Thursday, October 16, 2014

Heather Talley UR- Would you like some metal with your aphrodisiac?

Oysters in lab

While conducting my research on cadmium and its effects on the sediments I came across an interesting article, Rising temperatures toxic for sea-dwellers.” The article was about a study that was conducted to measure the effects that global climate change will have on organism’s sensitivity to toxins in the water. Though it doesn’t necessarily have to do with sediments there has been a lot of talk about global climate change lately in class and I thought it was really neat to see the effects global climate change will have on cadmium toxicity. The researcher’s experiment consisted of measuring the metabolic rates and the ability to synthesis ATP (the main energy in a cell) of eastern oysters at different temperatures in both clean water as well as water that was polluted with the heavy metal cadmium. What the researchers found was that during increased temperatures the toxic effects of the cadmium also increased in the oysters by limiting their ability to synthesis ATP making the organism less likely to survive due to an energy deficit. If that isn’t bad enough the increase in temperatures also increase the speed of metal intake of the organism leading to an increase of accumulation of the toxin in the organism. 


Oysters are known for two things, being an aphrodisiac and producing pearls. I bet you didn't know that that pearl was once a little piece of debris that found its way into the shell. Maybe even some toxic sediment is to thank for that pretty necklace. Sediments are not just a place for organisms and plants to live, sediments can also be a pollutant. When sediments are washed into a river by storm

Sedimentation in Chattahoochee River, Atlanta, Georgia
drainage they will carry all the pollutants from the roads into the water and can also cause habitat loss on shorelines when water levels increase from the increased sediment. The part that caught my attention is that when that sediment reaches the water what is it going to do? Is it going to immediately settle out to the bottom nice and neatly? Maybe in as perfect world but here in reality it will become suspended solids in the water. Sediment particles absorb sunlight and increase the water’s temperature, one of the pollutants found in the storm water runoff are cigarette butts that leach out cadmium… do you see where I am going with this? It would be interesting to break away from the global climate change idea and do an experiment with the increased temperatures caused by sedimentation, I wonder if it also has an effect on the toxicity of cadmium. I think it will be an interesting study to do in the future if I do find that cigarette butts are leaching cadmium into the sediments. 



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Brent Meister: What is a Hydrophone?

     Hydrophones are a type of microphone that realize on piezoelectric transducers, which is a devise that produces a electric current when a mechanical force is applied to it, to detect sound a other pressure waves underwater. This is because piezoelectric materials can change shape , and convert mechanical energy into electrical energy, because sound is a form of a pressure wave underwater. Now there are ups and downs to a hydrophone one big plus is that in conventional hydrophones they don't need a power source whereas many other underwater instruments must have a source of power. A down side to a hydrophone is it only detects sound and pressure waves and a hydrophone can't distinguish between multiple objects. Early uses of the hydrophone date back to World War I where they were used to listen for German U-boats and are still used today for underwater seismology, aquatic research, and deep sea sound. You can also use them in the air and in the ground however they work best in the water.

The Hydrophone I have built with a power source.

One that's way more fancy and doesn't require a power source.
Angela Boney:
     Thank you for answering my question. Sounds like the poor shark or whale is carrying a 24/7 boom box that makes annoying beeps.To hear the toothed whale, are you able to do that from somewhere on the coast or would you have to go out on a boat?

     I may actually be able to record sound from the Intercostal water way; However, either way I think I am going to need a boat. Also I water to bring along the Hydrophone that Doctor Woodall has to compare them.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Mike Salisbury, UR - Turtles, and Seabirds, and People! Oh, My!

Today I stopped by the Volusia County Environmental Management Office in Daytona Beach to 
speak with Stacey Bell, the Sea Turtle Habitat Conservation Plan Field Manager. Initially, I wanted to pick up sea turtle nesting data from the past few years, but we discussed human effects on shore birds (including beach driving), and I was intrigued.  This is very similar to beach driving and sea turtles, but I think that human disturbance of shorebirds is a better topic for my UR project. 

Here are a few pictures from Volusia County Environmental Management Office:

I’m planning on collecting bird disturbance data/observations at three specific locations in New Smyrna Beach over the next few weeks. 

The locations are as follows:
A. North of 27th Ave. – Beach driving
B. South of 27th Ave. – No beach driving, but usually a crowded beach
C. 30th Ave. –No beach driving, less people (not a very popular location due to lack of street parking)

The types of disturbances I have noted so far are as follows:
  • Motor vehicles
  • Bikes
  • Pedestrians (adults and kids)
  • Fishermen

I am thinking of using these three groups for bird types:  
  • Shorebirds
  • Gulls and Terns
  • Wading birds and Seabirds

This is a slight change in direction, but I think it is a very relevant issue.

This week’s article provides some general information on sea and shorebirds of Volusia County. It discusses a few birds that are here year-round, and a few migratory birds that visit during the winter. The article also mentions the endangered/threatened piping plovers.  Overall, Volusia County beaches are important to many species of birds.

