The landscape for oceans is changing rapidly, and not uniformly in a bad way – there are positive trends and accomplishments.  We seem to be at a tipping point, moving away from exclusively doom and gloom messages about the ocean to embrace a new phase of ocean optimism, where sustainable ocean solutions are available and being implemented. Nevertheless, most members of the general public, policy makers, ocean scientists and engineers are unaware of the totality of what has been accomplished and what could be accomplished in the near-term based on existing initiatives. Furthermore, there is a growing need to coordinate and integrate the science and engineering to generate the knowledge base that can enable ocean solutions.


About Ocean Visions Initiative

The Ocean Visions Initiative (OVI), a collaborative effort co-organized by Stanford University's Center for Ocean Solutions and Woods Institute for the Environment, the Smithsonian Ocean Portal, Georgia Tech's Ocean Science and Engineering Program and the Scripps Center for Climate Impacts and Adaptation, was created to specifically highlight current and past successful ocean initiatives while driving the movement forward.

Fiorenza Micheli, the David and Lucile Packard Professor of Marine Science at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station, senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, co-director at Stanford’s Center for Ocean Solutions and partner of the Ocean Visions Initiative explains, "Ocean Visions will create a concrete pathway for scientists and engineers, to design and execute research that enables ocean-based solutions."

The initiative itself is a set of events organized to highlight and bring together scientists across interdisciplinary fields to discuss current and future efforts focused on oceans and climate. Specifically, these events aim to target diverse topics such as enhancement of climate resilience/resistance, conservation strategies that promote and incentivize reduction of CO2, ocean-based energy production systems and sustainable food production systems for ocean-reliant communities. 


The first three initiatives for the Ocean Visions Initiative are planned for the period between March 2018 and October 2019. The first event is the 1st International Summit Ocean Visions ’19 – Climate Success in resilience, adaptation, mitigation and sustainable development. The summit, a collaboration with the IOC-UNESCO and the Ocean Conservancy, will be held at Georgia Tech in April 2019 and will focus on establishing a forum for scientists and engineers to develop a knowledge base for tackling some of the most pressing issues facing the climate and the ocean.  

The Ocean Visions Initiative also will include a special collection of peer-reviewed articles in the journal Frontiers of Marine Sciences, highlighting innovative technology that has successfully advanced solutions at the ocean, climate and human interface.   

An Uncommon Dialogue, scheduled for Fall 2019 at Stanford University, will include stakeholders as well as scientists and engineers and will feature a subset of the success stories identified in the previous summit and special issue.  


The four main goals and outcomes of the Ocean Visions Initiative include:

1. developing a forum for scientists and engineers to discuss and exchange research ideals

2. generating an adaptive knowledge base

3. highlighting the natural and social sciences as well as engineering to enable informed ocean solutions

4. engaging with stakeholders and decision-makers to create a concrete pathway to translate science and engineering into applications for ocean solutions.  


To learn more, please visit the Ocean Visions Initiative website.


Written by Laura Anderson


Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions Co-Director Jim Leape spoke recently about his involvement with Friends of Ocean Action, a global initiative launched on World Oceans Day (June 8) to help conserve and sustainably use the world’s oceans. Friends of Ocean Action includes global leaders and influencers from business, civil society and the public sector who are committed to driving actions that implement the U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 14 on ocean conservation and sustainable use. The launch coincides with the G7 Summit occurring June 8-9 in Quebec, where oceans are on the agenda.

Leape has over three decades of environmental conservation experience, including serving as the chief executive of WWF International from 2005 to 2014. He has worked with government, business and civil society leaders to catalyze large-scale sustainability efforts.


What is the role of the Friends of Ocean Action?

Created at the invitation of the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Oceans, Friends of Ocean Action operates through the World Economic Forum. Friends will speak out both collectively and individually as champions for the ocean. It’s a group that can reach almost any decision-maker in the world and can connect existing efforts to help make change happen.

