Category Archives: Conservation

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A Recap of the MBI Workshop 2014

workshop1 A Recap of the MBI Workshop 2014Hosted by the Marinelife Aquarium Society of Michigan (MASM) and the Marine Breeding Initiative (MBI), and held July 19, 2014 at Cranbrook Institute of Science in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, this was the fifth workshop they have offered dealing solely with the captive breeding of marine species. This approach supports the sustainability of the aquarium hobby and gives home aquarists the information needed to propagate marine aquarium animals in their homes. Aquarists who are successful at raising their own animals always learn skills along the way that translate to better aquarium keeping overall. Knowing that networking is at least as important as the lectures themselves, the MBI organized a pre-workshop reception and a post-workshop barbeque, allowing attendees to interface with the speakers and gain additional insight in an informal setting. I’ve attended this conference in the past, and presented on the Toledo Zoo’s efforts to propagate boarfish, as well as our pilot marine fish propagation program. Here are brief descriptions of the day’s presentations: 1. The first speaker was Matt Pedersen, an editor for Coral and Amazonas magazines, who spoke about clownfish species and varieties. He feels (as I do) that Amphiprion leucokranos and A. theilli are not valid species, but are, rather, naturally occurring hybrids More: A Recap of the MBI Workshop 2014More:

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Rising Tide Intern Joe Frith

Joes%2Bblog%2Bpic Rising Tide Intern Joe FrithHello Everybody!  My name is Joe Frith and I have been interning here at the Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory in Ruskin, FL for the past 2 months. I would first like to say “thank you” to Dr. Judy St. Leger, Eric, Kevin, Roy, Craig, Jon and the rest of the staff here at the Lab for giving me this opportunity and making this a meaningful experience. I’m currently an undergraduate at the University of Missouri-Columbia completing my degree in Fisheries and Wildlife with a minor in Biology. As a child growing up in the woods of Missouri I was always very intrigued by the natural world and usually had several different aquariums spread throughout my house at any one time. My interest in the aquatic world slowly evolved from freshwater aquariums to saltwater aquariums to eventually trying my hand at breeding the Bluestripe pipefish (Doryrhamphus excisus), which I had help with from Matt Pederson and the other members at MarineBreeders.org.  It was back in February of this year, after reading posts on the Rising Tide blog that I decided to contact Dr. St. Leger about possible internships they may be awarding for the summer. I received an email shortly after and we soon started laying the groundwork for me to become an intern at TAL. What was once a dream was now a reality. Over the course of this summer I have helped the Rising
Tide team with a number of different projects ranging from Pacific blue tang and
emperor angelfish spawning to water quality refinement in an attempt to
increase spawning and overall health of all brood fish. Specifically I constructed an algae scrubbing device, complete with mangroves, which has made a significant impact on lower the nitrate levels in the fish growout system (the details of which will be discussed in a future blog). In addition I have learned a lot about the whole marine fish larval rearing process including egg collection, egg counting, stocking and density, and important first food items such as copepod nauplii and rotifers. And if I wasn’t working on any one of these projects I was traveling alongside Dr. Roy Yanong to one of the many aquaculture farms here in the Ruskin area. This experience has opened my eyes even further to the wonderful world of
aquaculture and I can’t think of any other way I would’ve rather spent my
summer.… More:

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BP Oil Spill Continues to Destroy Marine Life

The deepwater Horizon (BP) oil spill of 2010 has largely been written off by the media and its perpetrators as “dissipated” or “contained,” yet the affects of releasing millions of gallons of oil into the sea are still wide reaching, says a team of researchers from Penn State University. Charles Fisher, professor of biology at Penn State University framed the issue stating: “The footprint of the impact of the spill on coral communities is both deeper and wider than previous data indicated. “This study very clearly shows that multiple coral communities, up to 22 kilometers from the spill site and at depths over 1800 meters, were impacted by the spill.” Using a remote operated vehicle (ROV) Fisher and his team were able to capture high resolution photo’s of coral communities, finding that the oil had affected marine life further than one had expected from the spill site. tfisher mc297 2 7 2014 BP Oil Spill Continues to Destroy Marine Life “We were looking for coral communities at depths of over 1000 meters that are often smaller than the size of a tennis court,” added Fisher.“We needed high-resolution images of the coral colonies that are scattered across these communities and that range in size from a small houseplant to a small shrub. With the cameras on board the ROV we were able to collect beautiful, high-resolution images of the corals,” said Fisher. “When we compared these images with our example of known oil damage, all the signs were present providing clear evidence in two of the newly discovered coral communities of the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.” Read more here.  … More:

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Human Induced Feed Loop is Cause for Coral Decline

A new study performed by a San Diego State University team adds to the conversation about commercial fishing and inhabited islands around the Pacific. Many recent studies have shown how the presence of humans on an island, and in this case the act of commercial fishing along shores, can cause dramatic changes to surrounding reefs. “Corals are fierce competitors for space on the reef,” Add’s lead author Linda Kelly. “In a healthy marine environment, reefs support a vibrant population of corals and other calcifying organisms that continuously build the reef skyward.”Coral algae reef Human Induced Feed Loop is Cause for Coral Decline
Kelly and her team sampled surface water from 22 reefs on 11 atolls just south of Hawaii, sequencing millions of DNA from bacteria, viruses, and protists. What she and her team found was that specific bacteria can determine the amount of coral cover vs the amount of algae cover on a reef. Identifying which microorganisms influence key factors on a reef like metabolic processes will contribute to the techniques and approaches used in reef conservation. 
“How do you create an environment for corals to thrive?” Kelly asked. “In addition to practicing sustainable fishing, one way to rehabilitate a reef would be to transplant corals to the site. This should promote an environment more conducive to coral growth by fostering a beneficial community of microorganisms.” Read more here and get the full publication here!More:

