Volume 25, Number 10


October 2014

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There's always something happening here at the Sea Lab, and we hope to bring you frequent updates of the latest activities.


Tracking Lionfish – Two Scientific Groups from the Dauphin Island Sea Lab take Two Different Approaches

DISL graduate student Kristen Dahl on a dock near Pensacola, FL, in January 2014. Two divers pulled in well over 100 lionfish that day. "I once had two to three divers pull in as much as 343 lionfish in a single day. Large numbers of lionfish, in the hundreds, on a single day is typical," she commented.

Lionfish, those flashy, spiny invasive fish that have been spotted with increasing frequency around Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, have seemingly staked their claim in local waters.  They are voracious eaters, reproduce quickly, and present little enticement as a food source themselves, thanks to those venomous spines. Two scientific groups, which included researchers from the Dauphin Island Sea Lab (DISL), have recently come out with two papers that approach the issue of tracking these fast-populating invasives in different ways. (READ MORE)

Dauphin Island Sea Lab: Part of a Living Legacy

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Emma Sansom Middle School students help plant Bettye Speilberg's orange tree at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, embodying a living legacy of a special educator who devoted herself to her students and her profession.

Over twenty-five years ago, in North Alabama, a teacher had an idea to have her students plant orange seeds they had saved from lunch in their school cafeteria. Over many years, Bettye Spielberg taught fifth graders at R.A. Mitchell School in Gadsden, Alabama. Rissa Stephens joined the staff in 1992 and Mrs. Spielberg became Rissa's mentor. When she retired in 1996, Bettye passed the small plant to Rissa, to care for and share with future students. The young tree grew, and through many seasonal changes the sapling would be shuffled in and outdoors, school to home. (READ MORE)

DISL Foundation Will Honor Ann Bedsole and The Mobile Big Game Fishing Club as the 2014 Marine Environmental Awards Recipients – November 4

(l) Former State Senator Ann Bedsole and (r) the Mobile Big Game Fishing Club are the recipients of the 2014 Marine Environmental Awards.

The Dauphin Island Sea Lab Foundation (DISLF) will recognize two outstanding recipients at its Third Marine Environmental Awards Luncheon, presented by the Poarch Creek Indians and the DISLF, on Tuesday, November 4, 2014. Tickets are still available and the keynote speaker is renowned scientist and explorer Dr. David Gallo. (READ MORE)

Docent Spotlight: Nancy Ward

Docent Nancy Ward a the Live Touch Table

Every May through October we have the pleasure of seeing docent Nancy Ward. She's been a summer/fall volunteer since June 2006. During her seasonal visits to Alabama, she resides in Fairhope and volunteers in The Estuarium. She enjoys being involved and educating visitors about marine life and the local habitat. When Nancy is not volunteering with us, she volunteers with the "Share the Beach" turtle watch program from Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, AL. (READ MORE)

DISL Scientist Studies Cuban Pollution

(l) Carmichael extracts clam shells from an ancient coral reef outcrop at Guantanamo Naval Station, Cuba (photo credit: Laura Herren, FAU); (r) Drs. Carmichael and Risk outside the Navy Dive locker that supported live animal collection for the team (photo credit Don Marx, US Navy).

Dr. Ruth H. Carmichael spent the last week of September sampling varieties of clams and snails from Guantanamo Bay in the Republic of Cuba as part of a larger project designed to help identify sources of pollution to Guantanamo Bay and nearby waters. The project, titled "Determining sources, history, and status of eutrophication at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba" is a collaboration lead by researchers at Florida Atlantic University. (READ MORE)

Reminding us to experience the ocean through all of our senses…

Students from the Alabama School for the Blind at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab.

The taste of salt water, the smell of marsh mud, the feel of fish slime - one can use many senses to experience marine environments. For many years, the Alabama School for the Blind has brought their visually impaired students to the Dauphin Island Sea Lab to experience the Gulf of Mexico and to study marine science. For many of these students, this is their first time to visit the ocean. (READ MORE)

The Finns are Here!

Visiting Finnish students enjoyed a shark long-lining trip on the R/V E.O Wilson. Front row (l-r): Anniina Saarinen (Finland); Andrea Kroetz (University of South Alabama [USA] graduate student); Jutta Vuolamo (Finland): Crystal Hightower (Dr. Powers Lab Manager, DISL, and former USA graduate student); Laura Stone (USA graduate student); and Saara Makelin (Finland). Back row (l-r): Captains Russell Wilson and Tom Guoba.

Following up on our story from last month (http://skimmer.disl.org/pastissues/vol25_no9_2014/article4.html), it is the DISL's turn to host graduate students from Abo Akademie University in Finland. Anniina Saarinen, Jutta Vuolamo, and Saara Makelin are at the DISL from September 20 to October 14 as part of the Field Marine Ecology course, taught by Dr. Ken Heck. (READ MORE)

Sea Lab Notes

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(Top) Robert Dixon presents Haylie Gullitch with an award for her entry in the 2014 Coastal America Art Contest (credit: Laura Kittrell). (Bottom) Dr. John Valentine (l) and Attorney General Luther Strange at the Estuarium (r).
  • Estuarium Manager and DISL Coastal America Art contest coordinator Robert Dixon was delighted to meet student artist Haylie Gullitch from Mobile's Covenant Christian School, a national winner of the contest. He presented her with a $100 check and a plaque for her drawing "Wonderful Ocean" which was displayed with other winning artwork at the Estuarium this summer. The Coastal Art Exhibit is currently being displayed at Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, and will travel to North Carolina and Vancouver, Canada. (READ MORE)

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