Corals of the Deep    
Dr. Sandra Brooke studies the little known species of coral that are found in the deep sea. While some species lack pigment, like the coral depicted on the right, others are just as colorful and vibrant as their better-known shallow-water counterparts, and are just as important for the ecosystem services they provide.  Deepwater corals can be found in nearly all of the world's oceans. They grow slowly and live for hundreds of years.  As they grow, they incorporate minerals into their skeletons, providing a history of seawater chemistry  that allows scientists to interpret changes in climate and ocean conditions.

Dr. Brooke has dedicated her career to studying these mysterious organisms. Most recently, she embarked on a month-long research cruise with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to survey deepwater canyons in the Mid-Atlantic.  During that cruise, the scientists discovered a new biologically diverse chemosynthetic community. For more information about the research and this exciting discovery, click here.
Please join us in welcoming Dr. Chip Cotton
who came to use from Savannah State University, where he was a post doc, after earning his Ph. D. from the College of William and Mary, Virginia Institute of Marine Science.  He joined the FSUCML team in mid June. His research efforts are broadly applied to studies of life history and ecology for a variety of marine fishes.  Because some of the species he studies are rare or poorly described--especially those from the deep-sea--a portion of his work focuses on taxonomy.  But he is also very interested in estuarine and marine fishes important to the ecology and economy of this region, including groupers, drum, and coastal sharks. 

As a member of the Deep-C Consortium,Dr. Cotton is studying the age, growth, and the reproductive strategies of dogfish (Squalus spp.) and gulper sharks (Centrophorus spp.) to determine how these characteristics are affected by exposure to pollutants. He and colleagues from around the world are also teasing apart the taxonomic relationships among the entire family of gulper sharks (Family Centrophoridae). 
Dr. Cotton is also working with Dr. Dean Grubbs on biotelemetry studies using pop-off satellite transmitters to track migration patterns of sixgill sharks (Hexanchus griseus) as well as habitat use and movement patterns of the Atlantic stingray (Dasyatis sabina).  As if this were not enough, he has a long-standing interest in fishes that produce sounds, especially drum (Family Sciaenidae) and marine catfishes (Family Ariidae), with a growing interest in the groupers, which will bring his research on these unique species closer to home at the FSUCML. 
Director's Report

Summer is drawing to a close, the RV APALACHEE is busy at sea, and we have had a suite of visitors this season ranging from high school students from Missouri to grad students from Brazil.


I like to take this time of year to thank the incredible people with whom I work every day -- the staff, faculty, and grad students at the FSUCML who thoroughly support the lab's research, education, and outreach mission.  The staff works tirelessly to ensure that the faculty, students, and visitors (other scientists, students, and agency groups) can do their work as seamlessly as possible, getting all that they can from working here.  The faculty and many of the grad students, in addition to their research, mentor students of all ages while engaging in service at local, national, and international levels. Whew!  What a crew!


I would also like to thank our old and new friends who support us by using the lab and all the gifts it has to offer.  Among them are:   



  • Dr. Stan Kunigelis (Lincoln Memorial University, Harrowgate, TN) - Conducting annual plankton (Y8) and estuarine (Y20) surveys. 
  • Dr. Craig Plante (College of Charleston) - characterizing flow regime and sampling surficial intertidal and shallow subtidal sediments for molecular characterization of benthic microalgae.
  • Grad students Deanna Beatty (Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA) - evaluating diversity of Spartina clones and the effects on below-ground microbial community diversity; Leco Bueno (Universidade Federal do Espirito Santo, Brazil) - studying the distribution and abundance of goliath grouper; Marisano James (University of California, Davis) - working on the evolution of vision in insects using a strepsipteran parasite of the saltmarsh leaf-hoppers Prokelisia marginata and P. dolus; Elizabeth Lange (Clemson University, SC) - collecting sailfin mollies; and Robyn Zerebecki (University of British Columbia, Vancouver) - using field experiments to investigate  genetic diversity within Spartina  marsh grasses
  • Keith Jones (Pure Fishing, Spirit Lake, IA) - Studying chemoreception in Gulf inshore fish species related to bait
  • Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission - conducting seagrass monitoring  as part of their annual evaluation of the health of seagrass beds throughout the Big Bend region.
University-sponsored classes
  • University of Georgia, Athens, GA  (Dr. Catherine Ketter)- survey of coastal flora and fauna for introductory marine biology students (a long-time friend of the lab)
  • University of Southern Mississippi, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (Dr. Richard Heard) - Field trip for Marine Invertebrate Zoology class for collection of representative marine invertebrates
  • Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) Tallahassee, FL  (Dr. Jennifer Cherrier) - NOAA Environmental Cooperative Science Center Wide Core Competency Short Course - "Multidisciplinary Techniques in Marine Science & Policy"
High School classes
  • World Aquarium Aquatic & Marine Science Initiative, St. Lois, MO (Sam Berendzen, instructor) -- field program for St. Louis Metropolitan area high school students (preference to at-risk, low income students) to motivate students to seek careers in marine and aquatic sciences
  • North Gwinnet High School, Suwanee, GA - (Ken Leach, instructor) - sampling habitats in the vicinity of the FSUCML
  • University of Florida IFAS Extension, Taylor County -- (Geoff Wallat, Marine and Natural Resources Extension Agent) -- Marine science instruction for the Taylor County 4-H Club
  • Levy County GEAR UP Program (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) -  (Jennifer Seyez, GEAR UP Coach) -- Marine science instruction for  students from Chiefland High School and Bronson High School.


