topNew Ship Takes Shape  
Construction of the new as-yet-unnamed FSUCML research vessel is moving along quickly.  The frame is skinned and  taking on the appearance of a real ship. 

In the background, we're building a website for the boat, developing a calendar for scheduling research cruises,  and planning a christening in December (anticipating vessel arrival in late November).  

Follow the construction on the web!
Message from the Director 
Even in these tough economic times, we have had a remarkable year.  Many thanks to all the new "Friends of the Lab" whose generosity allows us to bring our science to the community.  In spring, we added a wall of art, painted by elementary-, middle, and high-school students from Franklin, Wakulla, and Leon counties (described below).  This summer, we add an observation deck and kiosks detailing the remarkably diverse habitats that surround us and the ecosystem services that they provide.  By fall, when our new vessel arrives, we will have a tender vessel for it and an ROV that will allow us, through still pictures and videography, to reveal to you the astounding diversity of the continental shelf edge and slope waters of the northeastern Gulf of Mexico.


Thanks also to our incredible staff, faculty, and grad students who have thoroughly embraced our mission.  The staff works tirelessly to ensure that the faculty can conduct research as seamlessly as possible, and that our guests (other scientists, students, and the public) get the most out of their visits.  The faculty, in turn and in addition to their research, mentor students of all ages while engaging in service at local, national, and international levels. And the grad students, while learning the ropes, keep us all on our toes as we watch their research develop and their enthusiasm build.   
Blending Art and Nature  
Working under the theme "Conservation: Taking Care of the River, Bay and Gulf," students from Franklin County Middle School, Riversink Elementary School, Medart Elementary School, SAIL High School, and  Maclay School revealed through art their visions of Florida's rich ecological diversity while boosting their awareness of the need to conserve and protect our waterways.


The lab provided each participating school with a marine-grade 4-ft by 8-ft wooden "canvas" and small buckets of paint. The rest sprung from their imaginations, as they interpreted the theme in their own artistic way. The murals now cover the FSUCML's new Wall of Art in Nature, unveiled on Earth Day 2012 by the students who created them. A sixth mural, donated by the Koenig Bros. Design, Inc., anchors the new wall.  


See images of all the murals on Facebook. 

featuredarticleFeatured Article
Oil Spill Research
Dr. Dean Grubbs, Dr. Chris Koenig, and Dr. Felicia Coleman set sail this month to study the fishes from the continental shelf to the deep sea to determine how they were affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  As part of a $20 million research effort led by the Florida State University -- the Deep-C Consortium ( -- these three amigos will concentrate on defining the predator-prey interactions of the fishes found in benthic communities throughout the Panhandle Bight and northern part of the West Florida Shelf.  Using longlines and traps to capture the fish, they work from research vessels from the Florida Institute of Oceanography in St. Petersburg, on commercial snapper boats from Panama City, and on recreational charter boats from Port St. Joe.  By January, they can add the new vessel to the mix.
Goliath Grouper in the News  

The goliath grouper (Epinephelus itajara), endangered throughout its range globally, appears to be making a comeback in the southeastern United States, particularly in south Florida.   The FSUCML Reef Fish Ecology Lab, led by Dr. Christopher Koenig and Dr. Felicia Coleman, has followed their progress for nearly twenty years by studying their movement patterns, habitat preferences, and reproductive strategies.   


Koenig and Coleman have identified major spawning sites (sites with aggregations between 40 and 100 individuals) on the Atlantic coast off Palm Beach County and in the Gulf of Mexico between Tampa and the Tortugas. Findings thus far reveal that goliath grouper populations include a fair number of hermaphrodites --an observation new to science for this species, and suggests that these fish change sex from female to male. Goliath grouper eggs collected during this study are shipped to the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, where they will be reared in captivity to determine the sequence of larval development to the juvenile stage.  


Studying the age and growth patterns of this species can help management assess population recovery.  Aging studies conducted at the FSUCML, in cooperation with Dr. Debra Murie at the University of Florida and Dr. Chris Stallings at the University of South Florida,  requires the removal of fin rays from fish across the size spectrum. The fin rays, which lay down concentric rings annually, much like a tree, grow back. This means that age can be determined without sacrificing the fish.  The Reef Fish Ecology Lab has enlisted the aid of nearly 2 dozen for-hire fishermen throughout Florida who are now trained to capture goliath grouper and conduct scientific sampling for the lab. Results from this study will provide a firm foundation for management practices for this species.  


Grad Student Spotlight    
Focus:  Matt Kolmann

What do stingrays, oysters, fishermen, politics, and science all have in common? The cownose ray, Rhinoptera bonasus -- a species of stingray, related to manta and eagle rays, common along the eastern coast of the United States.  Cownose rays are unique among elasmobranchs (sharks and rays) in that they prey on hard-shelled organisms like shellfish. In Chesapeake Bay, Virginia, oyster-growers fear that these stingrays are consuming oysters, interfering with harvests, and hindering efforts to reestablish oysters in the regions where they have been overfished. However, oysters have never been found in the diet of these stingrays in any significant quantities.  


