California's north-central coast is famous for its natural splendor. Only fifty miles northwest of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge lies the Cordell Bank, a magical underwater island few people have ever heard of. Protected inside a National Marine Sanctuary, this oasis is an ecological hot spot for marine life - attracting birds, sea turtles and marine mammals from thousands of miles away.
In the waters of the western Atlantic and Caribbean, a voracious alien predator has taken hold. Native to the Indo-Pacific, the invasive lionfish is a major threat to biodiversity and the health of already stressed coral reef ecosystems.
Lake Okeechobee was once the blue heart of Florida, pumping fresh water down to the Everglades and beyond. But now that a dike and canal system control its flow, water releases from the lake periodically create putrid mats of blue green algae. Scientists think water pollution is to blame, and if something isn't done about it there could be irreparable damage to the environment, the local economy and people's health.
It is estimated there will be two billion more people on the planet by mid-century. To feed this booming world population, more fish will need to be farmed than ever before. One way to increase fish production in a sustainable way is to move aquaculture operations offshore - where there is plenty of available space and strong currents flush out the pens to avoid polluting sensitive ecosystems.
This episode takes viewers into an area of the remote Pacific, the islands of Maug. Formed by an ancient volcano, shallow hydrothermal vents are found close to coral reefs inside the submerged caldera. These vents emit levels of CO2 that can be expected in the world's oceans by the end of the century, making these waters a natural laboratory for scientists studying the impacts of ocean acidification on coral reefs.
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