Sunday, March 28, 2010

Ocean Science Lecture-HBOI

Up in Ft. Pierce resides the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI). The organization was founded by Seward Johnson (of Johnson & Johnson products) and recently merged with Florida Atlantic University (FAU).
Hence the website:
For years, HBOI has presented the Ocean Science Lecture Series for the general public. It is fun to attend because you get a variety of people in the audience from researchers to the elderly. As a student, I spent some time living on the HBOI campus and attended these talks religiously. Now that I live far away, the lectures are a treat.
On March 17th, (yep, St. Patrick's Day) instead of drinking at a local pub, I drove 80+ miles to attend a lecture given by Dennis Hanisak, Ph.D. called "Algae? This is a color?" I have known Dennis for years and was, er, thrilled to support his passion - algae. He is a marine botanists and has a very different perspective on the oceans compared to my marine fauna loving comrades. I must give great compliment to those hard core scientists who still manage to keep not only a good sense of humor about their work, but are able to translate their research and knowledge into a great talk that can be understood and appreciated by all levels in the audience. Dennis, you rock!
The lecture served two different algae friendly portions - a general information session on algae, and a look at his research interests conducted on the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) and with seaweeds. This talk delved into the unknown and under-appreciated world of both micro and macroalgae. And in Dr. Hanisak's honor I will mention:
alga - singular algae - plural algaes - NOT a word

Some interesting points I want to make are how fast these organisms grow, and therefore are a vital portion of the marine food web. In addition, a great deal of oxygen - breathable oxygen - is produced by marine algae; I mean on par with what we get from the rainforest. There are forms of micro algae that even produce a usable grade of OIL as a by-product. Just like sharks get a bad rap for being excellent hunters, algae are typically considered slimy, pesky organisms even to many researchers. But we have to remember to both respect and give credit to the important role played by all organisms on our planet and in our oceans.

RATING: ~~~~~ (5 our of 5 waves) you should have been there

DO NOT LOSE HEART! Eventually, the entire lecture should be posted on YouTube, as are several from earlier in the 2010 Ocean Science Lecture Series, so you actually CAN see it for yourself. I'll be pulling those up as well, sharing thoughts, and providing the links so look for those in the future!

Got plans for Earth Day yet?

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