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The East Bank Die-Off: A Coral Reef Whodunnit

In July of 2016, several divers visiting the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and its coral reefs off the coast of Louisiana and Texas discovered that coral was dying. However, there was also a clear line in the reef. Below it, things were dead, and above it, creatures were surviving. Researchers like Sarah Davies , who had worked on that specific reef since about 2007, wanted to find out what was causing the die-off. “We had that die-off event happen in 2016, and it was totally anomalous,” explains Dr. Davies, assistant professor of biology at Boston University .

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Untouched Mangrove Forests Make Rookery Bay NERR a Special Place for Researchers

“Mangroves have a special 3D structure that makes them unique,” says Dr. Brita Jessen, Research Coordinator for Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) near Naples, FL. “The structure helps trap sediment and it also creates structure for fish, crabs and other species, especially the ones that are young and vulnerable.” Some notable species that make their homes in Rookery Bay mangrove forests are red drum, snappers, stone crabs and blue crabs.  There are also designated mangrove forest areas for the small-toothed sawfish. “Mangrove forests are highly productive,” Jessen adds. “They take up carbon from the air and convert it to biomass, so they are good for carbon storage, too.

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The Ozark Research Field Station in Focus

Biological field stations exist all across the country, and now there is a brand new station in the Ozarks. The Missouri University of Science and Technology 's Ozark Research Field Station is now open, and director Dr. Robin Verble took the time to speak to EM about the new station. “We are brand new,” states Dr. Verble, who is the founding director of the station. “The University acquired the property officially at the beginning of January 2017. They spent most of last year doing the search for a director, and they found me. I got there in August, and we have been moving forward at a very rapid clip ever since.

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