  • Bill Williams (SCG Governmental Affairs, Tallahassee, FL) - The Academic, Environmental & Economic Symposium, Exploring a Comprehensive, Strategic & Synergistic Approach to RESTORE Act Projects and Funding
Whatever Floats Your Boat is Back!  
Everyone had so much fun at our last Whatever Floats Your Boat Regatta, that we decided to do it again! Our Second Annual Whatever Floats Your Boat Regatta will take place on October 12, 2013. We hope that you will join us for this fun and exciting race to the finish. Remember...your boat must be constructed out of recycled materials that were not originally intended for a boat, such as a propeller or sail.  Click here for more details and to register.

Want to be a Regatta Sponsor?   If you are interested in being a WFYB Regatta Sponsor, please let us know by emailing [email protected]  for more information.  Sponsorship helps cover the costs of the race and helps support public education at the lab.  Plus, sponsors' logos are displayed on the WFYB Regatta webpage, on the FSUCML Facebook page, and in any other FSUCML produced media regarding the event.
Graduate Student Research 
Thanks in part to scholarships provided by the FSUCML Board of Trustees, graduate students have been busy this summer, immersed in research. 

Will Ryan (Advisor, Dr. Tom Miller, FSU), one of the scholarship recipients, has been studying how seasonal and geographic changes in temperature influence individual sea anemones allocation to sexual versus asexual reproduction. He is working with a tiny, yet charismatic sea anemone (Diadumene lineata) that was native to Asia, but has become globally distributed by hitchhiking on ships and seed oysters.  For better or worse, these anemones can be found on oyster beds around the FSUCML.  Will is comparing the energetic allocation to sex in these populations with those found off coasts of Georgia and Massachusetts. He is also growing individuals from each population under different temperature regimes to test whether they are locally adapted to their "home" environments. If so, their home conditions should stimulate them to clone themselves rather than risk sex, which might benefit them more if they are stuck in a poor environment.  


Cheston Peterson (Advisor, Dr. Dean Grubbs, FSUCML), also a scholarship recipient, has completed the Grubbs Lab's annual Big Bend shark survey, during which they sample Florida Big Bend coastal waters from St. Marks to Tarpon Springs. They did this over four weeks primarily in June and caught over 900 sharks of 11 different species. They will use the data to examine patterns of abundance and distribution of those species. Muscle biopsies they collected from  all species (including bony fishes) are being used for stable isotope analysis to look at food web structure across the Big Bend.  


  Congrats to the 2013 Guy Harvey Scholarship Winners

Congratulations to FSU graduate students, Robert Ellis (Advisor: Dr. Felicia Coleman FSUCML) and Johanna Imhoff (Advisor: Dr. Dean Grubbs FSUCML) on receiving 2013 Guy Harvey Scholarship Awards, which are given to students conducting research related to the biology, ecology, habitat, or management of fish in Florida's marine environment. Our scholars will receive $5,000 each to support their research.  For Ellis this is studies of red grouper ecology, in particular the interactions between juvenile red grouper and spiny lobster in Florida Bay and beyond, and for Imhoff, this is research on mercury contamination in deep sea sharks throughout the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. 

Grad Student Spotlight
Graduate student, Johanna Imhoff received her B.S. and M.S. in Marine Biology from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, where she studied the utility of an accelerometer tag for detecting feeding movements (e.g., chasing) in juvenile lemon sharks.  She then worked at the Florida Museum of Natural History for three years conducting fishery-independent surveys and tagging and tracking bull sharks and smalltooth sawfish in Florid waters. She came to the FSUCML with broad interests in feeding and movement ecology of marine fishes.


