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Pew Institute Scientist Featured on National Geographic's "Strange Days on Planet Earth"

Program Premieres on Wednesday, April 23, 9pm on PBS
Beginning at 6pm ET
April 23, 2008
PBS (check your local listings)

Read Dr. Bakun's paper in Ecology Letters
Learn more about the Dangerous Catch episode

Pew Institute for Ocean Science researcher Dr. Andrew Bakun is among the innovative, investigative scientists featured on National Geographic's “Strange Days on Planet Earth,” a three-part special on PBS spotlighting the adverse and far-reaching consequences of overfishing on the ocean’s delicate balance and the larger environment. The segment featuring Dr. Bakun – “Dangerous Catch” -- premieres Wednesday, April 23, at 9pm ET and 6pm PT on the PBS network (Channel 2 in Miami; Channel 13 in New York).

Through some hard-core detective work and astute observations, Dr. Bakun and his colleague, Dr. Scarla Weeks of the University of Cape Town in South Africa, realized that the rampant overfishing of sardines off the southwest coast of Africa may have been a factor in eruptions of two toxic gases – hydrogen sulfide, and methane – from the Atlantic Ocean floor. The hydrogen sulfide causes a horrible rotten-egg smell that had long burdened (and perplexed) residents of local communities in Namibia, while also poisoning fish and causing oxygen poor dead-zones in the water. Methane gas traps 21 times as much heat as carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas.

Drs. Bakun and Weeks co-authored a 2004 scientific paper in the peer-reviewed journal Ecology Letters describing their theory that sardines, phytoplankton, and climate change are intricately connected.

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