Explore CARTHE’s Award-Winning Website

The University of Miami was awarded two Outstanding Achievement awards by the Interactive Media Council for excellence in the design, development and implementation of the CARTHE website. Based at the UM Rosenstiel School, the Consortium for Advanced Research on Transport of Hydrocarbon in the Environment (CARTHE) is a research team dedicated to predicting the fate of the oil released into our environment as a result of future oil spills.

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The CARTHE website launched in August 2013 and serves as a web portal devoted to interactive information and science education for scientists, students, members of the press and the general public. The CARTHE website was created in collaboration with Professor Kim Grinfeder and his team from the UM School of Communications.

“The idea of this website was conceived when I met Kim Grinfeder from the School of Communication at a workshop I attended on main campus,” said Tamay Özgökmen, CARTHE director and Rosenstiel School professor.

“We needed an interactive website to tell our complex scientific story.  Over the course of the next few months, we conceived the website, which had two main interactive elements: An interactive infographic through which visitors can get information about the project, and a main introductory video on the homepage,” said Professor Özgökmen.

The CARTHE videos were developed by Ali Habashi, faculty member in the UM School of Communication’s Department of Cinema and Interactive Media.

“Ali was recommended to me by three different, unrelated people within a week. His name came up repeatedly when I said that it would be most efficient to have a video to tell our complex scientific story within the time span of a few minutes;  people would say “Will Ali do it?” He has a great reputation within the UM community and beyond,” said Professor Özgökmen.

“What I liked most about this project was its cross-disciplinary aspect and how it really shows how different areas of UM can collaborate,” said Kim Grinfeder, associate professor in the UM Department of Cinema and Interactive Media. “CARTHE is an amazing project happening at our university and to learn about their work and to have the opportunity to tell their story was an incredible experience.”

“There are plenty of benefits that can come from bringing faculty members from different schools together, and the CARTHE website is one example,” said Professor Özgökmen.

The judging consisted of various criteria, including design, usability, innovation in technical features, standards compliance and content. The website won in two categories, Science/Technology and Natural Environment/Green. It has received 4,583 visits since its launch in August 2013.

For more information about CARTHE, please visit www.carthe.org or on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/carthe.gomri.

— RSMAS Communications 

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Bite Size Wins Prize in Ocean Video Challenge

1397354_10152193972993265_1324283571_o Bite Size: Bull shark predation of tarpon from UM Rosenstiel School Research Assistant Professor Neil Hammerschlag and Gareth Burghes of Lagomorph Films claimed third place honors in the Ocean 180 video Challenge. This video highlights a collaborative research project with Rosenstiel researchers Dr. Jerry Ault and Dr. Jiangang Luo.

Using three-minute videos, ocean scientists explored a piece of their own recently published research, highlighting its significance and purpose.

To determine who was best at engaging and explaining these new discoveries, the Ocean 180 Video Challenge looked to a group of potential future scientists: a team of nearly 31,000 middle school students from around the world. Viewing each of the finalists, students were asked to evaluate the films for their clarity and message. They were also asked to consider which videos made them excited about the scientists’ research. After 5 weeks of classroom viewing, deliberation, discussion and voting, the three winners emerged.

“The competition is both a great opportunity to communicate our science as well as evaluate how our outreach efforts resonate with young audiences,” said Hammerschlag.


Finalists had their videos viewed by thousands of classrooms around the world, exposing diverse and new audiences to their research. Students also provided scientists with feedback on how to improve their video storytelling and technical skills and ways to make science more relatable to the public.

For some middle school students, and budding scientists, sharing science might be the best part of Ocean 180. As one student judge explained, “It’s not very good to keep information that’s valuable to the world cooped up in a little box. You need to open the box and let everybody see it so they’re more aware of the environment and what’s in it.”

Sponsored by the Florida Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE Florida) and funded through a grant from the National Science Foundation, the Ocean 180 Video Challenge was designed to inspire scientists to communicate the meaning and significance of scientific research with a broader audience.

