Why Are Thousands of Robots Roaming Oceans?

Right now, there are thousands of robots roaming the Earth’s waters. More and more, scientists are relying on bots to fill a knowledge gap, sending autonomous technology where humans cannot go, and gathering data on vast and diverse ecosystems that are increasingly under threat… A study published in the journal Science at the beginning of the year had dire warnings for Earth’s marine life, but researchers were quick to say it is not too late to avoid cataclysm in the ocean… "We’re lucky in many ways," said Malin L. Pinsky, a marine biologist at Rutgers University and another author of the new report. "The impacts are accelerating, but they’re not so bad we can’t reverse them."

Read the entire article at www.csmonitor.com »

Rutgers Oyster Researchers Rank Amongst the World’s Most Productive

Ximing Guo supervises students learning to extract DNA from oysters in his lab.

Ximing Guo supervises students learning to extract DNA from oysters in his lab at the Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory in Bivalve, NJ.

The scholarly excellence and vast collaborative network fostered by the oyster researchers at Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory (HSRL) in Bivalve, NJ, has propelled Rutgers to number three among the top 10 most productive oyster research institutions in the world. Its high ranking was further confirmed in a recent paper published in Aquaculture International, whose authors analyzed primary literature published on oysters over the past 23 years and found that Rutgers researchers get top honors among the global community of 23,414 authors studying oysters.

The literature analysis ranked faculty at the Haskin lab at the top in terms of oyster research globally, with senior faculty Ximing Guo, shellfish geneticist, and Dave Bushek, director of the Haskin laboratory, among the top 20 most productive authors. Guo, who shared the 2013 “Inventor of the Year” Award from the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame and holds several U.S. and international patents in shellfish genetics, missed the top ranking by only two publications. [Read more…]

Tracking a Rarely Seen, Endangered ‘Ninja’ Shark in the Philippines

Rutgers marine scientist Thomas Grothues is well known for his expertise in tracking fish. He was recruited last year by a colleague from England to track a rarely seen shark species in the Philippines… The underwater adventure – in which Grothues played a prominent role – was featured recently in the documentary Ninja Sharks, which aired as part of the Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week… Grothues, an associate research professor in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, spent a month with Simon Oliver, a scientist from the University of Chester in England, and others tracking pelagic thresher sharks – which are found in the tropical and subtropical waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans… The biggest threat to these sharks, Grothues says, is overfishing. While some fishermen catch them for sport, other fishermen are after their fins, liver oil, tails and flesh.

Read the entire article at www.phys.org »

Scientists Foresee Losses as Cities Fight Beach Erosion

Beaches are facing off against a changing climate, and they’re losing ground. Literally. Waves, currents, storms and people all move the sand that make beaches, well, beaches. But a combination of rising sea levels, stronger coastal storms and coastal development means that sandy shorelines are increasingly disappearing, leaving the millions who live there facing major challenges in a warming world… "Sea level rise of one foot or a foot and a half per century is basically inundating and drowning the shoreline," Norbert Psuty, professor of coastal geomorphology at Rutgers University, said… A common solution to beach erosion is beach nourishment, a process that pumps sand from dredging ships offshore to replace the lost sand on the beach. But this process is time consuming and costly and often needs to be repeated every few years to maintain the beach… "As a short term solution, it’s OK if you’re doing this to allow for changes to be made to reduce the infrastructure and to allow the system to return to quasi-natural state," Psuty said.

Read the entire article at www.climatecentral.org »

Fast-Growing Fish Species Face Greatest Collapse Risk

A study of global fish populations has suggested fast-growth fish species are more vulnerable to population collapses than previously thought… "On the land, slow growing animals are at most risk of decline and we used to think the same was true in the oceans," explained co-author Malin Pinsky from Rutgers University, US… Dr Pinsky and colleagues found that over the past six decades, fast-growing species that were commercially fished were three times more likely to experience a population collapse than their slow-growing cousins. He told BBC News that the team identified two main risk factors that made species particularly sensitive to overfishing… Dr Pinsky said that the findings suggested that management measures needed to pay closer attention to seasonal changes in the environment… "If you are fishing at a certain level and then the environmental conditions become poor and the fish population starts growing more slowly, it is very easy to drive that population to collapse," he observed.

Read the entire article at www.bbc.com »