Leatherback sea turtle research led by MLML highlighted in the Washington Post

Just as scientists are beginning to fully understand the amazing 7,000 mile odyssey undertaken annually by migrating leatherback sea turtles, these gentle giants are disappearing — and fast.

In less than 30 years, the number of western Pacific leatherbacks in the foraging population off of California plummeted 80% and a recent study led by SJSU/MLML scientist Scott Benson shows a 5.6% annual decline.

This important research was recently highlighted in the Washington Post. Read the article to learn more.

Research faculty member Dr. Diana Steller leads innovative rhodolith research project

The picturesque harbors of Catalina Island are the perfect habitat for rare coral-like red algae known as rhodoliths. Like corals, these algae form calcium carbonate ‘skeletons’ that grow in spherical branching patterns. Then in the gentle wave action of semi-protected harbors, the rhodoliths roll around on the ocean floor like tumbleweeds, forming into spheres, with pockets of open space between the branches.

“They form living layers that look like pink golf balls covering the ocean floor,” explains SJSU/MLML research faculty member Dr. Diana Steller, who led a recent California Sea Grant-funded project on Catalina’s rhodolith beds. “Rhodoliths form a structured habitat on what is otherwise normally soft sediment bottoms—a complex matrix of shapes and sizes for things to find refuge in."

"And because they form a hard structure that's heterogeneous, a lot of organisms can settle, survive better and live there. They act often as nursery grounds, and/or habitat for holdfast of different species,” she adds.

Learn more about Dr. Steller’s fascinating research in new story from California Sea Grant.

Grad student Kristin Saksa interviewed by MLML alumna Emily Donham ’16 on the Santa Cruz Naturalist podcast

This week on the Santa Cruz Naturalist podcast on KSQD Radio, host and SJSU/MLML alumna Emily Donham ’16 sits down with current Ichthyology Lab grad student Kristin Saksa to discuss all things rockfish. Kristin’s research focuses on how climate change stressors will impact larval rockfish. 

Find the episode on the KSQD website, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts!

Alumna Erin Loury ’11 featured in Diversity in Action magazine

During her tenure at MLML, alumna Erin Loury ’11 researched the impacts of marine protected areas (MPAs) on the trophic ecology of gopher rockfish. In the decade since she graduated, Erin has conducted research on fisheries throughout the world and now works as the Communications Director & Fisheries Biologist at the environmental consulting company FISHBIO.

Erin’s marine science career path is one of several highlighted in the latest issue of Diversity in Action magazine. Read the article here.

New study co-authored by MLML Visiting Scientist Scott Shaffer sheds light on endangered seabirds and the need for international protection

A new study published in the prestigious journal Science Advances co-authored by MLML Visiting Scientist & SJSU Biological Sciences Professor Scott Shaffer highlights the need for cooperative global protection of wide-ranging seabirds such as albatrosses and large petrels.

An international team of researchers tracked the movements of 5,775 individual seabirds belonging to 39 species across 87 different sites. They found that the albatrosses and petrels spent at least 39% of their time on international waters where no single country has jurisdiction. Collaborative multinational conservation efforts will thus be needed to adequately protect these globetrotting seabirds.

Read more about this important research in the SJSU Newsroom story

Black-footed albatrosses photographed by Dr. Scott Shaffer

Five SJSU/MLML faculty members receive funding from California Sea Grant & CSU COAST

Three new SJSU/MLML research projects are officially Sea Grant-funded! California Sea Grant has announced funding for a total of seven new research projects led by early-career faculty members throughout the state. The one-year projects focus on two key areas of California Sea Grant’s strategic plan: sustainable fisheries & aquaculture, and coastal resilience. This year, a new partnership with the CSU Council on Ocean Affairs, Science & Technology (COAST) provided non-federal match to new CSU faculty members whose research focuses on supporting the state of California’s highest priority marine, coastal and coastal watershed related needs for scientific information.

SJSU/MLML faculty will serve as PIs on the following three projects:

  • Chemical oceanographer Dr. Maxime Grand and co-PI research faculty member Dr. Luke Gardner will lead a new project focused on quantifying volatile bromocarbon emissions from seaweed aquaculture in California.
  • Invertebrate ecologist Dr. Amanda Kahn and co-PIs Dr. Kerstin Wasson and Dr. Luke Gardner will investigate the use of energetics and metabolism to enhance Olympia oyster aquaculture and outplanting success.
  • Ichthyologist Dr. Scott Hamilton and phycologist Dr. Michael Graham will serve as co-PIs on a new project led by SJSU professor Dr. Maya deVries investigating whether co-culture of seaweeds and shellfish improves shell integrity in farmed red abalone.

