September 2019
Coral reefs near the Florida Keys are being destroyed, with scientists reporting a “heartbreaking” decline over the past three decades. NBC’s Kerry Sanders met with FAU Harbor Branch Researcher Brian Lapointe, Ph.D., who explained warming water temperatures are just one part of the problem. Nitrogen from fossil fuels, wastewater, and agricultural runoff is also threatening the fragile underwater ecosystem. Research

Researchers from FAU Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in collaboration with Georgia Aquarium, the Medical University of South Carolina and Colorado State University, conducted a unique, long-term study (2003 to 2015) of antibiotic resistance among pathogens isolated from bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops trun­catus) in Florida’s Indian River Lagoon. This lagoon has a large coastal human population and significant environmental impacts. Based on the study findings, it is likely that these isolates from dolphins originated from a source where antibiotics are regularly used, potentially entering the marine environment through human activities or discharges from terrestrial sources. Read more

The National Science Foundation (NSF) selected the Gulf – Caribbean Oceanographic Consortium to operate the third new Regional Class Research Vessel. FAU's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute is an associate member of the consortium that will conduct at-sea research and participate in the development of the long-term vision for the consortium for research, education and outreach.  Read more

The Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine selected Andia Chaves Fonnegra, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology, Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College and Yufei Tang, Ph.D., assistant professor of computer and electrical engineering and computer science, FAU's College of Engineering as recipients of the 2019 Early-Career Research Fellowship. Dr. Chaves Fonnegra runs the Laboratory of Integrative Marine and Coastal Ecology at FAU Harbor Branch. Her research focuses on enhancing the management of marine ecosystems by determining how ecological interactions are altered by anthropogenic activities and global impacts such as climate change and pollution. Dr. Tang’s research focuses on networked big data and system analytics and predictive maintenance of marine structures/systems.
Student Spotlight

The Blavatnik Family Foundation and the New York Academy of Sciences selected Derya Akkaynak, Ph.D., as a finalist for the 2019 Blavatnik Regional Awards for Young Scientists. Dr. Akkaynak is a post-doctoral fellow in the lab of Michael Twardowski, Ph.D., a research professor at FAU's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. The 2019 Blavatnik regional award winners and finalists will be honored at the New York Academy of Sciences' Annual Gala in New York on Monday, November 11, 2019.  Read more
FAU's Office for Undergraduate Research and Inquiry (OURI) hosted its 7th-Annual Summer Retreat for the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Presentations at FAU on August, 15. FAU Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Associate Director & Research Professor Peter McCarthy, Ph.D. and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Provost, and Professor Bret Danilowicz, Ph.D. discussed the impacts of ocean research at FAU with Gabrielle Byrd, a B.S. candidate.
Toxic Blue-Green Algae: WQCS featured 17-year-old Griffin Wagner, a student in our Junior Scientist Program. He is working with FAU Harbor Branch Scientists to predict and measure cyanobacteria blooms using the Indian River Lagoon Observatory (IRLO) Network of land/ocean biochemical Observatory (LOBO) units. 

FAU Harbor Branch streams the data from the 10 LOBO's on our website.
In the Lab

It's the closest you can get to being inside a blue-green algae bloom — without actually getting the slimy, nasty and possibly toxic stuff on you. A team of scientists at Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute is developing autonomous holographic cameras, named the AUTOHOLO, to take three-dimensional photos of microscopic particles and organisms in the water, including blue-green algae cells. "A 3D image allows us to see a whole range of particles in a sample as opposed to a standard 2D image," said  Aditya R. Nayak, an assistant professor of ocean and mechanical engineering at FAU Harbor Branch. "Holography is very effective in looking at spatial distributions of particles at very small scale.” Read more
CIOERT Conducts Expedition to Explore Coral Reef Sites

The Voss Lab led a 16-day Cooperative Institute for Ocean Exploration Research and Technology ( CIOERT) mission exploring shallow and mesophotic reefs off of the Florida Keys, Dry Tortugas and Pulley Ridge aboard the University of Miami's R/V...

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Coral Research Lab Completes ROV Telepresence Mission

Joshua Voss, Ph.D., Jim Masterson, Ph.D., and members of the FAU Harbor Branch Coral Research Lab joined the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration aboard the Research Vessel MANTA to explore the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary

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Mission: Ocean Discovery

The 2019 FAU Harbor Branch Ocean Discovery Experience is off to a great start! Graduate student, Marisa Pico and the FAU Harbor Branch Outreach Team provided fun and educational marine science lessons to nearly 80 kids at select Boys and Girls Clubs throughout St. Lucie County. Last week, students learned about marine mammals and participated in a rescue simulation activity. This week, our Outreach Scientists taught the students about sustainable seafood and aquaculture, then created unique pieces of art using algae cultured at FAU Harbor Branch. Stay tuned for updates from the upcoming sessions!

FAU Harbor Branch Researchers through the Florida Center for Coastal and Human Health (FLCCHH) are working to better understand harmful algal blooms (HABs) and their impacts. The FAU Harbor Branch Ocean Discovery Visitors Center just unveiled a new interactive display that allows the public to learn about current FLCCHH HAB research and how blooms occur throughout Florida’s coastal ecosystems. Please stop by to check it out and learn from our outreach scientists

2019 FAU Harbor Branch Summer Intern Abbey Gering worked with Gabby Barbarite, Ph.D., director of outreach & engagement to share seagrass and science with the community. Gering’s project included a complete remodel of the seagrass display at the FAU Harbor Branch Ocean Discovery Visitors Center. Among many improvements were a new 65-gallon aquarium (double the size of the old one!) and four informational signs highlighting the importance of seagrass communities as well as research and restoration efforts at FAU Harbor Branch. Please stop by to see the new display.  Research
Join FAU Harbor Branch at the 2019 Indian River Lagoon Science Festival on Saturday, October 26 for a FREE and family-friendly event at Veterans Memorial Park in Ft. Pierce from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. FAU Harbor Branch is a proud sponsor of the IRL Festival and will host three booths this year! Make sure to visit us to learn more about our research, the Indian River Lagoon, and our Marine Mammal Rescue Team!
Marine Mammal Rescue

We partnered with the International SeaKeepers Association on an Offshore Cetacean Citizen Science project to document Florida’s oceanic dolphins and whales!

How can you help?
  1. Collect dates and times of sightings
  2. Collect GPS coordinates of sightings
  3. Take photos of dolphins and whales you sight
  4. Email this information to
About Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute: 
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.