Navigating new Arctic waters: "It was totally ice free"

For more than 30 years visiting and studying the Arctic, Jackie Grebmeier and Lee Cooper of the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory have seen some ice in the summer, even if it was a little less each year. This summer, there was none at all, another in a series of changes they have observed from their front-row seat to a warming world.

"I do feel we have a responsibility to report back that things are changing, and it does look serious," said Lee Cooper. "We need to pitch in and do something, both personally and as a society, to slow down what appears to me to be irreversible climate change."


Amazing diversity hides beneath the surface of the ocean where tiny microbes work busily to transform carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into oxygen, convert sunlight into energy, and break down nitrogen gas to serve as food. Victoria Coles and her team at the Horn Point Laboratory have developed a new tool that advances our understanding of how these microbes maintain this complex ocean chemistry. 

"All of the model oceans that we make give us something that looks like today's ocean," she said. "Each community is really different at the end of the model, but they are doing the same thing. It's not about the specific species as much as the process. All the microbes operate together to get to the environment we observe."

Controlling mosquitoes with Chesapeake copepods

Biological oceanographer Jamie Pierson of the Horn Point Laboratory is exploring whether or not microscopic critters found in the waters in the Chesapeake Bay region could be used to naturally control mosquito populations.  Copepods--small aquatic crustaceans that are a major food source for small fish and birds--have been used as mosquito control in places such as Louisiana and New Jersey. 

"We're interested in whether local copepods, ones from Chesapeake Bay, eat our local mosquitoes," he said. "Even if it only works on some--different species are present different times of the year--to reduce spraying certain times of year would be helpful."

Scientists monitor marshes on island restoration project

Lorie Staver has been monitoring marsh and elevation on Poplar Island,  a restoration project in the Chesapeake Bay that uses sediment dredged from shipping channels to rebuild the island. She talks about the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science's role in the project, now a wildlife habitat, during a tour of the island.

Next Generation: Matt Spitznagel and disease in blue crabs

Graduate student Matthew Spitznagel at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology is working to understand a virus that kills blue crabs raised in aquaculture:

"Knowing how crabs catch CsRV1 can help us identify fisheries practices that increase transmission of the virus in the wild, such as disposing dead diseased crabs directly back into natural waters. Then we can identify additional crab factors-such as injury or water source-that increase the rates of crab death, both from CsRV1 and independently. Through this, we can work together with watermen to reduce the spread of the disease, boost the survival of a key scavenger species, and improve the harvest and aquaculture yields of the $200 million blue crab fishery. "

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