May, 2018
Upcoming Events
Wednesday, June 6
Harbor Branch Immersion Tour | Ocean Discovery Visitors Center | 10:30 a.m. [ More info ]

Ocean Science Lecture Series:   Did you miss out on the exciting 2018 lecture series? Don't worry! You can watch them all here.
FAU Harbor Branch Partners with NASA to Monitor Algae in Lake Okeechobee
Scientists with FAU Harbor Branch are partnering with NASA to learn more about algae levels in Lake Okeechobee through the use of a SeaPRISM, one of NASA’s water-quality monitoring instruments. In advance of deploying the device in the Lake next month, a team tested the SeaPRISM at FAU Harbor Branch’s channel this week. SeaPRISMs are above-water radiometers that look at the color of water and use algorithms to determine chlorophyll, turbidity and cyanobacteria levels. 

“The more information we have and share on what is driving the ecology of these blooms in the lake – why they’re occurring, what’s causing them – the better off we’ll be,” said FAU Harbor Branch Interim Executive Director and project lead Jim Sullivan, Ph.D. “Having access to this data in real time will be an enormous help.”

View this story in the news:
Indian River Lagoon Observatory Network (IRLON) Update
Chart shows hourly measurements of salinity at IRLON sites in the southern network from May 4-May 22, 2018
Our Indian River Lagoon Observatory Network of Environmental Sensors (IRLON) has been recording the response of the St. Lucie Estuary (SLE) and nearby Indian River Lagoon (IRL) to the first major rainfall event of the since the beginning of the 2018 wet season.

  • Total rainfall from the May 13 to May 21, 2018 ranged from 6.1 inches at IRL-JB near the coast to 16.7 inches at SLE-NF further upstream in the North Fork of the SLE and accounts for approximately 41 to 59% of the total year-to-date rainfall among sites.
  • Salinity has decreased at all sites with the greatest decrease visible at all four SLE sites where conditions were basically freshwater by May 22, 2018. Salinity at the sites closer in proximity to the St. Lucie Inlet has also decreased with minimum values during low tide of approximately 15 and 17 PSU at IRL-SLE and IRL-JB respectively.

Additional data can be accessed at our  LOBOviz website  under the LOBOviz tab at the top of the page.
In the News: Harbor Branch Finishes Two-year Study of St. Lucie River Targeting Pollution
Scientists with Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute recently presented their findings from a two-year study to the Port St. Lucie City Commission. Water samples were taken from more than a dozen sites along the North Fork of the St. Lucie River, and the tributaries and canals that feed it.
“We did find a lot of evidence of wastewater contaminates," said Brian LaPointe with Harbor Branch.  Read more.
Fisheries Ecology and Conservation Lab Documents 14-Foot White Shark
On April 27, 2018 researchers in FAU Harbor Branch's Fisheries Ecology and Conservation Lab (Primary Investigator: Dr. Matt Ajemian) documented an estimated 14-foot-long white shark ( Carcharadon carcharias ) while conducting baited remote underwater video surveys (BRUVs) at an artificial reef site offshore of Fort Pierce. The site, located in 140 feet of water, is part of an ongoing study to monitor fish assemblages at artificial reefs off the Treasure Coast (funded by the FWC Artificial Reef Program and St. Lucie County). The observation supports several other recent reports of the species’ seasonal presence in waters off east-central Florida.  Click here to view the video.
Research
Ouyang Awarded Office of Naval Research Grant
FAU Harbor Branch's Dr. Bing Ouyang was recently awarded a grant from the Office of Naval Research for the proposal titled, "Robust Co-Prime Sensing with Underwater Inflatable Passive Sonar Arrays." The project will extend through April 2021. 

In collaboration with Temple University, this project will build the foundation of a transformative concept – Underwater Deployable Sensing Network by integrating two novel technologies: co-prime hydrophone array and underwater deployable structure (USDs) to achieve “two-way” compression to enable tight integration with navy assets with limited payload spaces such as unmanned underwater vehicles or unmanned surface vehicles. This work will leverage Harbor Branch postdoc researcher Dr. Yanjun Li’s research on UDS. Dr. Tsung-Chow Su with FAU/OME will be a collaborator on this project.
Deep-Sea Actinobacteria as an Attractive Source of Anti-infective Agents
There is an urgent need for the development of new antibiotics because of the rise of drug resistance in bacterial and other pathogens. A manuscript that describes work to discover new anti-infective natural products from deep-sea Actinobacteria, led by Drs. Guojun Wang and Peter McCarthy (co-corresponding authors), was recently accepted for publication by the journal Frontiers in Microbiology.

