Oct. 16, 2018

#39: Is The Ocean Running Out of Oxygen? Is That Bad?

#39: Is The Ocean Running Out of Oxygen? Is That Bad?
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Our guest is Dawn “Deepsea Dawn” Wright, Ph.D., the Chief Scientist of the Environmental Systems Research Institute (AKA Esri) and a Professor of Geography and Oceanography at Oregon State University.

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Quinn: Welcome to Important, Not Important. My name is Quinn Emmett.

Brian: And my name is Brian Colbert Kennedy. 

Quinn: And this is episode 39. Holy shit. 

Brian: Wow. 

Quinn: Yep. Our guest today, Brian, we talked about some important stuff like "Hey, the ocean's running out of oxygen."

Brian: Yep. "Hey, the ocean's too acidic."

Quinn: What does that mean?

Brian: What does that mean?

Quinn: Yeah, what's that mean? Not terrifying at all. And our guest, boy, holy cow, is she impressive. Dr. Dawn Wright. Dawn is the Chief Scientist of the Environmental Systems Research Institute, aka ESRI, and a professor of geography and oceanography at OSU. She has basically led efforts to, and correct me if you understood this differently, map the entirety of the ocean floor in the same detail as basically your Waze app on your phone. 

Brian: Yep. You should be able to look at the ocean like you look at Google Maps, apparently. 

Quinn: Okay. I can't even begin to wrap my head around that shit. 

Brian: Nope.

Quinn: She was also the first African American female to dive to the ocean floor, where she said it was like a fireworks show-

Brian: Yeah, I was not expecting that. 

Quinn: In the deep, submersible Alvin. Brian, thoughts?

Brian: Look up Alvin, first of all, everybody, that's insane. 

Quinn: Yeah. Pretty dope. Would you do it?

Brian: Oh, yeah. 

Quinn: Yeah?

Brian: I think 100%. 

Quinn: Yeah. 

Brian: Especially once she said there was a fireworks show. I was like "You're talking about going deep into the ocean." 

Quinn: So cool, and then she was like "Nope, I gotta go, I can't talk to you more." I'm like 'Tell me more." 

Brian: She's incredible. 

Quinn: Yeah. This is another one, we do a lot of things on climate change, on clean energy, on cancer, on politics, and on the ocean I feel like we've tried to cover it in a lot of different ways, this is another aspect to really help paint a comprehensive picture, if we can. On that note, as we were talking, literally Dawn basically emailed us our show notes. Not only was she our most prepared guest-

Brian: Yeah, from start to finish. 

Quinn: By a long shot, she then sent us everything. But if she doesn't send pictures of her puppy, I'm done. 

Brian: She has a one year old puppy Golden Retriever, and we want to see some photos, Dawn. 

Quinn: Now. All right. That's it. 

Brian: Good short intro. 

Quinn: Yep. Let's go talk to Dawn. 

Brian: Okay. 

Quinn: Our guest today is Dr. Dawn Wright, and together we're going to discuss how the ocean seems to be running, maybe not running out of oxygen, but losing it at somewhat of a rapid pace. And that's probably not great. Dawn, welcome. 

Dawn Wright: Thank you so much, I'm so excited to be on your podcast. 

Quinn: For sure. 

Brian: I love your enthusiasm. 

Quinn: Love your enthusiasm, especially on the second try. We had some technical issues here, but we're working through them. Dawn, Deep Sea Dawn as your website says, and you just told us that whole story, tell us real quick who you are, and what you do. 

Dawn Wright: I am the Chief Scientist of ESRI, which also stands for the Environmental Systems Research Institute. ESRI is a geographic information system company. A lot of people translate that to mapping, but also with analytics in the background. We often say that it's like Google Maps, or Google Earth, on steroids. We provide maps for all of the world's major governments, for about 7,000 universities, about 350,000 organizations world wide, including a lot of environmental non profits. We love what we do. We have environmental conservation and planet stewardship at the core of our mission, and working for this company has been just wonderful for me because as the chief scientist, my job is to help strengthen the scientific foundations for the software that our company builds, and for the services and projects and activities that we're involved in with all of our customers; and then I also represent ESRY to the scientific community. I don't do sales, or marketing, I'm still an academic, so my role there is to represent us to the National Academy of Sciences on various boards and councils, such as with Conservation International.

Dawn Wright: I work with a lot of universities and research labs on special RND projects. It's just a fabulous job. I work directly under the CEO of the company, and sort of as his science strategist. And then, in my spare time, I'm also maintaining my faculty appointment at Oregon State University. I was at Oregon State University as a professor of geography and oceanography for 17 years before being lured to the other side, into industry. That's what I'm doing at the moment. 

Quinn: Anything else?

Brian: Yeah, I mean, it feels like anything else you're doing in your spare, spare time? I mean-

Dawn Wright: Well, I'm trying to raise this one year old Golden Retriever puppy, and trying to ride my road and mountain bike to keep my sanity. 

Quinn: Yeah, whatever the thing is that makes you, especially someone like you, maybe you specifically, keeping your sanity is very helpful to everyone. 

Brian: Yeah, please don't stop. 

Quinn: Yeah. I tell you, and this always sounds creepy when we say it, but in doing our research on you and your work ahead of time, I feel like I could go on on the list of awards and honors and things you have, and the firsts you have accomplished, but I don't think we have quite enough time here to go over all of those, because we're only recording for an hour. 

Dawn Wright: Oh, no, please don't. That just keeps me off the streets at night, keeps me out of trouble. I just keep my head down and work as hard as possible for the planet, and for other people, and that's the important thing. 

Quinn: Well, I would like to, at some point, come back to the fact, your Wikipedia mentioned you were the first African American female to dive to the ocean floor in the deep sea submersible Alvin, and I would love to hear about that at some point, because that just sounds incredible. The gist I gathered is basically you mapped the ocean, from what I gathered. 

Dawn Wright: Yes. Yeah. It's surprising I have a Wikipedia page, so that's kind of nice, but yes. Yeah, the mapping of the ocean. This is, some of us talk about grand challenges, this is still one of our grandest endeavors. We do not know enough about our planet. We look to the stars, and we dream about going to Mars, and back to the moon, and that is fantastic, but we don't have the same level of understanding of our own home planet. A lot of that has to do because of the difficulty in mapping our home planet. Our home planet is a water planet. Satellites cannot see through the water, so we have the still get out onto that water, and into that water, with sound waves, mainly, to map it. Many of us are on a mission to get the oceans mapped at the same level of detail as a standard hiking map that you would take to a national park. Or the map that you have on your phone that gets you through the traffic in the morning. Those maps have a certain level of detail that allow us to understand where we are, and to predict, even, where we should go, and we don't have that same level of understanding for the oceans. It's absolutely unbelievable, when you think about it, but it's true. It's also tied to this issue of oxygen in the ocean.