Matt Kolmann, a master's student working with Dr. Dean Grubbs,  wants to know what size oyster or other shellfish prey these stingrays can can actually consume. Using a biomechanical (anatomy & engineering) approach, Matt can determine the bite force stingrays exert while feeding and how much corresponding force it takes to crush their prey. Much of his research centers on understanding the anatomical, structural, material, and behavioral aspects of eating "hard" or thick-shelled prey (termed "durophagy"). With this information, he can inform managers of vulnerable size ranges of commercially-valued shellfish and elucidate whether cownose rays are truly preying upon all size classes of these shellfish equally. Beyond these diet-based studies of cownose rays,Matt recently expanded his research to include how these and other stingrays have evolved the suite of anatomical characters necessary to consume hard prey. Related stingrays have been similarly implicated in effecting commercial shellfish stocks worldwide, often with very little understanding of their natural history or ecology.


Student Honors
We are pleased to note the awards and scholarships received by grad students working at the FSUCML. Among these are: the FSUCML's Graziadei Research Awards, which went to Ellen Kosman, Cheston Peterson, Matt Kolmann, Travis Richards, and Zack Boudreau. Mollie Taylor received an American Fisheries Society Tidewater Award for best student oral presentation. Matt Kolmann won the Sigma Xi Grant in Aid of Research Award and the Trillium Scholarship from University of Toronto, where he will pursue his Ph. D. Bob Ellis won the FSU Inter-American Seas Research Consortium Symposium best poster award, and a PADI Foundation (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) award to support his research. Cheston Peterson received a Guy Harvey Excellence Award, made possible by the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation. Chelsie Wagner received a graduate fellowship from the National Science Foundation.
Summer Classes for Undergraduates
Field Marine Science and Biology of Fishes were big hits this summer!All students lived at the lab for the duration, immersed in the marine realm from sun-up to sundown and often beyond. The students in Field Marine Science, led by Dr. Randall Hughes, conducted a field experiment, field survey, and mesocosm experiment examining the role of foraging crabs in reducing sediment accumulation on oyster reefs. This labor-intensive project involved many hours of walking around on, and handling oysters, so by the end of the second week, everyone was ready to eat a few! With a goal of becoming familiar with common coastal habitats in north Florida, the group squeezed in a few trips to seagrass beds and salt marshes as well as oyster reefs, enjoying the opportunity to don snorkels and masks (seagrass) instead of gloves and boots (oysters).


In Biology of Fishes, Dr. Dean Grubbs ensured that students gained an in-depth understanding of the biology and ecology of fishes, their evolution- ary history and relationships, as well as the forces that influenced the global distribution patterns of living fishes. Students worked diligently preparing fully articulated skeletons of large fishes collected during Dr. Grubbs's research cruises. In addition, they studied the diversity of fishes in our "back yard" -- from freshwater springs and tannic streams to beaches and seagrass beds. Students even participated in a fishery-independent sampling cruise for coastal sharks, capturing more than 100 sharks from 6 species. During the class, they captured more than 85 species of fishes, from pygmy killifish and pygmy sunfish 10-mm in length to a a bull shark more than 200 cm long. Finally, the students helped Dr. Grubbs identify dozens of rare deep-sea fishes, some that may be new to science, collected from 200 to 2,800 meters deep during research he and his students are conducting near the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Students enrolled in the Certificate Program in Marine Biology (directed by Dr. Coleman) are busy this summer doing hands-on research projects that  range from studies of sponge diversity and lobster-red grouper interactions in the Florida Keys, to the biogeochemistry of oil pollution in beach sediments, to evaluating the influence of fiddler crabs in the saltmarshes of Sapelo Island, Georgia.  Students prepared for these internships last fall by taking a course in critical thinking and learning how to write scientific papers.  By this coming fall, they will present their results to a tough audience of their peers, grad students, faculty members, and incoming certificate students.   To learn more about the internships and see what students have been doing over the last few years, visit the internship website.   
Special Events - Mark Your Calendar
Whatever Floats Your Boat - Oct. 6, 2012  
The object of this first ever FSUCML Regatta, Whatever Floats Your Boat, is not so much to get some place first as it is to simply stay afloat. The challenge is to create a homemade "boat" that is both artistically interesting and reasonably buoyant and constructed entirely of recycled material. Use your imagination.  

FSUCML Open House - April 20, 2013
Join us for our incredible bienniel fun-packed event. Starts at
10 AM and rounds up at 3 PM.  Learn about the marine environment right out your back door.   The open house is a fun-filled event for the whole family, with exhibits, children's activities, boat rides, lab tours, mini-lectures, and more.
All activities are free. A local vendor will have a food and beverage stand for your dining pleasure. Stay tuned for more information!

