The Skimmer & MPA News

The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management

Editor’s note: Anthropogenic noise in the ocean – from ships, sonar, construction, oil wells, windfarms, seismic surveys, and other activities – harms marine animals ranging from marine mammals to fish to invertebrates. Ocean noise has been documented to:

As the Skimmer is covering various way that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted marine ecosystems and communities, a likely reduction in ocean noise is one possible bright spot. As we collected news and research articles on this topic, however, almost all reports that we found related to ocean noise and marine mammals off the West Coasts of the U.S. and Canada in the first half of 2020. To help broaden our understanding, we asked scientists from Applied Ocean Sciences, a collective of ocean consultants with expertise in ocean acoustics, to share what they have learned about noise trajectories over a longer timescale and in other areas of the world. Below is our Skimmer-style summary of news and research articles and an interview with Chris Verlinden, a senior scientist and chief technology officer at Applied Ocean Solutions.

The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management

Editor’s note: Climate change is the greatest threat to the health of marine ecosystems worldwide, and the COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to alter the world’s climate change trajectory, for better or for worse. Numerous, diverse relationships between the two crises have arisen. These relationships have proven enormously changeable over the course of the pandemic and by location, and the net impact of the pandemic on climate change and society remains to be seen. This article briefly characterizes a number of the diverse intersections and parallels between the two crises.

Do you have updated information or a new or different perspective? We would love to get your thoughts and additions. You can add them to the Comments section below or send to The Skimmer editor at skimmer [at]

#1: Greenhouse gas emissions went down in 2020, but not by as much as initially expected, not for all that long, and not for the “right” reasons. Without systemic changes, the COVID-19 pandemic is unlikely to have a significant long-term impact on global emission trajectories.

The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management
The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management

Editor’s Note: From the Archives calls attention to past Skimmer/MEAM articles whose perspectives and insight remain relevant.

As professionals in the marine conservation and management field, Skimmer readers are hyperaware of large scale and global changes to marine ecosystems. Research is now examining the emotional and psychological toll that these changes are having on people. This article synthesizes the seminal research on “ecological grief” and how society can address it at both policy and personal levels.

The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management

It has been a long four years for those in the environmental field here in the US four years filled with rampant attempts by the Trump administration to remove, weaken, or circumvent environmental protections; promotion of climate science denialism; and obstruction of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This amplified the relentless, global march of climate change and its associated natural disasters and was all topped off by a worldwide pandemic and recession.

The incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris promises a significant shift in policies in many areas, including ocean management – but what exactly needs to be done and how likely are changes to occur? We hear from eight US ocean policy experts about what they expect and/or hope for in terms of US ocean management under the incoming Biden-Harris administration.

The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management

By Erik Thulin and Rocky Sanchez Tirona, Rare

Editor’s note: Erik Thulin is the behavioral science lead for the Center for Behavior & the Environment at Rare. Rocky Sanchez Tirona is the vice president of Rare Philippines and the Pacific Islands. They can be contacted on LinkedIn here and here respectively and on Twitter @EThulin and @Rare_org respectively.

The environmental field is full of cooperative dilemmas: in other words, what is best for the individual is different than what is best for the group. This creates a clash in priorities and sometimes results in ecosystem collapse. At Rare’s Center for Behavior & the Environment, we believe that these behavioral challenges require behavioral solutions. 

The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management
The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management

In 2017, MEAM (now The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management) interviewed 17 social science and interdisciplinary researchers from around the world to learn how their work could improve marine conservation and management practice. Since then, the social science of marine management has developed further in these areas and branched out in many other valuable directions. In this issue of The Skimmer and the next, we update our previous coverage by interviewing an ensemble of other social science and interdisciplinary researchers doing innovative social science work with great potential to improve (or a proven track record) of improving marine conservation and management practice. This work ranges from the use of cognitive mapping to create mental models of how fishers in the Caribbean view and organize the world…to testing how “nudges” could cost-effectively increase compliance with conservation regulations…to innovating how communities participate in marine planning processes to reduce feelings of exclusion and suspicion.

Here is the first set of interviews. As with last time, we hope that you find these research and practice profiles as energizing and inspiring for your own work as we found editing them.


The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management

Editor’s note: Emma McKinley is a research fellow at Cardiff University in Wales in the United Kingdom. Her work explores the relationships between society and the ocean, and focuses on concepts around ocean literacy, marine citizenship, and public perceptions and attitudes towards marine and coastal systems. Her most recent projects have explored the relationship between ocean literacy and behavior change and coastal community adaptation to climate change in Ireland and Wales. Emma is the founder and chair of the Marine Social Science Network and can be contacted at mckinleye1 [at] or info [at] as well as on Twitter @EmmaJMcKinley.

Skimmer: What is the Marine Social Science Network, and how did it get started?

McKinley: The Marine Social Science Network (MarSocSci) started from some informal conversations with colleagues in the UK. These conversations led to a stakeholder workshop in January 2018 that explored whether there was need and scope for a network or community of marine social scientists, initially in the UK, and what this might look like. There was an over-riding sentiment from those of us working within marine social sciences that we felt a bit isolated and that the community was more fragmented than other areas of marine sciences.

At the workshop, we quickly agreed that there was a need for a community or platform for marine social science researchers and practitioners, and that, crucially, this should be an international and interdisciplinary network. And so MarSocSci was born! We started off small with a Twitter profile in May 2018, and then launched officially at the Society and the Sea conference in London, September 2018.

Since then, it feels like the momentum has just continued, and we now have over 600 people signed up to the newsletter and over 3000 following us through social media. Our Committee has also grown, and we now have an amazing team behind MarSocSci, all working voluntarily to support and grow the Network.