Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Episode 651 (3-20-23): Oceans and Marine Biodiversity in International Focus in March 2023

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (5:12).

Sections below are the following:
Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments

Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.).

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 3-17-23.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the weeks of March 20 and March 27, 2023.

MUSIC – ~24 sec – Lyrics: “We are on a ship, a great big ship.  It takes all of us to take care of it.  And we can use the stars to navigate our trip.  We are riding on a ship.”

“That’s part of “On a Ship,” by Blacksburg, Va., musician Kat Mills.  It opens an episode about two recent international meetings on our planetary ship’s ocean waters.  Have a listen for about 15 seconds to sounds of two ocean-going creatures—a Humpback Whale, and a Leach’s Storm-Petrel—and see if you know what aspect of ocean biology was a key focus of the meetings.  And here’s a hint: you’ve got this, if you’ve got a lot of different living things in the sea.

SOUNDS  - ~17 sec

If you guessed marine biodiversity, you’re right!  According to the American Museum of Natural History in New York, biodiversity means, quote, “the variety of life on Earth at all its levels, from genes to ecosystems, and can encompass the evolutionary, ecological, and cultural processes that sustain life,” unquote.  In early March 2023, two international gatherings focused on biodiversity in marine waters, including in what’s called the “high seas,” the waters and ocean floor areas that are more than 200 nautical miles from any nation’s shores and are not under any single nation’s jurisdiction.  According to the Marine Conservation Institute, the high seas cover about half of the Earth’s surface, contain great biodiversity, and are among the least-protected areas on Earth.

On March 2 and 3, the eighth Our Ocean Conference was held in Panama, with participants from government, business, and non-profits making voluntary commitments for $20 billion towards protecting marine areas, addressing marine pollution, helping indigenous coastal communities, and other objectives.  Since 2014, Our Ocean Conference participants have made over 1800 commitments worth over $100 billion.  Meanwhile, at a United Nations conference on March 4 in New York, a majority of the world’s nations agreed on language for a so-called “High Seas Treaty,” in the works since 2004.  If ultimately ratified by individual countries, it would facilitate protected areas, fund marine conservation, provide guidelines for marine genetic resources, and provide capacity building and technology transfer to developing states.

Both meetings are part of a worldwide effort called 30 by 30, that is, by 2030 to conserve and restore 30 percent of the world’s land and oceans important for biodiversity, a target set at a U.N. biodiversity conference in Montreal in December 2022.

Thanks to Kat Mills for permission to use “On a Ship”; to the National Park Service for the Humpback Whale sound; and to Lang Elliott for the Leach’s Storm-Petrel sound, from the Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs.  We close with another musical selection whose title and tune may conjure up images of the oceans.  Here’s about 15 seconds of “Driftage,” by Andrew and Noah VanNorstrand.

MUSIC - ~17 sec – instrumental [start at about [5:14 and go to abrupt end at 5:30].


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Ben Cosgrove for his version of “Shenandoah” to open and close this episode.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


“On a Ship,” from the 2015 album “Silver,” is copyright by Kat Mills, used with permission.  More information about Kat Mills is available online at http://www.katmills.com/.  This music was used previously by Virginia Water Radio most recently in Episode 609, 12-27-21.

The Humpback Whale sound was from the National Park Service ‘Sound Gallery,” online at https://www.nps.gov/subjects/sound/sounds-humpback-whale.htm, as of 3-16-23.

The Leach’s Storm-Petrel sound was from the Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs-Eastern Region CD set, by Lang Elliott with Donald and Lillian Stokes (Time Warner Audio Books, copyright 1997), used with permission of Lang Elliott.  Lang Elliot’s work is available online at the “Music of Nature” Web site, http://www.musicofnature.org/.

“Driftage,” from the 2004 album of same name, is copyright by Andrew and Noah VanNorstrand and Great Bear Records, used with permission.  More information about Andrew and Noah and their bands is available online at https://andrewandnoah.bandcamp.com/music.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (2 min./22 sec.) of the “Shenandoah” arrangement/performance by Ben Cosgrove that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Cosgrove is available online at http://www.bencosgrove.com.


Humpback Whale.  Image from the NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] Photo Library, “NOAA’s Ark/Whales,” online at https://photolib.noaa.gov/Collections/NOAAs-Ark; the URL for the specific photo was https://photolib.noaa.gov/Collections/NOAAs-Ark/Whales/emodule/722/eitem/30376, as of 3-21-23.

Wilson’s Storm-Petrels.  Photo by Lieutenant Elizabeth Crapo, accessed in the NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] Photo Library, “NOAA’s Ark/Birds,” online at https://photolib.noaa.gov/Collections/NOAAs-Ark; the URL for the specific photo was https://photolib.noaa.gov/Collections/NOAAs-Ark/Birds/emodule/727/eitem/28716, as of 3-21-23.


Used for Audio

Elizabeth Claire Alberts, “Panama ocean conference draws $20 billion, marine biodiversity commitments,” March 6, 2023, online at https://news.mongabay.com/2023/03/panama-ocean-conference-draws-20-billion-marine-biodiversity-commitments/.

American Museum of Natural History, “What is Biodiversity?”  Online at https://www.amnh.org/research/center-for-biodiversity-conservation/what-is-biodiversity.

Audubon, “Leach’s Storm-Petrel,” online at https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/leachs-storm-petrel.

Michael Casey, “Historic biodiversity agreement reached at UN conference,” Associated Press, December 19, 2022.

Catrin Einhorn, “Nations Agree on Language for Historic Treaty to Protect Ocean Life; The United Nations agreement is a significant step toward protecting biodiversity under growing threat from climate change, overfishing and seabed mining,” New York Times, March 4, 2023.