The article goes on to discuss The Volusia Shorebird Partnership, and I quote: “The Volusia Shorebird Partnership is a countywide alliance of interested groups, organizations, and individuals committed to advancing shorebird and seabird stewardship in Volusia County. The partnership accomplished this through coordinated and collaborative work that helps to identify and address important needs with regard to research, management, education, outreach and public policy.”

The article concludes by listing ways you can help shorebirds:
  • If you notice other people conducting activities that may be harmful to birds, kindly remind them of the dangers of their actions. Most people don’t realize they may be harming wildlife and will change their behaviors once they are educated.
  • Dispose of trash properly. Use designated trash receptacles and fishing line recycling bins for monofilament to avoid entanglement of birds.
  • Keep your distance from resting, feeding, and nesting birds. Vehicles, bicycles and beach combers can disturb resting birds that need all their vital energy for long migrations or to search for food.

Human interference with coastal wildlife/habitats, sounds familiar right?  

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Heather UR- "There's poison in the drinking water!!!"

Last week I mentioned a handful of the chemicals that I keep stumbling across in my research on cigarette butts; Cadmium, arsenic, and lead. I was asked the question: “What levels are acceptable in the environment, based on EPA standards, and what levels actually produce the impacts that you mentioned in your post?” 

while looking at the EPA website I could only find the “acceptable” levels for drinking water and they are as follows:
Cadmium- 0.005 mg/L
Arsenic- 0.010 mg/L
Lead- 0.015 mg/L

However I have been trying to research the different chemicals that are associated with cigarette butts and the tobacco within them and I was running into very vague explanations. After extensive research over the past weeks finally (Eureka!) I have found information on the chemical’s effects on the marine environment! I found a UK website that researched the effects of the chemicals on marine environments and the toxic levels.

Cadmium is naturally found in the earth’s crust at an average concentration of 0.1 mg/kg and is in higher concentration in sedimentary rocks. Cadmium also occurs naturally in the atmosphere because of volcanic activity; this atmospheric cadmium is absorbed by phytoplankton in the ocean’s surface waters and then transported to the depths. Due to upwelling the cadmium will be brought back to the surface and added to the concentrations from human activity. Cadmium is toxic to a range of micro organisms and effects the growth and replication. What I found interesting is that apparently the toxicity is reduced by the presence of sediments and high concentrations of dissolved salts and organic matter. I am expecting the presence of sand and aquatic plants will have a positive result on the levels of cadmium when I run my experiments. Certain factors like increased temperature, lowered salinity, and the combination with zinc will increase the toxicity on marine invertebrates effecting not only the growth and reproduction but also cause structural abnormalities in gill structures. The effects of cadmium toxicity on fish include malformation of the spine and is most susceptible to the embryo and larvae, surprisingly the egg is least susceptible to the effects of toxicity. To answer the question about the “acceptable” levels in the environment are any concentrations above 2.5 µg/l in the water column and 0.7 mg/kg in sediments (Canadian interim marine sediment quality guidelines) pose a risk to marine organisms and sediment dwelling organisms

Lead is poorly soluble in water so its main entry into the water is through releases. Due to its low solubility in water lead deposits into sediments and suspended particles. The organic compounds are found to be more toxic than the inorganic lead salts to fish and is more susceptible to younger fish than adults and eggs; the symptoms of lead toxicity include spinal deformity and blackening of the caudal region. The toxic range for fish has been documented as a range from 0.04 mg/L to 0.198 mg/L. Since lead deposits into the sediment it can possibly be toxic to sediment-dwelling organisms at concentrations above 30.2 mg/kg. Lead will bioaccumulate in the environment and it is unsure whether organisms absorb the lead or consume it. In fish lead is accumulated mostly in gill, liver, kidney, and bone. The eggs show increasing lead levels with increased exposure concentration, but there are indications that lead is present on the egg surface and not accumulated in the embryo. In shell fish the lead accumulates in the shell rather than the flesh, and dolphins will pass it to young through fetal development and lactation. The acceptable levels in the environment are as follows: acute toxicity to algae, invertebrates and fish at concentrations of dissolved lead above 10 µg/L annual average in the water column and concentrations above 30.2 mg/kg in sediment will effect sediment dwelling organisms. 

Arsenic is naturally found in the environment as a result of biological activity, the acceptable range of arsenic in the marine environment is 25 mg/L annual concentrations. Concentrations in sediments above concentrations above 7.24 mg/kg have been found to pose a risk for sediment dwelling organisms. Bioaccumulation can occur due to the sediments and the water column; however it is not biomagnified in food chains. This means that arsenic will accumulate in the environment through sediments and suspended particles, and will be absorbed by organisms, but will not be increased from fish feeding on each other like the accumulation of mercury.

Samm, UR - Fear the Filter!