Quinn: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well, that's, I can't even comprehend the amount of work, and effort, and understanding that must go into that. 

Brian: It's a pretty small percentage of the ocean that's been mapped, currently. Right?

Dawn Wright: Yes. Now, if we're talking about resolution, or level of detail, we do have all of the ocean floor, for instance, mapped, but it's very, very coarse. Now, if we're talking, again, about that same level of detail as a map to your local state park, or your national park, we only have about 15% of the ocean floor. And about maybe 5% of the water, we call it the water column, only those small percentages are mapped at that level of detail. There's an initiative that's afoot called Seabed 2030, that is trying to rectify the ocean floor mapping problem by the year 2030. 

Quinn: Wow. And that's if we're still around, which would just be great. 

Dawn Wright: Yeah, if we don't run out of air to breathe, you know.

Quinn: All right. We're going to start moving towards that here. I'm sure people are going "If you could just answer that question, that'd be great."

Brian: We'll start getting into it here. Dawn, we are all about action oriented questions here, because we are living in a time that calls for action. We'll set up some context like we've been, and like we said we would, and then we'll start figuring out why what's happening is happening. What if we were doing this instead, would that be helpful? Would that be harmful? And how can we make a dent and help you, if that sounds okay?

Dawn Wright: Yeah. Great. 

Quinn: All right. Dawn, we start with one pretty important question here, something to really introduce you to our folks. But instead of just saying "Tell us your life story" we like to ask Dawn, why are you vital to the survival of the species?

Dawn Wright: Wow. Didn't see that one coming. I don't see myself as vital to the survival as the species. I don't look at it that way. I look at it in terms of all of us are vital together. I don't think any one, well, there's always the adage that one person can make a difference, and that's true, but I think especially today, where we are so divided, speaking just about the United States, we are so partisan, we are so terrible, that we must come together for the survival of the species. We must not just be singular, you know, "I'm important. I'm going to be the one to make the difference all alone." I think we have to link arms and work on things together. I would just like to be seen as a team member. Someone who is in the canoe, with the oar, along with everybody else, and together that canoe is going forward. 

Quinn: I think that's a wonderful, and humble answer. To be clear, I would like you to have the oars, and to be in charge of all of it. 

Brian: If you could just have the oars-

Quinn: That would be great. And you just tell us what to do, basically. That would be super helpful. All right. Let's put together a little context here. Again, please tell me all the ways I'm wrong here, and Brian's going to ask a lot of questions, and maybe Dawn will still be here when we finish. 

Quinn: Okay. Getting into the oxygen question, one of the things that makes Earth so unique is photosynthesis, it's what made this whole life experiment possible from soup to nuts as I understand it, because from that came oxygen, which is the only thing really keeping us going. It's part of one of the things we're actually looking for in all of these exo planets that we're searching out as we try to find either a Earth 2.0, or a backup plan, or an escape patch, whichever way you want to see it. Or if somebody else is out there. You might have thought that maybe fish breathe water, no, fish breathe oxygen-

Brian: I'm sure I thought that at some point. 

Quinn: Yeah, some point? Like what, Tuesday?

Brian: Yeah. What is today? Yeah. 

Quinn: Right. Today. Fish actually breathe oxygen by removing it from the water. The gills, the little slits on the side, and the inside of those are full of blood vessels, the fish sucks in the water, Brian, and then they push it out through the gills, and the water passes over the walls of the gills like Kevin Costner in Water World, and the dissolved oxygen moves into the blood and travels to the fish cells. It's pretty wild, right?

Brian: That is insane. 

Quinn: On the list of super powers I wish I had, that would be pretty cool. 

Brian: Does Aquaman have those?

Dawn Wright: Well, we've got, yeah, Aquaman, I can't wait for that movie to come out, because we're going to find out a lot about what the deal is with Aquaman. He's got a lot going on. 

Quinn: Yeah. I feel like they could have called you on that one, for sure. 

Dawn Wright: Well, you know, you're doing great, because you're getting into the heavy biology. My background is in geology, so-

Quinn: Yeah, I wanted to sort of paint the picture of why that's important, and sort of where we're going. Because obviously everybody knows that humans, well, maybe not everybody, people at 1600 Pennsylvania know we breathe oxygen, but to take it back, Brian, we look at the Mesozoic era, right? Sure, yep. About 250, 66, to be accurate, million years ago, dinosaurs, right? Everyone things it's totally fine. We've talked about that before. It's a great stretch. Super long. Longer than anybody remembers. Dinosaurs are all around, everything was great until the asteroid went boom. Turns out, a bunch of scientists think that about 93-94 million years ago a shit ton of carbon dioxide came up from the bottom of the ocean, possibly because of certain events and the continents shifting. The Earth got a hell of a lot hotter, the seas rose, oxygen got sucked out of the water all over, and super doe dinosaur fish like the Ichthyosaurus, I can never pronounce that right. That's a tough one. 

Dawn Wright: Ichthyosaurus. 

Quinn: Ichthyosaurus, which had been swimming along for 150 million years before that, keep in mind humans have been around for about 300,000, they're just snuffed out. It's believed the entire continental shelf was snuffed out. You know, the continental shelf is the parts all along the continents before it drops off into the abyss, basically. And why that matters is because 90% of today's commercial fish and shell fish live on that shelf. Dead zones everywhere. How long did that period last? They're guessing about half a million years. Today, dead zones seem to be proliferating. And not in a great way. Some estimates say the ocean's lost 2% of its oxygen the last 50 years, I think. Warm water just has less oxygen. 

Brian: That doesn't sound like a lot, but is that, that's probably a huge deal.

Quinn: 2% of our oceans on a water world, essentially, is not great. I'm sure I got a number of things wrong there, but we've talked about the ocean in a lot of different ways, from the Atlantic invading the Arctic and what the warming water is doing there, the salt levels, what it's doing to fishing, what it's doing to the lobster in the stream, what it's doing on the policy side, things like this. But, I want to get into this specific thing because I know, Dawn, this is something you're working heavily on. I would like to get a primer, because as again, from what I understand, you are in change of the ocean. 

Dawn Wright: Oh, no. 

Quinn: Well, too bad. Dawn, why the hell is the ocean running out of oxygen this time, and is that bad?

