SEA Currents: research at sea
April 27, 2016
Marine Plastics Study Gets Noticed by Environmental Journal
It’s been well reported in this blog and elsewhere: vast quantities of plastic and microplastic debris (pieces smaller than 5 mm) have been observed and sampled in oceans around the world. But accurately measuring it, on a global scale, is still a major challenge.
SEA’s Dr. Kara Lavender Law, Research Professor of Oceanography, is doing just that. Working with colleagues at other institutions, she’s employing a rigorous statistical approach to standardize a global dataset and thus better estimate the size and scope of the problem – and gauge the danger it poses to marine life.
April 06, 2016
SEA Honored with National Science Board Award
Sea Education Association/SEA Semester® is 2016 NSB Public Service awardee.
Today the National Science Board (NSB) announced that Sea Education Association (SEA) would be bestowed with its 2016 Public Service Award.
This esteemed award honors exemplary public service in promoting public understanding of science and engineering. SEA is the sole recipient of the Public Service Award this year.
February 10, 2016
SEA Plastics Expedition Yields Insight on Marine Species Migration
Floating plastic debris in the ocean may be more hospitable to some marine animals than originally thought, according to a new study co-authored by a SEA Semester alumnus who gathered samples aboard the SSV Robert C. Seamans during the 2012 Plastics at SEA: North Pacific Expedition.
The researchers found that the presence of barnacles on large plastic debris creates a more sustainable long-term habitat for rafting species to take hold and thrive on otherwise slippery surfaces, such as spherical fishing buoys commonly found drifting in the oceans.
January 07, 2016
New Study: Far More Floating Plastics in Ocean Than Thought
Dr. Kara Lavender Law, a SEA Semester research professor of oceanography, co-authored a new study entitled, “A Global Inventory of Small Floating Plastic Debris,” published with international colleagues on December 8, 2015 in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research Letters. This study finds larger quantities of tiny plastic bits floating in the world’s oceans than previously estimated. But even this amount accounts for only 1% of plastic that likely enters the ocean annually, and scientists are still working to understand where the rest of it ends up.
The majority of data for this study came from plastic samples collected and analyzed during decades of SEA Semester voyages. Here, Kara discusses what these findings mean for future scientific research directions and anyone trying to make sense of the massive amounts of plastic entering the world’s oceans every year.
December 10, 2015
New Study: Microbes on Marine Plastic Debris Differ by Ocean
Microplastics—tiny fragments less than 5 millimeters in size—are now the most abundant form of ocean debris, prompting growing concerns from the public about the array of potential impacts on marine ecosystems. For SEA Semester faculty and students, one key line of research is better understanding the “Plastisphere,” the communities that colonize and thrive on these floating plastic islands.
A newly published scientific paper co-authored by SEA Semester Professor of Oceanography Dr. Erik Zettler reports an important finding: The make-up of the Plastisphere microbial communities appears to differ significantly on a global ocean basis. Notably, their analysis revealed genetic “signatures” that distinguish microbial communities found on plastic floating in Atlantic Ocean gyre environments from those found in the Pacific Ocean.
November 18, 2015
SEA Research Offers New Insight on Caribbean Seaweed Invasion
Massive quantities of Sargassum, a distinctive brown seaweed, have flooded Caribbean shores in recent years, setting off local concerns about economic impacts on fishing and tourism. The country of Trinidad has even declared these so-called inundation events to be a natural disaster. But little is understood about the ecological implications of Sargassum invasions or how they should be managed. New research published by Sea Education Association provides first-hand observations in support of these questions.
October 28, 2015
SEA Plastics Research Represented at Fall International Meetings
Sea Education Association’s unique, longstanding research on marine plastic debris continues to attract international interest in collaboration with our faculty.
October 19, 2015
SEA Plastics Research Featured on Radio-Canada TV Show
SEA Semester® in the News:
French-Canadian reporter Michel Rochon of ICI Radio-Canada interviewed Drs. Kara Lavender Law and Erik Zettler and visited the SSV Corwith Cramer in Woods Hole this June for a story about ocean plastics pollution and the “Plastisphere,” the millions of tiny organisms that colonize these plastic bits. On Sunday, October 18, 2015, the science television program Découverte aired its broadcast featuring this documentary.
September 29, 2015
SEA Semester Research Makes Top Marine Biology Papers List
We’re delighted to announce that a paper co-authored by SEA Semester Assistant Professor of Oceanography Dr. Deb Goodwin was named today to a list of Top Marine Biology Papers by PeerJ, the peer-reviewed journal in biology, life sciences, and medicine.
July 30, 2015
Upcoming Cross-Pacific Swim Supports SEA Semester Science
When Ben Lecomte dives into water off Tokyo, Japan in September and attempts to swim across the entire Pacific Ocean, he won’t only be pursuing a world-record-breaking feat of athleticism.
Ben says the swim is simply a way to get people’s attention; his real goal is to raise public awareness about the ocean and threats to the marine environment. That is something that he and SEA have in common. Ben and his support team will be partnering with SEA scientists to add to our extensive body of research on ocean plastics pollution.