Why does the world need this group now?

This is an unprecedented moment in ocean conservation. We have never had ocean issues as prominent on the public agenda as they are today and, for the first time, we have a universally-agreed global strategy for addressing those issues through the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Friends of Ocean Action capitalizes on this momentum as a unique opportunity to attack stubborn ocean problems. I am a big believer in the power of these kinds of multi-stakeholder partnerships.

Friends of Ocean Action met recently in Monaco. Why was that important?

Together we jumped into how this will work and what we can do – not as a new competitor in the ocean space, but as a group looking for opportunities to collaborate and spark change. For example, we see an opportunity to work with leading retailers, canners, NGOs, and tech companies to drive environmental and social sustainability into the global tuna sector – using cutting-edge technology to crack the problems of illegal fishing and human trafficking, and allowing consumers to trace their purchases all the way from the supermarket back to the specific trip of an individual boat.  A revolution in the tuna sector could be a big win for ocean conservation and also for economic development – especially in the small island states of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, many of whom rely heavily on revenue from tuna fisheries.

What is Stanford’s role?

Stanford’s role in the Friends of Ocean Action is two-fold. We offer deep expertise in many domains that are central to the work of the Friends of Ocean Action – including expertise in ocean ecosystems and fisheries management; supply chains and sustainability; and in law and policy. And, of course, Stanford has long been on the vanguard of the data revolution and, sitting here in the center of Silicon Valley, we can help bring the power of remote sensing, big data, and artificial intelligence to bear on solving ocean problems. Stanford and the Center for Ocean Solutions are also well-positioned to bring experts and actors together in intensive collaborations to forge breakthroughs on pressing ocean challenges. We will be working closely with the Friends of Ocean Action to help develop key solutions and translate them into action. 

How can technology be used to improve ocean health?

The technological innovations of the past few decades are transforming our ability to understand and govern ocean resources. For all of human history, our relationship with the ocean has been defined by the fact that we have no idea what’s going on under the water or even on most of the surface. That is now changing radically. Thousands of satellites and millions of sensors of various kinds on everything from ships to surfboards are collecting data on what is happening in the ocean. Putting that information in the hands of communities and governments can give them the power to better manage their resources. That’s pretty revolutionary.    

Why is it important for science leaders to engage with political and business leaders through initiatives like Friends of Ocean Action?

I think the credibility and influence of a group like Friends of Ocean Action comes from that combination. From these multiple perspectives and constituencies, you have a unified voice saying, “This is really important. We know scientifically that it’s important but we also know politically that this is something we have to do.” If you can pull these diverse actors together you can create a compelling voice, and a powerful force, for action. 

Why take action now?

As the world’s demand for resources continues to grow, we will increasingly look for how the oceans can support us even more than they do already. What we have today is a dawning recognition that conserving the oceans is fundamentally important to our own well-being. In this moment, we have a chance to break through on ocean challenges that have defied us. We have a chance to bring together diverse actors, from different sectors and different parts of the world, to work together on this essential cause. That is what the Friends of Ocean Action is all about. 


Leape is also a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.


Learn more about Friends of Ocean Action

Watch the Friends of Ocean Action press conference

Read the Friends of Ocean Action launch announcement


Header picture credit: NOAA



In the United States there are currently 13 National Marine Sanctuaries and 2 National Marine Monuments that together cover 600,000 square miles of marine and freshwater environments – roughly the size of Mongolia. These sanctuaries and monuments, over the course of a year, generate around $8 billion for coastal communities through activities like commercial fishing, research, education, recreation and tourism. Yet these areas are widely misunderstood, putting their very existence in jeopardy. "Marine Sanctuaries and Monuments have a long history of success going back decades and with a stroke of a pen they could be undone, so that’s a real concern," explains co-author Larry Crowder, the Edward Ricketts Provostial Professor of Marine Ecology and Conservation at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station.