Dawn Wright: The ocean, I think you set the stage very nicely there, in terms of Earth history, and if we fast forward into the present, we have got, the ocean is always facing these pressures, and the ocean is always making up for what's happening on land, when you think about it, because this whole climate change thing with too many greenhouse gasses being in the atmosphere as a result of the cars that we drive, and all of the industry, the pollution that we're putting into the atmosphere, the ocean is playing a big role in absorbing those excess gasses. When you absorb excess gasses like that, that's where the ocean acidification problem is coming from. Hopefully your listeners have heard, by now, of ocean acidification, because we scientists have been talking about that as a clear and present danger for quite some time now. At least about 10 years. 

Quinn: Let's pause for a second and assume maybe they haven't, or they weren't paying attention as closely. Could you just tell us what that is, in a couple sentences? What's going on?

Dawn Wright: Simply, if there's too much carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas, or methane, that's in the atmosphere, the oceans absorb that and that makes the acidity of the oceans, it makes the ocean more acid. 

Quinn: Mm-hmm (affirmative). What are the ramifications of that?

Dawn Wright: The ramifications, nobody wants to be in an acid anything, right? Acid rain is a bad deal. If the ocean waters are too acidic the coral reefs are going to be in danger. It's going to pretty much put everything out of balance in the oceans, but most of us can relate to coral reefs, because we've either seen pictures of them, or we've actually visited them as scuba divers or snorkelers, and we don't want those beautiful structures to dissolve. We don't want all of the fish, and the invertebrates, all of the plants, everything that depends on that eco system, to go away. Some of us are still looking for cures for cancer and other maladies. I think peanut butter is spreadable because of a bio algae that comes from a coral reef eco system. 

Quinn: Wait, what?

Dawn Wright: Important things in life. 

Quinn: No, no, no. Wait, what?

Dawn Wright: We get all kinds of amazing things from the ocean-

Quinn: Wow. 

Dawn Wright: And one of the things that I told my introductory oceanography class once is that we've got spreadable peanut butter because of a bio- Now, you'll have to, I'll have to double check on this later, but I'm pretty sure that's based-

Quinn: Oh, I'm going to be double checking on it. 

Dawn Wright: Yeah. But there are all kinds of important resources that we get from the ocean, so if the oceans are in danger from acidification, then that's going to affect all of us. 

Quinn: Which they are, right?

Dawn Wright: which they are, but the other big problem is the lack of oxygen.

Quinn: Yeah, talk to us about what's going on here. 

Dawn Wright: Oxygen is produced in the ocean, in large part because of photosynthesis. We know about photosynthesis, I think it's the most wonderful chemical equation in all of science, if I could be so bold. 

Quinn: Yeah, please be. 

Dawn Wright: And as kids in school we learn about photosynthesis from plants, and in the ocean there are billions and trillions of small plants in the ocean that are called phytoplankton, and they are producing oxygen as they photosynthesize; they take water, and they take that carbon dioxide, they take the sun's energy, and they take the nutrients, the good old vitamin pills that are in the ocean, and they produce the carbohydrates, and they produce oxygen from that process. That is benefiting all of us because more than half of the oxygen that we breathe comes from that process taking place in the ocean, as well as the mixture of oxygen from, we call it the air sea interface, at the surface of the ocean. All of that beautiful wave action. We know about the wave action that we see on shore, with surfing and body surfing, and so forth, but that's happening all across the oceans of the world. That process is constantly producing oxygen, and it actually contributes to what every single one of us breathes every single day. A lot of people think that "Well, I live in Colorado, or I live in Utah, and the oceans are cool, but that's not really going to affect me. I live in the interior. I don't see the ocean every day." But what is happening in the ocean is affecting you, no matter where you live. 

Dawn Wright: Now, the ocean is facing another pressure. There's the ocean acidification, but there's also the big word de oxygenation, or the reduction of oxygen, mainly because of disruptions in the eco system and the nutrient cycles of our friends the phytoplanktons, the nice little plants in the oceans that do so much for us. They are affected by pollution. We hear a lot about plastics and sewage outfalls, and all kinds of horrible things going on in the ocean to pollute it, that throws the phytoplankton and all the fish out of balance. That messes with them. Then we've got turmoil in the ocean from trolling, and dredging, and drilling, and mining, fishing. All of these are putting pressures on these processes that help to produce the oxygen that we breathe. 

Dawn Wright: There was a paper that came out in Science Magazine, or Science Journal, earlier this year, that gives a great review. It's pretty much in the weeds because it was in science's, one of the leading journals of the days, it's sort of like the Washington Post, or the New York Times for the scientific community. These authors, [Brightburg 00:22:28], and her colleagues, point out all of these pressures on the ocean. They give us some real data, some great graphics, and they also point out that the oxygen is not only dropping in the oceans, throughout all the oceans, but it's dropping faster than can be accounted for by regular physics processes. When you're talking about the fish breathing, the respiration in the oceans, that is certainly the case. There's a lot of that respiration, desperate breathing going on in the ocean, but a good portion of that might be in the microbes. The microbes that live not only on the surface, but throughout all, or a good portion of the depths of the oceans. 

Dawn Wright: This gets back to our lack of understanding of the oceans. We don't know enough about the microbes down in the oceans. And we need to find out more about them because the changes that are happening in the oceans are happening pretty fast. We can't just sit around and debate whether or not things are real, like whether or not climate change is real. These things are real, they are happening, it's because of us, and we've got to get down to the business of finding solutions. 

Dawn Wright: One of the things that my company really likes to do is work with research institutes, especially where they need support or collaboration in mapping. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is trying to find out what's happening with microbes and fish in the twilight zone of the ocean. It's this critical zone that's just beneath the surface, and it's a place in the ocean that we really don't know that much about. It's from the surface down to about 600 or 1000 feet or so. We tend to focus on the surface, and my community, we're trying to map the ocean floor. There's a whole heck of a lot in between that we don't know-

Quinn: And if I could interrupt, I actually learned about the twilight zone. There were kids illustrated books, and now a cartoon, called the Octonauts, right?

Brian: Oh, I've heard of that. 

Dawn Wright: Great. 

Quinn: Which is the best, and my children know infinitely more, they should be the one talking to you right now, because all they do is, it's this team of mostly land animals that go around and they speak in British accents, and they go around helping other animals under water, and they have the coolest submarines, and it's basically all I want to do as a career. There's a penguin, and a polar bear, and an octopus, and they're always in the twilight zone, or the midnight zone. I swear to God I hadn't heard of half this stuff, and now I'm, again, I feel like I can almost hold up with my kids on it, because-

Dawn Wright: Oh, that is fantastic. 

Quinn: But I feel, honestly, I feel like between Octonauts and Planet Earth, and the ocean one, oh, I'm totally blanking on it. 

Brian: The show?

Quinn: Yeah. Oh, it just came out. 

Dawn Wright: Blue Planet-

Quinn: Blue Planet. Yeah, Blue Planet. My kids just watch the three of those on repeat, and it's incredible. Yes. Yeah. It is fascinating how much is out there that we don't know. 

