Dispatches E-News: The Fish Detective, Race to the Moon & Dolphin Clicks (04/25/18)

Kristen Dahl: The Fish Detective

Kristen Dahl is a PhD student at University of South Alabama. She’s studying lionfish for her dissertation. In 2010, lionfish began showing up in the northern Gulf of Mexico. With no native predators, their populations have exploded – and they’re expanding into the western Gulf.

Using forensic techniques, Kristen has discovered that much of their successful invasion is due to their ability to eat a broad array of fish and invertebrates – including their own species! She found cannibalism using the DNA bar coding process.


GulfCast: Star Trek & Some Thoughts About Science

The original television series “Star Trek” and NASA’s “Race to the Moon” inspired Tamay Özgökmen to become a scientist. Today, he is a Professor of Oceanography at the University of Miami.

Like Mr. Spock, Dr. Özgökmen prefers to use quantitative, scientific methods to interpret the natural environment. He shares his thoughts on the benefits of science for everyone.


Study Uses Big-Data Approach to Identify Distinct Dolphin “Clicks” in Acoustic Recordings

Scientists have been monitoring dolphin populations since the Deepwater Horizon incident to learn about effects on them and their environment. There are at least 13 dolphin species in the Gulf of Mexico. “Marine mammals such as dolphins cover large, remote areas of the offshore ocean that we know very little about,” said study author Dr. Kaitlin Frasier. “We can think of them as indicators of ocean health, because they integrate across a lot of environmental conditions that are much more difficult to study.”

Dolphins emit echolocation “clicks” that bounce off underwater targets and provide them information about their surroundings. Researchers designed an automated network-based classification method to process large acoustic datasets and identify distinct dolphin click types without requiring prior knowledge of their distinguishing features.

Photo courtesy of Kaitlin Frasier. 2012 NOAA NMFS Permit # 779-1633.


Dispatches from the Gulf 1: Science • Community • Recovery
In the years after Deepwater Horizon – the biggest oil spill in U.S. history – a global team of scientists is working together to understand its environmental impact on humans, wildlife, and the ecosystem with the ultimate goal of learning how to better cope with future oil spills.
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Dispatches from the Gulf 2: Research • Innovation • Discovery
Experience remarkable stories from the unprecedented scientific mission to comprehensively study the impact of Deepwater Horizon and find new ways to ease the devastation. Includes the never-before-documented drama of bottlenose dolphins struggling to survive, and the capture of one of the world’s largest predatory sharks.
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