Kick-off workshop to map coral reef fisheries in the Eastern Caribbean

I recently took part in The Nature Conservancy’s kick-off workshop for their new Mapping Ocean Wealth projects in the Eastern Caribbean. This work, focusing on five countries in the Organization for Eastern Caribbean States (Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, and St. Lucia) is part of a larger marine spatial planning process for the region. My postdoc advisor, Alastair Harborne, and I have been contracted to conduct the portion of the project that looks at ecosystem services provided by the coral reef fish assemblage. I will be modeling and mapping fishing impact across the region, then using impact estimates to create high-resolution maps of fish biomass for each country. With my models and maps, I will be able to predict fish biomass under a range of different management scenarios and estimate the time it would take any given reef fish assemblage to recover to carrying capacity following the cessation of fishing. These products will allow stakeholders to engage in the marine spatial planning process with science-based, spatially-explicit knowledge of the impacts of small-scale reef fisheries, and with reasonable expectations regarding fish biomass and any potential biomass recovery.  

It’s been almost 15 years since I conducted long-term monitoring surveys of Dominica’s coral reefs through the Atlantic Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) program, and I’m so excited to be not only working again in the region, but using those AGRRA data to further OECS’ marine spatial planning goals for coral reef fisheries. 



New Post-doc position at Florida International University

I’m excited to announce that I’ve started a new post-doc research position at Florida International University with Dr. Alastair Harborne in the Tropical Fish Ecology Lab! I’m working on a project in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy to map and model fishing impact in the Florida Keys. The research brings together data from NOAA’s coral reef fish visual surveys, commercial and recreational fisheries, as well as a variety of publicly-available fisheries-related data from South Florida. My first challenge is coming up with a fishery-independent metric that works as a proxy for fishing impact over time. Check back for updates and results.

Sustaining coastal communities in California

Fishing boats with the iconic Morro Rock in the background.

I took my last fieldwork trip to Morro Bay several months ago. As much as I’d love to go back today, I completed my last interview and now need to focus on analyzing data. For those of you who haven’t visited, Morro Bay is an incredibly charming coastal town just south of the Big Sur coast (west of San Luis Obispo). Fishing and ocean culture are strong in Morro Bay. On one side of the harbor is a memorial recognizing all of the fishermen present and past that risk dangerous marine conditions every day. The entire main drag of town is a working waterfront – boats coming and going, gear being fixed, fish changing hands. Hidden in plain sight among fish businesses is a bronze statue remembering a well-loved boat mechanic who passed away several years ago. When I ask for directions in Morro Bay, locals without exception use landmarks in the ocean or at the port as guidance. The number of pickups with buoys, traps, and other boat equipment hint at the town’s reliance on fishing and other ocean-related industries.  Read more

Ordering in: kelp forest animals get food from the outside

This is a guest blog post I wrote for Kristy Kroeker’s Coastal Sustainability Blog.

Diver swimming through a school of juvenile rockfish (photo: Joe Hoyt, NOAA).

I’ve done many dives since moving to central California in 2012, but two stand out in my mind. The first was a dive in the summer of 2012, a banner year for juvenile rockfish. That day, the kelp forest was thick with baby fish that had just arrived from their time as larvae in the pelagic ocean (open ocean). The baby fish were schooling from the top of the kelp canopy to the rocky interface between the reef and the sand, and were so numerous, that one could only describe the schools as rockfish swarms. The second dive was in the fall of 2015. Central California was in the thick of “the Warm Blob” oceanographic conditions, with unseasonably warm water in Monterey Bay. I was trying to count kelp blades just below the surface of the water, but instead I spent the entire dive dodging birds diving down from above and fish darting up from below, all to feed on an enormous group of pelagic red crabs which normally live far away in the pelagic ocean off Baja. Aside from being beautiful and impressive in the sheer abundance of life I witnessed, these dives offered me a window into kelp forest food webs, and a spark of inspiration from the natural world that now motivates the first chapter of my dissertation. Read more

The perks of writing a review paper

I’m writing my first review paper, and though it’s a lot of work, there are some perks. There’s the obvious perk of not having to worry that there is a 19 foot swell on the ocean today (seriously) and there’s no chance that divers will be out collecting data. The data for this paper has already been collected (mostly) by other people! And the less obvious perks – namely, that I got to spend time with actual books in the actual library last week. Sometimes it’s the small things that get me through a week of dissertation writing 🙂 Read more

2017 Rockfish Recruitment and Ecosystem Assessment Cruise

I’m back out at sea on the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center’s annual rockfish recruitment cruise. I’m on a slightly longer leg this year (June 1st-13th), but I’ve got a great route along the entire California coast – Eureka to San Diego. We’re also on a much swankier boat this year than in years past (the newly-commissioned NOAA R/V Reuben Lasker). The Lasker is a ship outfitted for science on the West Coast of the US, and provides a great platform for the trawl surveys that are the basis of the rockfish cruise each year. 

Read more

New publication in BioScience – Long term studies are important!

Check out a new publication from the UCSC Raimondi-Carr Lab and the Lubchenco-Menge Lab at OSU!

and the press release to go along with it:

Raimondi-Carr Lab visits Mar Vista Elementary School

The RC Lab’s famous kelp forest made another appearance! This time at Mar Vista Elementary School. The kelp forest (which we pair with underwater video of actual monitoring transects) gives the students an idea of what marine surveys actually entail. In the lesson we’ve developed over the last several years, students learn the ID of several common species, think about habitat associations, make hypotheses, survey the “kelp forest”, and graph their data. We also let students try on and model our SCUBA gear which ends up being pretty entertaining (and hopefully sparking interest in marine research).

If anyone knows elementary (or middle school) teachers in the area that might be interested in our traveling kelp forest show, shoot me an email!