Updates will appear here
Conservation Lecture Series 
Talk, Talk and More Talk

As ever, the Conservation Lecture Series runs the gamut on topics. The sequence this year, includes the following:

Those already held:
  • January 19 - Dr. David Noakes, Professor and Senior Scientist, Oregon Hatchery Research Center, Oregon State University, "Steelhead, Smolts and Slime: the Oregon Hatchery Research Center"
  • February 9, 2012. Dr. Lon Wilkens, University of Missouri and FSU Alumnus. "The natural history of paddlefish and scallops."
  • March 8, 2012. Dr. Yannis Papstamatiou, University of Florida, "What, where and why? Novel tools and techniques for understanding shark behavior"
  • April 12, 2012. Dr. Paul R. Spitzer, Naturalist and Ecologist, "Dark Side of the Loon --migration and winter biology of the Common Loon"
  • May 10, 2012. Harley Means P.G., Florida Geological Survey, "The Geology of Apalachee Bay and Vicinity"

Coming up so add to your calendar!

  • June 14, 2012 Sharon McBreen, Pew Environment Group, Conserving fish in the Southeast
  • July 12, 2012 Dr. Mark Albins, Auburn University. "Invasion of the Lionfish"
  • August X TBD
  • September 13. Dr. Mark Hixon, Oregon State University. "Alien Predators in Marine Waters."

More information about upcoming talks 


  • Coleman, FC, KC Scanlon, CC Koenig,. 2011. Groupers on the Edge: Shelf Edge Spawning Habitat in and Around Marine Reserves of the Northeastern Gulf of Mexico. The Professional Geographer, 63(4) 2011:1-19.
  • Cotton, C.F., R.D. Grubbs, T.S. Daly-Engel, P.D. Lynch, J.A. Musick. 2011. Age, growth and reproduction of Squalus cf. mitsukurii from Hawaiian waters. Marine and Freshwater Research 62: 1-12
  • Fisher, R.A., G.C. Call, R.D. Grubbs. 2011. Cownose ray (Rhinoptera bonasus) predation relative to bivalve ontogeny. J. Shellfish Research 30(1): 187-196.
  • Greenberg, MJ, WF Herrnkind, FC Coleman. 2010[1]. Evolution of the Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory. Gulf of Mexico Science 2010(1-2): 149-163. Read here
  • Hughes, A.R. In press (To be published in June). Neighboring plant species creates associational refuge for consumer and host. Ecology.
  • Jennings, D.E., J.D. DiBattista, K.L. Stump, N.E. Hussey, B.R. Franks, R.D. Grubbs, S.H. Gruber. Accepted. Assessment of the aquatic biodiversity of a threatened coastal lagoon at Bimini, Bahamas.Journal of Coastal Conservation: Planning and Management
  • Kamel, S.J., A.R. Hughes, R.K. Grosberg, and J.J. Stachowicz. 2012. Fine-scale genetic structure and relatedness in eelgrass Zostera marina. Marine Ecology Progress Series 447:127-137.
  • Kimbro, D. L. 2012. Tidal regime dictates the cascading consumptive and nonconsumptive effects of multiple predators on a marsh plant. Ecology, 93(2), 2012, pp. 334-344
  • Koenig, CC, FC Coleman, K Kingon. 2011. Pattern of recovery of the goliath grouper Epinephelus itajara population in the southeastern US. Bulletin of Marine Science 87:891-911.
  • Nelson, MD, CC Koenig, FC Coleman, DA Mann. 2011. Sound production of red grouper Epinephelus morio on the West Florida Shelf. Aquatic Biology 12: 97-108
  • Nelson, J, R Wilson, F Coleman, C Koenig, D DeVries, C Gardner, J Chanton. 2012. Flux by fin: fish-mediated carbon and nutrient flux in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. Marine Biology (2012) 159:365-372
  • Veríssimo, A, D. Grubbs, J. McDowell, J. Musick, D. Portnoy. 2011. Frequency of multiple paternity in the spiny dogfish Squalus acanthias off the southeast the western North Atlantic. Journal of Heredity 102: 88-93

[1] Not actually published until Fall 2011

Back to Top

In This Issue
New Ship Takes Shape
Director's Message
Blending Art & Nature
Oil Spill Research
Goliath Grouper
Grad Student Spotlight
Summer Classes
Special Events
Lecture Series

Dir: Dr. Felicia Coleman
Assoc Dir: Mary Balthrop
Bus Mgr: Maranda Marxsen
Dir. Asst: Courtney Feehrer
Reservation: Sharon Thoman

Dennis Tinsley
Mark Daniels
Bobby Henderson
Linda Messer
Dan Overlin

DSO: Alex Chequer
Dive Tech: Sonja Bridges
Captain: Rosanne Weglinski

Dr. Felicia Coleman
Dr. Dean Grubbs
Dr. Bill Herrnkind (Emeritus)
Dr. Randall Hughes
Dr. David Kimbro
Dr. Christopher Koenig
Like us on Facebook
Points of Interest on the FSUCML Website
Featured Article
Deep-C Shark capture
FSUCML scientists engage in studies related to the Deepwater Horizon oil-spill through the FSU Deep-C Consortium, a $20 million grant that the university received competitively through the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, funded by BP.  Dr. Dean Grubbs is shown here with a 480-cm bluntnose sixgill shark