ST. PETERSBURG, FL - One billion liters of seawater would be required to gather just 25 grams of iron, yet this trace element is essential to every form of life on the planet. A group of scarce but biologically important elements in the ocean, referred to as trace metals, can either limit the growth of organisms or be toxic, depending on the concentration. Dr. Tim Conway has recently joined the College of Marine Science and brings a wealth of understanding of trace metals, in part due to extensive interaction with the International GEOTRACES program, a study of the marine biogeochemical cycles of trace elements and their isotopes. As a cruise participant and data contributor to the NSF funded U.S. GEOTRACES program, Dr. Conway is intimate with the methods of collecting seawater for trace metal analysis and is instrumental in the creation of compiled products that are used by scientists around the world.
One of the marquee products of the GEOTRACES program is an electronic atlas of oceanographic profiles in the form of surface to bottom cross-sections that display changes in the concentration of a particular element along the entire path of ocean-traversing cruises (see image below).
View the embedded image gallery online at:
Profile of dissolved iron in the Atlantic Ocean compiled from GEOTRACES cruise data, and available at eGEOTRACES. Graphics by Reiner Schlitzer.
Dr. Conway’s upcoming projects include a cruise aboard the research vessel of the Angari Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing together scientists and the public with the goal of widely communicating important ocean issues. The cruise will sample the southern jet of the Gulf Stream, charting a course from Florida to the Bahamas.
Research is also underway to examine the role of circulation, biology, and islands on the distribution of metals and their isotopes in the waters around Antarctica. The recently completed Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition provides an abundance of data to be tackled by a collaboration of Swiss, Australian, and U.S. based scientists.
Changes in the concentrations of trace metals can have impacts on the environment and, in turn, on society. Changes to land use can affect concentrations of dust blown iron in the oceans, which can act as a fertilizer to increase productivity of organisms at the base of the food chain. Alternatively, changes in pollution levels can affect concentrations of trace metals and increase toxicity in areas. As Dr. Conway notes, “[Trace metals] really can affect where things die and where things live in the ocean.” Great strides have been made in recent years, and the exciting field of trace element chemistry is poised to provide very useful solutions to environmental challenges.
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - In conjunction with a renovated Port Saint Petersburg, the Marine Exploration Center is set to open by the end of this year. As the public face of the St. Pete Ocean Team, the Center will bring awareness to the wonders of the ocean (carrying on the tradition of the Pier Aquarium) and also to ports, the maritime industry and all the marine related research occurring in a cluster of high-level institutions in the downtown Saint Petersburg area. An estimated 1600 people are working in a field related to marine research and technology in St. Pete. In addition to the College of Marine Science, there is the U.S. Coast Guard, FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Florida Institute of Oceanography, USGS Coastal and Marine Science Center, NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office, SRI International and more.
The Marine Discovery Center will gather scientists for community discussions by hosting Drink-and-Think events that will also include food trucks. Visitors will have opportunities to tour maritime and oceanographic vessels. Permanent attractions will include the following: Live Coral and Fish Tank, Oceans Today Kiosk (NOAA funded), Corals on Acid (2 tanks; NOAA funded), Counting on Fish/Florida Sportfish Aquarium and Interactive Exhibit (FWC funded), Science on a Sphere (NOAA funded), NOAA Kiosk (NOAA funded), Energizing Research (Duke Energy funded), Coral Cat Shark Tank, Microscope Station, Touch Tank, and Ocean Tracker Exhibit. Finally, a large space dedicated to revolving exhibits will also host movie screenings and other events.
TARPON SPRINGS, FL - The Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO) and the University of South Florida (USF) System will host a "Launching and Christening Ceremony" at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 in Tarpon Springs, FL for a new research vessel, the R/V W.T. Hogarth, that will replace FIO’s nearly 50-year-old R/V Bellows. The new 78-foot vessel will be instrumental in helping academic researchers and marine science students study situations such as an oil spill or red tide outbreak.
The event will take place at Duckworth Steel Boats, the shipyard that is constructing the R/V W.T. Hogarth, located at 1051 Island Ave., Tarpon Springs, FL 34689.
For more information visit FIO
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - An estimated 50% of the world’s people live in coastal zones. The sea is the avenue for 90% of the world’s commerce and 95% of U.S. international trade. An expanded use of port facilities will require an increasing number of technically trained workers, particularly as security tightens at ports around the country.
The Center for Maritime and Port Studies (CMPS) within USF’s College of Marine Science aims to lead prospective students of all backgrounds to much needed industry positions through a non-thesis Master’s program that will broaden their knowledge of oceanic and atmospheric interactions and provide technical studies on port infrastructure and the maritime transportation industry. The curriculum is under development, and, currently, students have the option to add coursework in port studies on top of their degree work in oceanography. On-line education, training and professional development will provide a way for people currently working in the port industry to obtain a graduate-level degree.