Click here to learn more about the research study – Hammerschlag N, Luo J, Irschick DJ, Ault JS (2012) A Comparison of Spatial and Movement Patterns between Sympatric Predators: Bull Sharks (Carcharhinus leucas) and Atlantic Tarpon (Megalops atlanticus). PLoS ONE 7(9): e45958. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045958.


Photo credit: Joe Romeiro

2014 Sea Secrets Begins Jan 15!

The 2014 Sea Secrets lectures kick off next Wednesday, Jan. 15 with a talk on the enigmatic tiger shark by R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program Director Neil Hammerschlag.

The event will take place in the Rosenstiel School auditorium, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Virginia Key, beginning with a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by a lecture at 6:00 p.m. All events are free and open to the public. Parking is available at the Miami Seaquarium.

Photo by: Eric Cheng

Photo by: Eric Cheng










The lectures are free and open to the public and designed to provide insight and information about the oceans that cover two-thirds of our planet to a non-scientific audience. For more information on the 2014 Sea Secrets lecture series, click here.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Neil Hammerschlag, Ph.D.
Director of R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program, and Research Assistant Professor at Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science

Sharks are one of the most feared and mysterious animals on Earth. However, due to destructive fishing practices, many shark populations globally have drastically declined in recent decades. The tiger shark is the largest predatory shark in tropical seas, renowned for its massive size, beautiful body markings, indiscriminate appetite and occasional bites on humans. By tracking and swimming with tiger sharks, ecologist and shark researcher, Dr. Hammerschlag, has discovered previously unknown migration patterns and behaviors of this super predator. Join Dr. Hammerschlag as he shares his new findings, stories and photos of the enigmatic tiger shark.

Everglades Pilot Whale Standing

As a student in the MPS marine mammal science track, I was fortunate enough to be one of the volunteers to respond to the recent mass stranding of pilot whales in Everglades National Park. I was a little apprehensive, as this was my first stranding experience. No one knew what to expect. After the early morning drive out to the Everglades, as well as an hour and a half boat ride, we arrived to the stranding site where we found about 50 pilot whales in barely three feet of water. All of the volunteers, law enforcement, NOAA officials, scientists, and even some concerned patrons huddled to generate an effective rescue strategy. It was truly inspiring to see so many people utilizing their precious time and resources in order to create the best possible outcome for the distressed whales.

Pilot Whales 2

Throughout the day, I was assigned various tasks to assist with the collection of samples acquired from live whales, as well as a necropsy of an expired whale. I was fascinated by the way the veterinarian and her team effectively tagged the animals and collected important blood and tissue samples, all while hanging off of the side of a flat bottom boat! I helped record the relevant data, which was a great first-hand experience in the amount of diligence that is put into collecting the samples, as well as keeping them all organized. Observing the necropsy also opened my eyes to the complexity and importance of these operations; various tissue samples from each organ must be obtained to send out to the appropriate laboratories for examination. This way, scientists are able to maximize the number of test results generated from a single sample, which will hopefully aid in discovering the reason for the stranding event.

Pilot Whales 1(1)

After this experience, I am looking forward to being a regular member of the volunteers who respond to marine mammal strandings in southern Florida. I have a newfound respect for the scientists and veterinarians who organize these response efforts, especially after witnessing the amount of valuable scientific data that can be garnered just from one stranding incident. Our efforts to herd the group offshore on Wednesday proved to be successful, as the whales were recently spotted offshore, in deeper water, and swimming freely.

— MPS student Samantha Tufano

Photo credits: RSMAS/MPS student Maureen Duffy

The Pillars of Hercules

By Nathan Laxague

It wasn’t a large blowout.  Or a particularly messy one.  Or one that required multiple plugging attempts in deep water.  No- the blowout of the well worked by Hercules 265 was thankfully benign in comparison to numerous disasters in recent memory.  While attempts to quantify the environmental damage are underway, initial observations show a relative lack of the damaging oil responsible for mucking up the fragile Gulf coast. hercules rig photo by BSEE

