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Travel Scholarship – Locally-Managed Marine Areas Workshop at 2012 IUCN World Conservation Congress

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) will be hosting the Locally-Managed Marine Areas Workshop (LMMA) at the 2012 IUCN World Conservation, which will be held on September 6-15, 2012 in Jeju, Korea.

The objectives of this workshop are (as cited on website):

  • To raise awareness and garner support among the international conservation community for the growing LMMA movement
  • Bring together representatives from LMMAs and regional LMMA networks in order to facilitate exchanges of ideas on best practices, lessons learned, common challenges and new approaches
  • To develop the foundations for a global virtual LMMA community, both documenting the scope of the global LMMA movement, as well as developing linkages for on-going communication and information exchange

The Travel Scholarship (sponsored by NGO Blue Ventures and the MacArthur Foundation) allows the opportunity for LMMA representatives to be a part of this workshop and in other events during the Congress. For more information about the workshop and scholarship, please click here!

Application due date: 17:00 GMT June 30th, 2012

Contributed by: J. Seda

Posted in: Newsworthy

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Blogs, Forums and Listservers – Scientific networking redefined

In this generation, social networking has become an important communication tool for people to interact with each other. But, has social networking affected our ability to communicate with our colleagues in the scientific field? I definitely believe so. How can I be sure of that? Just remember your last visit to a scientific conference, symposium, or meeting.  In the agenda, you probably found a scheduled time to “network” with others and to discuss the latest research. The “poster session” is possibly one of the most commonly known scheduled “networking” sessions in scientific meetings and one of the best opportunities to make your contribution known to the scientific community.

Communication among experts and scientists is not a new concept, but I am convinced that the way we communicate our ideas is changing. “Scientific networking” (as I call it) is becoming redefined. How can I be sure of that? The existence of blogs, forums and listservers dedicated to encouraging the sharing of ideas, projects, and knowledge among the scientific community are serving as the “networks” that allow us to find out what’s going on in countries oceans away from us.

With this is mind, I’ve listed some blogs, forums and listservers that are presently aimed at communicating about marine and coastal issues.

I also included a list of blogs from UPR Sea Grant, which has also dedicated efforts to communicating their activities with the local public.

Other noteworthy websites are also listed for more interesting news concerning topics on marine and coastal issues.

Blogs, Forums, and Listservers:

University of Puerto Rico Sea Grant Blogs:

Other websites any avid marine expert or conservationist should visit:


Contributed by:

Jasmine Seda

CRA Team Member

Posted in: This Week's Comment

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Probing for Antibiotic Resistance Genes in Wastewater – Ocean Chat – UPR Sea Grant

UPR Sea Grant held its first 2012 Ocean Chat seminar titled Probing for Antibiotic Resistance Genes as Molecular Indicators of Wastewater Pollution in Coastal Habitats.

This research project is of utmost importance because it concerns various areas of human health and the status of our marine and coastal ecosystems.

The Ocean Chat was held in the Centro de Recursos para la Información y Educación Marina (Physics Building, UPR-Mayaguez, Room 310) at 9:30 AM on Thursday, April 19, 2012.

The following paragraph is a short summary of the topic that was presented by the main speaker, Dr. Rodríguez-Minguela:

Doctors Carlos M. Rodríguez-Minguela, Rafael Montalvo-Rodríguez, and Sandra L. Maldonado-Ramírez, from the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez Campus, Department of Biology, have studied antibiotic resistant genes in fecal bacteria. Their UPR Sea Grant funded study is titled: “Molecular Ecology of Integron-encoded Antibiotic Resistance and Prevalence of Fungicide Resistance in Microbial Populations from Critical Coastal Habitats Impacted by Sewage, Animal Waste, and Wastewater Treatment Plant Discharges”. Samples were collected from coastal mangrove, beach and estuarine habitats exposed to high levels of wastewater pollution. These genes are encoded by integrons which are genetic elements that mediate the assimilation of fragments of DNA molecules, floating in the environment, into bacterial hosts. The assimilation creates new strains. In effect, this provides an evolutionary process which can produce antibiotic resistance and new pathogens dangerous to human health. Their data indicate that polluted coastal habitats are stable reservoirs of antibiotic-resistant bacterial and fungal populations and that cassette PCR assays targeted at class 1 integrons have the potential to serve as dual indicators of fecal contamination and inconspicuous risks to human health.


