September 2022 Research Summaries and Sustainability Tips

Updated: Oct 25

Welcome back to school and another month of the latest and greatest ocean science and sustainability tips!

SEPTEMBER 14: RESEARCH SUMMARY - MEDITERANNEAN MADNESS

The first slide is light blue and says “WHAT IS DEOXYGENATION and how does it affect the ocean?” And has a white graphic of an oxygen molecule. The second slide is white and says “DEOXYGENATION IS THE LOSS OF OXYGEN MOLECULES FROM THE OCEAN. Deoxygenation happens naturally, but is increasing drastically as human activities continue to warm the climate. This leads to a loss of suitable habitat, negatively impacting marine reproduction and growth rates, and increasing disease susceptibility.” It has a little graphic of oxygen molecules leaving the ocean.

Using high-resolution projections, scientists predict that waters in the Mediterranean Sea will continue to change for the worse should the climate continue warming. Deoxygenation will be particularly bad, causing habitat decompression that will affect the ecosystem indefinitely. However, a second projection was run under the hopeful assumption of humanity reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and shows that the ecosystem does have a tendency to recover, if given the opportunity.


RESEARCH: Acidification, deoxygenation, and nutrient and biomass declines in a warming Mediterranean Sea. Reale et al. 2022.


SEPTEMBER 16: SUSTAINABILITY TIP - EAT UP YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT

As we transition into fall, it’s important to remember that eating fruits and vegetables that are in-season is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint! Growing produce for consumption in seasons they don’t typically grow during uses up a lot of resources and creates extra carbon emissions. This fall, try sticking to fall produce such as pumpkins, broccoli, onions, spinach, sweet potatoes, kale, cauliflower, apples, beets, and bananas! For an even more inclusive list of in-season fruits and veggies, go to the USDA website!


SEPTEMBER 21: RESEARCH SUMMARY - MARINE MEDICINE

In a study done in 2016, scientists demonstrated that an extract from a specific species of sea cucumber could selectively cause cell death in cells with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, but not in normal, non-cancerous cells. This means that this sea cucumber extract is a promising anticancer drug candidate!

A sea cucumber, shaped like a cucumber, sits on the ocean floor. This particular species is a light tan with maroon splotches.
Zach Greenberg (@zachgrnbrg)

RESEARCH: Selective Toxicity of Persian Gulf Sea Cucumber Holothuria Parva on Human Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia B Lymphocytes by Direct Mitochondrial Targeting. Salimi et al. 2016.


SEPTEMBER 23: SUSTAINABILITY TIP - FORAGING

Learning to use the materials found in your environment is both a very fun AND environmentally conscious way to spice up your culinary routine! The available goods will vary from area to area, but here are some great rules to start with!

Team member Zach holds up some green leaves that he foraged from the parking lot.
  1. Forage With Friends: Don’t go alone while you’re still learning the basics. Plus, you can also swap recipes with your friends and ask questions!

  2. Get Good Books: This will help you learn your local plants and keep notes. If you ever have any doubt about any food, don’t eat it!

  3. Start Simple: Look for easy-to-find foods when you first start and get to know them well. This will help you become a better cook!

  4. Get to Know Your Area: Start out near your home. You’ll be surprised at the number of edible plants that are native.

  5. Leave Some Behind: Uprooting plants is illegal, so please only take leaves and flowers. Careful with fungi as to avoid damaging the root system.

  6. Have Fun!


SEPTEMBER 28: RESEARCH SUMMARY - SMALL TOOTH, BIG PROBLEMS

The Smalltooth Sawfish has only two ‘lifeboat’ populations left - one in Florida and one in The Bahamas. Despite protections by the US Endangered Species Act, Smalltooth Sawfish are accidentally caught in commercial fisheries (shrimp trawl, coastal gillnet, and bottom longline). A study published earlier this year found that acoustically tagged Smalltooth Sawfish frequented areas where commercial fishing effort (time spent fishing) by shrimp trawlers was high. The authors also found that the shrimp trawl industry was associated with a high bycatch risk and high bycatch mortality due to the design of the trawl nets and length of towing (average tow time: 4 hours).


RESEARCH: Commercial fishery bycatch risk for large juvenile and adult smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) in Florida waters. Graham et al. 2022.

First slide The words “What are sawfishes and why are they endangered?” over a graphic of a sawfish. Second slide An infographic showing that sawfish can be up to 23 feet or 7 meters long and pointing to what the rostra or saw is. The rostra or saw is one of the main reasons sawfish get tangled in fishing gear and become bycatch. This has contributed to population declines and all sawfish are endangered.

SEPTEMBER 30: SUSTAINABILITY TIP - SUPPORT SAWFISH

There are a variety of ways you can support sawfish recovery! If you see or accidentally catch a sawfish, you can visit sawfishrecovery.org or sawfishconservationsociety.org to report your sighting or accidental catch (make sure you release it first!). You can also read the current guidance for viewing, handling, and releasing sawfish.


If you don’t live in an area with sawfish, you could support organizations like U.S. Sawfish Research and Conservation and the Sawfish Conservation Society and share what you learn about sawfish with your friends and family! Also be on the lookout for International Sawfish Day on October 17th to raise awareness and learn more about these weird but wonderful rays!



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