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bullet Biology DATA Series Archives

  Data Tips with this icon contain special step-by-step Microsoft Excel graphing instructions for advanced levels.

Coral Snapshots - While it is possible to survey a coral reef using quadrats, scientists are now using cutting-edge technology to closely examine the entire reef, instead of extrapolating results from several study sites. Scientists at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science are taking video of reefs then analyzing it via a computer program back in the lab. This method cuts down on the inherent error associated with the quadrat system and actually requires less time and money spent in the field.

Saving Sturgeon - Atlantic sturgeon have survived since the age of the dinosaurs. Centuries ago, these giant fish were abundant in Virginia rivers. However, today these fish are struggling to stay off the endangered species list. How could such an immense species that could survive for millions of years become nearly extinct in a few short centuries?

River Watch: Tracking the Invasive Veined Rapa Whelk - Veined rapa whelks (Rapana venosa) are predatory marine snails that have been introduced into the Chesapeake Bay, USA. Will they survive and establish a self-sustaining population?

Coral Bleaching - Some of the planet's most diverse ecosystems are at risk. With temperatures on the rise, coral reefs are at greater risk for coral bleaching. Examine NOAA water temperature data from 2005-2008, discuss how it may have affected coral reefs and predict what's on the horizon.

Diversity of the Deep - Explore the diversity of organisms living on deep sea hydrothermal vents. The species in these unique communities have evolved to thrive in extreme temperatures and no light. This month's data activity will introduce you to some of the common statistical measurements of diversity as you compare the organisms found at various locations on a hydrothermal vent at the Juan de Fuca Ridge.

More Than Meets the Eye - When it comes to ability to see their prey, there's more than meets the eye for some large pelagic fishes. This month we'll look at the eye physiology and life history of four pelagic fish species to find out just what and how they see.

Catch & Release II - We first brought you this Data Tip in 2000 when we took a look at a new generation of ethical anglers participating in "catch and release" fishing. Now we check back in to see if the trends in catch and release fishing have changed.

On the Half Shell -Seafood, and oysters in particular, are a holiday tradition for many. And, since December is an "R" month it's safe to eat oysters, right? Seafood handled and cooked properly is very safe to eat, but eaten raw can be a different story. Find out about seafood-related illnesses and how to avoid them.

Pumping Iron - Pumping iron can make a person stronger, more fit. But can pumping iron into the oceans improve the fitness of the Earth by increasing primary productivity and decreasing carbon dioxide? Analyze data from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and decide for yourself.

Off the Hook! - Bycatch is a global problem that is associated with almost every type of fishery, gear, and body of water. In this data tip we'll examine data that show how changes in fishing methods can help avoid the bycatch of sea turtles.

  Hold the Anchovies - In this data tip the Bridge collaborates with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute to examine the anchovy and sardine stocks in the Pacific. Has commercial overfishing brought these stocks to all-time lows, or might these be natural population fluctations tied to climate change?

Without An Ark - Coastal storms can bring extensive flooding resulting in highly publicized human suffering. But what happens to plants and animals in the wild when their habitat is flooded? Learn about some of the short-term impacts and potential long-term effects of floods on selected freshwater and estuarine organisms. Access real-time streamflow data from the U.S. Geological Survey and plot Hurricane Floyd floods.

Juvenile Oyster Disease: A Growing Problem - The eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) can be found from the Caribbean Sea to Canada's Gulf of St. Lawrence. It can survive in a wide range of temperatures and salinities, and even tolerate daily exposure to air as the tide recedes, exposing portions of its home, or reef. Considering these hearty life history characteristics, one would expect the oyster to survive most anything, but human impact and natural diseases threaten the oyster's viability. This month take a look at how juvenile oyster disease is impacting some Northeast oyster populations, and what steps can be taken to remedy the situation.

Tale of a Tuna - The bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) is one of the most impressive fish in the oceans. Not only is it one of the largest fishes, but it can also fetch one of the highest market prices. Its enormous economic value combined with its life history characteristics make it yet another fish vunerable to overfishing. Investigate the atlantic bluefin tuna stocks and the management issues related with this international fishery.

The Blue Crab's Chesapeake Journey - Maine has its lobsters, Washington has its salmon, and in the U.S. mid-Atlantic, there is one animal that has historically symbolized the beauty, bounty, and energy of the Chesapeake Bay: the blue crab, Callinectes sapidus. This activity uses blue crab data to see how the crabs use different areas of the Bay at different points in their life cycle.

Chilean Sea Bass: Off the Menu - Chilean sea bass is a tasty dish popping up on seafood menus nationwide despite growing controversy. But Chilean sea bass does not necessarily come from Chile and is certainly not a sea bass. Learn about the life history of this fish and access Antarctic catch and fishing effort data to decide for yourself if this species is overfished.