[Spanish version]

UPR Sea Grant organizó el primer Conservatorio Marino (Ocean Chat) del año 2012 titulado Estudio de los genes resistentes a antibióticos como indicadores moleculares de contaminación por aguas usadas en hábitats costeros.

Este proyecto de investigación es de suma importancia debido a que trata aspectos trascendentales de la salud humana y la salud de nuestros ecosistemas marinos y costeros.

El próximo párrafo es un resumen del tema que fue presentado por el presentador principal, Dr. Rodríguez-Minguela:

Los doctores Carlos M. Rodríguez-Minguela, Rafael Montalvo-Rodríguez y Sandra L. Maldonado-Ramírez, del Departamento de Biología de la UPR-Mayagüez han estudiado genes resistentes a antibióticos en las bacterias fecales. El Programa Sea Grant ha titulado el proyecto de la siguiente manera: “Molecular Ecology of Integron-encoded Antibiotic Resistance and Prevalence of Fungicide Resistance in Microbial Populations from Critical Coastal Habitats Impacted by Sewage, Animal Waste, and Wastewater Treatment Plant Discharges”. Se han colectado muestras de manglares costeros, playas y hábitats estuarinos, expuestos a altos niveles de contaminación por aguas usadas. Los genes están codificados por integrones, los cuales son elementos genéticos que media en la asimilación de fragmentos de moléculas de DNA, flotando en el ambiente, en los huéspedes bacteriales. La asimilación crea nuevas cadenas. En efecto, esto provee un proceso evolutivo que puede producir resistencia a los antibióticos y nuevos patógenos peligrosos para la salud humana. Sus datos indican que los hábitats costeros contaminados son reservas estables para bacterias y poblaciones de hongos resistentes a los antibióticos y que los integrones sirven como indicadores duales de contaminación fecal y riesgos para la salud humana que pasan inadvertidos.


Photo: Archive Shutterstock

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Climate Change – Not only about science, but also public health

In light of the scientific concerns regarding the effects of climate change and what they entail, we conducted two sessions on May 18 and June 14, 2011. These two groups were mainly aimed at obtaining comments or feedback on the research and information needs associated with the topic of climate change, mostly applied to marine and coastal resources in Puerto Rico and the US Caribbean. We interviewed nine (9) representatives from the academic sector (researchers from UPR). In this particular group, we invited a specialist in public health associated with environmental issues to include other possible aspects that may not have been discussed in our previous group sessions.

We asked the following questions:

  • What type of research or information is needed to manage or conserve our marine and coastal resources in light of the pertinent issues concerning climate change? What studies are needed to address possible scenarios of climate change that would affect our marine/coastal resources in Puerto Rico (including the US Caribbean)? Please consider answers on a short-term (5 years or less) and a long-term (at least 10 years) period.
  • What obstacles are presently hindering research or assessments that could help address issues associated with climate change?

The responses to our questions were mostly based on the expertise of each participant, which varied from coastal monitoring, civil engineering, remote sensing, and public health:

