Rising Tides - Issue 8 - Spring 2018

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - It's been an exciting fall and spring semesters here at USF College of Marine Science. Here are some of the highlights in the Rising Tides Newsletter, Spring 2018 edition.

Rising Tides v8 - Spring 2018


Last modified on Wednesday, 28 March 2018 16:19

USF College of Marine Science establishes the Vembu Subramanian MSAC Award

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - In memory of our colleague, friend and unifying spirit, Vembu Subramanian, the USF College of Marine Science established the Vembu Subramanian MSAC Award. This fund was created through an initial gift from the Little Laws Big Dreams Foundation and will provide an award annually to a current graduate student who demonstrates a collaborative spirit through service to the College of Marine Science and to their fellow graduate students. The award fund will be enhanced through two annual fundraisers, the Vembu Cup Golf Tournament (May 19, 2018) and the Bad Santa Fundraiser each December. The intent is to grow this fund to endowment level to ensure that Vembu’s memory continues in perpetuity.

The first annual Vembu Cup Golf Tournament honors the memory of Vembu Subramanian with proceeds benefitting the Vembu Subramanian MSAC Award. The Vembu Cup Golf tournament takes place on Saturday, May 19, 2018 at Mangrove Bay Golf Course and after-party to take place at the College of Marine Science MSAC Festival directly following the tournament. Sponsorship opportunities are available.

The Vembu Subramanian MSAC Award Sponsor Form

The Vembu Cup Golf Tournament Registration Form

For more information contact E. Howard Rutherford- Office: (727) 553-3376  Cell: (727) 515-7033  email: hrutherford@usf.edu

Last modified on Wednesday, 28 March 2018 16:09

State-space modeling applications in fisheries science and management


Speakers/Affiliations: Sean Cox, Simon Frasier University, Vancouver

Seminar TitleState-space modeling applications in fisheries science and management

When: Mar. 30, 2018 3:30pm EST

Where: MSL Conference Room (134)

Host: Cameron Ainsworth

Sean Cox Profile Page

Join event on Facebook


Last modified on Wednesday, 28 March 2018 16:09

The 2018 Eminent Scholar Lecture Series

ST. PETERSBURG, Fl - The Eminent Scholar Lecture Series (ESLS) is a two day lecture series held annually during the Spring semester. The ESLS is presented by the USF College of Marine Science, and the
US Geological Survey, and sponsored by, David Fanciullacci of Raymond James Financial, Marine Exploration Center, The Tampa Bay Times. The ESLS brings in four speakers from institutions across the United States and abroad to address a given marine science topic. All lectures are open to the public.

Spring 2018 ESLS: Successful Achievements of Societal Importance in Ocean Sciences

Join the event on Facebook - April 5, 2018

Join the event on Facebook - April 6, 2018

Watch Live 4/5/18 & 4/6/18 on our YouTube channel

SciCafe Event - Title: Preparing for Our New Climate: Resist, Mitigate, Adapt
Where: Dali Museum
1 Dali Blvd, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Moderator: Rob Lorei, News Director WMNF 88.5
Featuring: Kim Cobb, PhD, Georgia Tech
Sharon Wright, Sustainability and Resiliency Director, City of St. Petersburg
When: Thursday, April 5, 2018
Time: Reception at 6:00 PM, Conversation at 6:30 PM
Event Contact: H. Rutherford, 727-553-3355

Download the 2018 ESLS Flyer

Successful Achievements of Societal Importance in Ocean Sciences


Last modified on Thursday, 05 April 2018 18:03

What can a Teapot teach us about Loop Current predictability?


Speakers/Affiliations: Joe Kuehl, University of Delaware

Seminar Title: What can a Teapot teach us about Loop Current predictability?

When: Mar. 23, 2018 3:30pm EST

Where: MSL Conference Room (134)

Host: Robert Weisberg

Join event on Facebook


Last modified on Wednesday, 21 March 2018 12:46

A missing generation of fish from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Findings from a new study published in PLoS One suggest additional impacts on fish communities from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DwH) oil spill may occur in the coming years. The study titled “Impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill evaluated using an end-to-end ecosystem model” estimates fish populations and ecosystem health in the decades following the 2010 BP oil spill.

“Even though we are 8 years removed from the oil spill, we may have not seen the last of its effects based on the results of our model” says Dr. Cameron Ainsworth, a professor at the University of South Florida-College of Marine Science and lead author on the publication. 

The oil spill had its most lethal effects on bottom-dwelling and reef-associated fish, and especially on juvenile fish.  In some species, there is a missing generation of fish.  These fish would have reached maturity and enter the fishery within the next few years, but their absence could have cascading impacts through the food web, according to the model.

The ecosystem model “Atlantis” predicts impacts on the ecosystem and fishes, while another model estimates the movement and fate of the oil.  Partners from the University of Miami developed this latter portion, known as the Deepwater Horizon hindcast model, as a virtual oil spill to provide estimates of oil concentrations in inaccessible areas like the deep ocean.

“This is the first time we’ve combined the hindcast and Atlantis models to estimate oil spill impacts to different Gulf ecosystems” says Ainsworth. “We were surprised to see how widespread the potential impacts were.”  Smaller fish species, which form the base of the food web were impacted heavily.  These species and their disappearance lead to starvation in large predatory fish like groupers and snappers as far away as Texas and Mexico.  If true, then the impact footprint from the oil spill is much larger than is generally recognized from post-spill assessments.

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout released nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, 50 miles south of the Louisiana coast. The initial explosion killed 11 workers.  It was triggered by a series of equipment failures and lead to the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

Since the spill, researchers from the University of South Florida-College of Marine Science have collaborated with international scientists to form the C-IMAGE Consortium through funding from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI).


