Fish At Night Symposium – Day 1

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FISH AT NIGHT

The Bulletin of Marine Science hosted an international symposium aimed at shedding light on all things, fish at night. The conference drew scientists, as well as delegates, from around the world to share their findings and discuss what fish do in the dark. The conference was held in Miami from November 17-20, 2015. Talks were, appropriately, given at night!

As a Pisces myself and a student in marine science, how could I not be intrigued by the Fish at Night logo and the conference? This was my first time attending a scientific conference as “Media.” I even got the badge to prove it!

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SOUNDS OF LARVAL FISH

The first session I attended was about larval fish at night. Erica Staaterman, a Rosenstiel School alumna, made an accidental discovery during her Ph.D. research. She was trying to listen to the reef at night, but heard “knocks” and “growls” within her instrument. It turns out that the Gray snapper larva was making sounds. The sounds are similar to what the adults make, but interestingly, are only heard at night. Could it be the group trying to stick together in the dark? It certainly opens up for a lot more research in the future.

A recording of Gray Snapper “knocks” and “growls” looks something like this:

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THE DEEPER WE GO, THE LESS WE KNOW

The other ballroom had talks all focused on Deep and Polar Sea Fish and Fisheries. These regions have “Perpetual Night,” if you will. Tiffany Sih studies fish communities on deep reefs by installing “security cameras” on the reef. These cameras are called Baited Remote Underwater Video Stations (BRUVS). Her feeling is, “If we don’t know how much we have, how do we know how much we have to lose?” That is why she is monitoring these deep reefs on the Great Barrier Reef. Sih watches the videos, creates new records of fish, and sometimes even identifies new species.

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After a short break, it was back to the ballroom to hear about nocturnal fish behavior and ecology.

SMALLEST GOLIATH GROUPER EVER CAUGHT          

Christopher Koenig talked about the spawning behavior of Goliath Grouper. (I think the name “Goliath” is fitting for these massive fish, don’t you?)

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Spawning requires perfect conditions for the Grouper, with the peaks being at new moon in August, September, and October. Koenig collected embryos to examine in the lab, and joked with us that these 1mm embryos are “the smallest Goliath Grouper ever caught!”

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I noticed throughout the talks that some fish prefer new moon phases, while others are most active or spawn during full moon phases. There are lots of interesting components to the night.

TAKE A JOURNEY

Did you know that Nassau Grouper can migrate hundreds of miles to spawn on a specific coral head? The predictability of Nassau Grouper aggregations for spawning makes them very susceptible to fishing. Kristine Stump studies their movement and behavior throughout the Bahamas in order to better understand, where they might go to spawn and how to then protect them.

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A recurrent theme throughout the talks is conservation. Many of the scientists’ goals are to better understand their respective locations and species to better conserve and mitigate the area.

RISKY BUSINESS

Have you ever tried performing surgery underwater? Did I mention that it is surgery on a lionfish? Most would steer clear of such a task, but Michael McCallister is familiar with this kind of surgery.

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Lionfish are collected and tagged with acoustic tags, underwater. This makes it possible to track their movement throughout the Florida Keys. Michael has been interested in what these lionfish are doing at night, since so little is known about the invasive species. This behavior information could be useful for lionfish management.

EYES IN THE WATER

The evening was an exciting first day of the Fish at Night Symposium! I realized the importance of having eyes in the water to understand what happens beneath the surface. Studying fish at night requires special technology and unique field practices. It also requires passion and patience.

The scientists who presented today have made great advances in their field, but there is still a lot more to do. NOAA estimates that as much as 95% of the world’s ocean is unexplored. Time to get wet and get exploring!

BULLETIN OF MARINE SCIENCE

Back in 1951, FG Walton Smith, the founder of RSMAS, founded of the Bulletin of Marine Science, with the goal of furthering scientific knowledge of the world’s oceans. The Bulletin publishes high-quality, peer-reviewed science research from around the world. Next year, the Bulletin will publish a special issue for the “Proceedings of the 2015 International Fish at Night Symposium.”

-Viki Knapp

Viki Knapp is pursuing her Masters of Professional Science at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science in Weather, Climate, and Society in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences.

 

 

 

 

Summer Course in Water Resources: VietNam and China

Nine students from the University of Miami participated in a month-long UM course on “Water Resources: Science, Law, and Policy” in VietNam and China from 17 May to 12 June 2015. The course, cross-listed by the UM School of Law and the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) was organized by Professor Daniel Suman. The students specialized in environmental law and the environmental science and policy at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.  Students spent two weeks in VietNam before traveling to Yunnan Province, China where they studied for weeks three and four of the course.

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In VietNam, course discussions were held in two universities: Hanoi University of Natural Resources and Environment (HUNRE) and the Hanoi University of Mining and Geology (HUMG). UM students were joined by some 20 students from both universities during lectures, discussions, field trips, and social activities. Topics covered included Water Resouce Management in VietNam, Mangroves and Wetlands in Vietnam, Drinking Water and Wastewater Management, Water and Sustainable Cities, Vietnam´s Law of the Environment, Public Perception of Water Resources in Vietnam, and Groundwater Management in VietNam. In addition to meetings at the universities, the group traveled to Halong Bay Marine Protected Area, Cat Ba National Park, and the Sapa region in the mountainous area on the VietNam-China border.

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During the second half of the course, the group visited the Asian International Rivers Center (AIRC) and Yunnan University in Kunming, China from 1-12 June. The Miami students were joined by 8 graduate students from AIRC. During their visit to the Yunnan University campus, AIRC Professors and Suman offered lectures on such topics as China´s transboundary rivers, management of water resources in China, wetlands in China and their management, wetland ecosystem services and the management of wetlands in the USA, the environmental impact assessment process in China, the United Nations Convention on the Law of Non-Navigable Uses of International Watercourses, and environmental impacts of mining. In addition to the week of presentations and discussions at AIRC, the students also visited numerous natural sites in Yunnan Province – including ShiLin Stone Forest Geological Park, Lake Dianchi and the Panlong River, Western Hills National Park, Dali and the Cangshan Mountain National Park, and Shaxi and Shibaoshan Mountain. One of the highlights of the course was a three day trek through the Tiger Leaping Gorge of the Yangtze River.

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This is the seventh year that the UM has offered this summer course in VietNam and China. It has provided opportunities for sharing of concepts and knowledge about water resources to young professionals from the three countries, as well as long-lasting friendships between students and staff from UM and sister institutions in VietNam and China.

— Daniel Suman, professor of marine ecosystems & society at the UM Rosenstiel School