Lecture series explores new technology in ocean research


The Port Townsend Marine Science Center announced its 2018-19 speaker series, “The Future of Oceans,” to begin Oct. 14 and go through February 2019.

The series will feature a host of scientists, filmmakers, authors and researchers discussing the frontiers of ocean research and new technology.

“We’re in a time when things are changing, and we’ve got tremendous tools to explore the ocean and we’re finding tremendous problems,” said Peter Rhines, a physical oceanographer with the University of Washington who helped organize the lecture series. “The classic ways of looking at the ocean have given us what we know, but now we have modern techniques. So the thing is, what does that mean for Port Townsend, and what does that mean for the Marine Science Center?”

The first lecture Oct. 14 will feature Charles Eriksen, a professor of oceanography at the University of Washington. Eriksen and his research group have invented a “seaglider” robot that can swim autonomously thousands of miles into the ocean and send back data to researchers. He is using these robots to discover the undersea world of currents and the aquatic food chain.

“What we’re really trying to do is to help the community have access to be able to understand what’s going on below the surface,” said Marine Science Center Executive Director Janine Boire. “Because we are air breathers - we aren’t water breathers - we have a basic limitation.”

Other lecturers in the series include local writer, naturalist and environmental educator Bob Steelquist, author of “The Northwest Coastal Explorer;” cinematographer, diver and environmental advocate Florian Graner, whose film “Under the Salish Sea” gives a comprehensive journey through the three-dimensional world of Puget Sound; UW oceanography professor Jan Newton, whose new technologies have made record observations on the Salish Sea; and well-known local birder Bob Boekelheide, whose natural history excursions on the shores of the Salish bring light to the wonders of the Pacific Northwest.

“Janine and I were sensing what a rich environment of experts there are, surrounding and in Port Townsend,” Rhines said. “That’s the thing about this particular place, surrounded by ocean on three sides of us. We are also surrounded by institutions that make an exciting mix in thinking about the Puget Sound and the ocean.”

The Marine Science Center’s annual lecture series began in 2014. Each year since then, Boire and Rhines have worked to bring the best and latest in research and information to their audience. Some of this year’s lecturers are also working in partnership with the Marine Science Center on research projects.

“It really has filled a niche in the community,” Boire said. “Port Townsend and the whole Peninsula draws a really smart, curious, active set of people, that are really truly lifelong learners.”

More lecturers and dates will be announced at a later date. For the latest information about the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, visit www.ptmsc.org.


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