Odds and Ends

Newsworthy events from the Sea Grant community.

Conferences on Red Tide Blooms and GIS Mapping

From Massachusetts to Maine, a devastating red tide bloom closed shellfish beds from May to July last year. With toxin levels higher than had ever been observed at many locations and severe economic losses, declarations of official disaster were made in Maine and Massachusetts. To better understand the 2005 Alexandrium red tide bloom, and to prepare for the 2006 shellfish season, MIT Sea Grant recently brought together the scientific, regulatory, and fishing communities for a one-day symposium. WHOI's Don Anderson placed the 2005 event in historical perspective while others discussed management issues, economic concerns, and future implications.

As technologies have advanced, ocean mapping has changed dramatically, providing new insights into ocean features, expanding our ability to communicate vast amounts of data, and allowing the integration of data from many sources. In early April, MITSG and the Northeast Fisheries Science Center hosted a geographic information systems (GIS) conference to discuss how ocean mapping can better support fisheries management and research. Researchers, scientists, and managers from around the Northeast Regional Ecosystem (Cape Hatteras through the Gulf of Maine) identified opportunities for coordinating the use of oceano-graphic data, ocean mapping tools, internet technologies and innovative data sharing techniques to support fisheries science and integrated ocean management. A report on that conference is forthcoming.

Review Panel Commendations

In September 2005, the Woods Hole Sea Grant Program was reviewed as part of the National Sea Grant Program's programmatic assessment process. The visiting team cited a number of accomplishments in both research and outreach / education. Among them: Woods Hole Sea Grant's research and extension efforts involving QPX (quahog parasite unknown), a parasite responsible for significant mortality in cultured hard clams; a collaborative long-term shoreline mapping project (Woods Hole Sea Grant, USGS, Cape Cod Cooperative Extension, and Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management) and subsequent data analysis (Sea Grant and the Cape Cod Commission); the development of research techniques using fish otoliths as tags to track larval dispersal in cod; and the citizen volunteer monitoring program for beach and dune profiling to document changes and make correlations to long-term shoreline changes.

The review team also deemed two Woods Hole Sea Grant program efforts "best management practices" within Sea Grant: the program's report on metrics and milestones, and the development of a web-based virtual beachcombing tour, www.beachcomberscompanion.net, to go along with the Beachcomber's CompanionŠ cards, lauded for providing "opportunities for users who may not have access to the seashore to learn in a cost-effective and fun way."

Workshop Series for Shellfish Farmers

The Woods Hole Sea Grant/Cape Cod Cooperative Extension (CCCE) workshop series for shellfish farmers, Improving Shellfish Aquaculture Production Workshops, continued in March with its second offering, Management of Shellfish Pests. The workshops are designed to provide applied, practical information for farmers who are raising shellfish either for profit or restoration. The series was launched in 2005 with Management of Shellfish Predators, funded in part by the Northeast Regional Aquaculture Center (NRAC).

In March, 42 Massachusetts shellfish farmers listened as some of their peers described fouling problems caused by common pests and shared treatment methods. Two speakers from outside the region offered new perspectives: Andre Mallet, an oyster farmer from the Canadian Maritimes, spoke about controlling tunicates and the shell-boring sponge, and Mark Hooper, a shellfish farmer from Smyrna, NC, discussed the control of mud blisters on oysters. Local speakers Rick Karney, of the Martha's Vineyard Shellfish Group, talked about controlling fouling organisms in local waters, and Bill Walton, Sea Grant/CCCE extension agent and shellfish farmer, reviewed various formulations of brine dip treatments used to control many fouling organisms.

Stojanovic Chosen for Doherty Professorship

Vladimir Stojanovic, assistant professor in MIT's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, has been awarded the 2006 Doherty Professorship in Ocean Utilization from MIT Sea Grant. The Doherty Fellowship, endowed by the Henry L. and Grace Doherty Charitable Foundation, encourages promising, non-tenured professors to undertake marine-related research that will further innovative uses of the ocean's resources. The area of research may address any aspect of marine use and/or management, whether social, political, environmental, or technological. Stojanovic's research will focus on improving the energy efficiency of underwater fiber optic links, which are critical to marine applications such as the remote operation of underwater vehicles and telemetry and data acquisition networks for various sensor sites.