Harbor Branch researchers including Dr. Voss, Dr. Lapointe, Jimmy Nelson, and Laura Herren recently joined with Global Underwater Explorers to conduct deep dives of the coast of Palm Beach and Broward Counties. The goal of these dives was to assess the benthos and sample algae. The dives were part of Project Baseline, an environmental organization that seeks to document underwater habitats by involving citizen scientists.
Michael gave a hands-on presentation in Mrs. Studivan's 3rd grade Gifted class at Lawnwood Elementary School, where he introduced the students to coral biology, coral reef sampling and research, and scientific diving. He brought in coral fragments, underwater photos and videos, aerial videos, and SCUBA gear, giving the next generation of scientists the chance to see some of the tools of the field. Students were able to breathe off a SCUBA regulator and tried their hand at species nomenclature with Latin. At the end of the lecture, the class had a discussion about issues facing coral reefs and what they can do to help. Expect to see some very involved 3rd graders as coral reef advocates in the community!
Last Friday, students Courtney Klepac, Mike Studivan, and Alycia Shatters made the trek up to Athens, Georgia to attend the annual Symbiofest meeting at the University of Georgia. This event was hosted by the renown Bill Fitt, a leader in Symbiodinium and coral symbioses research. Symbiofest featured both professors and students, and topics ranged from bacterial communities in coral diseases to population genetics of mussel larvae attached to freshwater fish gills. The keynote speaker, Mikhail Matz from the University of Texas presented compelling evidence for mechanisms of local adaptation in Pacific corals when associated with local Symbiodinium types suited for heterogeneous environments. Courtney Klepac also had the opportunity to present her Master’s thesis results, which were well received. The field of coral reef ecology and health is becoming informed about the coral species at St. Lucie Reef surviving in environmental extremes, the last frontier for many Caribbean corals.
Following Symbiofest, the Voss lab mates attended a dinner hosted by Jim Porter and his wife Karen. Here, they had the opportunity to socialize with other symbioses experts, listening to stories about wild field excursions and discussing research approaches. It was an enjoyable experience overall, not to mention the 9 hour car trip up from Harbor Branch, where Dairy Queen Blizzards and middle-of-nowhere gas stations were a must. Looking forward to Symbiofest 2015!