Upcoming Events


September 20
A September Evening at Harbor Branch
Tampa Bay Times reporter and author Craig Pittman discusses his book "Manatee Insanity...Inside the War Over Florida's Most Famous Endangered Species." Art Tickets $20, to purchase and for more info, call (772) 242-2559 or click here.

September 28
National Estuaries Day Festival
FAU Harbor Branch and the Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce co-host a National Estuaries Day Festival from 10 am - 3pm. Museum Pointe Park (414 Seaway Drive, Fort Pierce.) FREE admission, children's activities, live entertainment. For more info, call Smithsonian Marine Ecosystems Exhibit: (772) 465-3271.

Friday, February 7 
The Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Foundation's 3rd Annual "Love Your Lagoon" Dinner. Details to follow...  
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August 30, 2013
FAU Harbor Branch Unveils New Website

  After nearly a year of planning and work, the FAU Harbor Branch website has a brand new look! Click here to check out our new and improved site.


HBOI Scientists Return from NOAA Cruise
  Several FAU Harbor Branch researchers returned this week from the NOAA Ocean Explorer Cruise.  This year's theme was "Coral Ecosystem Connectivity 2013: From Pulley Ridge to the Florida Keys." Click here to view pictures and read more about their missions. 

Halimeda tuna f. platydisca (center) is the only target algal species being collected for the "Population Team" who are using molecular tools to identify relationships among populations throughout the study area. Halimeda is an important producer of carbonate sediments in Florida and Caribbean waters. 
Photo credit: M. Dennis Hanisak, FAU Harbor Branch.  
HBOI Researchers Play Key Role in Educating Leaders About Lagoon Issues 
  This month, FAU Harbor Branch scientists Dr. Brian Lapointe and Adam Schaefer took part in two events aimed at bringing local lawmakers up to speed on the various issues threatening the St. Lucie Estuary and Indian River Lagoon.
On August 15, Lapointe (pictured, left) and Schaefer (pictured, right) were among the presenters at a meeting called by U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (pictured, center) with community leaders, scientists and public officials at the Flagler Center in Stuart.
  And on August 22, Lapointe testified during the Florida Senate Select Committee on Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee Basin hearing.   
HBOI to Be Featured on NBC Nightly News 

The plight of the Indian River Lagoon will be the subject of an upcoming NBC Nightly News story, and HBOI will be one of the organizations featured in the piece.  FAU Harbor Branch scientist Adam Schaefer was recently interviewed by NBC News correspondent Mark Potter about disease in Indian River Lagoon dolphins. The story will cover the various issues facing the lagoon, from toxic algae in the St. Lucie Estuary to marine mammal die-offs in the northern lagoon. No word yet on when the story will air, but producers tell us it should be soon!   

Harbor Branch Research Leads to New Legislation to Protect Coral Reefs


  For nearly 40 years, marine researchers with FAU's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute have been involved in the discovery of highly diverse deep sea coral communities off the east coast of the United States. As a direct result of this research, east coast fishery managers recently agreed to new legislation that will help protect and conserve these deep sea corals.        
  The chairmen of the South Atlantic, Mid-Atlantic and New England Fishery Management Councils recently signed a landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in July to help coordinate the protection of deep sea corals off the east coast of the United States from eastern Florida to Maine.  The MOU will serve as a framework for cooperation during the development and implementation of management measures to protect coral communities.
  "Our work at Harbor Branch on deepwater reefs over the past 38 years was instrumental in establishing this legislation," said John Reed, a senior scientist and research professor at FAU Harbor Branch, who has been involved in the program since the 1970s.  "Now the entire east coast of the United States is recognized to have deep reef corals and habitat."
  FAU Harbor Branch has a long history of studying deep sea corals, by conducting independent research as well as taking part in NOAA's Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program.  Reed was among the team of scientists who first discovered the Oculina reefs off the coast of Florida in 1975, and was instrumental in making it a Marine Protected Area through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1984.
  Deep sea coral communities play a vital role in the marine ecosystem and provide habitat for many species of fish and invertebrates.  Most deep sea corals are slow-growing and fragile, making them particularly vulnerable to damage from certain types of fishing gear such as bottom trawls.  
Levels of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria on the Rise in the Indian River Lagoon 

Preliminary research from FAU Harbor Branch scientist Dr. Peter McCarthy has uncovered an increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the Indian River Lagoon. The study compared water samples taken from 2 locations in the lagoon in June of 2011, 2012 and 2013. Data indicates a sizeable increase in the amount of bacteria present this year as compared to the two years prior.

  The testing sites included one where Taylor Creek feeds into the lagoon (pictured above) and a second site close to the FAU Harbor Branch campus. Research showed that levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria were much higher in the Taylor Creek samples, a waterway which is impacted by agricultural and urban development and receives discharges from the C-25 canal as well as the Fort Pierce Farms Water Control District C-1 canal.

  In a previous FAU Harbor Branch study, antibiotic-resistant bacteria had been detected in samples taken from Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon (Schaefer et al. 2009). These findings are what led to this water sampling research in 2011 and additional sampling of local dolphins is ongoing. Results from both projects, along with environmental data will provide a comprehensive overview of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the lagoon.

  McCarthy conducted this year's research with summer intern Carlie Perricone, an FAU student from Port St. Lucie whose internship was funded by the Link Foundation.