Photo by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement

CARTHE, the Consortium for Advanced Research on Transport of Hydrocarbon in the Environment, works to predict where oil might go in the event of an oil/gas spill, like this one.  Our involvement in the studying of the immediate aftermath of this incident began as a string of brief, terse e-mails and texts on Wednesday, July 24th.  Experiments were moved.  Meetings were bumped.  The Consortium would be involved in an observational project.  The exact details of that involvement (formulated over meetings and conference calls) were told to us as follows: two to three PhD students would prepare ~20 surface drifters (each equipped with the now-standard SPOT GPS device and extended battery pack), drive to Cocodrie, Louisiana, and board the R/V Acadiana for a fast-response deployment.  The Acadiana is owned and operated by LUMCON (Louisiana Universities Marine CONsortium).

nathan and conor loading drifters in vanThe journey went as any such road trip should- 1000 miles of flat, open road and more country stations than any reasonable person could handle (excluding, perhaps, my partner-in-science, fellow student Conor Smith).  Our 12:00 AM (Friday night/Saturday morning) arrival was followed by a 12:30 AM loading of the boat and a 1:30 AM bedtime.  We squeezed in a bit of a nap, were on the dock at 4:45 AM, and were creeping through the bayou before we saw the sun.  The Acadiana was advertised by Max, the vessel’s Captain, as a ship that rode the waves like a cork.  It’s difficult for me to describe my body’s reaction to those cork-like motions, but suffice it to say that never have two-foot waves seemed so fierce (as far as the tasks of reading or keeping a meal down are concerned).

Shall I get on with it, then?

The 12-hour transit was filled by a four-hour drifter deployment operation, during which our 21 floating detectives were distributed about the Hercules 265 rig.  Much like during our 2012 GLAD experiment, the drifters were organized into an arrangement of triplets (in this case, triads of 200m-spaced drifters encircling Hercules at a range of 8 km).  This method marries the traditional dispersion experiment with the practical, incident-response targeted drifter release.  The upside of this is a data set from which to glean sets of information satisfying multiple ends.  We look to extract both dispersion statistics (a measure of how water- or oil- spreads out) and information about the behavior of the Gulf in the immediate spatial and temporal vicinity of a rig incident (the latter being something that GLAD, two years removed from Deepwater Horizon, lacked).

It is a bit too early to comment on the data itself.  But as the SPOTs tick closer and closer to their demises, it is our hope that they will paint for us a picture of upper-ocean transport that is both scientifically rich and immediately practical.

carthe hercules v4 from CARTHE on Vimeo.

CARTHE scientists aboard the R/V Acadiana (grey line) released 21 floating GPS drifters (small black dots) around the Hercules rig (green diamond) in order to track where oil or gas might go if there was anything released from the well.  The circular cross indicates the center of mass of the drifters, while the orange area in the animation is all the potentially impacted areas.  Scientists will track many of these drifters for the next month.   (Movie-image credit: Edward Ryan (University of Miami and CARTHE))

Seal of Approval! Harbor Seal Takes Top Honors in 2013 Univ. of Miami Underwater Photo Contest

More than 650 underwater images from 23 countries were submitted for the 2013 Annual Underwater Photography Contest hosted by the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. The ‘Best Overall” photograph was submitted by Kyle McBurnie and shows a harbor seal looking out from a kelp forest at Cortes Bank near San Diego, Calif.

Special thanks to Myron & Nicole Wang, and Rosenstiel School Marine Biology & Fisheries Scientist Dr. Jiangang Luo who judged the amazing entries. Awards were given in three categories, Macro, Fish or Marine Animal Portrait, Wide Angle.  Additionally, Best Overall and Best UM Student submissions were honored: ‘Best Overall’ prize is a trip on Blackbeard’s Cruises departing from Freeport, Bahamas, and this year’s ‘Best UM Student Photo’ was sponsored by Divers Direct.

Best Overall Photo in 2013 University of Miami Underwater Photography Contest: Kyle McBurnie, California

Best Overall Photo in 2013 University of Miami Underwater Photography Contest: Kyle McBurnie, California

To view all of the winners of this year’s contest, visit