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The Next Generation of Online Storytelling: Sea Change: PDN Online

The Next Generation of Online Storytelling: Sea Change

DECEMBER 02, 2013

By Conor Risch

Steve Ringman Sea Change The Seattle Times


Pink salmon swim through Finch Creek, near a salmon hatchery on Hood Canal, Washington.


The side-by-side pictures couldn’t be more clear in their illustration of the effect of ocean acidification on sea life: In one, readers see the multicolor blossoming of baby corals on a ceramic tile that was placed by an ecologist near a healthy coral reef. In the other photograph, readers see the sludge-like green and brown of algae and seaweed growth on a tile placed near fissures in the ocean floor that are leaking acidifying carbon dioxide (CO2) from submarine volcanoes lurking beneath the seafloor.


The photos appear in “Sea Change,” The Seattle Times’s recent long-form report on ocean acidification (aka OA). It’s the newspaper’s most ambitious digital production to date: a specially designed and built website combining text, still photographs, video and animated graphics. (The story also ran over a three-day period in print, with a full cover image and special sections.)


The photographer who shot the images, The Seattle Times staffer Steve Ringman, traveled halfway around the world with writer Craig Welch to Papua New Guinea to get them. The Times’s team made the journey, with partial support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, to get a firsthand look at how rising levels of CO2 in the ocean, which acidifies the water and robs sea life of nutrients essential to its growth and survival, could affect local waters in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. The region is where fishermen bring in half the nation’s catch of seafood, accounting for significant portions of local economies. The rising CO2 occurs as the ocean traps gasses from the atmosphere, linking ocean acidification with greenhouse gas levels. (While some people debate whether climate change is even happening, ocean acidification is widely accepted because the scientific evidence is virtually irrefutable.)

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