater, that it's less stable asas seawater becomomes more acacidi, and d we've begun to realalize t it's much hardeder for animals o build d their bodies in the firt place and kikind of maintain wht they already have, andnd that there's a bunch of sensitivities when they're very little. when they're kind of first g growing, ththey're actually very dependet on a stable ph of the ocean. aquilino: white abalone are an ideal spececies to be looking at some of these questions about ocean acidification n because they'rere a deepwater specieses. they're o often in water that is naturally y more acidic than soe of the surroundingng water, ando ifif we can gure out h how they deal with ththis problem, we mit be able to apppply that to other abalone species that are also
facing peril. [surf crashing] swezeyey: i met doug bush, w whs the general manager ofof the cultured abalone fararm, when he cacame up here to give a a semi. the whwhite abalonone breedingng prograram here has really bebeen ininformed by a lot of the stuff he's done with his commercial business in santa barbara on the kind of technique for raising the larvae, how you grow them out, how you raise a lot in a very smallll space. ththat's s l informatation that''s incrcrediy important t to abalone nservationon. bush: therere's a a really strog demand domticacall almlmost all of our product is sold in california or just on the west coast. we do everything in-house. we're a completely integrated farm. we have adult abalone, which we'e'll takake io the hatchery, and you get a tiny littttle fertilized abalonee emembryo. we g get them by the mimillions. 24 h hours latater,y
hatch,h, and feed, feed, feeeed, repeat, and harvest at about 100 grams, aboutut a 3 1/2-i-inch sl length. and ththat's s the markt size, and we crank those out 52 weeks a year. aquilino: much of what we e do here in ththis program has been inspired b by what abalone farms do, people likike doug bush and dan swezezey at the e cultured abalone e farm have e really hed us figure out how to maximize producuction in this lab. so wee take their best methods and then we tweak them for r white abala, so it t really helps sustainable aquaculture in this coununtry ad the restoration of a species. bush: i'veve been banging this drum for a whilele, to really st ofof draw attetention to a abal. it's s just a pererfect, bannnnr species.s. aquacultuture and mae science hahas a tendenency to st of do a real cutut-and-pastete e of research, and so it didn't seem to me to be a great way to necessarily advance e the body f
knowowledge on h how you canan t change and keep p that learnrnig trajectory movoving forward. whn we have a sort of f ready supppy of somethingng, where you can, like, generate the numbers you need for replicatable research, and you can kind of foster that commercial andnd research partnership, dan really jumped on that. you know, he and i met, and he took up that cause enthusiastically. swezey: and ultimately, to restore white abalone in the wild, we're going to need the scale that we see at commercial abalone farms because we're going to have to put them out by the hundreds of thousands to the millions if we ever wantnt to se that population kind of restored to its--its kind of pre-impact popupulation in southern california. hill: they are interested in sort of--if we look toward the future of the farming of abalone, what can n we do to mae sure that t those abalone are healthy anand resilienent to fue
ocean conditioions? but they are also looooking at whether particularar genetic strains mit be more resilient to thehese future condiditions. bush: when they're this size, they're relatively burly. they're capable of withstanding challenges, , especially short-term ones. where we are, on the coast, the--the big acidification events, the big ph drops, they're associated with upwelling g events, and they d't last forever. they c can--these guys canan deal with thohose, bt the larvae, the eggs, the future of these guys--those guys get hit by those events, and it just hammers them. it's gotten challenging. it's not a turnkey, pushbubutton operation to jujust ththem in the bucket and make a million babies, you knknow? andt should be, but it's getttting haharder and harder and d harder evevery year. swezey: doug really takes it a step further in that he's
willining to work k with scienes and groups t that are interestsd in conseserving the species onoa more personal levevel because he understands ththe value inin conserving the abalone and having a healthy abalone population both for his business, but alalso for kinindf the historical legacy of the state. he really wants to see abalone continue in the future, and that's what we all want. hill: : you know, , wow, what tn opportunitity we have, an oceann acidification resesearch groupup herere at the mamarine lab. . we an expert t on bringing an endangerered white a abalone sps backck from the e brink, andnd e an expert t on farming red abale in the context of ococean acacidificatioion, and so,o, of course, , our 3 grououps work together because we're interested in trying to understatand the fututure of alf these e species, both for conservation of the species--how do we protect the species in the future?--but also for sustainable fafarming.
bush: the academic world moves at its own pacace. in the commercial world, we're--it moves at its own pace, but there are momements and there are projectsts that bring everyonene into the f fold and lelet the is kind of flow. it's s very organ. it's the way that thihinking works,s, the way that problem-m-solving woworks, the y that y you approacach a problelm a a different t perspective sometimes, takake a step b back. when you''re working on aa project, youou develop the cocommunity ththat helps you moe forward.d. swezey: : now we are at this p t where the knowleledge that's ben accumulalated here o on abalonee farms like thihis is actuauallya valuluable resouource, and it'sa criticical step in conservininge species in many ways, not only from a technical standpoint, but also from what was achieved, starting the farm m in the first place and getttting these animas to persist, anand so, in that sense,e, it is a valuable rerese from the y years and years of effort to build this place.
russo: i t think that t the timr divevers to be p passive andnd t regulations happen and to o let things like e that happen anand believe e that nobody's going to shut y your fisherery down, i ik ththat's s over. i ththink we s- i think everybody shouldld be involveded. lackey: : people wouould come up with no o experiencece, and we'e able t to take thehem out in t e wawater, and m most of thehem we pretty successful. i mean, they thought it was t the greatest thing in the world, they were super impressesed with how many abs there were. butt unfortunately, the niche hasn't been filleled. the abalone is--- with that gone, there's a missing business component for sure. i'm hopeful that those oasises arare going to be e fin, they're going to help the spawn come back in the abalone populatition, and hohopefully we just get back onon track. [surf crashihing] swezey: anand that thehe ocean s
been this, you know, incredible resoururce and source of nourishmhment for meme; you kno, recreation, wonderment, stimulating my interest in the natural worlrld, and kind of driving what i do, so there's no going somewhere else or eating whwhat's left. thisis is our shd legacy, our shshared resource, and so that's what i bring toto what i dodo. hill: many of us have some sort of relationship with the ocean. maybe it's through things that we like to eat or places that we like to visit, or even long-standing cultural traditions or values that we have around a healthy ocean and a healthy beach that we want to go visit. and so there isn't actually a, you know, a magic message from the past to t tells what''s going to happen because this great human experiment that
[soft sisic] ♪ - everything that we see around us today is a descendent to those ancient people that have a spirit. before the earth was even here, a couple spirits were going through the galaxies. kwahn is t the silver r fo, and d jamul, thehe coyote, anand they met up with each other. they wanted something. they wanted something which is the earth, and so they sang and prayed and used the power of their mind, d d thatreatededhe earth. ♪ they weren't done. they wanted something to be on there, and so they envisioned water, and they sang water songs, and there was water. they looked at it, and it's--it's beautiful,