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Ocean Research


July 2014 Issue

Three Rolex Underwater Scholars Chosen for 2014
Since 1974, founding partner Rolex Watch U.S.A. has been the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society's partner in education, with the society annually selecting three Rolex Scholars—one each from North America, Europe and Australasia—to receive financial and logistical support to further their understanding of the career possibilities relating to researching the depths of the sea.

The 2014 Scholars are: Ana Sofía Guerra (North America), Elena Salim Haubold (Europe) and Courtney Anne Rayes (Australasian).

Specialists will host diving-related experiences for the scholars in the areas of marine biology, oceanography, medicine, physiology, research, photography and business.

The scholarships are open to applicants between the ages of 21 and 26 at the time of the December 31 application deadline. Each must have a valid citizenship for the relevant Rolex Scholarship (North America, Europe, and Australasia); not have earned a graduate degree by April 1 of the scholarship year; not yet chosen a clearly defined career path; be of high academic standing; fluent in English; and be certified as a Rescue Diver or equivalent with a minimum of 25 dives logged in the past two years. The application is available online beginning October 1 for the following year. Full details are available at www.owuscholarship.org/scholarships/how-and-when.

Genetic Testing Could Shed Light on Dolphin Die-Off in Atlantic
Scientists with Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Institute's Population Biology and Behavioral Ecology program believe genetic testing may be the key to solving many mysteries surrounding dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) and beyond. Their research, involving the genetic testing of more than 600 dolphins sampled both within the lagoon and along the adjacent Atlantic coastline, sheds new light on the population structure and dispersal patterns of the dolphins that inhabit the IRL. The study examined two different types of genetic markers, or parts of the genome, in dolphins—one from the mother and the other from both parents. Scientists found distinct genetic differences between dolphins in the IRL and those in the Atlantic Ocean.

Researchers also uncovered discrepancies in the theory that the IRL dolphin population is a closed population, meaning all IRL dolphins stay in the lagoon and do not interact with Atlantic dolphins. Several of the dolphins sampled in the IRL had full Atlantic genetic profiles, despite, in some cases, being sighted and tracked within the lagoon for more than a decade and sampled during lagoon health assessments.

Scientists discovered several dolphins with a genetic background likely indicating one IRL parent and one Atlantic parent.

The DNA also revealed dramatic differences between dolphins in Mosquito Lagoon and the IRL proper.

It appears that movements of dolphins between Mosquito and the Atlantic Ocean may be highly dynamic, versus that of movement between the IRL proper, suggesting the Mosquito Lagoon estuary functions differently than the rest of the IRL.

The findings from this study could help to provide new answers for health and management issues surrounding the recent mass die-off of dolphins spanning the entire Atlantic eastern seaboard.

Study of Mussel Stickiness Could Lead to Better Adhesives
Researchers reported in Langmuir a clearer understanding of how mussels stick to surfaces, which could lead to new classes of adhesives that will work underwater and even inside the body.

Mussels have a knack for clinging onto solid surfaces underwater. Some types of mussels can even plug up drinking water pipes. Mussels also can stick to materials with nonstick coatings. Although researchers have already developed mussel-inspired glues, they still don't have a full understanding of exactly how these critters stick so well to underwater surfaces.

Researchers determined that one part of the mussel 'glue' molecule, called catechol, pushes water molecules out of the way to bind directly to a wide variety of surfaces. The study provides a clear picture of the first step of mussel adhesion, which could pave the way for better adhesives for many applications, such as for use in surgeries. The adhesives can be nontoxic and biocompatible.

Sonardyne Offers 20 Percent Academic Discount Partnership
Sonardyne (Yateley, England) is offering eligible U.S. academic and oceanographic institutions a 20 percent discount on equipment across its extensive product line up, including long-range target tracking systems, seabed sensors and through-water communication instruments. The discount is expected to now bring Sonardyne's award-winning 6G technology platform within financial reach of a wide range of U.S.-based scientists for the first time.

'Our Academic Discount Partnership agreement is recognition of the valuable work undertaken by universities, research institutes and private, not-for-profit foundations in furthering our knowledge of the world's oceans and the diverse factors that impact them,' said Dr. Ralph Rayner, nonexecutive chairman of Sonardyne.

To enroll an organization in the discount program, contact Kim Swords at 281-890-2120.

UK NOC Partners With IMarEST for Consulting Work
U.K.'s National Oceanography Centre (NOC) announced a two-year partnership with the Institute of Marine Engineering Science and Technology (IMarEST). The partnership will build on NOC's existing work with IMarEST, consulting on government and international bodies such as the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and International Maritime Organization. It will also enhance career development for NOC staff.

'NOC values being able to work with a highly regarded international professional body to jointly address the great challenges facing the ocean, to benefit from a closer working relationship with marine professionals in industry, and to encourage more people to consider a future in marine science, engineering and technology,' said Steve Hall of NOC.


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Sea Technology is read worldwide in more than 110 countries by management, engineers, scientists and technical personnel working in industry, government and educational research institutions. Readers are involved with oceanographic research, fisheries management, offshore oil and gas exploration and production, undersea defense including antisubmarine warfare, ocean mining and commercial diving.