A policy article published Wednesday in Frontiers in Marine Science, Safe Harbors: The case for marine monuments and sanctuaries, outlines the ecological and economic benefits that support the creation and care of marine sanctuaries and monuments. The brief both outlines the legal mandates for conservation, derived from the public trust doctrine and stipulated under the Antiquities and National Marine Sanctuaries Acts, and describes the wide range of environmental and economic benefits that sanctuaries and marine monuments provide to commercial fishermen, tourism and recreation, and other local and regional businesses.

"The purpose of this paper was to raise this issue, in the public eye, to clarify what sanctuaries and monuments do and why they were established, " Crowder explains. Whitley Saumweber, co-author and Stanford affiliated researcher adds, “Setting aside protected marine areas is a critical piece in sustainable marine management and strengthening coastal communities. It is vitally important that the public understands the full value of these protected spaces both for sustainable marine management and also for the many coastal communities they support. We hope this paper helps people realize this value and encourages engagement to protect our important ocean heritage."


Header Photo Credit: Erin Spencer



Sophomore biology major and Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions Communications Intern Laura Anderson discusses researching aquatic life at the Hopkins Marine Station, and what it’s like to have the ocean as her classroom. Laura is spending spring quarter at Hopkins learning about evolution and marine conservation, as well as ecology, or the study of how organisms relate to each other and to their physical surroundings. Read on to learn more about Laura and her work with owl limpets during her time at Hopkins Marine Station. 

Learn more here >



Header Photo (Laura out in the intertidal off of Hopkins Marine Station): Screenshot from Video by Kurt Hickman



New software targets the most abundant fishing grounds and reduces catch of unwanted or protected species using satellite data, maps and observations.

Read more in Stanford News >


Header picture credit: Craig Heberer



A major consideration in marine conservation is the connectivity between different habitats or regions of the ocean, that is, the degree to which populations in those places are linked to each through the movement of eggs, larvae, eggs, or adults between them. One area of particular interest is the Western Pacific and its connections with the Coral Triangle. In this study, we deployed a set of satellite‐tracked surface drifters offshore of the west side of Palau that moved in the local ocean circulation toward and then past Mindanao, in some cases completing multiple circuits around the Philippine Sea. These drifter tracks demonstrate an important aspect of connectivity in the ocean: In the absence of strong and directed swimming, local flow processes on ocean shelves that can act to transport materials toward shore may control the real extent of connectivity across ocean basins. Thus, the degree of connectivity inferred from large‐scale flows (either modeled or observed remotely) is an upper bound on the actual degree of connectivity. Importantly, these results demonstrate that marine conservation efforts for coral reefs based on ocean‐basin scale connectivity need to include consideration of flow behavior at ocean boundaries where reefs are located.

Read paper here >



Since 2009, the Monterey Area Research Institutions’ Network for Education (MARINE) has been managed by the Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions (COS). Following last month’s successful Oceans Colloquium, MARINE is now being managed by the new Coastal Science & Policy Program (CSP) at UC Santa Cruz. This transition is being facilitated by Dr. Mark Carr, MARINE faculty representative and Co-director of CSP. Under this new leadership, MARINE will continue to provide professional and leadership development opportunities for the next generation of ocean leaders through its offering of a variety of high-quality courses, workshops, seminars, panel discussions, and other events.

MARINE is a collaboration between COS and seven Monterey Bay-area campuses: CSU Monterey Bay, Hopkins Marine Station, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, Moss Landing Marine Labs, Naval Postgraduate School, UC Santa Cruz, and Stanford University. MARINE aims to better prepare regional graduate students and early career professionals with the skills and opportunities necessary to better prepare them as future ocean and coastal leaders, and for the demands of interdisciplinary environmental problem-solving at the interface between science and policy.

Please see below for all the necessary new contact information for the MARINE program. We request your patience in this transitionary period as we work to put all the tools into the hands of the new administration. Any future information regarding MARINE events and opportunities will be disseminated across these various updated platforms, so continue to reference them in the coming months.

Lastly, we want to extend our deep and sincere thanks to those who have made the MARINE program the success it has been thus far, and to those who have also helped ensure a smooth transition to its new home.

MARINE’s success has always come directly from the passion and initiative of our community. We have been so privileged to act as a stepping stone on the path of our many liaisons and affiliates to bigger and greater contributions. They never fail to inspire us with their dedication to pursuing solutions to our most pressing ocean issues. We remain committed to this shared mission and are excited that CSP will now take the lead in ensuring that this program – and its impact – continue to flourish.

CS&P MARINE Faculty and Staff:

* Mark Carr, Interim Co-Director,

* Don Croll, Interim Co-Director,

* Kelly Newton Zilliacus, Administrator & Graduate Student Coordinator,

* Melissa Cronin, Graduate Student Assistant,



Social Media:

* Twitter: @CSP_MARINE

* Facebook: @CSP.MARINE

* YouTube: Monterey Area Research Institutions’ Network for Education (MARINE)

Newsletter: See here for new sign-ups; no need to sign up again if already on email list

Calendar: See here

Jobs Board: Updates forthcoming



"You will never know or be an expert in every aspect of it but it is important to be confident and be part of the conversation."  - Aimee David & Laura Good


Last month’s MARINE Oceans Colloquium welcomed 59 attendees to Moss Landing Marine Laboratories for a day of research, discussion, and networking. The Colloquium is a conference-style event focused on improving science and policy communication and presentation skills. Participants were provided with the opportunity to develop and practice effective communication while sharing their ocean-related work in diverse and engaging ways. This year’s theme focused on emerging ocean leaders, meant to engage the full spectrum of students pursuing opportunities from the deep ocean, to the coastlines, to the estuaries and river systems which link the land to the sea.

Several new activities were planned this year to encourage interdisciplinary discussions around pressing ocean issues. The afternoon Flash Discussions placed participants randomly into groups and utilized polling software to gain perspective on issues such as science communication, diversity, inclusion, equity in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), intersections with social sciences, advances in marine technology, and climate change. In addition, the afternoon’s #STEAM Fair paid homage to science fairs of grade-school past to encourage visual, artistic representations of research.

The day’s keynote speakers, Dr. James Lindholm (California State University Monterey Bay) and Dr. Mark Carr (University of California at Santa Cruz), were on hand to provide an introspective into MARINE’s first decade and to unveil the course of its future. This year’s Colloquium served as a transition point for the program, with stewardship passing from the Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions (COS) to UC Santa Cruz’s new Coastal Science and Policy (CSP) program. Please see this piece for more details on the change in leadership and for updated contact information.

In keeping with the spirit of reflection, the afternoon panel focused on the evolution of ocean leadership during MARINE’s tenure and how to best meet the needs of emerging ocean leaders moving forward. Panelists included former Stanford COS education manager Dr. Laura Good, Moss Landing Marine Lab director and MARINE faculty liaison Dr. Jim Harvey, and Aimee David, director of ocean conservation policy strategies at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. All were quick to highlight an increase in the desire and need for engagement across disciplines. The Colloquium continued to represent commitment to ocean conservation and leadership through building the next generation of ocean leaders.



John Dabiri, Stephen Monosmith, Jeff Koseff and graduate students have studied how brine shrimp move in the lab to better understand the impact plankton and organisms like krill have on ocean waters. It turns out, when tiny organisms move en masse, they churn the water more than expected and might be critical to ocean dynamics.

Read more here >

See Stanford Video here >

Story and Video in Science >



Header Photo Credit: Isabel Houghton

Homepage Photo Credit:


Scientists including paleontologist Jonathan Payne examined extreme transitions in habitat to determine marine mammals have more constrained body sizes when compared with their closest living relatives on land, debunking previous theories about the ocean dwellers. Appearing in PNAS.

Read more here >