fragmented the world, however intense the national rivalries, it is
an inexorable fact that we become more interdependent every day. I
believe that national sovereignties will shrink in the face of universal
interdependence. The sea, the great unifier, is man's only hope. Now,
as never before, the old phrase has a literal meaning: We are all
in the same boat." - Jacques Cousteau
Share with us...one ocean, one dream.
5 Part Series – Los Angeles Times
Published July 30 - Aug. 3, 2006
About This Series
Kenneth R. Weiss, a Los
Angeles Times staff member since 1990, has covered the California
coast and the oceans for the past five years.
Covering narrow policy disputes
over such issues as catch limits on fish and permissible
levels of ocean pollutants prompted him to think about the
long-term health of the seas. He was further inspired by
scientific lectures and papers describing a gradual but
profound transformation of the world's oceans, marked by
the decline of fish and marine mammals and the proliferation
of primitive life forms — algae, bacteria, jellyfish.
Weiss began reporting this
series in 2005 and traveled widely — to Australia,
Panama and Jamaica; to Midway, Palmyra Atoll and the Hawaiian
Islands; and up and down the coasts of California, Washington,
Florida and Georgia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Times photographer Rick
Loomis, whose own travels have taken him around the world,
accompanied Weiss to most of those places.
Times reporter Usha
Lee McFarling contributed to the series. McFarling has worked
for the newspaper's science desk since 2000, covering earth
science and the space program. In recent years, she has
focused on climate change, particularly its effects on the
Tide of Toxins
Runoff from modern life is feeding an explosion of primitive
organisms. This 'rise of slime,' as one scientist calls it,
is killing larger species and sickening people.
MORETON BAY, AUSTRALIA -- The fireweed began each spring
as tufts of hairy growth and spread across the seafloor
fast enough to cover a football field in an hour.
When fishermen touched it, their skin broke out in searing
welts. Their lips blistered and peeled. Their eyes burned
and swelled shut. Water that splashed from their nets spread
the inflammation to their legs and torsos...
||Sentinels Under Attack
Toxic algae that poison the brain have caused strandings and
mass die-offs of marine mammals — barometers of the
SAN FRANCISCO -- After the last patient of the day walked
out the front of Raytel Medical Imaging clinic, veterinarian
Frances Gulland slipped an oversized animal crate through
the back door.
Inside was a California sea lion. The animal was emaciated,
disoriented and suffering from seizures...
||Dark Tides, Ill Winds
With sickening regularity, toxic algae blooms are invading
coastal waters. They kill sea life and send poisons ashore
on the breeze, forcing residents to flee.
LITTLE GASPARILLA ISLAND, FLA. -- All Susan Leydon has
to do is stick her head outside and take a deep breath of
sea air. She can tell if her 10-year-old son is about to
get sick. If she coughs or feels a tickle in the back of
her throat, she lays down the law: No playing on the beach.
No, not even in the yard. Come back inside. Now...
||Plague of Plastic Chokes
On Midway Atoll, 40% of albatross chicks die, their bellies
full of trash. Swirling masses of drifting debris pollute
remote beaches and snare wildlife.
MIDWAY ATOLL -- The albatross chick jumped to its feet,
eyes alert and focused. At 5 months, it stood 18 inches
tall and was fully feathered except for the fuzz that fringed
All attitude, the chick straightened up and clacked its
beak at a visitor, then rocked back and dangled webbed feet
in the air to cool them in the afternoon breeze...
||A Chemical Imbalance
Growing seawater acidity threatens to wipe out coral, fish
and other crucial species worldwide.
As she stared down into a wide-mouthed plastic jar aboard
the R/V Discoverer, Victoria Fabry peered into the future.
The marine snails she was studying — graceful creatures
with wing-like feet that help them glide through the water
— had started to dissolve...