Category: Ocean Chemistry and Ecosystems

AOML Researchers Take Water Samples at Annual King Tide

On September 29th, researchers from AOML’s Environmental Microbiology Lab along with scientists from Florida International University’s Southeast Environmental Research Center collected water samples along Miami Beach during a king tide event, the highest astronomical tide of the year. Sample sites were located adjacent to pumps installed by the City of Miami Beach to actively pump super-tidal floodwaters out of the streets and back into Biscayne Bay. AOML’s team continuously monitored and collected water samples over a 5-hour period at locations in Maurice Gibb Memorial Park, along 14th Street, and at 27th Street and Indian Creek Drive. During sampling, physical water properties such as temperature, salinity, pH, turbidity, and dissolved oxygen content were also measured.

Read Full Article

SEFSC & AOML Partner to Tag Leatherback Turtles in the Gulf of Mexico

A team of NOAA scientists from the Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC) and AOML conducted a survey aboard the NOAA research vessel Hildebrand to capture, tag and release leatherback sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico. The survey, which took place off the coast of the Florida Panhandle, was the first directed research on leatherbacks in Gulf waters. The team of scientists sought to obtain accurate information on these endangered animals in order to answer questions relating to habitat use, migrations, and distribution within the Gulf region. After locating a turtle with help from spotters in NOAA aircraft, each turtle was secured with a net and brought to the vessel to be measured and equipped with a satellite tag, which will collect data on dive patterns and water temperatures in addition to long-term movement. The team successfully tagged a total of six turtles during the survey. The team also assisted in the scheduled release of a female leatherback that had stranded earlier in September off of Fort Walton Beach, FL. The turtle, which had been rehabilitated at the local Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, was brought aboard the R/V Hildebrand in Destin, FL and successfully released 20 miles offshore.

Read Full Article

AOML Conducts Water Quality Monitoring in Florida Bay

AOML scientists aboard the R/V F.G. Walton Smith conducted the bimonthly water quality research cruise in support of the South Florida Project during the week of September 21st. The AOML South Florida Project (SFP), and its associated field operations, have enabled scientists and resource managers to keep a watchful eye on the sensitive marine habitats found in the region and have served as a sentinel during periods when the ecosystem has been subjected to extreme events such as hurricanes, harmful algal blooms (HAB), and more recently, potential oil spill contaminants. Additionally, the AOML SFP has produced a comprehensive, long-term baseline regarding regional circulation, salinity, water quality, and biology for the ecosystem.

Read Full Article

AOML Begins Biscayne Bay Canal Sampling Surveys

AOML’s ecosystem assessment and modeling group is collaborating with the protected species and biodiversity lab at NOAA’s SEFSC to begin a water quality monitoring survey of South Florida’s Biscayne Bay watershed. Biscayne Bay is a designated Habitat Focus Area under NOAA’s Habitat Blueprint, a program which offers opportunities for NOAA to partner with organizations to address coastal and marine habitat loss and degradation issues. Scientists will collect continuous temperature, salinity, turbidity, dissolved organic matter, and fluorescence measurements, as well as discrete samples for Chlorophyll a, nutrients, and phytoplankton. The surveys will occur quarterly and will examine the sources of potential contaminants from canals and waterways, and the subsequent effects these contaminants will have on the Bay.

Read Full Article

Video: Coral Spawning in the Florida Keys

AOML coral scientists participated in a NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service-led project to document coral spawning in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary during August & September 2015. The project aims to measure spawning success for two imperiled Caribbean species, elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) and mountainous star coral (Orbicella faveolata) in the Florida Keys. The team collected gametes from both species to be used in experiments that aim to improve the understanding of factors that may enhance the likelihood of coral larvae to survive and settle on the ocean floor. Experiments will also assess impacts of current and future global environmental changes, such as ocean acidification, on these vulnerable early life stages of corals. Click on the image below to view a video of a spawning mountainous star colony.

Photo and Video credit: NOAA

Read Full Article

AOML Leads Research Efforts Across Caribbean to Improve Bleaching Predictions

For the third time in recorded history, a massive coral bleaching event is unfolding throughout the world’s oceans, stretching from the Indian Ocean to the Caribbean. Above average sea surface temperatures exacerbated by a strong El Niño could result in the planet losing up to 4,500 square miles of coral this year alone, according to NOAA. The global event is predicted to continue to impact reefs into the spring of 2016.

Read Full Article

AOML Establishes New Sites to Monitor Ocean Acidification in Gulf of Mexico

Members of AOML’s Acidification, Climate, and Coral Reef Ecosystems Team (ACCRETE) recently traveled to two remote reef locations to expand the National Coral Reef Monitoring Program’s (NCRMP) network of sentinel climate and ocean acidification monitoring sites. The newly established sites, located in the Flower Garden Banks and the Dry Tortugas, will provide researchers with additional data and insights into the ocean’s changing chemistry and the progression of ocean acidification, as well as the ecological impacts of these variables across the Caribbean basin and the Gulf of Mexico.

Read Full Article

Scientists Conduct Juvenile Sport Fish Surveys in Florida Bay

A team of scientists from NOAA’s AOML and Southeast Fisheries Science Center have conducted a series of surveys in Florida Bay this year as part of an ongoing project to investigate how juvenile sport fish in the bay respond to changes in water quality and habitat resulting from Everglades restoration. During the survey, scientists collected water quality and seagrass measurements and conducted otter trawls to sample the juvenile sport fish populations.

Read Full Article

AOML Oceanographers to Participate in New Summer Lecture Series

This summer, AOML will be diving into a new outreach initiative with the Central Caribbean Marine Institute, a coral reef research organization based in the Cayman Islands. From June through August, NOAA oceanographers from AOML will give a series of talks on various oceanographic topics to the institute’s staff and students participating in the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates program at the institute’s Little Cayman Research Centre (LCRC).

Read Full Article