Dispersants: A Modern Method For Cleaning Up Oil Spills: Advantages and Disadvantages

By Nicole Suren, SRC intern In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the depths of the Gulf of Mexico exploded, causing the release of approximately 500 thousand tons of crude oil into the ocean in the second largest oil spill in global history, commonly known as the BP oil spill (Fingas, 2013). This spurred constant media coverage of the spill itself, as well as the cleanup. Oil spill cleanup generally includes several main steps: first the spill is contained using booms, then oil is absorbed on a large scale and skimmed off the ocean surface using boats and large … Continue reading

How the geographic range characteristics of a species can affect its conservation

By Elana Rusnak, SRC intern For many of us scientists, our end goal is conservation of our target species. But what does this mean, and how do we reach these goals? Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not cookie-cutter and requires the input of multiple factors that are not so easily or frequently studied. At the largest scale, the two broad measurements of geographic range can either provide too much or too little area to be taken into account with regards to protecting a certain species: the extent of occurrence (EOO) and the area of occupancy (AOO). The area … Continue reading

Threats facing South Florida’s coral reefs and possible solutions

By Molly Rickles, SRC intern Coral reefs are dynamic ecosystems that harbor a quarter of all marine species while only occupying 0.2% of the world’s oceans (Chen, 2015). Coral Reefs are critical to the ocean’s health because of their biodiversity and complex ecosystems. However, climate change and anthropogenic disturbances has had a profound effect on coral reefs worldwide, with many reefs losing over 50% of their coral cover in the last 40 years (Baker, 2014). This is due largely to coral bleaching, a stress response induced by higher temperatures and excess nutrients. Bleaching is episodic, and the most severe events … Continue reading

My, What Big Teeth You Have!

By Jennifer Simms, SRC outreach intern The word “shark” conjures up many pictures in ones’ mind. Images range from majestic swimmers in a deep, blue ocean to the lethal rows of teeth easily seen protruding when a shark swims. These teeth serve multiple purposes for both the shark and scientist alike. Scientists study the morphology of teeth, mostly in mammals, to understand how the shape of teeth provides function/purpose to an animal. Most morphological teeth studies have been conducted on the extant (living) mammals and the ancient (well preserved fossilized tooth record). And the tooth can be considered the “fork … Continue reading

A challenge for a better future: Bringing life back to dead zones

By Arina Favilla, SRC intern The diversity of life in the ocean, from shallow reefs to deep-sea canyons, is evidence that marine species can successfully adapt to a variety of environments, including low oxygen conditions. For example, in certain places in the world, natural coastal upwelling of nutrients leads to high productivity, which depletes the dissolved oxygen in the water. In these oxygen minimum zones, the benthic fauna have adapted to extremely low levels of dissolved oxygen (0.1 ml of O2/liter) (Diaz et al. 2008). But, what happens when the environment changes drastically in a short period of time? Can … Continue reading

Effects of Climate Change on the invasive Lionfish: Pterois volitans and Pterois miles

By Patricia Albano, SRC intern Across the globe, marine environments face anthropogenic stressors that threaten their continued survival. Throughout the world’s oceans, a colorful variety of marine communities exist, each with their own native flora and fauna and unique interspecific and intraspecific interactions. When the balance of these ecosystems is altered, negative ecological impacts can follow. The introduction of invasive species into marine communities in which they do not belong can have significant and long-lasting effects on the health, balance, and abundance of native species in the environment (Carlton, 2000). A well-known culprit, the Indo-Pacific lionfish, Pterois volitans or Pterois … Continue reading