Johanna's dissertation research is focused on trophic (= feeding) ecology and mercury contamination in deepwater sharks in and near the De Soto Canyon in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. She is studying six species of sharks that are mid-level predators, occupy a range of depths and demonstrate a range of feeding habits. She is interested in evaluating depth-mediated differences in feeding ecology of these species from a community ecology perspective. She also will investigate whether mercury contamination reflects feeding ecology along this depth gradient, and with respect to competition and niche partitioning. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill created the perfect environment for elevating methylmercury levels, in that methylation of mercury is facilitated by the microbes that degrade the oil and dispersants and the FSUCML's new vessel, the RV APALACHEE, provides the perfect platform for this work. Questions remain about the extent to which methylmercury has increased in the animals of the De Soto Canyon since the oil spill.  


In addition to this work, Johanna is investigating mercury contamination in sandbar sharks (Carcharhinus plumbeus) from Hawaii. She and Dr. Grubbs are comparing the total mercury concentrations of sandbar sharks caught in 2003-2005 to published values from sandbar sharks caught in 1971. They have muscle tissue from a wide range of shark sizes from embryos to adults, and from both stillborn and healthy embryos. 


Johanna attributes her success on these projects  to the support she has received from the FSUCML Scholarship and from Dr. Bill Landing (FSU Department of Earth Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences), in whose lab she has conducted her mercury analyses, with significant help from Dr. Vincent Perrot (postdoc in EOAS) and Ph.D. student Nish Krishnamurthy.  

Undergraduate Summer Classes 2013  
Photo courtesy of undergraduate, Evan Courtney 
Undergraduate students immersed themselves in science this summer in the courses Field Marine Science and Biology of Fishes. Dr. Chris Koenig led a very energetic Field Marine Science class into the field, where students learned about coastal habitats and the associated flora and fauna. Their primary goal was to identify anthropogenic stressors on seagrass habitat using sampling designs geared toward detecting habitat change. This photo album contains pictures from their experience which were taken by some of the students themselves.

Dr. Dean Grubbs designed the Biology of Fishes course to provide an overview of the most diverse group of vertebrates on Earth, the fishes, in environments ranging from freshwater to estuarine and marine areas in the vicinity of the FSUCML. The students began by investigating the evolution of fishes and the relationships, biodiversity, and zoogeography of the living fishes. They then examined aspects of form, function, physiology, and behavior, emphasizing adaptations to life in aquatic and marine habitats at different life stages. The class ended with a discussion of fisheries, conservation, and management of fish populations. 
Undergraduate Research

This summer, undergraduate students in the Program of Marine Biology and Living Marine Resource Ecology linked up with the FSUCML graduate students and post-docs to get a taste of what it means to be a research scientist. Kali Spurgin, working with FSUCML post doc Dr. Stephen Gosnell, is working on local oyster reefs to determine how young oysters respond to the presence of predators.  Her project may offer some insight on how natural oyster reefs are structured, thus informing how we rebuild oyster reefs or grow oysters for harvest.  She is also evaluating how crown conch, a major predator in Appalachicola Bay, affect growth of oysters in aquaculture settings. 


Undergraduate Evan Courtney -- an avid fishing and boating enthusiast -- is working with grad student Zach Boudreau on stone crabs. For his project, he is conducting a tethering experiment with stone crabs to evaluate how claw loss influences rates of predation and burrow creation.  Before joining Zach, Evan had a productive summer immersed in research in the Field Marine Science class.


Rachel Pool, Ashley Dillon, and Katie Kaiser all tagged Will Ryan as their graduate student mentor.   Rachel Pool is interested in community patterns in marine invertebrate recruitment. This summer, she placed stacks of settlement tiles in the seagrass near the FSUCML and off the dock at the Gulf Specimens Marine Lab in Panacea in order to compare marine larval settlement and post settlement competition for space on differently oriented surfaces.  She will  continue the experiment into the fall so that she can evaluate the direct and indirect effects of gastropod predators on competition dynamics between the sessile invertebrates on the plates as the communities grow.  


Ashley Dillon  is studying the behaviors exhibited by local sea anemones in the presence of their nudibranch predators.  Her  experiments are designed to characterize the interactions between these two understudied species. Thus, she is looking at the foraging behavior and prey choices of the nudibranch as well as the influence of nudibranch presence on the growth and behavior of the anemones.  


Katie Kaiser, after observing aggressive behavior of hermit crabs towards crown conchs, became interested in the relationship between these two species because hermit crabs often inhabit crown conch shells.  She has been characterizing the size and species distributions of snail shells preferred by hermit crabs both at the FSUCML and in St. Joe Bay.  Using this information, she has been conducting choice experiments to elucidate those species most vulnerable to direct aggression from hermit crabs.


