Our vast marine environments span nearly three quarters of the earth, and play an essential role in regulating climate and weather systems as well as providing food, employment and transportation for people globally. In turn, society must play a key role in managing and mitigating its impact on the ocean. Through the Center for Ocean Solutions (COS), Woods has partnered with Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) to study and develop solutions to address ocean threats and prepare leaders to take on those challenges. COS leverages the research and policy expertise of Stanford and its partners to gather key data and develop new insights into the human-ocean interface ranging from ocean acidification to overfishing to sea level rise. Drawing on the interdisciplinary expertise of scientists, engineers and lawyers, the center harnesses the best available science to advance science-based solutions. Read on for highlights of the work COS researchers are doing to support informed ocean decisions, healthy marine ecosystems and vibrant coastal communities.


Human-marine interactions

COS and Woods hosted two workshops on human-marine interactions, featuring a “dream team” of interdisciplinary speakers discussing how the environment affects human wellbeing as well as what drives people toward environmentally and socially sustainable behavior. Read more and watch video.

Environmental DNA

The Center for Ocean Solutions’ Environmental DNA (eDNA) project was awarded $830,000 out of a larger $7 million federal grant to develop and test innovative genetic sampling techniques that could revolutionize marine wildlife monitoring. The process allows scientists to collect small water samples filled with bits of DNA, and identify which organisms are present in that environment based on each species’ unique genetic fingerprint—without ever having to see or capture the organisms themselves. Read more.

Coastal hypoxia research

A COS working group focused on ocean hypoxia published a 2014 article that helped the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project Commission identify and develop a pathway to solutions for addressing declining oxygen content along the California coast. Read more (pdf).

Natural capital and climate adaptation

Building on successful engagements with coastal planners from Sonoma, Marin, Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, the center's collaborative coastal adaptation efforts with the Natural Capital Project expanded to integrate regional lessons into statewide efforts in partnership with the California Coastal Commission and State Coastal Conservancy. Read more.

Small scale fisheries

COS's small-scale fisheries team published two peer-reviewed papers describing a number of strategies for developing more sustainable fisheries communities using adaptive, flexible management and social-ecological systems thinking. Read more.

Ocean acidification and science policy

COS published a white paper summarizing the legal and policy levers for addressing ocean acidification in California's Marine Protected Areas for the Resources Legacy Fund, a major funder of natural resources conservation. The charity will use this white paper to inform its funding priorities over the next five to ten years. Read more (pdf).

Leadership development

In 2014, the Monterey Area Institutions' Network for Education (a collaboration between COS and seven Monterey Bay area academic campuses focused on training future ocean leaders) saw an increase in the number of leadership development activities offered to our graduate audience, including four seminars, five workshops and two all-campus networking events involving over 250 participants and 20 guest speakers. The collaboration was also awarded its first-ever grant in 2014: A $25,000 WhaleTail grant to support the 2015 Summer Ocean Policy Course from the California Coastal Commission. Read more.

Ocean Tipping Points

The center’s interdisciplinary, cross-institutional Ocean Tipping Points project team published five peer-reviewed articles, gave 38 presentations and extensively engaged managers, researchers and community groups in its two case study regions of Haida Gwaii, British Columbia and Hawai'i, U.S. Read more.

On Camera

The extreme life of the sea: Stephen Palumbi at TEDxStanford

In this TedX Stanford talk, Woods Senior Fellow, by courtesy, Steve Palumbi (Biology) discusses his book about the amazing species in the sea, written with his son, the novelist Anthony Palumbi.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles vs. Pirate Fishing

Stanford researchers joined experts from law enforcement, government (including the president of Iceland), technology and nonprofit organizations for Ocean Agenda, a conference sponsored by Google Oceans and focused on "boosting protection of ocean life using new surveillance technologies." During a reception held on the second floor terrace of the Jerry Yang & Akiko Yamazaki Environment & Energy Building, conference attendees watched a demonstration of an unmanned aerial vehicle that could someday be launched from an unmanned boat to monitor illegal fishing.

In The News

Environmental Groups Call for Regulation as World Dives into Deep Sea Mining

Senior Fellow Larry Crowder (Biology), Science Director at the Center for Ocean Solutions, states that protected areas need to be in...
July 10, 2015 - By Robert Gebelhoff, Washington Post

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Coral Reefs: The Seawall That Nature Built

Woods-affiliated Professor of Biological Sciences Fellow Fiorenza Micheli explains findings that reefs serve as an effective first line of defense...
May 14, 2014 - By Michael Beck of The Nature Conservancy, National Geographic

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Some Corals Can Adapt to Warmer Waters

Quotes Steve Palumbi, Woods senior fellow, on study of heat-resistant coral species
April 28, 2014 - By Douglas Quenqua, The New York Times

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Toxins Released by Oil Spills Send Fish Hearts Into Cardiac Arrest

Study of effects of 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill reveals damage to heart cells, according to Woods Senior Fellow Barbara Block
February 13, 2014 - By Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times

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“The relevancy and timing of your work is greatly appreciated and immensely practical to those of us working in the field,”

- Anne Walton, program director for NOAA's International Marine Protected Areas Capacity Building Program

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