The Harbor Branch Marine Microbial Culture Collection (HBMMCC) is a large collection of marine microorganisms that were isolated from diverse marine samples including macro-organisms and sediments. The HBMMCC contains over 1,000 strains of Actinobacteria, the most prolific microbial group producing natural products. Actinobacteria produce more than half of the currently used antibiotic drugs.

In this preliminary study, Drs. Wang and McCarthy studied 50 Actinobacteria strains to look for new anti-infective agents by screening their metabolites against a panel of important pathogens:  Candida albicansStaphylococcus aureus and methicillin-resistant  S. aureus (MRSA),  Pseudomonas aeruginosa  and  Clostridium difficile. An efficient and easy-to-use chemical elicitation, rare earth salts, was used to trigger dormant secondary metabolic capability in these strains. They found that more than half of the strains were active in at least one assay. Among these activities, they saw metabolites with strong anti-fungal, anti-MRSA and anti- C. difficileactivities. Their results clearly show that the deep-sea Actinobacteria contained in the HBMMCC are promising sources of new anti-infective natural products. More natural products are now being identified from these microbes.

This is a multi-group collaboration between Harbor Branch and the University of South Florida. The research was supported by grants to Dr. Wang: a faculty start-up package provide by the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Foundation, and a National Institutes of Health grant, R21CA209189. 

The full manuscript can be  read here.
Schaefer Co-authors Paper Published in Genome Announcements
FAU Harbor Branch's Adam Schaefer is the co-author of a paper recently published in  Genome Announcements. The paper is entitled, " Complete Genome Sequencing of a Novel Type of Omikronpapillomavirus 1 in Indian River Lagoon Bottlenose Dolphins ( Tursiops truncatus )."

The genome sequence of a papillomavirus was determined from fecal samples collected from bottlenose dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon, FL. The genome was 7,772 bp and displayed a typical papillomavirus genome organization. Phylogenetic analysis supported the bottlenose dolphin papillomavirus as being a novel type of  Omikronpapillomavirus  1.

Students
Voss Lab's Eckert Awarded PADI Grant
Voss lab  Master’s student Ryan Eckert was recently awarded a $5,000 research grant from the  PADI Foundation  for his research investigating population structure of the scleractinian coral species  Montastraea cavernosa  along a depth gradient on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef in Belize. The PADI Foundation encourages and supports research and education related to aquatic environments, funding and assisting research and projects which enrich our understanding of aquatic environments and encourage sensitivity to and protection of ecosystems. Eckert’s was one of 81 funded proposals in 2018 from a pool of over 400.  Congratulations Ryan!
Dodillet Receives Medway Scholarship
Grace Dodillet, a Marine Science and Oceanography Master's student in the Page-Karjian Lab, has been
selected for a prestigious Medway Scholarship by the International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine ( IAAAM ). The Medway Scholarship Program is designed to support research experiences for students interested in pursuing careers in aquatic animal medicine. This is great news for Grace and her thesis research project, " Dynamics of stress and immune competence during rehabilitation of debilitated sea turtles ", and is a big step in her promising career. 

As a Medway recipient she will present the results of her research at a future IAAAM meeting, and will write up a short summary of her research experience for the IAAAM newsletter to highlight the program. 
Great Big Story Films Breanna Degroot
FAU Harbor Branch graduate student Breanna DeGroot was on camera recently demonstrating her spotted eagle ray research to  Great Big Story   at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium. The episode will focus on the next generation of wildlife biologists and shine a light on the importance of understanding and protecting wild animals. 
Changing Seas Films Cameron Luck
Changing Seas, a public television series produced by South Florida PBS in Miami, will feature research by FAU Harbor Branch graduate student Cameron Luck. Focusing on flat fishes, Bonefish & Tarpon Trust  scientists Dr. Aaron Adams and Justin Lewis, together with FAU graduate student Cam Luck, catch and tag bonefish to better understand their movements, habitat, and spawning behaviors. The episode is scheduled for June.
Ocean Discovery Visitors Center Wins Trip Advisor 2018 Excellence Award
FAU Harbor Branch's Ocean Discovery Visitor's Center is the proud recipient of a 2018 Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor. The award is for consistently high reviews over a certain period and it is only given to 10% of the businesses on TripAdvisor.

The Harbor Branch Ocean Discovery Visitor's Center (ODVC) is the public gateway to FAU's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. The ODVC houses interactive exhibits, small aquaria, a video theater and other displays exploring the marine environment and depicting the research efforts of the Institute.

There is no charge for individual and family public visits to the ODVC. For more information about the Ocean Discovery Visitor's Center, or to inquire about scheduling group visits, please call 772-242-2293.