  1. Two major themes should be explored: ocean/atmospheric temperature and ocean acidification. These areas have profound impacts on environment and ecosystem.  Short and long term scales would be best defined for about 100 years since this is near the limit of historical temperature and precipitation data available from the National Weather Service.  Climate change is mostly identified as a long term time scale.
  2. Research should define or identify the best refuge areas. Mapping of deep mesophotic reefs is needed. Identify sites with healthy coral and determine the reasons there are temperature-resistant corals. Studies on the sediments and a better understanding of its organic decomposition, its effect on O2 concentrations in coastal areas and on corals ecosystems.
  3. As population increases so do the impacts of urban development, deforestation, and soil erosion. These physical components need consistent monitoring and evaluation with sufficient detail. With regard to climate change, we expect changes in rainfall events, intensity, duration, and contribution to soil erosion and TSS (Total Suspended Solids) in coastal waters. These physical changes are creating harmful algae blooms, but increased TSS will also affect photosynthesis and benthic communities.
  4. Climate change affecting precipitation, salinity, wave climate and photosynthesis on insular shelf is largely unknown. Baseline information (such as bathymetry) is critical for developing physical models. Unfortunately, bathymetric data of most of the insular shelf does not have high resolution. Benthic habitats are also poorly known and delineated. The use of Multibeam Sonar may help up decrease gaps to about 30 meters.

    UPR researchers discuss priority needs for climate change.

  5. Studies that involve analyzing mesophotic reefs. Corals deeper than 100 meters may harbor commercially important fish communities and may consist of keystone species (such as the red snapper). Remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) can be used to investigate these ecosystems.  Large vessels are needed for this type of research.
  6. Coastal erosion is a major risk or hazard that is linked to climate change and global warming, which involves the rise of sea level.  Where are the “hot spots”? New methods to measure sea level with greater precision would be very helpful in understanding physical models and gravitational field GPS geoid surveys needs completion. This includes efforts for high resolution data.  Evaluating the loss of our beaches and showing the local authorities that these are real problems that need to be addressed.
  7. Develop scenarios that help establish conditions to test and determine potential obstacles that affect management and conservation goals.
  8. Studies need to be conducted on ecosystem resilience and identifying their productive capacities (Example: how much can be removed and is recovery possible (quotas) are important questions for fisheries).
  9. Establishing baseline data for various species and identifying trends in populations in both long and short term is critical information that should be collected and analyzed. Studies on phytoplankton population dynamics are needed to understand how these nutrients are used and how O2/CO2 is balanced.
  10. Climate change and human health issues need to be studied. A well-studied example is dengue fever, in which a direct correlation with ambient temperature increase and the number of patients with dengue has been reported. In 2007, 10,000 cases of dengue were reported in our region. These events needs constant monitoring along with other possible develops of human diseases or conditions associated with climate change such as:
  • Skin cancer
  • Asthma (example: increases in Sahara dust clouds)
  • Hypertension
  • Malaria
  • Tuberculosis
  • Population
  • Human health conditions and its effect on the economy

Responses specific to the obstacles that are currently delaying the advancement of research and assessments that could improve marine and coastal management in relation to climate change were:

  1. The apathy or unwillingness of our authorities to take effective action to resolve the management problems that confront us.
  2. Permits to conduct public health-related surveys are complex and difficult to obtain. Much information critical to public health evaluation gets lost in the process.
  3. Institutions need to coordinate resources to support multidisciplinary efforts to resolve resource management problems.  Greater effort needs to be made on how to share research findings, identify new problem areas and communicate the information to stakeholders in a usable form.
  4. Baseline information, all data being collected by the different agencies need to be placed on line and easily available to experts and stakeholders. At the present time, obtaining this information is extremely difficult.
  5. A recent obstacle in outreach and education efforts is obtaining permission to take children or youth to the beach and visit coastal environments. The administrative and bureaucratic process is extensive that teachers are discouraged.

In general, most of the participants agreed that long-term scenarios must be considered when evaluating the impacts of climate change, not only on our marine and coastal resources, but also on public health.

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Workshop – Collection and Identification of Ciguatoxin-Producing Microalgae (PCUPR)

The Virtual Monitoring Network of Marine Resources (Red Virtual de Monitoreo de los Recursos Marinos, from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico (PCUPR) will be hosting a workshop in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (PR-DRNA), inviting scientists, professors, and resource managers with interests in collecting and identifying ciguatoxin-producing microalgae.

