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News stories posted in the last 60 days. For information about a story, contact Betsy Boynton.

Researchers deploy a sediment trapUSGS Scientists deploy sediment trap in Northern Gulf of Mexico

On November 18–20, 2015, scientists from St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center (SPCMSC) Caitlin Reynolds (Geologist) and Julie Richey (Research Geologist) are deploying a new sediment trap in the northern Gulf of Mexico for an ongoing paleoclimate proxy calibration study. The trap has been collecting samples and data since January 2008 and this will be the 17th deployment. In addition to deploying the sediment trap and collecting water samples, the group will be participating in an outreach activity with a Florida and South Carolina elementary school class. Collaborators from University of Texas at Austin and University of South Carolina will be on board the R/V Point Sur with USGS scientists. Project highlights and past publications can be found at

posted: 2015-11-18

Open-File Report 2015–1203Newly released Open–File Report and accompanying data release

An integrated "reefscape characterization" effort on Crocker Reef, Florida Keys: Crocker Reef, located on the outer reef tract of the Florida Keys, was the site of an integrated "reefscape characterization" effort focused on calcification and related biogeochemical processes as part of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Coral Reef Ecosystem STudies (CREST) project. The reefscape characterization included two intensive seasonal sampling trips to capture summer (July 8–17, 2014) and winter (January 29–February 5, 2015) conditions. This report, "Seasonal microbial and environmental parameters at Crocker Reef, Florida Keys, 2014–2015," presents water column microbial and environmental data collected for use as metadata in future publications examining reef metabolic processes via metagenomes derived from water samples and fine-scale temporal and spatial carbonate chemistry measurements.

posted: 2015-11-12

GIS Day: November 18, 2015USGS participates in GIS Day at USFSP

On Nov 17th, scientists from USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center (SPCMSC) Kira Barrera (Physical Scientist), Steven Douglas (Researcher), Ginger Range (Geologist), and Joseph Terrano (Researcher) will demonstrate how mapping technology has evolved from the technique of mylar map overlays to the modern application of geographic information systems (GIS). USGS staff will show how GIS is used to map shoreline change along Assateague Island using historic T-sheets, lidar, and aerial imagery. The University of South Florida (USF) St. Petersburg is hosting this event, with more than 100 local students expected to attend ( Students from colleges and elementary, middle, and high schools will participate in the demonstration. The USGS SPCMSC has been a sponsor for this event since 2002. GIS day is a global event for users of GIS to educate students and the public on the applications of GIS.

posted: 2015-11-05

Coral bleaching on Hen and Chickens ReefCoral reef scientist participates in 34th U.S. Coral Reef Task Force meeting in Fajardo, Puerto Rico

From October 26–30, Ilsa Kuffner (Research Marine Biologist, SPCMSC) represented CMGP at a meeting of the the United States Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF), which was established in 1998 by Presidential Executive Order to lead U.S. efforts to preserve and protect coral reef ecosystems. The USCRTF includes leaders of 12 Federal agencies, seven U.S. States, Territories, Commonwealths, and three Freely Associated States. The USCRTF helps build partnerships and strategies in support of on-the-ground action to conserve coral reefs. Kuffner is the USGS representative on the steering committee of the USCRTF responsible for attending the Atlantic Ocean jurisdictional meetings of the task force, and also serves as a member of the USCRTF Climate Change Working Group. Kuffner's participation in the task force meeting increased visibility of the Coral Reef Ecosystem Studies (CREST) project and strengthened coordination and collaboration with partner agencies and jurisdictional governments.

posted: 2015-11-05

BOEM/USGS/NOAA Deepwater Canyons Project Members Win National Oceanographic Partnership Program 2015 Excellence in Partnering Award

This prestigious award for the 'Atlantic Canyons: Pathways to the Abyss' project is meant to recognize the strong partnerships that have been built over time and their impact on the oceanographic community; only one is awarded each year. The Atlantic Canyons study is only the second study ever to have received both the Department of Interior's Partners in Conservation award and also the NOPP Excellence in Partnering Award. (Visit Over 50 partners are listed on the award, including USGS principal investigators Amanda Demopoulos (WARC), Christina Kellogg (SPCMSC) Cheryl Morrison (Leetown) and Nancy Prouty (PCMSC) and their teams.

To see more about the Deepwater Canyons Project, visit:

posted: 2015-11-05

USGS scientists explain their coastal erosion model to a group of children on Saturday.USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center Continues Leadership Role for Annual St. Petersburg Science Festival

The USGS St. Petersburg Coastal Marine Science Center (SPCMSC) was a key contributor to the 5th annual St. Petersburg Science Festival (, which took place October 16th and 17th, 2015. The science festival engages children, families and the public in hands-on science, technology, engineering and math. The SPCMSC partnered the USGS Wetland and Aquatic Research Center (WARC) for participation in the science festival's Friday "School Day Sneak Peak." Kaitlin Kovacs (Outreach and Communications) spearheaded the exhibit "Manatee Identification," a hands-on activity that targeted two Florida science curriculum standards and introduced USGS manatee research. Kathryn Smith, Alisha Ellis, Kira Barrera, Kara Doran, and Sandra Coffman also participated in the Science Festival School Day. On Saturday, in addition to the WARC manatee exhibit, the SPCMSC presented three other booths with hands on activities: "Secrets of the seafloor," "Understanding the big picture with little friends" and "Coastal hazards and change," and had the R/V Sallenger and two wave runners on display. Twenty-three SPCMSC employees volunteered in this year's science festival, making this one of the highest years of participation yet! Thanks to all who made Saturday such a success: Elsie McBride, Nicole Khan, Caitlin Reynolds, Jaimie Little, Shelby Stoneburner, Chris Smith, Joseph Long, Tim Nelson, Soupy Dalyander, Kara Doran, Davina L. Passeri, Robert Jenkins, Nancy Dewitt, Max Tuten, Chelsea Stark, Jen Miselis, Kaitlin Kovacs, Steven Douglas, Joseph Terrano and Kira Barrera.

