Census in the News 2009
This week, Census researcher Dr. Patricia Miloslavich will be participating in a project in which the International Space Station (ISS) and the Tocorimé, a 120-foot Brazilian wooden tall ship, will connect off the coast of Brazil in a unique project to celebrate Charles Darwin’s travels around South America. In collaboration with NASA, live hook-ups to the ISS will enable the scientists aboard Tocorimé and local school children in Paraty to talk with an ISS astronaut as he flies overhead at 17,500mph. Supported by the British Council and organized by scientists from South America and the UK, the Tocorimé operators, the organizers of The HMS Beagle Trust and NASA, the week-long event brings together a scientific workshop in Paraty, Brazil, scientific cruises, and educational outreach. Calls with the scientists and the ISS will enable local students to ask questions of these modern explorers, at sea and in space. At the same time, a workshop in Paraty will bring together a new international team to discuss key results in Census of Marine Life and Barcode of Life in South America and identify key questions for marine research in the waters around South America. For more information go to the press release or The Beagle Project.
A recent article in BBC’s Earth News highlights the work of Census researcher Kevin Raskoff. His research on Arctic and Deepwater jellies and jelly-like creatures has yielded some intriguing discoveries as well as stunning images and video. This article discusses some of the findings from the 2005 Hidden Ocean Expedition, which are currently in press and will soon be published in Deep Sea Research Part II. These results suggest that jelly populations and diversity in the Canada Basin were much higher than expected and that one of the most common jellies found was a Narcomedusa entirely new to science. Both the BBC article and the journal article are available online.
On August 19, 2009, the Lophelia II expedition departed Key West, Florida, USA aboard the NOAA Ship Ron Brown steaming into the Gulf of Mexico. This NOAA expedition aims to study the deep-water coral assemblages of the Gulf in an effort to better predict the distribution of these fragile communities. The NOAA Office of Exploration and Research and the U.S. Minerals Management Service are pursuing this research with the goal of providing better protection for these habitats as oil & gas and mining interests, as well as other human activities, push further and further offshore into the Gulf of Mexico. This expedition includes two Census researchers, Chris German and Ian MacDonald. The cruise will run through mid-September and will be posting ship to shore updates as well as a photo and video log online. For more information please visit: Lophelia II.
On August 2,2009 the Census was featured front and center in the Los Angeles Times. The article highlights Census discoveries and findings. From migrations of tuna, turtles, and albatross, to the discovery of the living fossil shrimp, to the hundreds of voyages and expeditions on which Census researchers embarked, the length and breadth of the Census find mention in this article. Another key feature of the story is the discussion of the creation of the program and its contribution to the future of marine science. Many Census colleagues have lent their perspectives to the story: Jesse Ausubel, Larry Madin, Poul Holm, Fred Grassle, Paul Snelgrove, Andy Rosenberg, Ann Bucklin, Nancy Copley, and Peter Wiebe are all quoted. Additionally, the online version of the story features a link to a stunning slide show of Census images. To view the article please visit: LA Times.
On August 1, 2009 the RRS James Cook sets sail again, bound for the mid-Atlantic Ridge. The MAR-ECO expedition, made up of 30 scientists, from 12 universities and research institutions in the UK, Portugal, and Russia, and 20 crewmembers, aims to collect data on all aspects of the mid-Atlantic Ridge and its overlying surface waters. The type of data ranges from satellite images of sea surface temperature to time-lapse photography of what lives on the seabed at depths of thousands of meters.
The cruise, led by Prof Monty Priede Director of Oceanlab, University of Aberdeen, will be dispatching a daily blog about their adventures and discoveries, as well as sending out updates via Twitter through the conclusion of the expedition on September 9, 2009. For more information visit: MAR-ECO.