During the workshop, several topics will be covered:

1. The use of sampling networks

2. Handling and management of samples

3. Discriminating target species

4. Documenting oceanographic parameters

This workshop also aims to establish partnerships with the NOAA’s Phytoplankton Monitoring Network and local volunteers to support efforts made by the Virtual Monitoring Network of PCUPR.

The workshop will be held online in the Encarnación Valdés Library at the PCUPR-Ponce Campus on Friday 27, 2012 from 1:00-4:00 PM.

To make a reservation, click here. Spaces are limited!

For the Spanish version of this announcement, please click on the image.


For more information, please contact:

Dr. Conrado M. Calzada Cordero


Virtual Monitoring Network

(787) 841-2000 ext. 1550 or 2557

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NOAA in the Caribbean Newsletter

[Cited from website –]

“Forecasting hurricanes, mapping coral reefs, monitoring climate change, operating tsunami warning systems, managing fisheries and producing navigation charts are just a few of the NOAA services of economic and environmental importance to the people of the Caribbean. Given the diversity and geographic extent of projects across the region, sharing best practices and communicating the status and coordination of science, service and stewardship happening with NOAA and its partners in the region can be challenging. To aid this effort, the NOAA in the Caribbean collaborative was formed in 2010 and is launching its NOAA in the Caribbean Newsletter in February of 2012 as a means to better connect NOAA activities and scientists with the Caribbean region’s managers, partners, and decision makers. NOAA’s Southeast and Caribbean Regional Team and the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science support the collaborative and the newsletter.”

Click here for the pdf version of the NOAA in the Caribbean newsletter!

Contributed by: J. Seda


Posted in: Newsworthy

Leave a Comment (0) → – Newest portal to NGO Resources

[Cited from website]

“NGOpolis is an easy to load, comprehensive database of links to grants, jobs, other NGOs, journals, forums, networks, and equipment.”

Would you like to know more about what NGOs are currently doing in your area, what funds may be available, how to get in touch with an NGO?

Then, check out this “no frills” portal for resources associated with NGOs – including forums, directories, jobs, networking, and technology!

Click here for more information!

Contributed by: J. Seda

Posted in: Newsworthy

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Online lecture – “The Caribbean Sea as a Special Area in the Context of Sustainable Development”

[Cited by Dr. Humberto García-Muñiz, Caribbean Studies Institute, University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras]

The Institute of Caribbean Studies, of the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras (UPR-RP), invites the academic community and the general public to the lecture “THE CARIBBEAN SEA AS A SPECIAL AREA IN THE CONTEXT OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT” by Dr. John Agard, Department of Life Sciences, University of the West Indies – St. Augustine; Lead Author in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change 2007, panel awarded the Noble Peace Prize 2007. Dr. Manuel Valdés Pizzini, Associate Director for Research and Program Affairs, Sea Grant College Program, and Professor of Anthropology and Sociology, School of Arts and Sciences, University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, will comment the lecture. The activity will be held on Thursday, February 2, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. in Amphitheatre Manuel Maldonado Denis (CRA 108) of Carmen Rivera de Alvarado (CRA) Building, Faculty of the Social Sciences, UPR-RP.

This lecture will be broadcast LIVE online through the following website:

Comments and suggestions on this presentation will be very welcome at:

[Spanish version]

El Instituto de Estudios del Caribe de la Universidad de Puerto Rico-Río Piedras (UPR-RP) invita a la comunidad universitaria y al público en general a la conferencia: “THE CARIBBEAN SEA AS A SPECIAL AREA IN THE CONTEXT OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT” por el Dr. John Agard , Department of Life Sciences, University of the West Indies – St. Augustine; autor principal del Fourth Assessment Report of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change 2007, ganador del Premio Nobel de la Paz 2007. El Dr. Manuel Valdés Pizzini, Director Asociado de Investigación y Programas, Programa Sea Grant, y Profesor de Antropología y Sociología, Escuela de Artes y Ciencias, UPR-Mayagǖez, comentará la ponencia. La presentación tendrá lugar el jueves, 2 de febrero, de 1:00 a 3:00 p.m., en el Anfiteatro Manuel Maldonado Denis (CRA 108) del Edificio Carmen Rivera de Alvarado (CRA) de la Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, UPR-RP.