Brian: I hope you work with somebody named Tammy or Theresa so we can keep the fun nicknames going. Deep Sea Dawn, and maybe Twilight Tammy would be the next person who-

Dawn Wright: Yeah. 

Quinn: Good alliteration, Brian. 

Brian: Thank you. 

Dawn Wright: I have the pleasure of working with her deepness Sylvia Earle. 

Quinn: Sylvia Earle, yeah she takes it way back. She is a hero. 

Dawn Wright: Yeah. In fact, she is one of the primary people trying to raise the awareness of this issue of the decreasing oxygen in the oceans. She and I wrote a little article together, and she also led a group of us in writing a letter to Science responding to the Brightburg article about this is not just another great article that's published in Science, this is really, really important. This is something that we have to take action on. 

Quinn: Let me back up for a second here. When did you all first realize what the hell was going on here?

Dawn Wright: Well, I think a lot, and to be honest, full disclosure, I'm not an ocean bio geochemist, or an ocean biologist. These are the heroes who are actually working with these data. My expertise is on the bottom, the geography. The structure. For instance, I am very keyed into the recent earth quake and tsunami. 

Quinn: Right. 

Brian: Very devastating. 

Dawn Wright: That gets down to my expertise in terms of how the sea floor there ruptured and shifted and caused that horrific tsunami. I think they're up to-

Quinn: It's like 15,000. 

Dawn Wright: At any rate, the scientists who have been working with these data have sounded the alarm call for, I'd say it's been at least 10 years, but there have been scientists who have been looking at oxygen levels in the ocean forever, really. The very first comprehensive global assessment of chemistry in the ocean took place in 1872 with the expedition of the Challenger. The British started off with this, and the HMS Challenger went around all of the world's oceans and took some of the critical measurements of ocean characteristics, even ocean depth at that time. I would say it started, really, with that 1872-1876 expedition. When I was in school in oceanography, our chemistry professor said "I want you guys to read the reports of the Challenger expedition. I want you to really understand the shoulders of giants that you are standing on, and what you're adding to." 

Dawn Wright: In terms of the recent climate change crisis, I would say in at least the last 10 years we've been talking about this, and trying to communicate this, but it has only come to the fore, I would say, with the Trump administration, and the horror that they are, I don't want to get too political here, but it's been out and out attacked-

Quinn: I'll say it. It's a fucking nightmare. Yeah. 

Dawn Wright: Yeah. 

Brian: Can we, sorry, maybe this is a silly question, but how are we able to know and measure what happened millions and millions of years ago down there?

Quinn: I feel like on land we've got fossils, and old white senators, or we can see where the asteroids hit, right, there's craters. The Yucatan. But how do we know when an ocean was warm, and when it wasn't, and how it killed things off? And I guess how does that apply to what you guys have figured out over the past 10 years?

Dawn Wright: Yeah, we've got the equivalent in the oceans to deep sea cores. 

Quinn: Could you explain those?

Dawn Wright: Yeah, there's tons of, these little creatures that live in the oceans, including the phytoplankton, but certainly the little animals, the little shrimpies, and what we call the zo plankton, after a while they die and their shells and their carcasses settle to the ocean floor and become part of the sediment. And over millions of years, we have got wonderful records of what has happened in the past from the sediments, and also from the rocks on the sea floor. So we can punch a whole through these sediments and we can bring out a long sample of them. It's similar to drilling for oil. In fact, ocean drilling is going on as we speak. There are scientific drilling vessels, there's one that I worked on for about three years as a technician, and it was basically like a Gulf of Mexico oil and gas drilling vessel, which drills for oil in the Gulf of Mexico, but this particular vessel, or ship, it's called the Joides Resolution. Think of it as the resolution, it was named after one of Captain Cook's ships. 

Dawn Wright: his ship uses that same technology, it's got a drilling tower in the middle of it. It's called a drilling derrick so that you can put together long pieces of pipe and lower that pipe down to the sea floor. The pipe, at the very end of it, has the toothed drilling apparatus, or machinery, on it, so that it can drill down through the sediment. As the drill goes into the ocean floor, the sediment is collected into a plastic sheath, and that is the core. You've got, when you bring that core up to the surface, and split it open and look at it, you've got a beautiful record of all of the events. The deposition of different types of fossils through time in that core. That's really how we can get the history of what happened in the ocean, in the ocean water. 

Quinn: It's so fascinating to me. It sounds like the exact same thing that they're doing with the ice in the north and the south, and that they're trying to do on Mars. Of course, drilling always makes me think of Armageddon, but I guess for some reason I thought it would be different in the ocean. I guess either because the pressure is so great, or because maybe you would dissipate differently with the water, but I guess these are animals that are built to live and survive in the water, so I guess they're remains would be different. That's so fascinating that it's really the same methodology. 

Dawn Wright: Yeah, it's the same idea. The scientists that are drilling for cores of ice, and that they're looking at the composition of ancient air in the bubbles in that ice. It's the same thing. 

Quinn: These are the moments where I look at Brian and I go "Brian, if someone told you to to find ancient air, where would you start?"

Brian: I can't believe that that's a thing. 

Quinn: It's just like, Dawn is another one of these folks that feels like she's using 5% of her brain to talk to us. 

Brian: Right, right. And we appreciate it, Dawn. 

Dawn Wright: You know, one of the hardest things, another movement that's going on now is science communication, and one of the hardest things to do is to take what we do in our area of specialty, and then to describe it to each other, like as some very skilled biologists and chemists have described to us geologists what they do, and we describe to them what we do. It's all part of the ocean, but we all have different languages, the jargon and so forth. And then to take that and to describe how important this is to a congressman or a senator or to the mayor of your town, or I use my mom. If my mom, my mom now can understand maps and GIS, geographic information systems. She said the word overlay the other day. I was like "Yeah, go Mom." She knows about spatial statistics, I'm like "Yeah."

Quinn: Oh, nice. 

Brian: That's impressive. 

Quinn: That's awesome. I want to hang with your mom.

Brian: Yeah, you can have a whole brain full of knowledge-

Quinn: Brian, what language would you use to describe what we do? Or do you just say "We have a podcast."? That's it. 

Brian: That's all we have to say. 

Quinn: That's all you have to say. 

Brian: Everybody knows podcast. Yeah. It's easy. 

Dawn Wright: Yeah. 

Brian: All right. What did you tell us? The ocean is absorbing way too many greenhouse gasses, becoming acidic. We've got a bunch of oxygen that we're not getting anymore. And we've talked on the podcast before about the oceans getting warmer and being warmer, and how that leads to drastic sea level rise in San Francisco and New Orleans, and Miami, and a million other places very sadly, and how fish and lobsters are migrating north away from where they traditionally should be. What are the real ramifications of this? 