In Full Bloom - Spring is upon us and flowers are beginning to bloom, but along with the warmer temperatures and April showers can come a bloom of a different color -- harmful algal blooms (HABs). Find out more about harmful algal blooms and their causes, then use graphs of recent Florida HABs to determine if they are increasing in number and/or intensity.

The Scoop on Scallops - Scallops are well known to seashell collectors and seafood lovers, but many people know little about the organism itself. In fact, many people are not even aware that scallops are animals. Scallops are a popular commercial fisheries species that are susceptible to fishing pressures just like many other shellfish species. Compare scallop count and size data from a closed fishing area to an open fishing area and see if closing an area to fishing is making a difference.

More Than Mud - Benthic communities are vital to the ecosystem at large, supplying food and habitat for many organisms and improving water quality through their resident filter feeders. But benthic communities are also one of the aquatic areas most vulnerable to human-induced problems, especially eutrophication and contamination. Learn how scientists use amphipods, a common Chesapeake Bay benthic organism, as an indicator species to help identify polluted sediments.

A Stellar Animal - Steller sea lions, the largest of the eared seals, are facing some serious population problems. Found throughout the north Pacific rim, these endangered marine mammals have experienced a steady decline in numbers since the 1970s. Is competition with commercial fisheries for food, the driving factor as many believe? Find out with this month's data tip.

The Goose is Loose - Fall is here, so why haven't all the Canada geese in the park started migrating? The fact is that there are two separate populations, migratory geese whose numbers are seriously low and resident geese whose numbers are soaring, creating a complex management situation. Access the Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count data to track Canada geese in flyway near you.

Oyster Gardens - Spring has sprung and it's time to start planting your gardens. But throw away your shovels and mulch. The gardens we're planting are oyster gardens. This month's Data Tip examines the practice of oyster gardening—an effort to try and replenish these natural (and tasty) water filters. We'll look at the oyster survival rates of some Maryland oyster gardeners to see how they're faring, and provide links to other oyster-related classroom activities.

E helu Kakou i na Kohola! (Let's Count Humpback Whales!) - The third in a non-continuous series created with the U.S. National Marine Sanctuaries, this data tip focuses on the humpback whales of the Pacific islands. The classroom activity examines the Kauai data from the whale count conducted at the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.

For the Birds - Learn about the plight of marine birds and how habitat loss and entanglement in fishing gear are affecting bird populations. Use data from the fourth annual Great Backyard Bird Count to follow the distribution trends of shorebirds and seabirds.

Fish Communities! U.S. National Marine Sanctuaries: Southeast Region - This month we team up with NOAA and the National Marine Sanctuary Program to explore the habitats and associated fish communities of three of the twelve U.S. marine sanctuaries.

See turtles nest! See turtles hatch! - Learn about the life history of sea turtles then access sea turtle nesting data from Kenya to determine hatchling success rates. Compare these to rates a little closer to home at Folly Beach, SC. You'll also find sea turtle teaching activities and conservation information.

Discover Galapagos - Take a closer look at the unique and intriguing archipelago where Charles Darwin's observations led him to propose the concept of evolution by natural selection. Learn why there are two groups of marine species in Galapagos, one of which includes the only penguin living on the Equator! Using a list of marine/brackish fishes of the islands, pretend you're an explorer documenting a newly discovered species. In fact, researchers involved in the filming of the recent IMAX movie 'Galapagos' may have identified more than a dozen previously unknown marine species. Book a class trip to the IMAX movie and receive a Teachers Resource Guide free.

The Long Journey - The California Gray whales make the longest annual migration of all marine mammals, a round-trip journey of 10,000-12,000 miles! For many species of whales, winter signals the annual trip to their breeding grounds. Learn more about what dictates this lifestyle, plot current right whale sightings, and follow along with the spring return journeys of humpback, gray, and right whales.

Aquaculture: A Cornucopia? - Ever wondered where the salmon served at your favorite restaurant comes from? It may just be a product of the fast-growing aquaculture industry. Learn more about aquaculture and how it is being used to help ease the burden the seafood industry is placing on wild stocks. With our data exercise, compare the aquaculture production rates between Canada and the U.S. for a number of different seafood species.

  Taking a Bite Out of the Shark Myth - Read an interview with a shark and get to know its soft side. Put your fears in perspective with statistics from the International Shark Attack File. Learn about scientists' concern over sharks' dwindling numbers and some studies that are designed to gain a better understanding of shark behavior. Graph the annual landings of certain shark species

 The Bridge is sponsored by NOAA Sea Grant and the National Marine Educators Association

Virginia Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program
Virginia Institute of Marine Science
College of William and Mary