Barcoding efforts undertaken by the Census of Antarctic Marine Life (CAML) has paid off. An article soon to be released in the journal Polar Biology, highlights CAML’s barcoding work and addresses knowledge gaps and future challenges. The article, entitled “Barcoding Antarctic Biodiversity: current status and the CAML initiative, a case study of marine invertebrates” is currently in press. Having identified more than 10,000 Antarctic marine DNA barcodes, with 8000 more in the works, CAML has committed itself to pursue barcoding across the entire spectrum of marine biodiversity. This task requires a high level of cooperation within the Antarctic research community, as well as with the Canadian Centre for DNA Barcoding. Researchers with Antarctic samples that require sequencing are encouraged to contact Rachel Grant, CAML Barcoding Coordinator. More information on CAML Barcoding is available on the CAML website: Barcoding.
The Ocean Biogeographic Information Systems (OBIS) project, which serves as a clearinghouse for Census data, has received good news. The International Oceanographic Commission (IOC) has adopted a resolution accepting OBIS into its International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE) program. Under the terms of the resolution, OBIS activity would continue under IODE and the OBIS Secretariat at Rutgers University, NJ, USA could become the host of an IOC Program Office. Currently, discussions are in progress to work out the details of this integration and to investigate the establishment of IOC cooperation with OBIS’ contributors and other stakeholders. A multi-source fund has been set up by IOC to ensure OBIS’ continued research and operation into the future. More information is available on the IODE website: IODE News 24-jun-09.
Departing June 8, 2009, MAR-ECO researchers aboard the NOAA Fisheries vessel Henry B. Bigelow steamed for the North Atlantic to study the Charlie Gibbs Fracture Zone along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The aim of the cruise is to further study the deep-water ecosystems associated with under-explored area. A cruise blog can be viewed on the Virginia Institute of Marine Science website and a full article highlighting the details of the cruise is also available. For more information visit: MAR-ECO.
A second cruise departed Wellington New Zealand on June 12, 2009 with the R/V Tangaroa once again carrying CenSeam researchers to the Graveyard seamounts on the Chatham Rise in the South Pacific. This cruise aims to study the biodiversity of the region and to continue research initiated on earlier cruises. Full details of the cruise and a ship-to-shore log can be found on the CenSeam website: Return to the Graveyard.
Drawing from such unlikely sources as ships logs, tax records, literary sources, and monastery archives, marine scientists are painting a picture of past life in the global ocean. This picture is proving to be a powerful, and necessary, tool in assessing environmental change in the ocean and associated ecosystems, for without it science’s view of these environments is limited to only a short span of history and hamstrung by a narrow perspective. Utilizing these unorthodox sources of information, researchers from the History of Marine Animal Populations project of the Census, are discovering some surprising facts about human impact on the ocean: Prior to whaling pressure arriving in the 1800s, New Zealand’s southern right whale population was roughly 30 times higher than today’s. Prior to the 1800s, the waters of the English Isles were home to orca and blue whales, as well as porpoise, dolphins, and blue and thresher sharks. Written records from as early as the 2nd century CE suggest that the Romans used trawl nets to catch fish. These and other results are soon to be presented in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada at the Oceans Past II conference (May 26-28, 2009). More information on the History of Marine Animal Populations project and the Ocean’s Past Conference is available in a detailed press release or on the HMAP website.
A recently released special issue of Zootaxa, entitled “Deep-sea taxonomy - a contribution to our knowledge of biodiversity,” focuses on the Deep Sea Taxonomic work of CeDAMar.The issue features articles on new species and other discoveries from the Southern Ocean, the Southeast Atlantic, Brazil, The Northeast Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and the Eastern Pacific.The full issue is available online at Zootaxa.
A special issue of Deep Sea Research II that was released online in late April 2009 is based on COMARGE research. The volume, entitled “Deep-sea environment and biodiversity of the West African equatorial margin” and edited by Myriam Sibuet, highlights the work of the Biozaire multidisciplinary deep-sea environment program from 2000-2005. It is available online from Science Direct in “Articles in Press".
Another publication, scheduled for release in mid-June 2009, is a book on the biodiversity of the Gulf of Mexico, written and edited by Census affiliates from the Harte Research Institute. This volume details some 15,419 species from 40 phyla that inhabit the Gulf of Mexico and was written by 140 authors, from 80 institutions/organizations in 15 countries.More information is available on the Harte Research Institute website.