Getting Back into The Swim of Things at the ‘U’

R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program multimedia specialist and University of Miami School of Communication alumus Christine Shepard shows her school spirit during a shark tagging trip.  The team is getting ready to welcome a new group of interns and dive into the new school year! Check out RJD’s site for the lastest news and info, including an appearance on NatGeo TV’s “Monster Fish.”


Vote by July 26th for UM scientist Neil Hammerschlag to win this year’s Oceana ‘Ocean Hero’ Award!

2013OHA_DrNeilIf you’ve been on a shark tagging trip with the University of Miami, then you probably know him.  He is the intense and charismatic scientist at the helm of UM’s RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program (RJD Program), Dr. Neil Hammerschlag, who gives high school and college students, as well as others interested in marine conservation the opportunity to gain hands-on experience through “full immersion” shark research. He has taken more than 2,000 students from 40 countries – including many from underserved populations –on shark tagging and diving trips. He also created online classes and expeditions for those who can’t make it to Florida, so they can learn about the importance of our oceans.

Hammerschlag’s work takes him all over the world – from Florida to South Africa, and California to The Bahamas.  He was instrumental in protecting sharks in Florida waters when he testified for new regulations that would prohibit the recreational and commercial harvest of tiger sharks and three types of hammerhead shark. The protections went into effect on January 1, 2012.

Don’t delay!  Please vote for ‘Dr. Neil’ at, deadline is July 26th.


Human Nature vs. Mother Nature: Stormview™ on ‘Science Nation’

A Special Report on NSF’s ‘Science Nation’ features University of Miami Rosenstiel School Professor and Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy Director Kenny Broad speaking about StormView™, a new software program that gauges how residents react to warnings, and prepare for Mother Nature’s powerful storms.

Stormview™ offers simulations designed to be as realistic as possible, in order to assess how people might prepare for strong storms and respond to public warnings. It includes mock TV meteorologist broadcasts, newspaper articles, web stories, bulletins from NOAA and even interactions with neighbors. The goal of the project is to help social scientists establish patterns of human behavior and collaborate with meteorologists on more effective ways to communicate with the general public to reduce risks.

Stormview™developed by Broad in collaboration with Bob Meyer, a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania and Ben Orlove, an anthropologist in Columbia University’s Center for Research in Environmental Decisions. Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Narrated by ‘Science Nation’ Correspondent, Miles O’Brien, the piece was produced by Marsha Walton.

Abess Center Joins Manned Submersible Hunt for Invasive Lionfish

From June 27 to 29, a five-person manned submersible, Antipodes operated by OceanGate, Inc., will take scientists on a series of dives to study the growing invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans and P. miles) population in South Florida waters. The use of the submersible creates an unprecedented opportunity for real-time scientific observation of lionfish in areas below diver depth. The goal of the diving expeditions and ensuing panel discussions is to foster long-term collaboration among scientists to halt the unprecedented expansion of this species.

“We are looking forward to participating in this event because of the absolute need to understand the extent the species is spreading and how it affects these deeper environments,” said Keene Haywood, Director of Education for the University of Miami Abess Center for Ecosystem Science & Policy and the new Master of Professional Science –  Exploration Science program. “Using the submersible is a good example of basic exploration to document a problem. In the past, most manned submersible dives were for general observation or collecting. In this case, the technology is being used to look at a specific environmental problem, and try to come up with management strategies. This issue illustrates the unanticipated consequences of introducing non-native species and how its impact can go beyond areas where humans regularly visit.”

A predator known for its venomous spines, with no known aquatic predators and dramatically increased numbers in the waters of Florida, the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, lionfish are creating serious threats to the ecology of the southern Atlantic seaboard. The spread of this invasive species could also have significant implications on Florida’s multi-billion dollar fishing and tourism industries.

Lionfish - Neil Hammerschlag

Lionfish – Neil Hammerschlag

“This expedition illustrates how exploration and conservation are interdependent and critical for tackling complex problems. In addition, we need to develop innovative policies for dealing with invasives. In the case of lionfish, some tasty recipes may go a long way toward getting fishing folks in the Atlantic to start targeting them for food, but we also need to explore other long term options for their elimination,” he added.

Antipodes will be launched from Nova Southeastern University’s Oceanographic Center in Port Everglades, Florida. The mission is supported by NSU and the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, and will conclude on Saturday, June 29, with a panel of experts on aquatic invasive species, which will feature Haywood.

For the full agenda, click here.