So, through research, I have learned that titanium oxide and zinc oxide can create hydrogen peroxide with help from UV radiation in the water. While these ingredients are not necessarily toxic to us in the form of sunscreen, this pair of ingredients can be hazardous to marine life. But zinc and titanium oxide are not the only UV filters out there, it got me thinking to other ingredients, such as octinoxate and oxybenzone.

The Environmental Working Group created a table on toxicity levels for the nine most commonly used sunscreen filters. They range from higher toxicity concerns to lower toxicity concerns. The EWG are basing these filters on their toxicity to humans; if they penetrate through the skin into our tissue, mess with our hormones, or cause skin allergies. Out of the five moderate to higher toxicity level filters, four were found in breast milk. All five penetrated the skin up to 1%, with the exception of oxybenzone, which sports the highest amount of skin penetration (anywhere from 1-9%). Funnily enough, titanium and zinc oxide have lower toxicity levels, so they aren't as harmful to us. 

Zinc and titanium oxide are the only ingredients on the table that were tested by the original study. According to an article by Women's Health magazine, chemical filters (such as octinoxate) can also produce free radicals that can damage our cells. It's funny that both the chemical filters and zinc and titanium oxide produce free radicals, and I have to wonder if the free radicals produced by the chemical filters have the same effect on the marine environment as the free radicals from the oxides. If this is true, than could it be possible that these chemical sunscreen filters could help make hydrogen peroxide in our ocean?

I guess at this point, I would wonder what you might test your sunscreen on and how you would set up any experiment. Any thoughts?

I have been thinking about this for quite a while. At first, I thought I could take some seagrass samples from a couple of different locations, but I am unsure of what I would test for. I thought of just doing what was done in the original study, by taking water samples from different locations and testing for zinc and titanium oxide. Given what I learned from today's article, if I go down that road I might also test for other common sunscreen ingredients. I am still a little unsure of which road I want to go down.

Although, I think no matter what, I definitely want to test for hydrogen peroxide in the water.

Brent Meister- Can You Hear Me Now?

     Imagine jumping into the water and dunking you're head under the water to hear the peaceful sound of water crashing on the beach, but instead you here a slew of explosions, boat propellers, and sonars. All of this is screaming in you're ear and you would want to jump out immediately. well some animals in the ocean cant jump out of the water and just walk away. Blue whales can hear human oriented sound and considerable scientific attention has been made to study the effects of high-intensity anthropogenic noises on the communication of blue whales. Whales use a series of clicks, whistles, bales, and songs to communicate with each other and each noise tells a different message. Most of the tests ran have had one thing in common and that is they all study the impact of human noises that happen to fall in the auditory range of blue whales. The most common blue whale call is a D-call which have a frequency of less than 100Hz and are believed to alert other blue wales to the location of food. There was a test done at mid to high range frequency or, 1000-8000Hz, to monitor D-call Behavior to see if the frequency blocks or messes with blue whale D-calls. In all a total of 4643 hours of data where recorded and D-calls were heard 48% of the time, however; mid to high range sonar was picked up only 9% of the time. Now during the time the sonar was playing all D-calls from blue whales stopped. This shows that blue whales can hear sounds produced outside there range. Also another reason for the sudden stop in D-calls is that Killer whales, who prey on blue whales, use mid frequency sounds, this also suggests that the blue whales may have stopped communicating because since blue whales can hear noises above there range killer whales can here noises below there range so the can locate blue whales. in allif we keep producing noise in the ocean the whales will not communicate and be able to find food, in this instance, and we can see a drop in whale population just due to starvation.

D-call Graph with mid to high range sonar

Blue Whale
Angela Boney
     Just to Clarify: the instruments used to put the tags on sharks and whales make the noise, or the tags themselves that make the noise?
   Great question and i feel a little concerned that i Didn't specify what actually makes the noise. although the tools used to put the tags on sharks and whales are noisy its only for a short time like if you snapped you're fingers underwater. what really makes the noise are the tags and depending how long the tag is supposed to be transmitting relates to how far it can travel through the ocean physically by being attached to a whale or shark, and these tags can omit a mid to high frequency signal for up to six miles.

Deb n' Paul
     Based on all of your ocean noise info-- what are you interested in exploring, what are you going to measure and how are you going to measure it?
     What i am interested in exploring is toothed whale frequencies. being that they communicate at high frequencies and are able to hear lower frequencies to hunt prey. i would like to see if there is a struggle for toothed whales to find food and if the boat traffic, sonar, or natural noise inhibits there ability to find their food. i would measure the frequencies of noise pollution and hopefully my own toothed whale noises and fish noises, and see if any of the noise made by noise pollution is close to the noise of fish to see if toothed whales are getting confused and having a tougher time finding food. i would measure this by recording the frequencies of toothed whales local to hear, noises of prey fish, and common noise pollution problems and see which noise pollution, if any, are on the same frequency as toothed whale prey fish.