Powering the World with the Energy of Water

Schematic of a standard OWC converter

By Kevin Reagan, RJD Intern In recent years, as the effects of global warming and carbon emissions become more and more apparent, the need for renewable energy sources has become more critical than ever. Solar and wind power are popular sources and major investments have been increasing, especially in Europe. But both sources pale in comparison to harnessing the energy contained in moving water, known as hydrokinetic energy, which includes in-stream energy, tidal energy, and wave energy. It is estimated that the global ocean has an energy capacity of 93,100 Terawatt-hours (TWh) per year (one TWh is equivalent to 1 … Continue reading

Shark Tagging with MAST Academy

Thank you MAST Academy for joining us for a day of shark tagging!

By Grace Roskar, SRC Intern On the overcast morning of November 15th, the SRC team, the Diver’s Paradise captain and crew, and students of MAST Academy gathered at Crandon Marina to brave wind, clouds, and light rain to embark on a day of shark tagging. MAST Academy is one of our oldest participating school groups and although the weather was not the typical Miami sunshine, the students were eager to board the boat and get underway. We motored out through choppy waters to the Safety Valve in Biscayne Bay, which is a group of shallow sand flats that is intersected … Continue reading

Observing Invasive Lionfish Larval Dispersal Through Ocean Currents May Help to Reduce Population Size

The Indo-Pacific Lionfish is an invasive species to the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean and East Coast of the United States. (Source: http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2006/images/lionfish-morris.jpg)

By Dana Tricarico, RJD Intern The waters of the Caribbean, Western Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico have become a hub for the invasive species called Pterois volitans and Pterois miles, more commonly known as species of Indo-Pacific lionfish. This predatory species is now an increased problem, creating negative ecological consequences to its non-native regions since 1992, when Hurricane Andrew knocked several lionfish into the waters of South Florida. According to National Geographic, they are now one of the most destructive invasive species in the Western Hemisphere and have become the first truly invasive marine fishes in the Atlantic (Albins and … Continue reading

Utilizing Crittercams to Study Animal Behavior

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By Christopher Brown, RJD Intern Two traditional techniques utilized by scientists to study animal behavior include observing wildlife species held in captivity and observing wildlife species in their natural habitats. However, there are limitations to both techniques. Animals that are held in captivity may not exhibit the same behaviors of individuals from the same species observed in the wild, and certain wildlife species may even adopt new behaviors while being held in captivity. Animals that are observed in their natural habitats may never become fully habituated with human observers, may practice specific behaviors that are difficult to observe due to … Continue reading

Rearranging the tree of life: a closer look at Ctenophores

An adult Mnemiopsis leidyi, a representative member of the ctenophore phylum (Ryan et al. 2013)

By Shannon Moorhead, RJD Intern At first glance, members of the animal phylum Ctenophora don’t look like much.  Commonly known as the comb jellies, ctenophores vaguely resemble true jellies of the phylum Cnidaria: marine organisms with translucent, gelatinous bodies that spend the majority of their time suspended in the water column.  Like cnidarians, comb jellies utilize tentacles with specialized cells to capture prey, usually zooplankton and animal larvae.  However, instead of nematocysts, stinging cells typical of jellyfish and anemones, to subdue prey, ctenophores have developed colloblasts, cells found in no other metazoan, animal, group (Ryan et al. 2013).  These colloblasts … Continue reading

Fishery Collapses Explained by Overfishing, Life-History Traits, and Climate Variability

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By Christopher Brown, RJD Intern Species around the world have experienced significant declines below fixed thresholds that indicate the risk of extinction. Evidence has suggested that the risk of extinction runs high in terrestrial species that maintain large body sizes, feed high in the food chain, and demonstrate slow population growth rates. However, within marine ecosystems, species that exhibit fast population growth rates have been found to be just as likely to face the risk of extinction as species with slower population growth rates. Population growth rates can be understood as one of several factors that determine the risk of … Continue reading