Quinn: Right, and what are we doing about it?

Dawn Wright: One of the real ramifications is that real estate is disappearing. I was at a conference recently, it was one of the events at the Global Climate Action Summit. Governor Brown had this amazing meeting trying to mobilize especially state and local government leaders to move forward despite the US being yanked out of the Paris climate agreement. But there were tons of other parallel meetings going on, and I was at one where there was a group of us, we were at a Do Fest, and it was about not just-

Quinn: I'm sorry, what?

Dawn Wright: It was called a Do Fest. 

Quinn: Oh, like do, D, O?

Dawn Wright: Do. Yeah. D, o. Do something. Come up with solutions. 

Quinn: I like it. 

Dawn Wright: Get together and work together, and network, and let's do something about these problems. One of the ramifications for sea level rise is that, as I was saying, real estate will disappear, and a speaker, a wonderful speaker, she's in charge of the climate action, really, at Conservation International, she showed a picture of one of the islands in the Maldives, in the Indian Ocean, and the capital city there is on this very small island. There's really no more room for them to build anything. And with sea level rising, that real estate is going to disappear. They have no where to go. They can't run up to the mountains. Their island is very young. It's fairly flat. It's all been developed and built, so as the sea level rises and encroaches and floods, they have no where to go. They're going to have to leave at some point. This is a big problem for the small island nations in the Pacific and the Indian Oceans. That's one huge consequence. Your home disappears. 

Quinn: Right. It seems so sci fi and drastic when people say "Hey, we need to start thinking about the places we're very tragically going to have to walk away from." And it's very easy to focus, in the US, on New York, and Miami, and New Orleans, but again, that whole chain, Indonesia, is just, they're like "We're already starting." This is happening. It's pretty incredible. What about the warming, the oxygen issues specifically? What are the big ramifications for that for, I guess, the continental shelf, and marine and geologic-

Dawn Wright: These fish do need oxygen. We do have our fisheries that we do rely on, that's really big for the economy of our country and for many countries. We don't want to see fish die offs. One of the things about Florence, for instance, one of my colleagues, Marshall Shepard, who is a great atmospheric science and geography professor at the University of Georgia, he shared this picture on Twitter of the flood waters of Florence having receded, and there were tons of dead fish littering the high way. We could have a similar type of phenomenon in the oceans. If you don't have enough oxygen to breathe, you're going to die. Fish do need that oxygen to breathe in the water as you've already described so nicely. We don't want to lose our fisheries in that way. Everything is related in sort of a virtuous cycle in nature, so if one part of it is out of whack, the rest of it is going to be affected. Even the way that we go through our normal cycles during the day, if we're not getting enough sleep, we're going to have a hard time concentrating, doing our work, we're not going to be able to carry through with the whole cycle of our activities and our responsibilities if one thing is out of balance. 

Dawn Wright: It goes to a whole host of problems that we ... We've talked about sea level rise, and ocean acidification, pollution, the quality of water is going the decrease because we've got a whole bunch of dead things in the water, that's going to make for nasty water. We'll have coral bleaching. All kinds of things. Habitat destruction. Loss of biodiversity. Species that are not supposed to be there; we talked about the fish species that are moving north because of the warmer water. Some of these species are invasive or harmful. Just everything just gets crazy out of whack. 

Quinn: I'm trying to dive a little deeper. One of our first guests, who I couldn't have more respect for, mostly because of her work, and also she just tells me I'm wrong all the time, is, you might know her, Dr. Iana Elizabeth Johnson?

Dawn Wright: Oh, I just had the pleasure of meeting her finally. We've been stalking each other on social media and we finally got to meet at this Do Fest. 

Quinn: Oh, nice. Yeah. She is awesome, and so smart. She and some other folks have been trying to, against all odds, educate me on the ocean stuff as much as they can from all fronts. Yeah. She also, and some other folks, pointed me towards Paul Greenberg's books, Four Fish, and American Catch. And I guess there's a new one, the Omega Principle, just talking about why we chose the wildlife in the ocean we did to eat, and how that's changing because of over fishing, and now how that is changing with the warming and the migrations, and the lack of the bottom of the food chain, and things like that. Again, I'm trying to get a more comprehensive viewpoint, because like you said when we asked about the ramifications, and you listed 100 things. It's not just hey, the lobsters are moving north, it's this, again, a theme we run into a lot is all this shit is connected. 

Quinn: Dawn, let's say you're in charge of the whole shebang, as it's very clear you should be. What is the first, most impactful thing you would do? And I know this is a ridiculous question because there's a million things to do to alter our course?

Dawn Wright: The very first thing I would do is to talk about this. Talk about what you've learned with your friends, with your family. I was struck by another colleague of mine, Katharine Hayhoe, and by the way-

Brian: Oh, we've never heard of her. 

Quinn: Brian's kidding. We've literally had so many guests recommend her, and we are trying to get it scheduled. But she seems like just the chosen one. 

Dawn Wright: Well, yes. She should be in charge of everything, the oceans, the atmosphere. She and Marshall Shepard, and John Foley, and Jacqueline Gill, and Alan Townsend and I are in this new -

Quinn: Super group?

Dawn Wright: Let Science Speak, the film series. Anyway, she said that about 75% of Americans don't hear people talk about these issues. 

Quinn: Interesting. 

Dawn Wright: 75% of Americans don't hear people talking about climate change more than once or twice a year. And we face the same problem. I mean, climate change is an atmospheric problem, but it's also an ocean problem. And many of us, like Iana, we're just trying to get people to understand, and then to talk about it among yourselves. Certainly talk about it to your government officials where it affects your community. But the more we are, the way that we talk about movies, or about football games, and you learn through that, and you're enriched by that. It's the same thing with these issues. The very first thing we can do is to spread the word and talk about it. 

Quinn: I love that. I love that. It reminds me of how incredibly inexcusable it was that climate change was not questioned, or brought up once, in the 2016 presidential debates. 

Brian: Yeah, that's insane. 

Quinn: Not once. 

Dawn Wright: This is the danger. This is the huge danger. Because it wasn't even on people's radar. It wasn't on the radar screen of our leaders. They didn't even care enough to bring it up, and our lives absolutely depend on this. Look what's happening. Further, one of the reasons why we have this Let Science Speak film series, why we were involved in this, is because scientists are being censored at the EPA. They can't even use the language or the words climate change. It's absolutely insane. It's really like, well, the Earth is flat. You may as well be on that side saying that the Earth is flat. 

