Out with the old, in with the new. We’re on the move.
Tide Report from Upwell
Happy Friday, everyone. It’s a day of change for us today; we’re leaving our much-loved space on Water Street and moving in with the wonderful folks at Aspiration Tech. But the work goes on, as evidenced by this here Tide Report, which today looks at controversial high-tech plastic-removing ideas, and a totally non-controversial bycatch-themed video game from Greenpeace. And a shark with two heads!!! This issue of the Tide Report is brought to you by the word “awesome.”

In this issue
  1. Read Our Report Online
  2. On the Improbability of Skimming Plastic from the Ocean
  3. Shark vs Mermaid Death Squad
  4. Stuck Ship Chopped to Ease Reef Grief
  5. The Shark with Two Heads
  6. USA Today Does Ocean Acidification
  7. Calendar

Read Our Report Online

Hey, remember that time not so long ago when we had to take a breather from Tide Reporting because we were buried in data that we were feeding into the machine that goes ping, so that we could find the ultimate answer to life, the universe and everything - and specifically, the part that relates to the ocean and social media? We bet you’ve been thinking ever since: “Boy, I’ll bet I could read that report. I’ll bet it’s some kind of awesome.”

Well, now you can. Right here. The Upwell Pilot Report (aka 165 Pages of Awesomeness).

Let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you. And you can also read some excerpts on our blog.

On the Improbability of Skimming Plastic from the Ocean

The world is full of inventions that solve problems we didn’t know we had: just check out this compilation of soda can handles, square watermelons and dustpan and brush slippers by way of evidence. Some inventions, though, can seem simultaneously implausible and awesomely awesome, the perfect answers to seemingly intractable problems.

Like, for example, this:

Proposed Ocean Cleanup sifting boom.

The above illustration is the brainchild of 19-year-old Boyon Slat, who proposes using ocean currents to push plastic into a series of giant sifting booms strategically placed across major ocean gyres. “Extract 7,250,000,000 kg in just 5 years (per gyre),” proclaims his website.

Like we said, awesomely awesome, right? Wellll, not so much. Between them, our friends Miriam Goldstein and Kim Martini have provided a pretty thorough reality check of the concept at Deep Sea News (Cliff Notes version: It won’t work. And it’ll kill stuff, possibly lots of stuff.)

There’s no question that the intent is great; Mr. Slat is 19 years old (and what were we all doing at 19? Trying to save the ocean? Or stuff like this?). And as he himself points out, it’s still only a concept.

The problem is that he world is full of proposed supermassive megatech solutions to environmental problems that have the potential to themselves create environmental problems (you know, like combatting climate change by seeding the ocean with iron) without actually ever addressing how those original environmental problems began in the first place, which is where the emphasis really needs to be.

Amplify This: Share Miriam and Kim’s analysis with your followers, with this tweet: Plastic pollution: end it, don’t (try to) mend it. Why ocean scooping won’t work, by @rejectedbanana & @miriamgoldste

Shark vs Mermaid Death Squad

Now this IS awesomely awesome. Greenpeace has launched a Pacmanesque online video game to highlight bycatch in tuna fisheries. Play it, take action, and follow the Game Over Shark and Mermaid Death Squad Twitter accounts.

Greenpeace goes 8bit

Amplify This: Send a tweet to the Death Mermaid, making sure all your followers can see it. Chances are, you’ll get an evil tweet back: Hey, @DeathMermaid, your days are numbered. I’m taking action to #savesharks and end the #mermaiddeathsquad

Watch this
Stuck Ship Chopped to Ease Reef Grief We wish we’d come up with that headline ourselves, but we didn’t. MSNBC did, to describe this great video in which Rachel Maddow reports on a minesweeper, the USS Guardian, being cut into pieces to pry it off an ecologically significant and fragile coral reef in the Philippines, on which it ran aground in January. Thanks to Judith Matsuda for the tip!

The Shark with Two Heads

Yes, a two-headed bull shark You don’t see one of those every day. (Photo via, by Patrick Rice/Florida Keys Community College)

So you’re a commercial fisherman and you catch an adult bull shark in the Gulf of Mexico, and you cut it open, and …. aaaaaaaaaaggggghh!!! Shark with two heads! Shark with two heads!

For a more informative explanation of the only two-headed bull shark fetus ever found, check out this article or this paper in the Journal of Fish Biology.

USA Today Does Ocean Acidification OK, one or two of the details aren’t quite right - ocean acidification hasn’t actually been driven by climate change - but that aside, it’s nice to see a pretty thorough treatment of OA (in both text and video form) in USA Today. We’ll take more of this kind of coverage, please.


April 14-19
Geological Society of America Conference: Coastal Processes and Environments Under Sea-Level Rise and Changing Climate: Science to Inform Management. Galveston, Texas.

April 22-24
World Ocean Council Sustainable Ocean Summit. Washington, DC.

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