Thursday, October 31, 2013

Heath Marin's Internship, Fall 2013 - Part 3

The next set of lessons I'm working on focuses on students building on prior knowledge and concepts of currents and other biogeochemical factors in the Gulf that affect larval settlement and dispersal. They will see how flow from strong currents and riverine drainage can have an effect on the Gulf ecosystem. Students will do a WebQuest of the systems in the Gulf and how various factors come together. For the final project, students will select an organism commonly found in the Gulf and create a descriptive visual cause/effect representation of three factors that affect that organism and its effects on the Gulf ecosystem and humans.  

Posted By:
Heath Martin, University of Miami/RSMAS

Friday, October 18, 2013

Heath Martin's Internship, Fall 2013 - Part 2

This past weekend I attended the ScienceOnline: Oceans conference and had a great time networking and learning about great opportunities for outreach. I recommend that if anyone has an interest in outreach that they attend a future venue (check them out online). The next Deep-C lesson focuses on Oceans and Human Health and the connection between terrestrial and aquatic/marine systems. Students will be exploring the causes of pollution in the Gulf from the major river systems and their effects on human health and the overall health of the Gulf marine life. For any of you that might be attending the Florida Association of Science Teachers Conference in Miami October 24-27, I'll be available in person at the Florida Marine Science Educators' Association (FMSEA) information booth. 

Posted By:
Heath Martin, University of Miami/RSMAS

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mahmud Hasan Ghani's Internship, Fall 2013 - Part 3

Sail Buoy and Surface Salinity

Today I am going to write a short background of my data collection method and the new instrument used for this project. As I mentioned earlier in my first post, the SailBuoy is the new oceanic instrument which can be remotely operated and used for in situ data collection instead of surface buoys from a specific region.

It was March 2013,when the SailBuoy launched from south of Cape San Blas, from where it covered the 840 nautical mile (nm) area in her two months journey in the Gulf of Mexico. It was continuously transmitting data through its satellite communication in one-hour intervals. From the data pack, we retrieved the Sea Surface Temperature, Salinity and Oxygen of its passed ways. The application of the SailBuoy - an unmanned vessel - is just amazing. Just a single move with the SailBuoy in the Gulf of Mexico, and now we have data from approximately 840 nm area in a two month period. The basic difference between the fixed buoy and the SailBuoy, I think, is the coverage area. Fixed buoys are giving data continuously from one location, but the SailBuoy can cover large areas in a short time. Also, ocean going research vessels need a lot of scientific arrangement, manpower, and of course adequate investment to carry out the research; in some cases, the use of the SailBuoy would be the alternative to collect data in our concern area. Sudden accidental oil spills require immediate data collection from the spilled area to make further predictions, especially for oil drifting models in the region.

As we are focusing on how the Gulf of Mexico is more or less affected by oil spills, analyses of the physical properties of sea water, such as temperature, salinity, and oxygen are important for further research. In my last post, I discussed temperature variations for the study period and was able make some weekly sea surface temperature (SST) maps.

Involvement in a project like the SailBuoy data analysis is a great experience and learning period for me. From our real data pack, I have the conductivity data set but not the salinity data directly. Using some functions in MATLAB make the work easier and enable me to find the surface salinity. This salinity is usually measured on the base of properties of sea water conductivity. At with SST, surface salinity data is showing a good map over the region covered by the SailBuoy. From the figure, it is clear that during the study period the salinity range dominants between 36 and 36.5; but at the beginning we observe the range below 35.5. This lower range stabilized for only a few days, and then it went over 36 and kept this rate at a constant until the end of May 15.

Posted By:
Mahmud Hasan Ghani, Norwegian Meteorological Institute

Monday, October 7, 2013

Heath Martin's Internship, Fall 2013 - Part 1

Originally from New York State, I moved to South Florida in 2003. My background as a Biology undergraduate allowed me to explore various opportunities in the marine sciences and photographic arts. Master’s and Specialist’s degrees in education strengthen my commitment to bring marine science into the classroom. In the eleven years of teaching in South Florida, I’ve been fortunate to have had a diversity of great experiences. Most of this has been curriculum testing and development, and training of other educators. For the past few years, I’ve been a Ph.D. student in a hybridized curriculum and instruction program with a marine science concentration at Florida Atlantic University. The dissertation research project is tentatively titled, Shark Sense: A South Florida Middle School Students’ Perceptions of Sharks, Implications of a Standards-Based, After-School Program. The idea is to develop an after school, standards-based program that incorporates the Ocean Literacy and Florida Sunshine State Standards. I am excited to be in the proposal stage and expect to begin data collection in the near future.