Quinn: It's not, by the way, just for all our listeners out there. It's not flat. You, and your super group partners that you just mentioned in the Let Science Speak group, what are the biggest obstacles that you all run into when you're trying to get people to understand this stuff? And you're trying to get people to listen to you and talk about it like they talk about football. Why isn't it happening?

Dawn Wright: Well, a lot of people, for them, you can tell them as many scientific facts as you can, but for them it's very emotional. For some people it's a religious issue. For some people, they don't want to face what the implications are, that they're going to have to change their lifestyles, or that they suddenly may not be in power, perhaps. They think that they're being told what to do. Some of us have received, now I have never, thankfully, received death threats, but Katharine Hayhoe can tell you all about that. It's absolutely insane. But that's one of the things that we do touch on in the Let Science Speak series. Each of those films is only about five minutes long. 

Dawn Wright: But those are the issues I found, that if you tell, well, with the oceans I think it's a little easier because there's so much about the ocean that many people have not experienced. I mean, we all look up at the sky. We all know when it's a hot day, or when there's a storm. We all experience that. But not all of us have experienced swimming in the ocean, or diving to the ocean floor. It was only until about 20 years ago, or so, that we actually saw the first, we actually witnessed the first volcanic eruption on the ocean floor. The ocean is still a mystery to so many people, and when you peel back the mystery and tell them about what's going on, I've found that they really like that. It's like listening to a science fiction story, although it's not fiction. There's a little bit more, people are a bit more receptive. But that's just been in my experience.

Dawn Wright: I think the most important thing is that we all have, they're problems that we can solve together. With the ocean pollution problem, I think everybody's starting to get on board now with plastic. We've got too much plastic on the planet. We've got too much plastic in the oceans. It's choking the oceans. It's poisoning the oceans. It's poisoning us. And some very simple things like Starbucks now. When I go to Starbucks, I take my glass straw with me. I don't want to use their straws. Starbucks is slowly going to come around, and they're not going to produce plastic straws. Very, very simple things like that. And I think for people who are not as familiar with the oceans, they need to find a way to get to the water, and visit a blue park. Visit a national sea shore. And get some fantastic vacation time out of it. 

Quinn: Yeah. Two birds. 

Dawn Wright: Yeah. 

Quinn: It's understandable in some ways, especially for the people in the middle that literally maybe never visited the ocean because they can't afford to, or it's hard to travel, or they don't have time to, so I can understand sometimes when it's one of those issues that can seem sort of large, can seem fairly impenetrable. That's the trouble with a lot of the ocean issues, is for a lot of folks either can't, or don't, really see, or touch, or feel them very often. Unless it's litter on a beach. And you've just gone into this quite a bit, which is get out there and touch, and see, and feel the ocean. And engage and have conversations. Are there other specific ways our listeners can help fight this issue, specifically? To support and amplify your mission? Are there particular places they can donate to, or they should learn from? Et cetera, et cetera. Websites on down. 

Dawn Wright: Yeah. I can give you a whole list of them. One, Sylvia Earle, she has her Mission Blue Alliance. And her mission is to raise awareness. They do a fantastic job on so many levels, but I think one of their most effective ways is to help people to talk about these issues, and then to take action with partners. Partners such as The National Geographic, and others. I'll name the Algalita Marine Research and Education Coalition, because they're all about removing plastic, reducing pollution, especially plastic, in the ocean. And they also are connected with the Save the Albatross Coalition. This is about helping to reduce plastic in the oceans, particularly to save marine life, sea birds and so forth. It's saving the sea birds, but it's saving us in the process. Every single aquarium has a fantastic public outreach, but also they're doing a lot of, they save marine mammals. They help us to reduce pollution. Any of these wonderful aquariums. Where I live, the Aquarium of the Pacific is an aquarium that I support and get involved in. There is the Oregon Coast Aquarium. There's the Monterey Bay Aquarium. 

Quinn: I've been to Monterey Bay. It's a stunning aquarium. 

Dawn Wright: I mean, they're wonderful places. You can enjoy yourself, but they also do a lot of fantastic research and activism and outreach and solution finding. Another great one is the Marine Conservation Institute. You can find all of these organizations on the web. And there, I think, for us at ESRY, we are supplying these organizations with mapping technology because one of the best ways that you can, aside from watching the Blue Planet series, and the Octonauts, is to explore with a map. Especially if you don't live near an ocean. We have apps that allow you to do that from your phone, or from your tablet. You can see the actual data. You can see images. One of the apps that we have is called The Ecological Marine Units Explorer, which helps you to, you can actually explore one of 52 million measurements in the ocean of dissolved oxygen. Or salinity, or temperature, or these nutrients. You can see how these are changing from the surface down to the ocean floor, and you can use these to educate yourself about what is physically happening to the oceans. These are just some of the things. 

Quinn: Yeah, no, I love it. And we're going to put all of those in the show notes, as well. It really seems like, in light of the fact that nobody, obviously I think it comes back to stop emissions and we'll stop acidifying the oceans, and obviously do what you can. We recommend checking out Project Draw Down for that stuff. Because that is a contributor, and again, the ocean has always, and continues to, take the brunt of those things, and has clearly had just about enough. But it does sound like educating yourself, and just being in touch with the ocean; whether it's watching these things, or like you said, going to an aquarium, supporting an aquarium, learning from their programs. Taking your kids. And just going yourself. In some way, those things should hopefully give you a better connection to what is out there and what's happening. Even if you can't feel the water warmer, or see the phytoplankton that are suffering, at least you can experience what is out there, and what is at risk. 

Dawn Wright: And I think it's so awesome that your kids are into the Octonauts. The children-

Quinn: Can't recommend Octonauts enough. 

Brian: I gotta watch Octonauts. 

Quinn: We're going to have a class session. It's so great. You can find it on iTunes or Netflix. It's so great. I just want it to be my job. 

Dawn Wright: Oh, boy. I need to check into that. I'm currently into building remotely operated vehicles and ships out of Lego toys. 

Quinn: When? When are you doing this?

Brian: Yeah, wait. Hold on. 

Dawn Wright: Oh, I've got five kits in my Lego building room that I need to get to. But I'm working on a ship in a bottle right now. It's awesome. It's so much fun. 

Quinn: I just want to hang out so bad. 

Brian: That's incredible. What big action steps can we be doing? What questions should we be asking of our representatives?

Quinn: Specifically. We like to send people, if they're going to work with or something, and I can actually talk to them, what are the questions they should be asking? I know it changes depending on where you are, but ... 

