By Alia Wilson
In recent years, scientists have discovered a gradual increase of harmful algae in the Monterey Bay. These microscopic species of algal blooms can produce potent neurotoxins that can be transferred throughout the food web. Marine researchers both local and abroad are looking to implement preventative measures.
Jane Lubchenco, marine ecologist and one of the researchers who has been studying algal blooms, will be coming to UC Santa Cruz to speak at the third annual Fred Keeley Lecture on Jan. 29. Her presentation, "Seas the Day! Steps toward Sustainable Use of the Oceans," will focus on these blooms as well as what scientific evidence is telling us about the oceans and what tools can be used to recover what has been nearly lost.
"Some algal blooms are impacted significantly by introduction of non-native species from ship discharge," Lubchenco, former president of the National Science Board, told City on a Hill Press (CHP). "We are seeing an increase on a global scale.
"This is an example of a problem of causes we know; and solutions are available," she continued.
Lubchenco has as many accomplishments in the field of marine ecology as the ocean is wide. She has tackled Congress, conversed with the United Nations and presented her findings at the White House. Based along the United States West Coast, Lubchenco and teams of researchers from Oregon State University, UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara, and Stanford study marine ecology and how it functions.
Peter Raimondi, chair of the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology program and local researcher for the Partnership and Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO), said that it is because of Lubchenco’s influence that PISCO has been able to continue research on ecological patterns and reproduction in marine communities. Her work has led to the communication of unbiased data to those who implement conservational policy.
"[Lubchenco] is one of the very best scientists that can link academic research to policy," Raimondi said. "She can translate science into the right kind of language and has the right connections, so people listen to her."
Lubchenco’s role in educating the public about the importance of ocean sustainability has contributed to the preservation of healthy and diverse ecosystems.
Ken Bruland, professor of Ocean Sciences at UCSC, agreed that she had a lot to contribute.
"Jane Lubchenco is a brilliant marine ecologist with outstanding scientific credentials who is also an articulate spokesperson to raise the visibility of important ocean issues to the public," he said in an e-mail to CHP. "She argues effectively that a new view of the oceans is in order."
Lubchenco noted that Santa Cruz has the leading researchers on the West Coast to study the composition of plants and animals in the rocky seashore. Awareness of locals residents, she stressed, is essential if change is to take place.
"Its vitally important for all coastal residents to be aware of what’s happening around them and to be actively engaged in what’s happening for the future," Lubchenco said.
_Lubchenco will be speaking on Janurary 29th at 7:30 p.m. in the Music Recital Hall. For more information please call