Monbiot on paper parks

UK’s George Monbiot wrote about the absurdity that is the UK’s marine reserve system in his column in the Guardian recently (HT to Helen). It is great to see George join a tiny but growing number of voices criticizing “MPAs” (AKA Marine Protected Areas) as a solution to overfishing and other ocean problems. The UK’s marine reserves […]

Goodbye to Belize

Goodbye to Belize

[The final post in our Belize series from the New York Times Scientist at Work blog]: Tuesday, July 10 As the days tick away, so do our last hopes of finding social shrimp. We came to Carrie Bow to collect two types of eusocial shrimp, each living in colonies with a single queen and dozens […]

Demise of reefs in Belize? Coda

Demise of reefs in Belize? Coda

[I was happy to receive a lot of comments on our most recent blog post from the field in the New York Times. Since the space available to respond to those comments on the NYT site is limited, I’ve elected to do so here.] Thanks to all for your comments. I have always considered myself […]

Reef Reminiscences: The way coral reefs were

Reef Reminiscences: The way coral reefs were

What was the world like back in the day? Are the fantastic stories all just legends? With the notable exception of Jacques Cousteau, few people were taking pictures of the undersea world a few decades ago, not only because the technology was more difficult and expensive and less available, but also because we tend to […]

Belize field log 2012: Witness to a murder

Belize field log 2012: Witness to a murder

[The fourth installment, and I’ll confess my favorite, in our New York Times “Scientist at Work” field log.] Sunday, July 8 As the sun breaks the horizon, I sit in a wooden chair at the edge of the backreef, an eye on the weather horizon, gratefully sipping the first strong coffee and gauging what the […]

Ghost trap and shark feeding frenzy in the Bahamas

There are thousands of “ghost” traps around the Caribbean that are fishing constantly without being checked by fisherman. There were three cubera snappers and one black grouper in this one. Approximately 100 pounds worth of fish. Only one snapper was dead and was the meal for half a dozen of reef sharks that have been […]

Belize field log 3: Journey to the center of the reef

Belize field log 3: Journey to the center of the reef

[The third installment in our New York Times “Scientist at Work” field log.] Collecting shrimp is a complicated business. I am not as seasoned as my colleagues, but I quickly learn how tedious it can be. After taking a photograph and estimating the volume of a sponge, we have to locate every shrimp inside. Synalpheus […]

Belize field log 2: Social breakdown on the reef

[The second installment in our New York Times “Scientist at Work” field log.] Wednesday, July 4 Our hunt yesterday produced a good haul of shrimp species, but, alas, none of the social ones we’re searching for. I worked with my former Ph.D. student, Tripp McDonald, long into the night identifying the shrimp. Though little known […]

Belize 2012 field log 1: Snapping Shrimps and Hidden Sponges

[Our team has just returned from a 10-day research trip to the Belize Barrier Reef, searching for social sponge-dwelling shrimp in a long-term study of these curious animals as models for understanding the evolution of altruism and cooperation. The New York Times “Scientist at Work” feature is posting updates from our field log. We reprint […]

Jeremy Jackson & Zombie Ecology

[youtube][/youtube] I can’t help but think of Dr. Jeremy Jackson amidst this blogosphere frenzy in response to the The New York Times’  Zombie Ecology op-ed (aka. “A World without Coral Reefs”). In Friday’s paper, Roger Bradbury proclaimed coral reefs as unequivocally doomed. In his words, “there is no hope to saving coral reefs.”  The op-ed’s stinging declaration of ‘zombie ecology’ has stoked […]

New book on metabolic ecology

I was lucky enough to be invited to coauthor a chapter in the now available book Metabolic Ecology: A Scaling Approach (available at Amazon in paperback and as an ebook!). “Most of ecology is about metabolism: the ways that organisms use energy and materials. The energy requirements of individuals – their metabolic rates – vary […]

Some Call it a Slingjaw

The marine environment hosts organisms with incredible shapes, sizes, and colors, yet we often don’t really know how those creatures obtained these interesting traits in the first place. On occasion researchers take these charismatic species from the wild into the lab to conduct studies that can elucidate some of the underlying causes of the incredible […]

Study finds forereef corals most susceptible to warming

Three of my UNC colleagues (including Karl Castillo and Justin Ries) just published an excellent paper in Nature Climate Change (Castillo et al. 2012) “Decline of forereef corals in response to recent warming linked to history of thermal exposure“. The team used a large pneumatic drill to extract cores from 13 colonies of Siderastrea siderea off […]

Yes, North Carolina sea level really is rising


Consensus statement on climate change and coral reefs

This comes from the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium, meeting in Cairns this week. I think the statement is largely accurate, although it exaggerates threats to corals from local factors like fishing and pollution.  The second phrase of the final sentence (in bold) is demonstrably false; “A concerted effort to preserve reefs for the future […]

New science indicates climate change is the primary threat to coral reefs

Like so many other ecosystems, coral reefs are being greatly impacted by climate change. Greenhouse gases are trapping excess heat from the sun, and more than anything, are warming the oceans from tropical reefs to deep polar seas. Reef corals are sensitive to small amounts of warming. An increase of just a degree or two […]

Bahamas shark tagging: the movie

Check out how Dr. Neil Hammerschlag and his University Of Miami crew tag sharks in the Berry Islands, Bahamas to study their migration patterns and thus, better protect them. You can learn more about UM’s shark conservation program and follow Berry The Tiger Shark here: [youtube][/youtube]  

How did the BP oil spill impact salt marshes?

A new paper in PNAS (Silliman et al 2012) begins to answer that question. BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Exacerbated Existing Environmental Problems in Louisiana Marshes ScienceDaily (June 25, 2012) — The BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill temporarily worsened existing human-made problems in Louisiana’s salt marshes such as erosion, but there may be cause for optimism, […]

Fish love GoPros

Marine ecologists have discovered the value of GoPro underwater cameras. In this video, Michael Gil’s GoPro is attacked by a hungry triggerfish (Pseudobalistes flavimarginatus). Read Michael’s description of the event below from his blog. HT to Adrian Stier and thanks to Michael. [youtube][/youtube]   To pick up where I left off, after the Great Vermetid Surveys of 2012 […]

A new study forecasts sea level rise based on 2C of warming and the picture isn’t pretty

Sea levels around the world can be expected to rise by several metres in coming centuries, if global warming carries on. Even if global warming is limited to 2 degrees Celsius, global-mean sea level could continue to rise, reaching between 1.5 and 4 metres above present-day levels by the year 2300, with the best estimate […]

The NC sea level rise saga: the lowdown

Below is a list of links and resources regarding the infamous North Carolina sea level rise saga. I will continue to update and will give this resource a permanent home in our sidebar. Please feel free to email me suggestions ( or leave them as comments below. Start here by reading Scott Huler’s piece “NC […]

Cape Hatteras, NC marks the southern edge of a just revealed sea level rise hot spot

A new paper published today in Nature Climate Change (Sallenger et al 2012) describes the discovery of a global hot spot of sea level rise. The team used a tide gauge database to examine how sea level has changed in the US over the last 70 years. Although globally, average sea level is widely known […]

NC sea level rise saga: update 2

Last week, the NC house of representatives voted 144 to 0 against the already watered down bill (in a good way) the Senate came up with “outlawing” accelerated sea level rise. This is a radical change of heart by a house that only the week before had voted in favor an even more anti-science bill. […]

Impacts of climate change on the oceans: the feature film!

For the NC Climate Change Fellows: Ove Hoegh-Guldberg NCSE talk from John Bruno on Vimeo.