Dawn Wright: Yeah, the idea of carbon credits, looking into that issue. Looking at maintaining the current legislation, because one of the things that we're faced with right now is that the current administration wants to roll back protections that are already in place for marine protected areas offshore, and for our marine parks. They need to stand firm and not let that happen, not let that go away. There's the Magnuson–Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act that helps keep us in check in terms of our fisheries and maintaining the essential habitats. It helps us to, we take fish from the ocean, but it has to be sustainable, so that's what the Magnuson–Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act is about. These things, we also had a national ocean policy that has fallen by the wayside, perhaps. All of these things, we were making such good progress ... 

Quinn: Right, and then?

Dawn Wright: And then we, we're either stopping or we're rolling back. 

Quinn: Yeah. I think this week the rollbacks included mercury and something else. I literally thought, walking home "Oh, the next thing's going to be asbestos." But didn't they do that? A few months ago?

Brian: Yes. 

Quinn: Which is just like, is this, it's like, I don't know, it's like a satire. It's insane to me. Anyway. 

Dawn Wright: And the fuel emissions standards for our cars, the federal government wants to roll that back. We can't do that. 

Quinn: Right, yeah. It's not an option anymore. 

Brian: All right. Well, this has been fantastic so far. We have kept you for about an hour, and we really, really appreciate it. 

Quinn: Who else do you feel like we should talk to? Again, it doesn't have to be ocean, it doesn't have to be climate, just can be someone out there who's doing something really cool and impactful that's either really good, or trying to defend against the apocalypse? You don't have to answer now, you can always email us later, but people you think would be a great conversationalist on something like that, that you think our listeners would love to hear from and support. 

Dawn Wright: Sylvia Earle is certainly-

Quinn: Her Deepness. 

Dawn Wright: Her Deepness, yeah. 

Quinn: Sure. 

Dawn Wright: She's always a great person to talk to. But there's so many others. In fact, Sylvia Earle's daughter, Liz Taylor, I don't think we hear enough from her. I would recommend her as a really cool person to talk to. Liz is the CEO of the company that Sylvia founded called Deep Ocean Exploration and Research, and they build these terrific vehicles to explore, and to save the ocean. 

Quinn: Wait, is she an Octonaut?

Dawn Wright: Well, I would say so, yeah. 

Quinn: That's awesome. 

Dawn Wright: She is a great person to talk to. She is all in for not only exploring the ocean, but saving the planet, being a good steward of the planet. We don't hear enough from her, I think. From Liz Taylor. 

Quinn: Okay, awesome. 

Dawn Wright: So, if she's willing to, I think she would be a fresh new voice for your podcast, and just an awesome person. 

Quinn: Awesome. As always, and I think we mentioned this before, I don't know offline, or not, but we definitely, anyone, ladies are always, I would just say preferred this point. Ladies, or people of color, because we want to try to amplify those voices as much as we can, especially since we're two white guys. 

Dawn Wright: Well, another great person, and I'm just trying to, Claudia Benitez-Nelson. Oh my gosh, she is a force of nature. She is a professor, she's a chemist, and ocean chemist, she's a professor at the University of South Carolina, and she would be a fantastic person to talk to on your podcast. 

Quinn: Awesome. Rock and roll. 

Brian: Thank you. 

Quinn: Well, anyone else you ever think of, please let us know. For sure. 

Dawn Wright: Sure. Yeah. If you look up Claudia Benitez-Nelson, Liz Taylor, she may be a little harder to look up on the web, which I think is a shame. These women should have Wikipedia articles, the full nine yards. 

Brian: I think we can get that going, aren't they just user generated?

Quinn: Brian will do that today. 

Brian: I'm on it. 

Dawn Wright: I'll send you their contact. 

Brian: That would be great. 

Quinn: That would be awesome. Thank you so much. 

Brian: All right, Dawn, well we have a little bit of a lightning round of questions here, if you're up to it? 

Quinn: Last thing. 

Dawn Wright: Sure, yeah. 

Quinn: Dawn, when was the first time in your life when you realized you had the power of change, or the power to do something meaningful?

Dawn Wright: It was my eighth year on the planet. Eight years old. That was the big year. That was the year, in fact, I'm going to see First Man when it comes out, but Neil Armstrong, when he stepped on the moon, that Apollo 11 mission, I became a person of faith, a Christian, that year. I learned how to body surf. I mean, that was the year. 

Quinn: That's a big year. 

Brian: Of course you did all that at eight years old. 

Dawn Wright: That was a big year, yeah. 

Brian: I think I was still sucking my thumb.

Dawn Wright: I decided to be an oceanographer that year. I mean, it all came together. It all came together. 

Quinn: Wow. That's so cool. Dawn, who is someone in your life that's positively impacted your work in the past six months?

Dawn Wright: In the past six months I would have to say it's my mother. My mother has impacted my work through my entire life, so my mother would be number one. Number two would be my boss Jack Dangerman; he continues to amaze all of us, so Jack Dangerman is the CEO and founder of ESRY-

Quinn: His last name is Dangerman?

Dawn Wright: Yeah. He's the danger man. 

Quinn: Oh, God. Deep Sea Dawn, Danger, I mean ... 

Dawn Wright: It's a Dutch name. One of the things that has blown just about everybody away is that he and his wife have purchased 24,000 acres of the last best wild place on the California coast, saving it from developers, saving it from another Trump golf course, and gifting it to the nature conservancy so that it can be preserved. 

Brian: That's awesome. 

Dawn Wright: It's safe.

Quinn: Where is that? On the coast of California somewhere?

Dawn Wright: It's on the coast of California. The central coast north of Santa Barbara. 

Quinn: Oh, yeah. It's so beautiful there. 

Dawn Wright: Up by Point Conception. It's south of the Vandenberg Air Force Base. This story has made so many of us, given so many of us hope. Not only did they preserve and protect this, and this is, he's the CEO of a software company, but he is all into doing, as he says "Going big" with this, and protecting the planet, trying to reverse the loss of biodiversity, doing his part before it's too late. And that has been such a boost to all of us, and it's certainly, in the last six months it has really given me a shot in the arm. 

Quinn: A glimmer of hope.

Brian: Yeah. Wow. 

Quinn: I love it. 

Brian: That's excellent. You mentioned, I think, mountain biking, or bike riding, but what do you do when you feel overwhelmed? I assume maybe that?

Dawn Wright: Yeah. I love to get on the road bike or the mountain bike and just be away, free, on the bike. I don't like having, I have a phone with me for safety, but people are getting into checking social media, or doing stuff while they're on rides, or while they're recreating, I'm not into that.

Brian: I think while they're doing everything. 

Dawn Wright: Yeah, I'll have music, but that's it. And then I love going to the movies and just getting lost in the story. I love being outside spending time with my puppy, and I love building the Legos. Those are the main things. 

Quinn: I love it. I definitely have, somewhere in this office, a box of the Lego Saturn Five that came out this year, that I have not touched yet because my child demands I let him do it with me. I'm trying to have one thing to myself. 