Meaghan Feletti is working in the Florida Keys with graduate student Bob Ellis on the diet of invasive lionfish. Compared to lionfish in their native range (the Indo-Pacific), the lionfish invading U. S. waters are eating more, growing faster, and showing up in much higher densities.   Compared to native predators, lionfish can completely denude a reef of reef fish in just a few years.  Meaghan's study is the first to evaluate the diets of this invasive species as it invades a novel habitat, and will help us to better understand the full impact of this invasion.

Conservation Lecture Series 
As ever, the Conservation Lecture Series runs the gamut on topics yearly from January through October. We have already hosted a number of excellent speakers covering a broad array of topics, ranging from the oil spill to Florida black bears, but we are not done yet! We still have two lectures to go this fall, including:    


September 12, 2013 7 p.m. Dr. Chip Cotton, FSUCML, Deep Sea Fishes.  


October 10, 2013 7 p.m. Dr. Kate Mansfield, University of Central Florida, FOUND: the sea turtle lost years.

Updates will appear here.   

The FSUCML as a Research or Retreat Site 

Photo by Nic Baldwin
Photo by Nic Baldwin, Baldwin Photography
The Florida State University Coastal & Marine Laboratory is imbedded in a mosaic of habitat types, making it a perfect location for university faculty to conduct research, teach, or hold retreats.  Nestled in St. Teresa on the Gulf of Mexico, this is a largely undeveloped and pristine part of the Florida coast. In addition to the rich and diverse ecological communities surrounding the lab, we also have a broad range of facilities available, including three classrooms (one a fully-operational greenhouse lab), dormitory space for 46 people (one sleeping 16 while four others sleep 6 each), as well as a number of research vessels ranging in size from 13 ft. to 65 ft., from kayaks to the RV APALACHEE. There are several laboratories available, as well as a common analytical lab with a fume hood, freezers, drying ovens, and microscopes.


Check out our Facilities page to learn more about housing, boats, and equipment available in classrooms, laboratories, and research greenhouses. You can make a reservation online here.  To visit the lab, please schedule an appointment either by email ([email protected]) or phone (850-697-4120).  

Hellos and Farewells
 Just as the tides ebb and flow, people come and go here at the lab. Join us in welcoming the new additions of 2013:

Dr. Chip Cotton - New Research Faculty Member (Fisheries Ecologist, highlighted above)
Nicole Martin - Marine Operations TechnicianNicole completed her M. Sc. degree in Environmental Science with a marine focus at Florida Gulf Coast
University in Ft. Myers, just prior to coming to the FSUCML.  At the lab, she is in charge of keeping up with all of the research equipment and helping the scientists get what they need for success in the field and in the lab.  

Lara Edwards - Assistant to the Director. Lara is a local from Sopchoppy, where she lives with her husband, son, dogs, and cat. She brings with her a connection to the local community as well as a passion for connecting the lab with new people.    
and bidding farewell to:

Courtney Feehrer (Former Assistant to the Director), who left to fulfill her lifelong dream of being in the Peace Corps. Her assignment is in Ecuador where she is working with the local people to help minimize the spread of disease.

Alex Chequer -
(Former Diving Safety Officer) returned to Bermuda to help guide a new research program on lionfish.  
Brittany Sims - (Former Outreach Leader) - who moved to St. Augustine with her fiance to start her new life.  We wish you all the very best.
In This Issue
Corals of the Deep
Dr. Chip Cotton
Director's Report
Whatever Floats
Grad Student Research
Grad Student Spotlight
Dr. Stephen Gosnell
Undergraduate Research
Lecture Series
Bring Your Group to the Lab!
Hellos and Farewells

Dir: Dr. Felicia Coleman
Assoc Dir: Mary Balthrop
Bus Mgr: Maranda          Marxsen
Reservations: Durene Gilbert
Dir. Asst: Lara Edwards

Mark Daniels
Bobby Henderson
Linda Messer
Dan Overlin
Dennis Tinsley  

DSO (Interim): Sonja Bridges
Captain: Rosanne Weglinski
Marine Tech: Nicole Martin

Dr. Sandra Brooke
Dr. Felicia Coleman 
Dr. Chip Cotton
Dr. Stephen Gosnell (Post Doc) 
Dr. Dean Grubbs
Dr. Bill Herrnkind (Emeritus)
Dr. Christopher Koenig
Like us on Facebook
Points of Interest on the FSUCML Website
Featured Article

Dr. Chip Cotton joins the FSUCML faculty to conduct research on deep sea fishes, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico.