Nov 16, 2017 /

Options for Hopeless Suckers: Four Alternatives to Plastic Straws

By Allie Brown
Are you a hopeless sucker for straws and want to keep sucking? Maybe your mind immediately flashes to milkshakes or bubble tea, those drinks that really do go down better with a straw when someone asks you to #stopsucking. All hope is not lost: if you really cannot refuse a straw, you can at least suck sustainably. And if you are going to suck sustainably you’ll need some options. 

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Nov 13, 2017 /

The Big What?

by Celeste Barnes-Crouse
Someone recently asked me: “If an earthquake were to happen, would you rather be on a lower floor in a building where stuff could fall on you, or at the top of a building where you could be the thing that’s falling?” It made me question if Seattle is prepared for a major earthquake event. Many Washington State residents have heard the phrase “The Big One” tossed around lately, but what does it mean? 

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Nov 9, 2017 /

Strawless SMEA, Part II: Straws are the new bags

By Kaitlin Lebon
Everyone knows the story. Plastic is a persistent environmental pollutant, taking hundreds of years to decompose. Plastics we throw away every day are eroded by physical environmental processes like waves on a beach, making it possible for new, tiny bits of plastic to enter the food chain at every level. Marine organisms from birds to fish to corals are consuming these plastics, drawn by the look and even the taste of the debris. 

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Nov 6, 2017 /

Cooke-ing Up Something Fishy

By Megan Plog
In August, an estimated 300,000 Atlantic salmon were released from a Cooke Aquaculture net pen that failed. Net pens are exactly what they sound like – nets filled with farmed fish. They are a cheaper alternative to land-based aquaculture or closed systems, because they do not need to be regularly cleaned. Net pens allow for free transfer of water through the system, and therefore free transfer of waste, pollutants, parasites, chemicals, and disease. 

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Nov 2, 2017 /

Strawless SMEA, Part I: The Challenge

By Mackenzie Nelson
You suck! Hey, don’t take it personally—I suck too. Most people suck…through straws, that is. In fact, so many Americans suck that we collectively use 500 million single-use plastic straws every day. That is a lot of plastic. So much plastic that this year Seattle hosted the first city-wide campaign, called Strawless in Seattle, to help remove single-use plastic straws from the US waste stream. 

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Oct 30, 2017 /

Replacing Leisure with Research: My First Cruise

The second in a series illustrating researchers’ experiences at sea
By Katie Keil
When hearing the word “cruise”, most people picture themselves lounging with a martini in hand on the deck of a monstrous white boat painted with the words “Carnival”. Most marine scientists, however, envision something starkly different: tight quarters, 12-hour workdays, stressful, high-stake research operations, and exciting discoveries. Each cruise has a different set of goals, schedule, and overall experience, but there is one constant: hard work. 

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Oct 23, 2017 /

Field Science in the Arctic Ocean: An Inside Look

The first in a series illustrating researchers’ experiences at sea
By Kaitlin Lebon
It’s 11pm, and for Kylie Welch— a Faculty Research Assistant with the Goñi Lab at Oregon State University (OSU)—the day is just beginning. She walks from her cabin to the galley and grabs a snack. As she looks out a porthole onto the cold Arctic water, she prepares for another twelve-hour shift of sampling. 

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Oct 16, 2017 /

The Right Half of Our Brains

By Allie Brown
I have always been more comfortable in the humanities than the sciences. In humanities classes I fly through the readings and they hold my interest, while science classes tend to feel like trekking through a powdery snow in really heavy boots. While reading a biology textbook my eyes consistently wander away from the black and white lettering to the images that are meant to supplement the words. 

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Sep 21, 2017 /

What happens after the hurricane?

By Rachel Freemen
Rachel Freeman, a recent SMEA graduate, has spent the past weeks in Houston helping her family and friends recover from Hurricane Harvey. Below Rachel shares her experiences and observations in the aftermath of the storm.
Observations from the field
Now that the water has greatly receded, life in Houston appears normal at first glance, save for the large piles of debris that line the curbs of streets throughout the city. 

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Jun 19, 2017 /

Public Beach Access

By Danielle Edelman
As summer approaches, thousands of people will be flocking to the iconic beaches of the West Coast for some fun in the sun and the sound of the waves. From northern Washington to southern California, there are many popular public spaces people can use to access the Pacific Ocean. What few people consider as they work on their tans is the long struggle for public access to beaches all along the West Coast. 

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May 16, 2017 /

The Ants Go Marching

By Allie Brown
As I walked onto the Seattle Link to get to Capitol Hill for the march, I noticed hundreds of people were joining me. When I got to Capitol Hill, I saw that thousands were. The highly-publicized March for Science took place worldwide on Earth Day this year and even though I am writing this over two weeks later, the Facebook page still has 13,575 members. 

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May 8, 2017 /

Against the Current in a Plastic Society

By Katie Keil
I watched the video, dumbfounded, as the marine biologist continued to pull the seemingly never-ending straw out of the sea turtle’s nose. Anyone who has seen this (or the multitude of similar videos on the Internet) can attest to the cringe-worthiness of plastic pollution in our oceans. Over 267 marine species are impacted by oceanic plastic pollution through ingestion, strangulation, entanglement, and poisoning by toxic chemicals, leading to over 100,000 animal deaths each year. 

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May 3, 2017 /

Earth Day’s Birthday

By Mackenzie Nelson
Each year, Earth Day comes and goes like any other day for me. The only difference being the ubiquitous presence of eco-friendly advertisements and related pro-Earth conservation propaganda that inundate my social media channels. My lack of celebration does not stem from an apathetic view of Earth Day festivities. Rather, I like to think I celebrate the values expressed during Earth Day everyday through using reusable shopping bags, opting to walk or take public transportation to reach my destinations, buying locally grown produce, and caring for the one plant I have managed to keep alive—albeit minus the obvious displays of love I have for my home planet. 

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Apr 18, 2017 /

A National Park Attitude Adjustment

By Alex Gustafson
Mt. Rainier National Park single vehicle fee: $25.00
Standard day pack starting price: $40.00
Granola Bar: $1.25-$3.50
Preserving the fate of the National Parks: A new persona
The natural spaces throughout our nation are landmarks of pride, beauty and are often emotionally stimulating in many individualized ways. John Muir, Henry David Thoreau, Theodore Roosevelt and William Clark are a few who found inspiration and delight exploring in solitude among the beauty of the outdoors for long stretches of time. 

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Apr 12, 2017 /

Where is the Dead Sea going?

By Grace Ferrara
If you’re like me, the words “Dead Sea” might conjure up images of a vast ocean filled with sea monsters and other eerie perils. You might picture heroic Roman warriors venturing across it to find new lands filled with treasures, but failing time and again, their barren skeletons the only things left behind to mark their fate. But the Dead Sea isn’t even a sea at all…it’s actually a really big, salty lake at the end of the Jordan River, wedged between Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan. 

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Apr 3, 2017 /

How to communicate: A roadmap for environmental scientists

By Mackenzie Nelson
Draw a mental image of a map of the United States. Make it as detailed as possible.
Now consider your map. What does it look like? What are your landmarks? Notice the areas that are more complete—probably places you have lived or spent a lot of time in—and other areas that are less detailed—cities and states you have never been to before or seen pictures of. 

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Mar 13, 2017 /

Why a Near-Threatened Status has the Pallas’s Cat Royally Grumpy

By Kaitlin Lebon
High in the mountains of central Asia, the Pallas’s cat lurks under rocky cover, evading predators. The Pallas’s cat (Otocolobus manul), also known as the manul, is a small, fluffy wildcat with a tendency to scowl. I found it a crime that so few people knew about the hours of hilarity these critters could bring with a simple Google or YouTube search. 

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Mar 7, 2017 /

Isn’t that just volunteer work?

By Alex Gustafson
Picture this. You are walking along one of the beaches of the Pacific Northwest. The sand is damp and there’s a drizzle falling. Waves break and the tang of salt water washes through your nostrils. You aren’t alone, you are with others walking just as mindfully as you. You are tracking, recording, and collecting data for the rigorous and respected COASST survey that uses the skills and expertise of coastal citizens to monitor beachcast birds, marine debris and other evidence of human influence. 

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Feb 27, 2017 /

Unsuspecting polluters: Why you may want to rethink the clothes you wear and how you care for them

By Mackenzie Nelson
Imagine you are in a mall surrounded by an endless selection of clothing options. This is a realistic scenario. How do you choose what to spend your money on? Do you consider trends, comfort, looks, price, or brand? Most people factor in all of these things. Our clothing contributes to our identities and represents our values.
So, when you are picking out your future clothes, do you think about the environmental footprint of what you choose to wear? 

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Feb 23, 2017 /

“You Speak What?” Why I am Learning Tagalog in Graduate School and How it Helps the World

By Hannah Bassett
I primarily study fisheries, but over the summer I spent 4-6 hours a day, five days a week in Tagalog class with two teachers and my seven classmates. Followed by another 2-3 hours studying Tagalog on my own. For two months.
Oh, sorry, “What is Tagalog?” you ask. Tagalog is the language on which most of the national language of the Philippines, Filipino, is based. 

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