The Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory, on the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) coast in north Florida, is a beautiful place. It is not uncommon there to see ospreys and bald eagles eyeing the coastline, pelican formations flying low, dolphins churning the water in a feeding frenzy or sharks cruising the shallows seeking out their next meal. It is also a place where a clear view of the horizon when standing on the beach is the rule, rather than the exception.
News at FSUCML
In September, The Disney Conservation Fund (DCF) granted more than $5 million in conservation grants to nonprofit organizations as part of its commitment to save wildlife, inspire action and protect the planet. FSUCML’s Dr. Dean Grubbs smalltooth sawfish research was one of more than 75 projects selected through a rigorous review process focused on supporting conservation organizations to study wildlife, protect habitats and develop community conservation and education programs in critical ecosystems around the world.
From August 19 to September 2, 2018, FSUCML's Dr. Sandra Brooke is part of a research expedition sailing on the R/V Atlantis (Woods Hole Oceanographic Inst.) with the submersible ALVIN. The cruise is led by Erik Cordes (Temple University) and includes participants from several universities, the US Geological Survey, NOAA and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management as well as media representatives. The cruise will collect critical baseline data on deep-water coral, canyons and cold seep habitats offshore the Mid-Atlantic and southeastern US, to inform management and conservation of these sensitive deep-water ecosystems. At the link below, follow this expedition with daily mission logs and amazing pictures taken from ALVIN’s eyes on the seafloor.
Unlike shallow corals reefs, which are restricted to warm clear waters, deep or cold-water corals are found in almost all the world’s oceans. In the Atlantic, the most abundant cold-water reef-building coral is Lophelia pertusa, a branching stony coral that can form structures over a hundred meters tall and several kilometers long. Some of the largest and most stunning of these ecosystems occur in the frigid waters off the coast of Norway, as far north as the Arctic Circle. So yes, there are indeed corals in the Arctic!
Under the advisement of Dr. Sophie McCoy and laboratory technician Penelope Ales, four high school students from various parts of Florida have been exploring the effects of climatic stressors such as fluctuating nutrient levels, low salinity, and water browning on the metabolic functions of Thalassia testudinum, also referred to as turtlegrass.
The FSU CML Polar Academy team has started their AntICE Initiative: reaching out to school children in the Tallahassee and Crawfordville areas to inform them about Antarctic Organisms and Ecosystems in light of the upcoming NSF funded workshop at the FSU Coastal and Marine Lab in November.
Worldwide publicity surrounding the calving of an iceberg the size of Delaware in July 2017 from the Larsen C Ice Shelf on the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula presents a unique and time-sensitive opportunity for research and education on polar ecosystems in a changing climate. The FSUCML will host a workshop that will draw from the large fund of intellectual capital in the US and international Antarctic research communities.
For the first time in 17 years of Florida-based research, scientists have discovered a mating ground for the Endangered smalltooth sawfish. During an expedition early April to the shallow-water back-country of Everglades National Park, a research team captured, tagged, and released three adult sawfish (one male and two females) in an area previously known almost exclusively as juvenile sawfish habitat. All three had distinctive lacerations, apparently sustained during mating, that match the pattern of teeth on the animals’ saw-like snouts.
The FSUCML blog is now live! Graduate students share their latest research, visitors to the FSUCML share their experiences, and much more. Follow along as we continue to add new blog entries.
Dr. Grubbs described the experience as "the biggest day of my research career!" His team captured a female sawfish who started giving birth. This is the first time a live sawfish birth has been documented in the wild.