posted: 2015-10-22

Global Ocean Acidification Observing NetworkUSGS Research Oceanographer joins the Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre

Dr. Lisa Robbins (Research Oceanographer, SPCMSC) now serves on the Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre Advisory Board (OA–ICC) (, and is chair of capacity building. She helped organize two international capacity-building workshops this fall and will present information on currently available instrumentation, as well as design and production phases. This includes software (such as CO2calc) that she and her team developed and published ( Data collected from different USGS projects on ocean acidification from the poles ( to the tropics ( will be used as examples and discussion points during the courses. The capacity-building workshops will take place October 19–24, 2015 in China at Xiamen University; and November 1–7, 2015 in Cape Town, South Africa, aboard the R/V Agulhas II, a South African icebreaking polar supply and research ship owned by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) in Cape Town, South Africa. Workshop goals are to increase scientific capacity, to measure and study ocean acidification, and to provide a rare opportunity for collaboration and networking among OA scientists working around the world, as well as to initiate and deepen connections with the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON;

posted: 2015-10-22

Students watch a demonstration of the wave tank at the Oceanography Camp for Girls event at SPCMSCSPCMSC responds to USGS Headquarters' data call to report FY15 outreach activities engaging K–12 Young People

The USGS is required by the Department of the Interior to report efforts to engage K–12 students and teachers in learning opportunities. The 'Engaging the Next Generation' Secretarial priority, part of the DOI 2014–2018 Strategic Plan, Mission Area 4, encompasses four goals: Play, Learn, Serve, and Work. The Department of the Interior's goal is to provide educational opportunities to at least ten million of the Nation's K–12 student population annually. Data detailing outreach is collected annually through a new 'Learn' Goal Database. In 2014, the USGS reported engaging in 51,993 'Learn' Activities with young people K–12, and 234,871 USGS Education site sessions by students and teachers! That is impressive!

USGS' St. Pete Coastal and Marine Science Center (SPCMSC) compiled its outreach activities for FY 2015; it was estimated that approximately 9,983 K–12 students interacted with SPCMSC staff in 15 outreach activities over the year. Forty-three SPCMSC staff assisted with these events. Thanks to the following USGS staff for participating: Doran, Flannery, Barrera, Haller, Kuffner, Reynolds, Bodin, Busch, Buster, Griffin, Kovacs, Krohn, Liu, Long, Dalyander, Robbins, K. Smith, T. Smith, Toth, Brennan, Brown, Bussey, Overbeck, DeWitt, Ellis, A. Fredericks, Kindinger, McLaughlin, Mickey, Miselis, Morgan, Plant, Reich, Snell, Gilberg, Carroll, Terrano, Zawada, Wilson, Ostermen, T. McCloskey, and Tiling.

posted: 2015-10-22

Photo of a 10-foot tall colony of Orbicella faveolata, one of the species that has been hard hit by bleaching and disease over recent decadesCoral Reef Scientists to collaborate on coral-reef erosion study

From October 11–15, a multi-agency team led by Ilsa Kuffner (SPCMSC-Research Marine Biologist) will be meeting at a long-studied reef in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) to complete an experiment that began in 1998. Along with Kuffner, Harold Hudson (retired NOAA-FKNMS), Bill Goodwin (NOAA-FKNMS), and Lauren Toth (SPCMS- Mendenhall Postdoctoral Fellow) will attempt to locate 29 markers that were installed by Hudson and Goodwin in the reef structure nearly 20 years ago. They will make measurements to see how fast the reef is being eroded by natural, destructive processes of fish grazing, mechanical and chemical dissolution by sponges, and the activities of other biological agents of erosion. Data gathered during the expedition will allow a quantitative assessment of the rate of decrease in reef elevation (height above the seafloor). Scientists and managers are concerned that the rates of reef loss may be increasing due to ocean acidification (declining ocean pH due to absorption of atmospheric CO2) and eutrophication (nutrients added to the ocean by man), resulting in a cascade of ecological impacts like loss of habitat for economically important fisheries and loss of reef functioning as natural breakwaters against waves and storms. This information will help DOI, State, and U.S. Territory agencies charged with stewardship of coral reef ecosystems to better manage for reef resilience under future ocean change. Together on this project, USGS and NOAA are providing the science to put the recent changes observed on coral reefs into a geologic context to assist in making sound management decisions.

posted: 2015-10-08

USGS hosts National Assessment Meeting in St. Petersburg, Florida

The USGS National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards ( project team will meet at the NOAA Fisheries Service Southeast Regional Office in St. Petersburg, Florida, on October 6–8 to discuss progress and future plans. The National Assessment of Coastal Change Hazards (NACCH) provides robust scientific findings that help to identify areas that are most vulnerable to diverse coastal change hazards, including beach and dune erosion, long-term shoreline change, and sea-level rise. There will be 25 participants at the meeting, representing all three USGS Coastal and Marine Geology science centers and several academic institutions.

posted: 2015-10-01

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