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Ocean Research


April 2016 Issue

$1.8 Million for Marine
Risk Research Projects

The Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response (MEOPAR) network and Irving Shipbuilding Inc. are giving $1.8 million to support nine new ocean research projects that align with MEOPAR’s aim to strengthen Canada’s ability to anticipate and respond to marine risk.

Recipients’ work will develop and/or apply new technologies or approaches to advance environmental observation, safe operations and/or emergency response on Canada’s coasts and oceans.

The nine primary investigators leading the projects are based at six Canadian universities.

New Master of Marine Studies
In MSP, Management Program

The Memorial University Fisheries and Marine Institute will inaugurate the new Master of Marine Studies in Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) and Management, the first graduate program of its kind in Canada, in September 2016.

The program focuses on governance, policy/legislative, ecological, socioeconomic, cultural and technological elements of sustainable ocean and coastal zone development, planning and management. Students will study the mapping and analysis of human activities and environmental features as part of planning environmentally/economically sustainable use of coastal and marine environments. Students will also learn conflict management and facilitation to effectively engage coastal and ocean regulators and stakeholders.

New Hydrophone Picks Up
Monterey Bay Soundscapes

Researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) are using an ultrasensitive underwater microphone to study the bay.

In July 2015, MBARI researchers installed a broadband hydrophone on Smooth Ridge, about 51 km from shore and 900 m depth. Signals from the hydrophone have been relayed back to shore in real time using MBARI’s cabled ocean observatory, the Monterey Accelerated Research System (MARS).

The new hydrophone is a metal cylinder about 2 in. in diameter, mounted on a metal tripod on the muddy seafloor. The sounds picked up are turned into a picture called a spectrogram. Researchers can visually browse through the soundscape to look for unusual events and repeating patterns and determine what’s making certain sounds, including what kinds of animals are present. MBARI is working on getting computers to recognize the vocalizations of different species of marine mammals.

The data will help understand how the relatively quiet soundscape of the outer Monterey Bay compares with busier areas such as the Southern California Bight.

Ultrasound for Study of Female
Tiger Shark Reproduction

Researchers from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and the University of New England used the same ultrasound imaging technology used on pregnant women to study the reproductive biology of female tiger sharks. The study offers marine biologists a new technique to investigate the reproductive organs and determine the presence of embryos in sharks without having to sacrifice the animal first.

Researchers performed in-water ultrasounds on live tiger sharks and took blood samples for hormone analysis to determine the reproductive status of females at Tiger Beach in the Bahamas, which has year-round abundance of tiger sharks. The new method detects whether sharks are mature and pregnant.

They discovered Tiger Beach was important for females of different life stages, and that a high proportion of tiger sharks were pregnant during winter months. The data suggests that Tiger Beach may function as a refuge habitat for females to reach maturity, as well as a gestation ground where pregnant females benefit from calm, warm waters year-round that help incubate the developing embryos and speed up gestation. The data help with shark protection and management.

Old Vero Man Site
Excavation Continues

Archaeologists, students and volunteers are once again busy searching for clues into Vero Beach’s ancient past at the Old Vero Man Site, one of the oldest and largest archaeological digs of its kind, located on the Treasure Coast. The project is now being led by FAU’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI) and FAU’s Department of Anthropology, in partnership with the Old Vero Man Ice Age Sites Committee (OVIASC).

This project aims to gain a better understanding of what the first Floridians were doing on the rapidly changing landscape of the late Ice Age.

The Old Vero Man site has been called one of the most important finds in the history of North American archaeology.

First Annual High School
Offshore Tech Competition

A team of eight students from West Side High School in Houston won the first annual High School Offshore and Technology Stars Challenge, co-hosted by the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and the Ocean Energy Safety Institute (OESI) at the University of Houston.

“Experts have projected that there will be a workforce need of one million additional science, math and engineering graduates by 2022,” BSEE Director Brian Salerno said.

Teams designed and built an energy-harvesting circuit based on NASA-developed piezoelectric technology, which generates an electrical charge when it vibrates or bends. The circuits charged battery packs for remote-control helicopters, which were flown through a course on a football field, with points accumulated for course completion and the distance the helicopters flew in an 8-min. period.

The winning team successfully piloted their helicopter, simulating travel to and from an offshore oil platform, for a total distance of 750 yd. They defeated 14 other teams to claim the $2,500 grand prize, as well as a $1,500 teaching grant for their school. They also have an invitation from BSEE to attend the Offshore Technology Conference in May and be recognized for their achievement.

The High School Offshore and Technology Stars Challenge will include New Orleans next year, and other cities, including Washington, D.C., in the years to come.


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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.