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Endangered Bumphead Gets Much Needed Attention

Ever wonder where that vividly white sand on the beach comes from? Underwater giants produce the sand themselves through biological methods of metabolism. Yep thats right its technically fish poop. One of the largest producers of sand is the Parrotfish which ingests calcium carbonate skeletons of coral (sometimes with living polyps) and excretes them back out in the form of tiny sand grains that wash up onto beaches. These fish are the topic of a recent study highlighting how the both the positive and negative influences of such endangered species can be key factors in the success of an ecosystem. Bumphead Stiefel Endangered Bumphead Gets Much Needed Attention

Douglas McCauly of the University at Santa Barbara explains his time in the field for this study: “We actually swam alongside Bumphead Parrotfish for close to six hours at a time, taking detailed data on what they ate and where they went. These large parrotfish crunch off entire pieces of reef and audibly grind them up into sand in their pharyngeal mill — specialized teeth in the back of their throat. You know Bumpheads are near when you begin noticing branches lopped off stony corals and golf-like divot scars marking the reef.

bite ENH Endangered Bumphead Gets Much Needed Attention“Most species do things to ecosystems that we would construe as both positive and negative. This viewpoint is ecologically misleading,” he states. “Endangered species are no different from their more abundant counterparts.” This dichotomy of influence is why McCauly and his team are pushing for a higher level of protection for endangered and threatened species adding: “We can, in fact, strengthen the integrity of the field of conservation biology by being rigidly objective about the observations we make in nature — even if this means reporting occasionally that rare species can damage ecosystems,” he added. “If anything, better understanding the full complement of ways that at-risk species use and affect their environment empowers us to more effectively protect them.” Read more here.… More:

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Survival of the Fattest and Most Flexible Corals Amidst Climate Change

O faveolata polyps.3624d4b5 Survival of the Fattest and Most Flexible Corals Amidst Climate Change
Coral reefs are theorized to annual undergo a “bleaching” event in where corals die off as a result of ecological changes. As climate change rears its ugly head those impacts are slowly becoming a human issue. Researchers from Ohio State University have found that while some corals are whipped clean in a bleaching event others are adapting, along with their symbiotic partners, to the changes and becoming less susceptible to environmental extremes. “We found that some coral are able to acclimatize to annual bleaching, while others actually become more susceptible to it over time,” said 
Andréa Grottoli, professor in the School of Earth Sciences at Ohio State. She and her team found that by keeping a large fat/energy reserve in the cells of zooxanthellae, corals can acclimatize, and thus recover, from a bleaching even much more easily than those that do not.

Grottoli concludes stating: “We found that the research on single bleaching events is misleading. Species that we think are resilient to temperature stress are actually susceptible and vice versa when stressed annually. We’re actually a bit optimistic, because we showed that there’s acclimation in a one-year window, that it’s possible. In two of our three coral species, we have recovery in six weeks. The paths they took to recovery are different, but they both got there.” Read more here!… More:

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Boat Noise a Culprit for Decline of Sea Hare

Scientists from the Universities of Bristol and Exeter and the École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE) CRIOBE in France have long understood that artificial marine noise can affect the ecology of marine life, but they now understand that propeller noise from boats can also affect change in the life cycle of one of the most important reef inhabitants. Lead author Sophie Nedelec, a PhD researcher at the University of Bristol and EPHE had this to offer: “Traffic noise is now one of the most widespread global pollutants. If the reproductive output of vulnerable species is reduced, we could be changing communities and losing vital ecological functions. This species is particularly important because it eats a toxic alga that affects recruitment of fish to coral reefs.” 

seahare article Boat Noise a Culprit for Decline of Sea Hare

Researchers found that when exposed to anthropogenic noises throughout gestation, some of the Stylocheilus striates eggs studied for this experiment were found to be underdeveloped and in some cases actually perished as a result. Co-author, Dr Steve Simpson, a marine biologist and senior lecturer at the University of Exeter, said: “Boat noise may cause stress or physically disrupt cells during development, affecting chances of survival. Since one in five people in the world rely on marine animals as a major source of protein, regulating traffic noise in important fisheries areas could help marine communities and the people that depend on them.” Read more here.More:

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A Real Fish Matrix

 Pressures like habitat loss and over fishing have been placing extreme pressures on wild fish stocks for decades. To help mitigate the pressure on wild fish stocks, man has increasingly turned to aquaculture. With the rising demand for aquacultured products, more money is being spent on researching more efficient production techniques.  A company called   Hawaii Ocean Technology, Inc. has created ‘The Oceansphere’ which is a whole new level of aquaculture. The Oceansphere allows fish farming to take place in the open ocean. The project has been underway for many years, and there has been a large amount of opposition and legal battles fought. Meant for deep ocean water, the design promotes responsible fish farming and can produce amounts of fish in quantities not currently matched in current fish farming. The design and complete protocol is still under development, but the Oceansphere should have its first harvest by 2017.  MOREMore:

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