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May 2017 Issue


US Southeast Coastal Shark
Populations Recovering

A new analysis of population trends among coastal sharks of the southeast U.S. shows that all but one of the seven species studied are increasing in abundance. The gains follow enactment of fishing regulations in the early 1990s after decades of declining shark numbers.

Scientists estimate that overfishing of sharks along the southeast U.S. coast—which began in earnest following the release of “Jaws” in 1975 and continued through the 1980s—had reduced populations by 60 to 99 percent compared to unfished levels. In response, NOAA’s National Marine Fishery Service in 1993 enacted a management plan for shark fisheries that limited commercial and recreational landings.

The researchers say their study—based on modeling of combined data from six different scientific surveys conducted along the U.S. East Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico between 1975 and 2014—provides a more accurate and optimistic outlook than previous studies based on commercial fishery landings or surveys in a single location.


Fugro, TGS Map Gulf
Seafloor for Hydrocarbon

In collaboration with the multiclient geoscience data company TGS, Fugro continues to map the seafloor in the Gulf of Mexico for a complete picture of geological features, including hydrocarbon seeps. The latest survey follows one in 2016 on the Mexican side of the Gulf.

Fugro has deployed two geophysical survey vessels to acquire multibeam echosounder and sub-bottom profile data over the western, central and eastern regions of the U.S. continental slope.

In water depths of 750 to more than 4,000 m, geoscientists on board the vessels will analyze seafloor bathymetry, its acoustic reflectivity and shallow subsurface structures to identify hydrocarbon seep features on the seafloor and throughout the water column. The data collected will aid a subsequent geochemical coring campaign. TGS will license the data to exploration and production companies to support development activities.


Sea Urchin Spines
Useful for Bone Repair

More than 2 million procedures every year take place worldwide to heal bone fractures and defects from trauma or disease, making bone the second most commonly transplanted tissue after blood. To help improve the outcomes of these surgeries, scientists have developed a new grafting material from sea urchin spines, the American Chemical Society reported.

Bioceramics have been used as scaffolds for bone repair but tend to be weak and brittle, which can lead to pieces breaking off, moving into adjacent soft tissue and causing inflammation. Recent studies have shown that biological materials, such as sea urchin spines, have promise as bone scaffolds because of their porosity and strength.

Researchers Xing Zhang, Zheng Guo, Yue Zhu and colleagues tested this idea by using a hydrothermal reaction to convert sea urchin spines to biodegradable magnesium-substituted tricalcium phosphate scaffolds, while maintaining the spines’ original interconnected porous structure.

Unlike bioceramics, the scaffolds made from sea urchin spines could be cut and drilled to a specified shape and size.

Testing on rabbits and beagles showed that bone cells and nutrients could flow through the pores and promote bone formation. Also, the scaffold degraded easily as it was replaced by the new growth.


New Report on Atlantic
Sciaenid Habitats

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) has released the report “Atlantic Sciaenid Habitats: A Review of Utilization, Threats and Recommendations for Conservation, Management and Research,” the most comprehensive compilation of habitat information to date on commission-managed and other common sciaenid species found throughout the western Atlantic.

These species include: Atlantic croaker, black drum, red drum, spot, spotted seatrout, weakfish, northern kingfish, southern kingfish and Gulf kingfish.

The report provides a habitat description for all stages of each species’ life cycle; associated Essential Fish Habitats and Habitat Areas of Particular Concern; threats and uncertainties to their habitats; and recommendations for habitat management and research. It can help when amending existing fishery management plans.


Manned Sub Dive Yields
Discovery of New Bioherm

Aquatica Submarines and Subsea Technology announced the discovery of a new glass sponge bioherm, located in Howe Sound, Vancouver.

Aquatica pilot Erika Bergman, naval architect Gary Hancock and Executive Director of the Centre for Applied Earth Observation at the University of British Columbia Dr. Robert Falls were on a routine 400-ft. survey dive offshore Aquatica’s marine headquarters when the discovery was made.

The group was transecting a wall in the manned submersible Stingray 500 when they noticed a small group of juvenile sponges at 380 ft. As the team ascended to 280 ft., the wall opened up to a large underwater plateau full of glass sponges.

Once thought to be extinct, glass sponges are rare and difficult to study because most species grow only in deepwater. Dr. Glen Dennison of the Marine Life Sanctuaries Society has confirmed the discovery.


ABS Approves LNG
Fuel Tank Design

ABS has granted a certificate of general design approval (GDA) for an IMO Type B LNG fuel tank design developed by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI). The design aims to minimize the loss of cargo space and effectively use available area on board the vessel. The design is based on a 14,500-TEU containership but can be sized for other ship types and sizes. It complies with the International Code of Safety for Ships using Gases or other Low-Flashpoint Fuels (IGF Code).

As industry adjusts to a changing regulatory climate, the use of LNG as fuel will continue to grow and be adopted in the marine industry. Developing vessels equipped with the latest technology and the most efficient fuel containment systems will be key.


2017:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT
2016:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV | DEC


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Sea Technology is read worldwide in more than 115 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.