Evaluating Extinction Risk in Major Marine Taxa

By Olivia Schuitema, SRC intern Over Earth’s history, there have been at least five mass extinctions in addition to other minor-scale extinctions (Bambach et al. 2004). The causes of such extinctions are varied, but many be associated with global climate variability (Doney et al. 2012). One article points to large-scale volcanism associated with global warming, acid rain and ocean acidification for the causes of extinctions (Bond et al. 2017). This is especially significant in recent years, because of the large and rapid increase in global temperatures (largely due to the burning of fossils fuels and deforestation) and corresponding varied changes … Continue reading

Noise Pollution in the Ocean: A Growing Problem

By Rachael Ragen, SRC intern Marine animals face many forms of pollution, but one of the less obvious forms that has potentially dangerous effects is noise pollution. Humans have always established civilizations near the water, but humans continue to explore further into the ocean and discover new resources. This shift brings a large amount of anthropogenic noise that can be “categorized as high-intensity and acute such as the noise produced by military sonar, pile driving and seismic explorations, or lower-level and chronic such as ship noise.” (Codarin 2009). Sound travels about four times faster in water than making the effects … Continue reading

Ingestion of Marine Debris and Sperm Whales

By Jessica Daley, SRC intern Marine debris is one of the greatest threats facing marine life today. Any man-made, produced, or processed material that is either intentionally or accidentally discarded and finds its way to the ocean is considered marine debris. There are two major hazards to marine life from interactions with debris, entanglement and ingestion (Jacobsen et al. 2010). Entanglement occurs when an animal becomes trapped or wrapped in marine debris and is unable to escape. In some cases this involves discarded nets and other fishing gear, which can ensnare nearby marine life. This is especially dangerous for marine … Continue reading

The Effect of Hurricane Hermine on Black Sea Bass

By Delaney Reynolds, SRC intern In September of 2016, Hurricane Hermine struck Florida as a category one hurricane and then migrated through Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and then to offshore Maryland. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), Hermine’s damage “totaled around $550 million, with a 90% confidence interval of +/- $150 million” and demolished 1,600 homes and businesses (Berg 2017). But how did it affect offshore fish populations? Researchers from the University of Maryland designed an experiment to find out. Four months before Hermine hit Florida, 45 black sea bass … Continue reading

Combining hard-part and DNA analyses
of scats with biologging and stable isotopes can reveal different diet compositions and feeding strategies within a fur seal population

By Nicole Suren, SRC intern Diet analysis of top predators is important in the study of ecology because it can help to illuminate the energetics and ecological interactions of that predator. One method of studying diet is using hard part analysis and DNA barcoding using the animals’ scats, while other methods include stable isotope analysis from blood plasma and an examination of behavior using satellite telemetry. Jenniard-du-Dot et al aimed to compare the effectiveness of these methods, and compile data from all four to obtain a full picture of the diets of 98 lactating females in an Alaska colony of … Continue reading

Spatial Dynamics as an Approach to Fisheries Management

By Casey Dresbach, SRC intern In the last half of the century alone, industrial fisheries have witnessed a global increase in total fishing efforts (Anticamara et al., 2011). Fishing efforts include, but are not limited to: the number of organisms caught, the type of gear used, and the areas in which fish are extracted. Implementation of spatial dynamics into fisheries management will afford us a greater comprehension of the direction of the global fishing sector from the perspective of sustainability. It involves the understanding of fishing effort in space and time. The success of spatial dynamics can be seen in industrial fisheries, specifically those in developed countries. Utilization … Continue reading