Esta presentación será transmitida en línea EN VIVO en la siguiente dirección:

Se agradecerá el envío de comentarios y sugerencias sobre la transmisión a:

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41st Benthic Ecology Meeting – March 2012

Do you participate in research/studies associated with benthic ecology?

Then, mark your calendar for the 41st Benthic Ecology Meeting on March 21-24, 2012 in Norfolk, Virginia at the Waterside Marriott Hotel! This meeting is “one of the of the largest scientific meetings for marine biologists in the USA.” It will be hosted by the Old Dominion University. Other sponsors include Norfolk Visitors & Convention Bureau, Virginia Sea Grant, and the American Academy of Underwater Scientists.

Click here to visit the official website for registration and more details on this exciting conference!

[Cited from website] –

Important Deadlines:

Abstract submission deadline is February 24th, 2012

Early registration deadline is February 24th, 2012

Film festival submission deadline is February 24th, 2012

Book your room at the Marriott by February 24th, 2012 to receive a special BEM discounted rate of only $93.00 (plus tax) per night for up to 4 persons.

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One for the Seabirds… or One-third…

Fish populations play a critical role in the feeding habits of seabirds. Healthy populations of fish provide subsistence to many species of birds, some of which are threatened, or in dire straits.  A recent article by Philippe M. Cury and others (2011) analyzes the trophic relations between birds and fishes, and ponders on the impact of fishing on the prey of seabirds.  The authors conclude that the ecosystem approach to management must put into action to allocate resources (“one-third for the birds” *) for the sustenance of bird populations and to maintain the “integrity of predator-prey interactions and marine food webs for the benefit of both natural predators and humans.” (Cury et al: 1706)

Ricardo López-Ortiz, from the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, studied the foraging and feeding habits of seabirds of the genus Sula in the Monito Islet of the Mona Channel near the island of Puerto Rico (López-Ortiz, 2009).  The study (supported by UPR Sea Grant) is perhaps one of the few descriptions of the foraging habits of boobies (Figure 1; p. 115) that suggests that the feeding habits of seabirds could also serve as a mechanism for monitoring the population of epipelagic species at their juvenile and post-larval stages.  Seabirds could provide (through regurgitation) samples of epipelagic fishes that could, otherwise, be difficult to obtain.

In the large scheme of things, seabirds compete with fishers, fishes, and other marine species for a number of their target preys, and thus must be factored into the management equation as Cury et al. (2011) suggests.

* – “…a practical indicator would be to maintain forage fish biomass above one-third of the maximum observed long-term biomass. The application of such a management guideline will depend upon local circumstances, such as the need to implement spatial management around breeding colonies or the conservation status of species.” (Cury et al: 1706)


Cury PM, Boyd IL, Bonhommeau S, Anker-Nilssen T, Crawford RJM, Furness RW, Mills JA, Murphy EJ, Österblom H, Paleczny M, Piatt JF, Roux J, Shannon L, and Sydeman WJ. Global Seabird Response to Forage Fish Depletion—One-Third for the Birds. Science, 23 Dec 2011: 334 (6063), 1703-1706.

López-Ortiz, R. 2009. The Diet of Masked, Brown and Red-Footed Boobies (Sulidae: Pelecaniformes) in the Mona Passage, Puerto Rico. Ph.D. Dissertation. Marine Sciences, University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez. (Figure 1, p. 115)

Written by: Dr. Manuel Valdés-Pizzini

Edited by: J. Seda Miró

Posted in: This Week's Comment

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