Catrin Einhorn, “Nearly Every Country Signs On to a Sweeping Deal to Protect Nature,New York Times, December 20, 2022.

Christina Larson and Patrick Whittle, “Nations reach accord to protect marine life on high seas,” AP [Associated Press] News, March 5, 2023.

Marine Conservation Institute, “Protecting the High Seas,” online at https://marine-conservation.org/high-seas/.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, “Indonesian Delegation Successfully States Commitment to Protecting the Marine Environment at the Our Ocean Conference 2023,” March 3, 2023.

NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] Fisheries, “Humpback Whale,” online at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/humpback-whale.

Our Ocean Panama March 2-3. 2023, online at https://ouroceanpanama2023.gob.pa/, as of 3/16/23.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial Board, “Editorial: Developing accord could vastly improve oceans' survival chances,” March 12, 2023.

United Nations, “UN delegates reach historic agreement on protecting marine biodiversity in international waters,” UN News, March 5, 2023.

United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, online at https://www.cbd.int/article/cop15-final-text-kunming-montreal-gbf-221222, “COP15: Final text of Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework,” December 22, 2022, News Release.

United Nations Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction, online at https://www.un.org/bbnj/.

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), “USAID Announces New Programs to Protect Our Ocean at the 2023 Our Ocean Conference,” March 3, 2023.

Worldwide Fund for Nature, “Whales Without Boundaries – Why the High Seas Matter,” online at https://wwfwhales.org/news-stories/whales-without-boundaries-why-the-high-seas-matter.

John Yang and Lorna Baldwin, “Historic deal to protect ocean biodiversity reached at UN conference,” PBS NewsHour, March 5, 2023.  [6 min./45 sec. video with transcript.]

For More Information about Biodiversity in Oceans and Elsewhere

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), online at https://www.noaa.gov/.

Some of the agency’s many specific topic pages are the following:
“Biological Diversity and Related Issues,” online at https://www.noaa.gov/biological-diversity-and-related-issues;
“Ocean Exploration Facts,” online at https://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/facts/facts.html;
“Marine Life,” online at https://www.noaa.gov/education/resource-collections/marine-life;
“U.S. Marine Biodiversity Observing Network,” online at https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/news/apr16/mbon.html.


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html).  See particularly the “Birds” and “Mammals” subject categories.

Following is a link to a previous episode on biodiversity (generally in Virginia, not specifically marine biodiversity).

Episode 260, 4-6-15 – Biodiversity in Virginia and the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

Following are links to some previous episodes on organisms inhabiting oceans.

Episode 399, 12-18-17 – Whales in Song, Sound, and Migration Past Virginia.
Episode 542, 9-14-20 – Dolphins in Sound and Music.
Episode 551, 11-16-20 – Sea Creatures Sound Off.


Following are some Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that may be supported by this episode’s audio/transcript, sources, or other information included in the episode’s post.

2020 Music SOLs

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2018 Science SOLs

Grades K-4: Living Systems and Processes
2.5 – Living things are part of a system.
3.5 – Aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems support a diversity of organisms.

Grades K-5: Earth and Space Systems
3.7 – There is a water cycle and water is important to life on Earth.
4.7 – The ocean environment.

Grades K-5: Earth Resources
3.8 – Natural events and humans influence ecosystems.
4.8 – Virginia has important natural resources.

Grade 6
6.6 – Water has unique physical properties and has a role in the natural and human-made environment.
6.8 – Land and water have roles in watershed systems.
6.9 – Humans impact the environment and individuals can influence public policy decisions related to energy and the environment.

Life Science
LS.6 – Populations in a biological community interact and are interdependent.
LS.8 – Change occurs in ecosystems, communities, populations, and organisms over time.
LS.9 – Relationships exist between ecosystem dynamics and human activity.

Earth Science
ES.6 – Resource use is complex.
ES.10 – Oceans are complex, dynamic systems subject to long- and short-term variations.

BIO.8 – Dynamic equilibria exist within populations, communities, and ecosystems.

2015 Social Studies SOLs

Grades K-3 Economics Theme
2.8 – Natural, human, and capital resources.
3.8 – Understanding of cultures and of how natural, human, and capital resources are used for goods and services.

United States History: 1865-to-Present Course
USII.9 – Domestic and international issues during the second half of the 20th Century and the early 21st Century.

Civics and Economics Course
CE.6 – Government at the national level.
CE.10 – Public policy at local, state, and national levels.

World Geography Course
WG.2 – How selected physical and ecological processes shape the Earth’s surface, including climate, weather, and how humans influence their environment and are influenced by it.
WG.4 – Types and significance of natural, human, and capital resources.
WG.18 – Cooperation among political jurisdictions to solve problems and settle disputes.

Virginia and United States History Course
VUS.14 – Political and social conditions in the 21st Century.

Government Course
GOVT.9 – Public policy process at local, state, and national levels.
GOVT. 12 – Role of the United States in a changing world, including responsibilities of the national government for foreign policy and national security.
GOVT.15 – Role of government in Va. and U.S. economies, including examining environmental issues and property rights.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at https://www.doe.virginia.gov/teaching-learning-assessment/instruction (as of 2-23-23).

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.

Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15 – on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15 – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16 – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16 – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18 – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 407, 2-12-18 – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19 – on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.
Episode 524, 5-11-20 – on sounds by water-related animals, for elementary school through high school.
Episode 531, 6-29-20 – on various ways that animals get water, for 3rd and 4th grade.
Episode 539, 8-24-20 – on basic numbers and facts about Virginia’s water resources, for 4th and 6th grade.
Episode 606, 12-6-21 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.