Prof. Dave Baker

by Austin Yeung 2017-02-28

Professor David M. Baker from the University of Hong Kong Swire Institute of Marine Science will be visiting Shanghai American School (SAS) on March 9-10.

He will be giving lectures with SAS students, meeting with its faculty, and speaking on the topic of  “That Day … in the Life of A Marine Scientist.”  Please join us.  To view the poster of this presentation, click here.

 

Fish hunt yields monster lionfish in Key Largo

by TNP editor 2017-02-19

According to Miami Herald, a lionfish measured over 450 mm was caught during a weekend fishing derby off Key Largo, part of the Florida Keys. While the one-day weekend event for 48 Scuba divers, held annually since 2012, seemed to be a success, the single-day catches of 420 lionfish highlight the seriousness of such a problem – an invasive species that feeds on 50 important species of native fish has firmly established itself in the western Atlantic waters.

So how did lionfish, tropical natives of the Pacific, find their way to Florida and the Atlantic coast?  It was suggested that lionfish were inadvertently released from an aquarium during the hurricane Andrew in 1992. As lionfish are highly reproductive (an adult female can spawn 30,000 eggs every few days), they are now widespread in the Virgin Islands, Bahamas, Bermuda, and along the coastlines of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. And they don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

Unfortunately, the window of eradicating this invasive species may have passed. Catching lionfish through divers may be the only viable method to control their population. We humans are doing what we do best – trying to eat our way out of a problem caused by the unwelcome invaders.

Lionfish fillets are now offered at Florida Whole Foods Market stores at $8.99 per pound. bon appétit.

Hawaii’s ban on “reef-unfriendly” sunscreen

by Austin Yeung 2017-02-06

Symbiosis Sea TurtleJanuary 20th, US Senator Will Espero proposed a bill banning sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate: chemicals that have been found to be harmful to Hawaii’s reefs. The ban, if successful, helps to protect Hawaiian reefs and maintain the heavy tourism economy the coral reefs attract. The ban has also been noticed by other regions that rely on reefs, including Palau and the British Virgin Islands.

Research in 2016 by the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory in Clifford, Virginia has found octinoxate to stunt the growth of baby corals and oxybenzone to be toxic. These chemicals have been found to cause coral bleaching in the lab as well as in the wild. Field data show that levels of oxybenzone contamination were at 4,000 parts per trillion (ppt) along the most popular beaches off the coast of Maui. With 9 million visitors a year, oxybenzone and octinoxate sunscreen pollution pose a serious environmental hazard.

However, this bill is only a small step in protecting Hawaii’s reefs. Larger concerns of overfishing, coastal runoff, and pollution still pose serious concerns. We should take this step to help promote visitor awareness for Hawaii’s reefs.

To read more, click here.