Register now for Bays and Bayous

Registration is now open for the 2016 Mississippi-Alabama Bays and Bayous Symposium.

 

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Researchers offer bounty for live tiger shrimp

Check out this story about a Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant project that is studying invasive Asian tiger shrimp.

Study investigates how tiger shrimp may affect native Gulf shrimp

When a new species appears in the Gulf of Mexico, it can cause concern and raise a lot of questions. Which habitat does it prefer? What will it eat? What will eat it?

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One of these species of concern is the invasive tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon), a very large shrimp that is native to Indo-Pacific, Asian and Australian waters. Jennifer Hill, an assistant professor at Louisiana Tech University, has been working to determine which type of habitat tiger shrimp prefer in the Gulf and how they might affect native shrimp populations. She is studying whether tiger shrimp will compete with native populations for food, if native shrimp are likely to become their prey and if existing Gulf predators will eat tiger shrimp. Read more

Submit an abstract for Bays and Bayous

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The deadline for submitting abstracts has been extended to 5 P.M. Central Time on Friday, Sept. 16. View the call for abstracts.

The 2016 Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Bays and Bayous Symposium’s program committee welcomes and encourages the participation of scientists, natural resource professionals, students, business people, educators, outreach specialists, policy and decision makers, consultants and individuals from governmental or non-governmental organizations to submit a presentation abstract.

Presenters are encouraged to discuss current research results that are relevant to Gulf of Mexico environmental issues and how this research is used to support the economy, the environment and society by informing the decision-making process or increasing marine science literacy.

Session topics include:

  • Climate and hazard resilience
  • Oil spill impacts
  • Habitat management and restoration
  • Living resources
  • Water quality and quantity

Abstracts can be submitted for both oral and poster presentations. The oral presentations will be 15 minutes with a 5-minute question-and-answer session following each presentation. Individuals wishing to present must submit an abstract no later than 5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 16, 2016. Abstracts will be limited to 250 words.

Walton joins Sea Grant as oyster aquaculture extension specialist

walton bio pic 1(OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss.) — The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium (MASGC) welcomes Bill Walton of Auburn University to its outreach team. He is serving as an oyster aquaculture extension specialist who will use aquaculture as a tool for restoration, stock assessment and farming to help increase oyster production in Mississippi.

Walton, who has a doctorate degree in fisheries science, is also an associate professor at Auburn University, an extension specialist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and a faculty member at Dauphin Island Sea Lab.

A partnership between the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (DMR), The University of Southern Mississippi, Auburn University, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and MASGC made the position possible. Read More

Red snapper funding opportunity announced

A lucky anglers hauls in a red snapper from the Gulf of Mexico.

Florida Sea Grant agent Betty Staugler readies a red snapper for return to its depth using a spring-loaded descending device. (Florida Sea Grant photo)

The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, on behalf of the Sea Grant college programs in the Gulf of Mexico region and NOAA Fisheries, is accepting proposals to develop an experimental design(s) that will be incorporated into larger advanced technology and mark-recapture requests for proposals planned for Fiscal Year 2017.

The deadline for letters of intent for the design phase of this research effort is 5 p.m. Central Time on Friday, June 3, 2016.

The design will be used to assess the population of red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) on artificial reefs and other structures, and as the basis for a Gulf-wide estimate (with estimates also produced for natural habitats) of absolute abundance.

The red snapper is a popular target of anglers and the commercial fishing industry throughout the Gulf of Mexico. Historical overharvesting resulted in a depleted population, but under current management measures the population is recovering, with full recovery expected by 2032.

Some controversy surrounds the current stock assessment for red snapper, particularly with regard to accuracy of population estimates on artificial reefs and other structures considered to be difficult to sample using trawl surveys.

For detailed information, go to http://masgc.org/funding/red-snapper

Tarpon Springs Business Links its Success to Florida Sea Grant

Jim Cantonis is president of Acme Sponge and Chamois of Tarpon Springs, Fla., a successful processor and wholesaler of marine sponges and sheepskin chamois products sold around the world. Florida Sea Grant contributes to the company’s success by conducting research in the biology of marine sponges that helps ensure the sustainability of the commercial fishery.

Q: Tell us about the sponge industry in Florida.

