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Ocean Research

2018:  FEB

September 2017 Issue

Invasive Plant Species
Can Be Beneficial

Invasive plant species can be a source of valuable ecosystem functions where native coastal habitats such as salt marshes and oyster reefs have severely declined, a new study by scientists at Duke University and the University of North Carolina-Wilmington found. On otherwise barren mudflats, habitat-forming invasive species such as non-native seaweed can offset the loss of foundation species and provide vital ecosystem services, such as storm protection and food production, on which nearly half the human population depends. The study focused on Gracilaria vermiculophylla, an invasive Japanese seaweed affecting lagoons and estuaries in the North Atlantic coastlines. The seaweed was found to help with the functions of: soil stabilization and erosion control; storm surge and flood protection; biodiversity; food production; and the provision of nursery habitat for economically important seafood species.

fastCTD Supports
Biological Research in Pacific

Valeport’s latest CTD profiler, the fastCTD, is integral to the research kit that will accompany marine biologist Dr. Sonia Rowley’s latest expedition to the island of Pohnpei, in the western Pacific Ocean, from August 2 until September 13.

The CTD profiler data will aid understanding of biological processes, such as an invasive algal bloom that was found at the reefs of Pohnpei during the previous projects.

Benthic Landers to Monitor
Deepwater Environments

FAU Harbor Branch researchers have successfully deployed and retrieved a new benthic lander on Oculina coral reefs, 20 mi. offshore Ft. Pierce, Florida. The novel lander platform was designed and deployed by the FAU Engineering and Technology Core and built at Harbor Branch.

The initiative aims to develop and deploy several small, low-cost benthic landers for monitoring deepwater environments. The landers can be outfitted with oceanographic sensors for measuring parameters important to benthic habitats like mesophotic and deep coral reefs. Parameters include temperature, currents, turbulent mixing, food availability and pH.

The team is planning a one-year deployment with additional sensors at a deeper coral reef site in the Florida Straits in 2017.

Biofouling Legislation Should Take
Hull Protection into Account

A study into the extent to which biofouling on ships’ hulls is contributing to the spread of invasive aquatic species in the Mediterranean Sea has been welcomed by Belgium-based marine coatings supplier Subsea Industries.

According to research by Tel Aviv University’s School of Zoology, half the ships passing along the Mediterranean coast of Israel are carrying invasive ascidians, presenting a threat to ecosystems around the world. These organisms are passing through the Suez Canal, latching onto ropes and the bottom of ships. They create a lot of drag for the ship and damage marine biodiversity in their new environments. This research suggests that the entry into force of the Ballast Water Convention alone will not prevent the transfer of invasive aquatic species. There has to be mandatory legislation in place to prevent biofouling on ships’ hulls, Subsea Industries believes.

Successful Freezing, Reanimation
Of Zebrafish Embryos

Scientists report for the first time the ability to deep freeze and reanimate zebrafish embryos. The method, appearing in the journal ACS Nano, could potentially be used to bank larger aquatic and other vertebrate oocytes and embryos for a life in the future.

The researchers injected a cryoprotectant, along with plasmonic gold nanoparticles to serve as a laser absorber, directly into zebrafish embryos. Plunging the embryos in liquid nitrogen rapidly cooled them to a cryogenically stable state in less than a second, according to modeling results. The researchers then used laser irradiation to heat up the nanoparticles, which were uniformly distributed inside the embryos, at an ultrafast rate. Not all of the embryos made it, but many were revived—a feat that is currently not possible by other techniques. Their hearts, eyes and nervous systems developed through at least the next 28 hours—and they started to wiggle.

Cryopreservation could one day help replenish the oceans’ biodiversity.

Research Expedition to Study
Caribbean Marine Life, Pollution

Hello Ocean launched its maiden voyage: Expedition Echo. A crew of 10 scientists, artists, filmmakers and a wildlife DJ set sail to explore the offshore waters of Belize. The crew launched new research on the marine mammals of Belize, plastic pollution and sustainable conch fisheries.

The goal is to develop media that will persuade the public and policy makers to make decisions that protect the oceans.

Hello Ocean, a project of The Ocean Foundation, provides support to early-career scientists and artists.

Long-Range Sonar Added
To British Polar RV

FarSounder’s longest-range sonar system FarSounder-1000 will be incorporated into the British Antarctic Survey’s new polar research vessel, the RRS Sir David Attenborough. Cammell Laird is currently constructing this ship, owned by Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), at the Cammell Laird Birkenhead shipyard.

Pinpoint Electronics of Devon, U.K., is the local FarSounder representative for this project.

FarSounder sonar will be used for navigation and obstacle avoidance. In addition, its technology and data can supplement the more traditional onboard science-mission sensors.

Pop-Up Satellite Tags
To Monitor Hake, Sablefish

Researchers at the NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center will use Desert Star ST-3D pop-up satellite tags to follow the depth and temperature profiles of Pacific hake and sablefish off the Washington coast.

Previous studies using the larger ST-MOD tags successfully demonstrated diel vertical migratory behavior of large adult sablefish. The hope is to use the smaller ST-3D tags to gather data on habitat preferences of younger and smaller sablefish and adult Pacific hake.

2018:  FEB

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Sea Technology is read worldwide in more than 115 countries by management, engineers, scientists and technical personnel working in industry, government and educational research institutions. Readers are involved with oceanographic research, fisheries management, offshore oil and gas exploration and production, undersea defense including antisubmarine warfare, ocean mining and commercial diving.