November 2019
A red sponge, Amphimedon compressa , one of two of the sponge species from which the scientists developed the cell cultures. (Photo credit: Shirley A. Pomponi, Ph.D.)

Researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and collaborators have developed a breakthrough in marine invertebrate (sponge) cell culture. Results of the study were published in Nature - Scientific Reports. â€śSponge cell lines could be used as models to understand the role of secondary metabolites in sponges, to use this information to develop new models for drug discovery, and to scale-up production of sponge-derived bioactive compounds for novel medicines,” said Shirley Pomponi, Ph.D., senior author and a research professor at FAU’s Harbor Branch... Read more 

A recent study shows that sunlight-driven chemical reactions that increase energy of particles, could be the reason more than 98 percent of plastics entering the oceans go missing every year. 
The study, by researchers from FAU's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and collaborators, was recently published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials... Read more
An aging, stinky Microcystis bloom covers a residential canal in Cape Coral, Florida in 2018.
(Photo credit: Brian Cousin, Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute)
All eyes are on Florida’s waterways, and addressing Florida’s blue-green algae and water quality has caught the attention of Floridians. In January, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a sweeping executive order to tackle Florida’s water quality challenges and established the state’s first Blue-Green Algae Task Force. Scientists from Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and University of South Florida are partnering with the South Florida Water Management District on a three-year NASA-funded project to improve understanding and forecasting of blue-green algae blooms—specifically the Microcystis and Synechococcus species... Read more
In the News

FAU Harbor Branch Executive Director Jim Sullivan, Ph.D. joined Governor Ron DeSantis, First Lady Casey DeSantis, Congressman Brian Mast, and several leaders to announce new water quality initiative and website,

Lee County first contracted with FAU's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in 2017 and approved a $98,000 contract with them. This past June the BOCC approved another year of the research at a cost of nearly $90,000.

Faculty Spotlight

Andia Chaves Fonnegra, Ph.D., likes marine organisms that destroy the neighborhood — in other words, the “bad guys.” That’s what she calls excavating sponges, which infiltrate and erode dying coral reefs. As warming ocean temperatures stress the animals that compose coral reefs, food-producing algae living in the animals’ tissues depart. Eventually, the corals may starve to death or succumb to disease.
72nd Annual Conference of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries

The Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute (GCFI) held the 72nd annual conference on November 2–10 in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Laurent Chérubin, associate research professor Megan Davis, research professor and Laura Issac, an FAU graduate student, attended and presented at the GCFI conference. Laurent helped organize a two-day workshop on Improving the Monitoring and Abundance Estimation of Fish Spawning Aggregations. Davis and Issac also presented their findings at the International Symposium on Stock Enhancement and Sea Ranching at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida, the following week.

FAU Research Professors Brian Lapointe, Ph.D., and Bill Louda, Ph.D., along with three students attended the 10th U.S. Symposium on Harmful Algae in Orange Beach, Alabama. Dr. Lapointe presented, "The Biggest Algae Bloom on Earth! - Sargassum!" The symposium focused on emerging harmful algal blooms (HABs) in the U.S., crossing the land-sea interface in temperate and subtropical zones in the face of climate change and shifting land use.
Mission: Ocean Discovery

The FAU Harbor Branch Mammal Rescue Team had a great time sharing our research at Right Whale Festival in Fernandina Beach this month. The Right Whale Festival celebrates the annual return of critically endangered North Atlantic right whales to coastal waters off northeast Florida and Georgia to give birth to and nurse their young. The festival highlights local efforts to protect these whales from extinction and how we can help in their recovery.

FAU Harbor Branch Research’s participated in the 2019  LagoonFest on Flagler in downtown West Palm Beach. Our scientists spoke to community members about our research along the Indian River Lagoon. 

FAU Harbor Branch was well represented at the 60th anniversary of the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. During the event, Researcher James Masterson, Ph.D., presented, “Ocean Exploration and Coral Research.” 

Ellen Prager, Ph.D., marine scientist and author will kick-off the 2020 John and Barbara Ferrera Ocean Science Lecture Series (OSLS) with a lecture on Wednesday, December 4. Dr. Prager will present Galápagos Wonders at 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. in the Johnson Education Center auditorium. Dr. Prager is widely recognized for her expertise and ability to make science entertaining and understandable for people of all ages. She has long worked in the Galápagos and through stories and images, will share her experiences and the wonder of the islands. Dr. Prager will also provide a sneak peek of her newly released adventure novel for middle graders (target 8 to 14 years of age, Escape Galápagos. OSLS are free and open to the public. For more information or to watch them online. 

On Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020 at noon, FAU's Harbor Branch, Megan Davis, Ph.D., a research professor in the aquaculture and stock enhancement program will present “Ocean Entreés: Eat Your Sea Vegetables!”

This one-time lecture will provide information about the value of sea vegetables and a cooking demonstration will be a part of the presentation... Register

The Indian River Lagoon Symposium 2020 "Reassessing IRL Biodiversity" will be held on February 13-14. For more information and to register, visit  here. Please note, registration is required to attend.
About Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute: ď»ż
Founded in 1971, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University is a research community of marine scientists, engineers, educators and other professionals focused on Ocean Science for a Better World. The institute drives innovation in ocean engineering, at-sea operations, drug discovery and biotechnology from the oceans, coastal ecology and conservation, marine mammal research and conservation, aquaculture, ocean observing systems and marine education.