After reading bad news about ocean health early last week, I was telling myself I wouldn’t be surprised if the ocean was basically dead before I am. It’s easy to get discouraged when hearing about the growing ocean plastic pollution problem, bleaching coral reefs, expanding dead zones, overfishing, warming waters and melting ice, or any number of issues our ocean is facing.
Then, on Wednesday, I had the opportunity to visit Horn Point Laboratory, part of the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science (UMCES). In conjunction with the excellent ocean and coastal research and education at the lab, they have one of the largest oyster hatcheries on the U.S. East Coast. They, along with many others in the ocean science community, have led a heroic charge to restore the Chesapeake Bay (the largest estuary in the U.S.) to its once-healthy state. This has included the containment of nutrients into the bay as well as the addition of billions of oysters to the estuary each year (1.7 billion last year alone). These filter-feeding shellfish do more than serve as a food source — they improve the water quality and the environment, which in turn leads to improved economic conditions for coastal areas. In June, the bay’s annual report card came out; the repeat “C” score is indicative of positive, significant improvements that show the importance of continued partnerships to ensure this trend continues.
Our members institutions like Horn Point are making great progress in using ocean science and technology to influence the health and prosperity of our ocean, coasts, lakes, and rivers. As I pondered this fact on the two-hour drive back to D.C., I realized I was mistaken to despair earlier in the week. I should have said I would be surprised if the ocean was dead before me, thanks to all of the great and critically important work by the ocean scientists and advocates of today and tomorrow. You earn our trust, support, and appreciation every day in so many ways. Keep it up!
Scientists Explore New Experimental Model Systems To Advance Biology
Tremendous advancement of basic biological knowledge has come from genetically manipulating model organisms to test mechanistic hypotheses. But the selection of traditional model organisms available offers a limited view of biological diversity. An international team of scientists, including from Stony Brook University, is investigating how to genetically manipulate a variety of marine protists to develop new experimental models that may help to advance scientific understanding in oceanography and other areas of the biological sciences.
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