Congratulations to all our SJSU/MLML faculty members and their collaborators on these exciting new ventures! Learn more about all seven newly funded research projects here.

Endangered white abalone raised at SJSU/MLML Aquaculture Center flown to Los Angeles for release

Moss Landing Marine Labs researchers Peter Hain and Kayla Roy along with California Sea Grant Aquaculture Specialist Luke Gardner have spent the past two years raising endangered white abalone at the SJSU/MLML Aquaculture Center. These marine snails started out as tiny larvae but have grown to ~2 inches long and are now ready to be released into the wild to help save their species. 

On February 19th, a total of 902 abalone were transferred from MLML to the Southern California Marine Institute. These endangered mollusks received VIP treatment and were flown by private plane from Monterey Bay to Los Angeles courtesy of LightHawk volunteer pilot David Houghton. The abalone will be cared for by staff from The Bay Foundation until they pass a health check and are ready to be released into the wild. There are currently only a few thousand wild white abalone, so this release will be a huge bump to the population.

This project is part of a large multi-institutional effort funded by NOAA Fisheries and coordinated by the White Abalone Captive Breeding Program based at Bodega Marine Laboratory of UC Davis. Thank you to all of our fantastic partners for making this important work possible!

Ocean Protection Council awards $1.3 million in funding to support Elkhorn Slough restoration

We are thrilled to announce that the California Ocean Protection Council has approved $1.3 million in new funding to support restoration of Elkhorn Slough! This restoration will take place on the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, owned and managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in partnership with NOAA and with support from the Elkhorn Slough Foundation.

More than 90% of California’s wetlands have vanished over the past century. Today Elkhorn Slough features the most extensive salt marshes in California south of San Francisco Bay, yet without intervention the remaining marshes are projected to be lost within 50 years due to rising sea levels, subsidence, and tidal erosion. This new funding, generated by California’s Proposition 68, will be used to restore a diversity of species and habitats in the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve including native oysters, eelgrass beds, coastal grasslands, and tidal salt marsh.

Oysters in Elkhorn Slough are at dire risk of local extinction, with no successful reproduction in the wild since 2012. To restore these vanishing filter feeders, scientists have pursued a novel approach, capitalizing on techniques used by commercial oyster farmers. They will bring adult oysters from the slough to the SJSU/MLML Aquaculture Facility, where they will be fed and warmed until they produce larvae. The larvae settle out on clam shells provided by the aquaculturists. When they are dime-sized, the baby oysters will be reintroduced to the restored tidal creeks. 

Lean more about Elkhorn Slough and this exciting new restoration project at www.elkhornslough.org.

SJSU/MLML alumna June Shrestha named 2021 California Sea Grant State Fellow

Congratulations to SJSU/MLML alumna June Shrestha on her selection as a 2021 California Sea Grant State Fellow! 

This competitive program matches recent grads with municipal, state, or federal host agencies in California for year-long fellowships that provide training at the interface of science, communication, policy, and management. June received her MS in Marine Science from Moss Landing Marine Labs in 2020 and will be working with NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary for her fellowship. June will support efforts to revise the sanctuary management plan, facilitate engagement with stakeholders during sanctuary advisory council meetings, and contribute to education and outreach initiatives.

Read more in the California Sea Grant State Fellowship announcement.

MLML logo featured in video highlighting the history of famous Japanese design “The Great Wave”

You probably recognize the iconic Japanese design “The Great Wave” from its countless recreations on posters, advertisements, emojis 🌊, and even our signature Moss Landing Marine Labs wave logo. But what is the story behind this image and how did it become so famous?

German newspaper Zeit Online recently produced a fascinating short film about the history of The Great Wave that includes the original MLML wave logo designed by Chuck Versaggi at 7:10 (also pictured right). Watch the video with English subtitles here.

Still want to learn more? Check out this blogpost by Lloyd Kitazano from our 50th Anniversary Blog to learn more about the story behind the MLML wave.