Read the full PLoS One article here: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0190840



Cameron Ainsworth (PhD)-Associate Professor

University of South Florida

140 7th Ave S.

St. Petersburg, FL 33701




Benjamin Prueitt

C-IMAGE Consortium



Last modified on Monday, 19 March 2018 13:48

Science Advocacy Publication

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Graduate students, Marcy Cockrell, Kate Dubickas, Megan Hepner, Alex Ilich, and Matt McCarthy, published an article in Fisheries encouraging scientists and science-minded citizens to participate in science advocacy. This article came out of their collective advocacy, communication, and policy experiences, largely spurred by the Ocean Policy class taught right here at CMS. Their experiences, and this subsequent article, would not have been possible without support from Dean Dixon, Dr. Frank Muller-Karger, and Dr. Mark Luther.

The article highlights not only the importance of science communication and advocacy but also guidelines to help graduate students and early career scientists seek opportunities to promote scientifically-informed policy.


Embracing Advocacy in Science .pdf

Last modified on Monday, 19 March 2018 13:42

CMS Student Featured in Oceanography Student Newsletter

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Master's student, Kate Dubickas, was featured in the latest student newsletter from The Oceanography Society. Each month, a student member of The Oceanography Society is selected to share a short "spotlight" piece related to their experiences as a graduate student. Ms. Dubickas's piece was poignant and resonated with many graduate students who have had similar learning experiences along their graduate school journeys.

View full article

Last modified on Friday, 16 March 2018 20:34

CMS Students Publish Advocacy Piece in Oceanography Magazine

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Master's students, Kate Dubickas and Alexander Ilich, wrote a piece titled, "Becoming an Ocean Advocate through Experiential Learning", published in Oceanography Volume 30 Issue 04. The short expose focuses on their time and experiences during Dr. Frank Muller-Karger and Dr. Mark Luther's Ocean Policy class in the Spring of 2016. Examples range from implementing change locally, such as was done after meeting with Mayor Kriseman, and nationally by elected officials on Capitol Hill. This is a huge interdisciplinary accomplishment from some of CMS's very own budding ocean scientists. 

View the full article

Last modified on Friday, 16 March 2018 20:27

Ernst Peebles – New CMS Chair of Alumni Outreach

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Having sat in classes as a College of Marine Science (CMS) student through two degrees, and having taught as a professor of biological oceanography for a decade at CMS, Dr. Ernst Peebles is an excellent fit as the next chair of alumni outreach.  
Dr. Peebles’ work began in various ecosystems of southeast Louisiana, where he earned a bachelor’s degree from Tulane University.  Working in creeks, rivers and other freshwater bodies, he surveyed fish in both pristine and agriculture-impacted areas to better understand baseline ecosystem conditions.  Later work in estuarine waters led to an interest in the early-life stages of fish.

The appeal of estuarine work steered him towards pursuing a Master’s degree and eventually a Ph.D. at CMS.  After getting his Master’s degree, he did extensive work for Florida’s water management districts, for environmental engineering firms, and for the FWC, and this public- and private-sector experience greatly enhanced his ability to apply the principles of marine science and ecology to practical problems.  Completing his Ph.D. eventually led to the opportunity for a tenure-track position at CMS as a fish ecologist.  Although his central focus remained on estuaries, Dr. Peebles’ winding career path provided first-hand study of the ecology of both freshwater and oceanic end-member ecosystems, allowing the kind of big-picture perspective that was necessary for understanding why coastal aquatic animals require different habitats at different stages in their lives.  Novel methods (eye-lens isotope records) allowed this effort to expand to studies of the lifetime movements of individual organisms, including attempts to compare and contrast the health conditions of individual fish that had different habitat-use histories.  
Another tool, DNA barcoding of fish eggs, has been highly effective in locating fish spawning grounds; this work is being done in conjunction with Dr. Mya Breitbart’s lab at CMS.  Newly fertilized eggs collected by plankton net give the location of fish spawning, but the problem has been that no one could visually differentiate the eggs of different species, which often look alike.  Comparing fish-egg DNA with an online database provided the solution.
Message to Alumni
Over the decades, CMS has experienced continual improvement. The core courses are in their best shape ever, thanks largely to the feedback provided from student evaluations.  A new, shared analytical instrument center is under construction, and a new vessel in the FIO fleet, the R/V Hogarth, offers an improved research and education platform over the well-loved R/V Bellows, which has since been retired.  The alumni support and genuine interest in the college has always been great, and we look forward to continued strong interactions between alumni and CMS’s students, researchers and professors.  In future editions of Rising Tides, we hope to include articles highlighting alumni in each generation of CMS, from the ′70s to the present.  

Personal Bio
Ernst loves outdoor activities, especially fishing and hiking; his love of being in remote locations is “almost an obsession.”  Although Pinellas County does not offer much in the way of remote living, Ernst finds solitude in offshore excursions on his Calcutta catamaran, through visiting the more pristine locations in Florida, and by planning his “off-the-grid” retirement, which may be awhile coming due to the steep investment required to go off the grid in a remote setting with reasonable comfort.  In the meantime (and while he still has ample access to electricity), Ernst enjoys all kinds of woodworking, whether it’s furniture making, renovation carpentry or even making his own wooden fishing lures, with which he has recently caught several king mackerel.  He and his artist/illustrator wife, Diane, have two teenage children who don’t quite understand why their parents are fixated on fish, but tolerate them anyway.

Please contact Ernst Peebles if you have any exciting alumni news to share with the college.  We would like to hear from you.

Article written by:  Sean Beckwith

Last modified on Friday, 16 March 2018 14:00