Deep-C was new to me until I saw a posting on the Florida Marine Science Educators Association (FMSEA) listserv. I am incidentally also the South Florida (FMSEA) regional representative. The University of Miami is within reasonable driving distance from home and school. Upon reading the posting, I thought this would be a great way to create marine science/oceanography lessons for the classroom. University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) researcher, Dr. Villy Kourafalou is an expert in ocean systems modeling. She described her ideas to bring important oceanographic concepts of the Gulf of Mexico to the classroom. The Deep-C internship officially started in September and about six topic areas are being used to develop standards-based lessons about those topics. There are lots of great resources available and I hope to bring some of them together as a middle-school friendly curriculum that can be incorporated into the classroom. Major Topics ideas include: Oil Spills (dispersal, settling and effects), Nutrient Transport: (rivers to oceans), Oceans and Human Health: (why/how the ocean is an indicator of healthy systems), Predicting Ocean Weather (modeling and weather systems), Deep Ocean Settling: (larval transport and settling). I welcome any suggestions, ideas, or possible funding opportunities from others. Please feel free to email

Posted By:
Heath Martin, University of Miami/RSMAS

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Benthic Ecology Research Cruise

Meet members of our research team...

Master's students Nicole Morgan and Ben LaBelle
process a sediment core.
Ben LaBelle is a Masters student in the lab of Dr. Amy Baco-Taylor. His current research focuses on the community structure and genetics of deep sea Octocorals. On this cruise he assisted in the processing of sediment cores for macrofaunal community comparisons.  

Nicole Morgan is a Master’s student with Florida State University, working with Dr. Amy Baco-Taylor on the community and genetic structure and diversity of deep-sea structure-forming organisms, like corals and sponges. On this cruise she assisted with multicoring operations, with specific protocols for quantitative macrofaunal sampling. 

Anastasia Nienow, Arvind Shantharam, and Kim Pollard
sampling sediment-dwelling invertebrate communities.
Arvind Shantharam is a PhD student from Florida State University, working in the Baco-Taylor lab sampling sediment-dwelling invertebrate communities of the De Soto Canyon and evaluating their response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. ‘….We sample the mud and section them into set depth fractions and later in the lab we pick organisms out of the mud for identification and enumeration. What critters we find and how many them we find help us gauge the recovery of the sediment ecosystem…’ said Arvind. Kim Pollard is a senior majoring in Environmental Science & Policy, minoring in Biology at FSU. He assisted in multicore processing in addition to various activities on the vessel. He is currently endeavoring in an honors thesis involving stable isotopes. 

Anastasia Nienow handles water samples from the CTD.
Anastasia Nienow is a student assistant at Valdosta State University with a B.S. in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences from Georgia Tech. Her main focus on this cruise was to collect water samples from the CTD to look at diatoms, nannofossils, and pigments in the water column. 
Nicole Clark assisted with the multicore and piston core.

Nichole Clark is a research technician at the Sedimentology Geochronology Laboratory at Eckerd College. She recently graduated with a B.S in Marine Science and participated in this cruise assisting with the operations involving the multicore and piston core.

Dr. Peter Lazarevich and Eric Howarth work with the computer control center of the MILET system. Eric Howarth is the senior engineer of the Marine Field Group within the Oceanography Department at FSU. His is charged with the overall operation and performance of the MILET. Peter is responsible for the collection of underwater navigation and sub-bottom profile data for the MILET. 

Dr. Peter Lazarevich (foreground) and Eric Howarth
work with the computer control center of the MILET system
John Kaba collects surface sediments in an effort
to understand what response deep Gulf sediments
had to the 2010 oil spill.
John Kaba is a graduate research assistant at Florida State University working for Markus Huettel. He has been focused on the degradation of the Deepwater Horizon oil in different environments. On this cruise, he collected surface sediments from every site. Back in the lab, he will incubate them in seawater with different amendments of nutrients, oil, and Corexit, and measure oxygen consumption and dissolved inorganic carbon production as a proxy for microbial activity. “I am trying to understand what response the deep gulf sediments had to any hydrocarbons that were deposited 

Posted by:
Oscar Garcia-Pineda
Florida State University