Scientists create world’s largest coral gene database

Coral reefs…have survived five major extinction events over the last 250 million years. Now, an international team of scientists led by Rutgers faculty has conducted the world’s most comprehensive analysis of coral genes, focusing on how their evolution has allowed corals to interact with and adapt to the environment… "There are a few key genes in corals that allow them to build this house that laid down the foundation for many, many thousands of years of corals," said Debashish Bhattacharya, a professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers. "It couldn’t be any more fundamental to ocean ecosystems." (Also appeared in Science Daily, Science Codex, eScienceNews,, Science Newsline.)

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Students Learn About Marine Science On Cape May Trip

You may not think of the life cycle of an oyster when you see the tasty mollusk on the menu, but East Windsor students recently got to learn not only about the science behind the shellfish, but also the history of the oyster trade and its impact on the Delaware Bay economy… "For a lot of kids, these experiences are eye-openers, even for our local students — they may not be aware of the Delaware Bay and its importance in the local economy and environment," said Jenny Paterno, Program Coordinator II of the Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory at Rutgers University.

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N.J. decision ignites Shore strife: Oysters vs. red knots

A car door slammed on South Reeds Beach Road, and 300 feeding shorebirds – ruddy turnstones, sandpipers, and red knots – took wing, shrieking out over the Delaware Bay… "The U.S. Division of Fish and Wildlife has determined that these activities do not threaten the survival of the species," said David Bushek, director of Rutgers’ Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory in Port Norris. "There’s a bit of exaggeration about the dangers" of aquaculture, he said.

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World’s richest source of oceanographic data now operational at Rutgers

The data center for the pioneering Ocean Observatories Initiative, which collects and shares data from more than 800 sophisticated instruments and a transmission network across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, is now operating at Rutgers University… The OOI cyberinfrastructure team is led by Manish Parashar, distinguished professor of computer science and founding director of the Rutgers Discovery Informatics Institute (RDI2), in collaboration with Scott Glenn and Oscar Schofield, distinguished professors of marine and coastal sciences and directors of the Rutgers University Center for Ocean "Our OOI partners have deployed advanced platforms and a wide variety of sensors in challenging environments at sea," Glenn said. "Enabling unprecedented access to scientists and educators through an equally advanced cyberinfrastructure is our goal. We are excited that Rutgers is part of the team."

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Changing Migration Patterns Upend East Coast Fishing Industry

Summer flounder that once amassed in North Carolina have gradually shifted about 140 miles to New Jersey-one facet of the northward migration of fish species that is upending traditional fishing patterns… "Some fisherman will end up losing out and some will win big," said Malin Pinsky, an assistant professor of ecology and evolution at Rutgers University, who is part of a team of scientists from Rutgers, Princeton University and Yale University studying the phenomenon.

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Oyster Farms, Shorebird Vie for Space on NJ Bay Beaches

Oyster farming is the kind of business an environmentalist should love: it doesn’t use harmful chemicals or deplete natural resources, and the locally grown shellfish actually help clean the water… The 17 farms in the area produced 1.6 million oysters in 2014, the most recent figures available, bringing just under $1 million to growers, according to Dave Bushek, director of the Haskins Shellfish Research Laboratory at Rutgers University.

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Fish exchange set to start back up in Lyndhurst

After a winter hiatus, a fish exchange program that allows people to swap fish caught in the Passaic River for tilapia raised in Newark is set to start back up. The fish exchange is operated by the Rutgers VETS program and funded by the Lower Passaic Cooperating Parties Group (CPG), an organization of different entities believed responsible for contaminating the Passaic River. The lower 17-mile stretch of the Passaic River, from Dundee Dam in Garfield to the mouth of the Newark Bay, is an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund Site… Amy Rowe, Ph.D, is part of the Rutgers Cooperative Extension and helps direct the training.

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"Here are some bags ready to be split," says Brian Harman on a warm, sunny day last October before lifting a 40-pound bag and smiling at the tinkling sound made by the jostling of some 250 oysters. He wears black rubber boots that rise just a few inches short of the bottom of the back pockets on his blue jeans. He’s got on a T-shirt that says "Eat Oysters," sunglasses to cut the glare, and blue work gloves… The industry began to recover, thanks to an MSX-resistant oyster developed by the Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory at Rutgers, but in 1990 another oyster scourge, Dermo, hit oysters hard yet again. The Rutgers lab again rose to the challenge, selecting for Dermo resistance and maintaining its successful breeding program. The lab would also lend a helping hand in the launch of the Atlantic Capes Fisheries oyster-rack system by the end of the ’90s… "We can all take the same species of oyster from the same hatchery source and end up with a different-tasting oyster," confirms Lisa Calvo, who farms oysters with her husband in the lower Delaware Bay. (Branded as "Sweet Amalias," after their daughter, the couple sells them directly to a handful of Philadelphia restaurants.) Calvo is also the aquaculture extension program coordinator at the Haskin Shellfish Research Lab and knows well the important role that oysters play in a healthy bay ecosystem.

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Partaking in the Rebirth of the East Coast Oyster

French poet Leon-Paul Fargue wrote "Eating oysters is like kissing the sea on the lips."… Barnegat Bay is also rebounding due to environmental stewardship programs to build oyster reefs under the watchful eye of Gef Flimlin of Rutgers University and local volunteers…How did the endangered American oyster, also called the Eastern oyster, experience this dramatic comeback? I recently visited the New Jersey Aquaculture Innovation Center at Rutgers, located at the end of a gravely road on the banks of the Cape May Canal. On the aquatic factory tour directed by David Jones, who coincidently doesn’t eat oysters, I observed oyster seeds in various stages of maturation as they were fed algae from the adjacent waters. "We sell an average of 10 to 12 million oyster seeds annually to the oyster farming industry in Delaware Bay and elsewhere," said Jones. Nearby, local oyster farmers harvested Cape May Salts and other brands under the watchful eye of researchers.

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Climate Change Takes from the Poor, Gives to the Rich, Study Finds

Fish and other important resources are moving toward the Earth’s poles as the climate warms, and wealth is moving with them, according to a new paper by scientists at Rutgers, Princeton, Yale, and Arizona State universities. "What we find is that natural resources like fish are being pushed around by climate change, and that changes who gets access to them," said Malin Pinsky, professor of ecology & evolution in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences.

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