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

Ghostbusting in the Chesapeake - Even when crab pots are lost or abandoned at sea, they continue to catch animals. The unintended victims of the pots typically cannot escape, and are trapped until they die. This bycatch can include crabs, fish, diving birds and turtles. The pots or other gear will continue to fish until, after many years on the sea floor, they finally decay. Through a special program at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, scientists are working with watermen to collect derelict, or "ghost," crab pots and fishing nets that have been lost or abandoned. Students will explore catch data collected by the watermen from the ghost pots.

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?

Waves: An Alternative Energy Source - Our lives have become so dependant on non-renewable energy sources that it is hard to imagine life without them. But what about renewable or sustainable energy sources? Explore the possibility of waves as an alternative energy source and use data from US ocean observing system (OOS) buoys to determine the feasibility.

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.

Tsunami - On Saturday, December 25, 2004 an underwater earthquake caused tsunamis to crash into coasts around the Indian Ocean basin, claiming over 100,000 lives. What are the underlying physical and geological forces that create these devastating natural phenomena?

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.

The Heat Is On II: Global Climate Change Revisited - In November 2000, the Bridge Data Tip looked at global warming and where the two presidential candidates stood on the issue. In 2004, we revisit the topic and see where the United States stands four years later.

$$$eaweed -Seaweed has been traditionally harvested in Europe, Asia and the Pacific Islands for thousands of years, and today harvesting seaweed is big international business. In this Data Tip, we'll take a look at trade and fisheries data to find out who are the big harvesters and importers.

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.

Iced In - The winter of 2003-2004 was bone-chillingly cold for many regions of the United States especially the Great Lakes, a major shipping gateway. See how ice formation in the Great Lakes can influence wintertime shipping traffic.

Mercury Is Rising - The mercury is rising. Methylmercury that is. Learn how this toxic compound enters and works its way up the food chain and impacts the seafood we eat.

  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?

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.

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 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.

Flotsam and Jetsam: A Little Litter Goes A Long Way - Examine the serious problem of marine debris, including its sources, its effects, and the laws regulating it. Access the Center for Marine Conservation's coastal cleanup data to calculate the amount of debris collected per mile of coastline for the nation and your region. How many school buses worth of trash did your area collect?

Shipwrecks! U.S. National Marine Sanctuaries: Northwest Region - In our second collaboration with NOAA and the National Marine Sanctuary Program, you can learn about shipwrecks and how they can teach us important lessons on how currents, weather, technology and human error can combine in ways that can damage the environment.

For the Love of Seafood - It was once believed that the oceans provided an endless bounty of seafood, but with an increasing world population and more efficient fishering gear it's become apparent that that is not the case. Take a look at the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Chart and see which species are in danger of being overfished. Then examine the fisheries management issue from all sides—the fishery managers, the fishers, and the concerned activists.

Submersed in Underwater Technology - Technology--from basic scuba diving equipment to underwater habitats with satellite links--has changed our view and knowledge of the oceans. Scientists can now study organisms and environments that were beyond our reach before. With this month's data tip, find out more about the amazing technology available and use data from an underwater habitat mission to compare the health of corals.

Catch & Release - So you think recreational fishing does not have a large impact on fish stocks--well, think again! This weekend hobby can really add up, but a new breed of anglers are making a difference with catch and release. Find out more about this conservation effort and plot catch & release data from the National Marine Fisheries Service to see the trends.

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.

  The Dead Zone: A Marine Horror Story - Learn about the cause and implications of the Gulf of Mexico dead zone. Includes maps illustrating the size of the Mississippi River watershed and the dead zone. The data provides water quality measurements, and students are asked to graph dissolved oxygen versus depth. Can you think of potential solutions to the problem?

  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.

Be a Bay Investigator - This month's focus is on the Chesapeake Bay, one of the largest and most productive estuaries in the world. Learn about its watershed, its inhabitants, and how to assess the health of such a complex ecosystem. Use graphs of water quality parameters to study their interrelationships, and check current conditions in the Bay. Answer questions about the decline of certain species using data on fishery stocks. Take a look at past and present distributions of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) in the Bay. Many of the questions and concepts will probably translate quite easily to a bay ecosystem near you.


 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