Ocean Currents

A Thousand-Yard-Long Buffet Table

© Sarah Cooley

Reading through the program for the 2014 Ocean Sciences Meeting, starting today in Honolulu, I’m like a hungry person at a buffet. But this isn’t just any buffet. Imagine the longest buffet table you’ve ever seen, loaded with all the dishes you love plus hundreds of interesting-looking new ones. Like that buffet table, this meeting program is packed with presentations about aspects of marine science I’ve always wanted to learn more about, and many that I’ve never thought of.

On my first read-through, I marked everything that looked interesting. And that wound up being about 300 talks, posters and plenary sessions over five days! I made the classic buffet eater’s mistake: My eyes are bigger than my stomach, or in this case, my brain. My selections range widely: Not only did I highlight every ocean acidification item, but I also highlighted things related to long-standing interests, like the nitrogen cycle and marine viruses. (Did you know there are viruses in the ocean? They attack the bacteria and other small creatures at the bottom of the ocean food web, and they’re really important in global carbon and nitrogen cycles!)

But now, I have to make some tough choices. Am I going to spend the afternoon in a session focused on coastal environments or one on policy impacts? How can I load my plate with tiny bites of all the ideas I need to hear most about and still save room for new stuff? Basically, how do I save room for dessert? I’ve still got a lot of work to do to narrow things down! But I’m really looking forward to trying to see it all and sharing some of what I learn here over the next five days. Check back to see how I survive the thousand-yard-long buffet table of ideas this week!

You can see the session list and abstracts on the meeting website: Follow the conversation around the meeting on Twitter with the hashtag #2014OSM and follow me at @co2ley.

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