Cantonis: The natural sponge industry in Florida has had its ups and downs over the last few decades. It surged in the ’80s when there was blight in the Mediterranean. Mediterranean sponges have come back, so it’s leveled off the industry activity here. We still maintain a higher level of fishing than we had prior to that boom in the late ’80s, but not close to what we used to see in the 1920s and ’30s.

Q: Where does most of the sponge activity take place in Florida today?

Cantonis: Most of the activity in Florida now, 70%, is occurring in the Keys. But sponges are also fished off the west coast of Florida, primarily from Tarpon Springs north to Cedar Key.

Q: Tell us about Acme Sponge and Chamois.

Cantonis: I’m the fourth generation of the family business going back to the Mediterranean, a little island in Greece called Symi. That was the roots of our company,  but we actually started in the U.S., in NewYork City, when my dad at the age of 21 borrowed a thousand dollars and went there and started peddling Mediterranean sponges out of his trunk. Subsequently we moved to Chicago, then moved the whole operation down here in 1977. The new building we’re in today we built in 1985 to help us process sponges at a higher rate.

Q: What accounts for the 30% growth your business has seen over each of the last two years?

Cantonis: There’s been a real surge in using natural product, and of course there’s nothing more natural than a sponge picked out of the ocean. The biggest increase is for bath sponges, especially for bathing babies. Sponges have a natural antibacterial property to them. It’s amazing how many times we hear, ‘If it’s good enough for my baby it’s good enough for me.’

Q: How does sponge fishing relate to Florida Sea Grant?

Cantonis: Without Florida Sea Grant there would be no sponge fishery in Florida. The research done by Sea Grant and other researchers tells a wonderful story. At current harvest levels, sponges are truly a renewable resource. Sponge tissue left behind after harvesting can actually regenerate to produce a new sponge. No other fishery resource that I know of can tell the same story. This is why it is important to rely on objective scientific evidence in evaluating the management of our fishery resources. These are facts, not just conjecture by well-intentioned folks that don’t have all the information in front of them.

Q: In what ways are you engaged with Florida Sea Grant?

Cantonis: I’m involved on the Sea Grant advisory board now as vice chairman, and I value the time. It has given me the opportunity to work with all of the various constituencies concerned with the health of our coastlines from commercial fishermen to sport fishermen, from environmentalists to research scientists, to other industries unrelated to the fisheries that are directly involved in wanting quality waterways and a healthy Florida ecology.

Q: How can other business leaders become involved?

Cantonis: Call me. Or better yet, contact Florida Sea Grant at the University of Florida and tell them you’d like to get involved. It’s wonderful on two levels. Number one, it’s great for the health of our state. But it’s also a benefit for business owners that have anything to do with the fisheries and our coastline, to get involved and truly be able to make a positive difference. The program is about developing partnerships with businesses to support the work needed to solve practical problems.”

Q: How does Sea Grant ensure its relevance to Floridians?

Cantonis: It’s applied science,so it is science to me at its best. It’s not just the fisheries. It has impact on every aspect of our lives in Florida. Eighty percent of the population of Florida is within 20 miles of the coast. So we’re all directly impacted by the threats of hurricanes — by the threats of sea-level rise. And all of those things are concerns of Sea Grant.

Visit these links to learn more about Florida’s marine sponges:

 

Nov. 18 oil spill science seminar to discuss Gulf seafood

The Sea Grant college programs in the Gulf of Mexico will host an oil spill science seminar, “Healthy Gulf Seafood,” from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 18, in the Hardy Hall Ballroom at The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park Campus, 730 E. Beach Blvd., in Long Beach, Miss.

shrimp web

The seminar will focus on how agencies tested seafood during and after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and what they found. Speakers also will talk about ways that fish and other animals break down contaminants, like oil, and how scientists monitor seafood to keep consumers safe.

There is no registration fee, and lunch will be provided. Registration is required to receive lunch. You can register online  or call Larissa Graham, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant oil spill extension specialist, at 251-348-5436.

The seminar will also be available online as a webinar.

The Oil Spill Science Outreach Program is a partnership between the Sea Grant programs in the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI). The Gulf of Mexico Alliance manages and administers funding for GoMRI. The purpose of the outreach program is to share oil spill science with people whose livelihoods depend on a healthy Gulf.