Researching and testing advanced sensors to be deployed within port infrastructures is an essential aspect of the mission statement of CMPS. Collaboration with the USF College of Public Health, the USF College of Engineering, the USF College of Business, and the USF Patel College of Global Sustainability provides a multi-disciplinary approach that will benefit the port industry greatly. From environmental contamination detectors to bomb-sniffing sensors, the new wave of technology, properly tested, will ensure safer waters for years to come.
With the large growth in port traffic expected at ports around the Gulf of Mexico and across the southeastern U.S., Dr. Mark Luther and many connected with maritime industries have a desire to see that growth occur in a sustainable manner.
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - USF's COT and CMS staff deployed one of their Slocum gliders for a 30-day research mission in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. "Sam" is equipped with a myriad of technologies to collect data during its mission as it yo-yo's up and down through the water column. Measurements are geared toward understanding subsurface water variables such as temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, and fluorescence.
This project adds acoustic technologies for tracking tagged fish, marine animals that make sound, and acoustical backscatter. The deployment is the result of collaborations with several groups at FWRI, NOAA, FIO, iTAG, GCOOS and private industries.
For more information visit CMS Ocean Technology Group.
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Thanks to Dean Dixon's generous support, Marcy Cockrell, Megan Hepner, Kate Dubickas, and Alex Ilich participated in the Blue Vision Summit Healthy Oceans Hill Day in Washington, D.C on May 10. Constituents met with 24 Florida Congressional offices, and the CMS team met with 9 of the 24 offices, including Rep. Kathy Castor and Sen. Bill Nelson. They lobbied for efforts to reduce marine debris, maintain federal funding for Florida's coastal resiliency and ocean water quality monitoring programs, and to uphold the moratorium on oil and gas drilling off Florida's coasts. The offices were very receptive and encouraged all students and concerned citizens to reach out to their elected officials, from local to federal, for resolutions of these and other ocean and coastal issues.
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - A short film developed as part of Julie Meyer's 2015 L'Oreal USA For Women in Science fellowship. This video prominently features several people from our the College of Marine Science and the St Pete community and highlights diversity of scientists at USFCMS.
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Jacki Long was awarded first place for her student poster from the Astrobiology Science Conference (AbSciCon), for her idea of linking marine biology and astrobiology. This is a big conference with about 800 participants including 90 students. Her poster was titled: Chlorophyll-f: Earth’s Unseen Production and Habitability Under Red Light.
You can read her abstract at: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/abscicon2017/pdf/3472.pdf
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Towing a plankton net to scoop up fish eggs may be routine, but determining the species is a different matter altogether. A collaboration of two labs at the College of Marine Science uses a new method to discover fish spawning grounds through analysis of the DNA in fish eggs.
The vast majority of fish in the ocean are broadcast spawners –the female releases eggs in large quantities to float around until the larvae hatch and swim away on their own. A problem facing many fisheries managers is the time it takes to estimate fish populations. A new method utilizing DNA will likely reduce that time from years to months.
Dr. Ernst Peebles realized that existing fish population methods could be extended to a much larger number of species through new technologies and new databases like FISH-BOL (fish barcode of life). With the development of the Marine Resource Assessment program in 2010 here at the college, Dr. Mya Breitbart was eager to collaborate with fisheries ecologists on gaps in the body of research that molecular biology methods might fill.
A process called DNA barcoding focuses on a segment of DNA that is short enough to be efficiently sequenced but long enough to allow for identification of species. While most fish eggs look alike, their DNA does not.
Working in one of Dr. Breitbart’s microbiology labs, USFSP senior Makenzie Burrows performs much of the hands-on DNA work related to this project. Dr. Breitbart explains the process further, “When we sequence this gene, we can then compare it against the database and that tells us what species each fish egg belongs to.”
From the original proof-of-concept study done in small Terra Ceia Bay (near the mouth of Tampa Bay), the DNA barcoding of fish eggs has expanded to cover the entire Gulf of Mexico.
With the identification data from Dr. Breitbart’s lab, fish population researchers can use the number of floating eggs, compare that with the rate of egg production and calculate the number of females releasing eggs for each species.
Dr. Peebles points out that this method is not only rapid, but could be very cost effective in comparison to conventional methods.
The most exciting aspect of this project for fisheries scientists is the discoveries that await them. Dr. Peebles notes, “This method is one of the best, if not the best, methods of detecting spawning in marine fish.”
And by identifying new spawning grounds, resource managers have the ability to increase protection of spawning habitats to ensure the longevity of ecologically and economically important species.
ST. PETERSBURG, FL -
Speaker: Lisa Beal
Affiliation: Univ. of Miami, RSMAS
Seminar Title: Broadening not strengthening of the Agulhas Current since the early 1990’s
Where: MSL Conference Room (134)
Host: Mark Luther