Dawn Wright: That is awesome. 

Quinn: Yeah. 

Brian: Dawn, how do you consume the news?

Dawn Wright: Mainly through NPR. NPR every morning, I listen to NPR. And then I get a lot of news through Twitter, and mainly from the web. My mom watches a lot of CNN. I'm her primary caregiver now, so when I'm with her, she's got CNN on, so there's no escape there, but I would say NPR is my, NPR, and sometimes I'm up in the wee hours of the night because I'm a night owl, and the BBC news will come on. I really love the BBC and the other international outlets because you find out what's going on in the world besides what Trump has tweeted, or besides what's going on with our dysfunctional government. In fact, it's really irking me right now that we're not hearing enough about the big tsunami in Indonesia. Everything is about the Kavanaugh hearings. I'm having a hard time filtering properly to getting a proper perspective. 

Brian: There are other things happening and the world, it's shocking. 

Quinn: So much else happening. Brian, ask your favorite question. 

Brian: Sure. Speaking of old Trumpy, Dawn, if you could Amazon Prime him one book, what would it be?

Dawn Wright: Oh, wow. That is a really good question. 

Quinn: We have had the full run on recommendations. And for clarification, what we did is, we created an Amazon wishlist of all the books our guests have recommended, and our listeners can, and do, go there, and click on the books, and it gets sent straight to the White House. So whatever you think. Anything. 

Dawn Wright: The first thing that comes to mind is The Little Prince. It's very simple. It's got a beautiful story about friendship and kindness. And I think our president could use, I don't know whether anything can reach him, I really don't, but that's the first thing that comes to my mind.  

Quinn: That is one of my favorites, and I think that is the third, or fourth person that has-

Brian: Recommended that book. 

Quinn: Damn, that's a good one. Dawn, this has been tremendous. Where can our listeners follow you online?

Dawn Wright: They can follow me on Twitter, and Instagram, and Facebook. My handles are all the same, Deep Sea Dawn. 

Quinn: Really embraced that nickname, huh?

Brian: Love it. 

Quinn: Just went for it. 

Dawn Wright: Yeah. I just gave up and went for it, and it's got a minimum number of characters so there it is. 

Brian: I got a nickname when I was in college, but I'm not going to say what it was. 

Quinn: Yeah, we don't have to go into that right now. 

Brian: Brian's good. You can just call me Brian. 

Quinn: Let's just go with Brian. 

Dawn Wright: I promised you a quick dog story. During my years at Oregon State I had this amazing dog, her name was Lydia and she was in all of my classes, all of my classes I had to lecture in, and the field trips that I took students on, she was in faculty meetings. She just became our departmental dog. She was the most awesome dog. She died in 2009, but now she affected so many students and faculty that we had the financial resources to create the Lydia Departmental Dog Memorial Fund at Oregon State University, and it's for students in geography and marine resource management, and water resources. The money from that fund helps students travel to meetings and become better stewards of the planet, better oceanographers, better geographers, and better water resource management professionals.

Quinn: Come on, how cool is that?

Brian: That's so wild. 

Dawn Wright: I'm proud of Lydia, the wonder dog. 

Quinn: Oh, dogs are perfect. We don't deserve them. That reminds me, I want to come back to, tell me about talking the Alvin to the bottom of the sea floor. 

Dawn Wright: Oh, that's a whole nother podcast, but boy, the-

Quinn: Give me the short version, because maybe we will record a whole nother one, but I'm desperate to hear about that. 

Dawn Wright: Oh it is, often times when you're in Alvin, or a similar submersible, it's inner space. It's not outer space, it's inner space. It is, I found it to be wonderfully quiet, mysterious, because as you drop through that twilight zone, and there's less and less light, and then it becomes pitch black, but what you don't expect is the fire show, the fireworks, because of all of the bioluminescent critters in the water column. Where I went in the eastern Pacific, there were bioluminescent siphonophores.

Quinn: I'm sorry now?

Dawn Wright: Little worms in the water. 

Quinn: How far down?

Dawn Wright: This was beneath, this was getting to be about 1,000 meters depth, about 3,000 feet. But we went down to a mile and a half. 

Quinn: Holy shit. I can't believe you were in that thing. 

Dawn Wright: Just beneath that twilight zone we saw these little critters bumping into each other, and as they bumped into each other, there were little flashes of light, so you were falling through this fireworks show. 

Brian: Like thousands of them all around you?

Dawn Wright: Yeah, I would say hundreds of them. In the darkness of the ocean. Unbelievable. Beautiful. 

Brian: That is so wild. 

Quinn: Yeah. That is the coolest. 

Brian: How many people can fit in, is this thing really big, this Alvin?

Dawn Wright: No, Alvin is not very big. It has the capacity for three people. 

Brian: Oh, yeah. Okay. 

Dawn Wright: One pilot and two observers. 

Brian: Just insane. 

Quinn: That's incredible. I went out on my friend's submarine for two days and I felt like that was an accomplishment, and I think we were 30 feet underwater, because I didn't want to go any deeper. That's impressive. All right. Well, listen, we're going to let you go. I could totally listen to that all day. She is an Octonaut, so that's great. We met one, finally. Dawn, thank you for all you've done, thank you for all you're doing, thank you for coming and chatting with us today. And educating us on all this, and what we can do to help wherever we can. Thank you. 

Dawn Wright: Oh, this has been so much fun. Thank you. 

Quinn: Please just send me 50 pictures of your puppy. That would be great. 

Dawn Wright: Okay. Instagram. 

Quinn: Instagram. I'm on it. I will be the guy stalking you. Thank you Dawn, we will talk to you again soon. 

Dawn Wright: Okay, thank you. 

Brian: Have a great day, thank you. 

Quinn: Take care. 

Quinn: Thanks to our incredible guest today, and thanks to all of you for tuning in. We hope this episode has made your commute, or awesome workout, or dish washing, or fucking dog walking late at night, that much more pleasant. As a reminder, please subscribe to our free email newsletter at It has all the news most vital to our survival as a species. 

Brian: And you can follow us all over the internet. You can find us on Twitter @importantnotimp. So weird. Also on Facebook and Instagram @importantnotimportant. Pinterest and Tumblr the same thing. Check us out, follow us, share us, like us, you know the deal. And please subscribe to our show wherever you listen to things like this. And if you're really fucking awesome, rate us on Apple Podcast. Keep the lights on, thanks. 

Quinn: Please. 

Brian: And you can find the show notes from today right in your little podcast player, and at our website 

Quinn: Thanks to the very awesome Tim Blane for our jammin' music, to all of you for listening, and finally, most importantly, to our moms for making us. Have a great day. 

Brian: Thanks guys.