New York Today: Spring, Undersea

A hidden, high-stakes drama is unfolding beneath the surface of the Hudson River. The city’s fragile oyster population is coming out of hibernation. Concealed beneath a thick sheet of ice in winter, they clasped shut and went dormant… Now, ensconced in metal cages that naturalists are using to restore the city’s once-rich oyster beds, they are yawning back open- those that survived, that is… "We have to get out and start pulling up the cages and see how many are living," says Beth Ravit, an environmental scientist at Rutgers University… Scientists like Dr. Ravit looking to the oysters for their ability to filter out pollutants and possibly to help prevent flooding. But oysters are sensitive. And microscopic morsels like phytoplankton, which oysters find tasty, die off in dark winter waters. That left oysters starved during the colder months, victims of the seasons’ ruthless cycle… "It’s all about who eats who," Dr. Ravit said… Dr. Ravit and her collaborators from NY/NJ Baykeeper started with 250,000 oysters in Raritan Bay. In the coming weeks, they will find out how many remain.

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Ocean Conservancy: How to Protect Marine Species [AUDIO]

The ocean is at risk for losing many of its species if we don’t do something quickly. Pressures from over-fishing, acidification, warming waters, and ocean industrialization are pushing many ocean plants and animals toward extinction. Today we’ll talk about the threats to marine life, the species most at risk, and what we can do to protect the world’s oceans. Marty’s guests are Malin Pinsky, an assistant professor at the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University and Boris Worm, a professor in Marine Conservation Biology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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In Search of the World’s Biggest Fish

For more than a decade, researcher Zeb Hogan has spent much of his time traveling around the world on a singular mission: to find and learn more about the world’s largest freshwater fish. Through his photographs and a show he hosts on Nat Geo Wild called "Monster Fish," he’s helped many people discover and appreciate these beasts… The highlights of his research on the conservation status and accurate size of various fish are being presented beginning March 25 at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C., an exhibition Hogan describes as a "one-stop-shop for everything megafish."… Olaf Jensen, fish ecologist at Rutgers University, says that the exhibit is "great stuff, Zeb has done a fantastic job of bringing the conservation challenges regarding big fish to a public audience." Jensen has collaborated with Hogan to study the world’s largest trout, known as a the taimen, in Mongolia. They have found that these species require large stretches of river to survive, and that there is a growing number of people catching and releasing the animal… These fishermen must buy permits from the government, money which goes to conservation efforts. While overfishing can harm animals, and has in the past in many areas, well-regulated catch-and-release fishing can be beneficial, since it can help prevent development and damming of river areas, Jensen adds.

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Rutgers VETS Program Graduates Inaugural Class


VETS Program graduates and Rutgers trainers. Top Row: Jackie Long, Irvinia Moody, Jason Baker, Isaac Ezirim, Jan Zientek; Middle Row: Amy Rowe, Rodney Spencer; Front Row: Shawn Rhagnanan, Wendy Huggins, Verdie Williamson, Robert Robinson, Matt Smith

VETS Program graduates and Rutgers trainers. Top Row: Jackie Long, Irvinia Moody, Jason Baker, Isaac Ezirim and Jan Zientek; Middle Row: Amy Rowe and Rodney Spencer. Front Row: Shawn Rhagnanan, Wendy Huggins, Verdie Williamson, Robert Robinson and Matt Smith

Unique partnership among a university, a church and companies makes a difference for unemployed veterans in Newark

It was a proud moment at the Willing Heart Community Care Center in Newark, NJ, on March 3, where 12 local veterans graduated as the inaugural class of the Rutgers Veterans Environmental Technology and Solutions (VETS) program.

Each of the veterans had stories to share of struggle after returning from service, with limited opportunities to earn a living. When some entered the program last May, they were unemployed and had nowhere else to turn. [Read more…]

Human Activity is Leading to a “Major Extinction Event” for Sea Life, Scientists Say

Though previously thought to be impervious due to its massive size, the collective of the world’s oceans may be on the verge of a wide-scale extinction event, according to a new study. Scientists from the University of California, Santa Barbara, (UCSB) warn that, if human activity continues on its current trajectory, we could be seeing a whole lot more sea animal deaths, and possibly collapses of entire oceanic ecosystems… "We’re lucky in many ways," said Dr. Malin L. Pinsky, a marine biologist at Rutgers University and one of the authors of the new report. "The impacts are accelerating, but they’re not so bad we can’t reverse them."… Drs. Pinsky and McCauley tried to gain a better understanding of all this by collecting data from a wide range of sources, including discoveries logged in the fossil record and statistics on modern-day shipping activities, fish catches and seabed mining. What they found is that there’s still time to make things right.

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