Aquaculture Symposium with George Buckley at WHOI

I spent the past few days with George Buckley, Sea Rover, Harvard Extension Professor, Boston Malacological club director, and much more. I took a couple of his Harvard Extension classes and I was hooked. George is responsible for inspiring me to become a SCUBA diver, and encouraging me to apply for this internship. I owe a lot to George for helping me so much. George took me as his guest to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute aquaculture symposium.

Sea horse at WHOI aquarium

We first went to Falmouth, Ma. to look around WHOI at their aquarium and visitor center. At the aquarium we looked at some of the marine life around New England and George told me stories and facts about all the different fish before us. Everything from the kind of cuddly kind of repulsing lumpfish, to the sea raven the true master of camouflage, George had a story and could tell me tons of facts about divers marine life of New England and beyond. We then headed to the visitors center where we looked at replicas of the deep sea submersible Alvin and saw the ROV camera that Associate Sea Rover Greg Skomal used to observe great white sharks off Cape Cod. The ROV had seen some better days having been attacked numerous times by the great whites that now lurk along the Cape.

Me inside replica of Alvin

That night George and I headed to the reception for the event where fresh oyster were being served. I always wanted to try oysters which are filter feeders, but then realized that they can filter down to viral size and that’s just a little off putting. We met up with Sea Rover Robbi Laak at the reception and we mingled with some of the great minds in marine science and aquaculture. One of whom was Larry Madin deputy director of WHOI and Vice President of Research, and also one of the world’s foremost experts on gelatinous marine life like salps and jellies. Mark Abbott President and Director of WHOI opened the evening and the event began. The symposium was centered around aquaculture which is underwater farming for food.

The next day at the symposium presernters talked about advances and application of aquaculture and how aquaculture could impact the market and our planet. Topics included coastal restoration using oyster beds, advancing technologies in aquaculture and new application in the open ocean, and aquaculture of kelp as a biofuel. All of the presentations were interesting but by far the most interesting part of the symposium was the panel discussion. Where top scientists, fisherman, and CEOs got into heated debates about aquaculture, if that was even a thing to debate about. Debates about the future of aquaculture were intense and how the companies were going to evolve in an ever changing world. Owners of oyster companies argued how their methods work and fisherman debated with CEOs about how aquaculture could improve, the scientists gave their input on impacts and profits of aquaculture, and the audience filled with more scientists, aquaculturists and a few students asked questions about the precautionary principle and how it relates to the fast growing aquaculture companies and technologies. My conclusion from the event was that aquaculture has come a long way and can be used successfully when top brains come together and hammer out the important considerations for the future of a massive industry. The few days I spent with George at the aquaculture symposium were a whirlwind of interesting topics that will in a few year or less be top news on how we feed a growing population.