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Korallion 4 - 2013 is done

posted Jan 29, 2014, 5:56 PM by Erin Burge   [ updated Jan 29, 2014, 6:00 PM ]

I am very happy to announce that the fourth volume of Korallion is complete and published. This journal contains student research from our 2013 Ecology of Coral Reefs class in Discovery Bay, Jamaica. Two student editors from the 2013 class,Meg Oshima and Dan Freitas, participated in MSCI 399, Scientific Publishing, where they spent many (many) hours selecting manuscripts, working with authors, editing papers, and designing the layout for the journal. The full table of contents and individual research articles are available from the Student Publications page.

I am very proud of all the hard work the student editors and authors put into their respective projects. If you would like a digital copy (.pdf; 5 Mb) it is available for download

We are placing a bulk order for printed copies of Korallion from HP MagCloud

These first run copies are discounted with an order of 20+ from $18.60 to $14.60. Shipping is based on the total number ordered, but it should be around $2. 

If you would like one or more of these first run copies use the Donate button to transfer the money to the Jamaica account via Paypal and I will add you to the list to receive one. I would like to submit the order by Wednesday, February 5, so have the money to me by then. Each printed copy will cost $16.60 including shipping. If you decide to order a printed copy later (without the bulk discount) they can be ordered and shipped directly to you from HP MagCloud.

For first run copies 1 copy = $16.60; 2 copies = $33.20; 3 copies = $49.80; etc.

Past Jamaica student's graduate research on lionfish featured in Smithsonian Science!

posted Apr 25, 2013, 8:44 AM by Erin Burge   [ updated Apr 25, 2013, 9:22 AM ]

2008 Jamaica student and CCU graduate, Andrews Sellers, has his graduate work on parasites of lionfish in the Caribbean featured on Smithsonian Science - "a website produced by the Smithsonian’s Office of Public Affairs featuring stories, photos and videos of Smithsonian scientific research that asks questions and explores issues relevant to today and pushes the boundaries of human knowledge." Congratulations to Andrew! See the original article here: http://smithsonianscience.org/2013/04/andrew-sellers-turns-lionfish-invasion-into-research-opportunity/

Biologist Andrew Sellers turns lionfish invasion into research opportunity

By John Barrat/ Posted 24 April 2013

Covered in venomous spines the exotic and strikingly banded Indo-Pacific lionfish would be painful mouthful to any creature that may try to catch and eat it. Brought into the United States by aquarium hobbyists untold years ago, scientists believe a few of these fish were discarded live into the Atlantic off southern Florida sometime around the late 1980s. Now this voracious species is found as far north as Virginia and south to Venezuela. They are spreading still.

At the Smithsonian’s Tropical Research Institute in Panama, Andrew Sellers is turning this invasion into opportunity by examining just what Atlantic parasites are adopting the lionfish as a host.

dec2011 066

Andrew Sellers captures a large lionfish in Belize to take back to his laboratory for study.
(Photo by Edgardo Ochoa, dive officer at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute)

“Basically, I’m looking at how parasite abundance and diversity in the lionfish varies across latitudes,” Sellers explains.  “It has been suggested that invasive species don’t do as well in the tropics as they do in temperate areas, the theory being that stronger biotic interactions—competition for food, predators and parasitism—in the tropics may limit the success of an invasive species.

“As lionfish have spread so rapidly across such a broad lattudinal gradient, they make a very good model” says Sellers, who works in the Tropical Research Institute’s invasive species lab run by marine biologist Mark Torchin.

In addition to Panama, Sellers has traveled to Florida, Mexico and Belize catching lionfish and closely examining them to see what parasites are living on and inside their bodies. “For external parasites we’ve found—isopods and turbellaria, a flatworm that infects the gills. We have found that external parasites infecting the lionfish are more diverse at low latitudes,” he says.

“Inside the fish we’ve found both trematodes [worms also known as flukes] and nematodes.”

dec2011 062

Tropical Research Institute scientist Mark Torchin, left, and Andrew Sellers place a lionfish specimen in a special collecting bag which prevents the divers from being stung by the animals. This photo was taken in Belize.
(Photo by Edgardo Ochoa, Dive Officer at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute)

In his analysis Sellers examines and records the condition of each individual fish—size, weight, length—to see if the parasites are having any impact on their health.

“Overall, we are finding the abundance of parasites on the lionfish is pretty low, which is what we’d expect in an invasive species,” Sellers continues.


A lionfish in Bocas del Toro (Photo by Andrew Sellers)

Sellers also has begun looking into lionfish interactions with cleaner fish in the Caribbean. These small fish set up cleaning stations on brain coral heads where other fish—called client fish—congregate to have parasites removed from their bodies.

“What I am looking at is whether potential native competitors to lionfish are receiving a benefit from these cleanerfish that lionfish are not, i.e. parasite removal,” Sellers explains. “In general introduced species are believed to harbor fewer parasites than natives, however these cleaners may be affecting this imbalance by removing parasites from the native but not the invader.”

Female lionfish reproduce by laying a buoyant egg mass that is fertilized by a male, Sellers explains. The egg mass is then carried off into the ocean currents—a very effective method of dispersal. By 2005 people began seeing lionfish in the Bahamas. “We started seeing them in Panama about 2008, 2009,” Sellers says. “Now divers can find them everywhere along the coast from 0 to 300 feet down.” Cold water intolerance has limited their spread north along the coast of the United States to just below New York.

“Basically it appears the Atlantic coast of Central and South America is a pretty good place for these fish,” Sellers says. “It appears they have plenty of food, no enemies and few parasites.” –John Barrat

2013 1st Jamaica lecture, 4/18 CSCC

posted Apr 15, 2013, 1:11 PM by Erin Burge   [ updated Apr 15, 2013, 1:12 PM ]

lionfish gut contents
Our first Jamaica lecture is scheduled for Thursday, April 18, at 5PM in CSCC 201. Please remember to join our class Dropbox folder as soon as possible. This folder will be used to share class files and will also provide a centralized place for you to share your data and files for safe storage. If you need a re-invitation, let me know. Everyone should create a <lastname.firstname> folder in the <Student Projects> folder. Your approved proposal, data spreadsheets, Powerpoint presentation, and final paper will eventually populate this folder. Go ahead and add your proposal now. 

We have added the coral and fish species identification lists to the Dropbox folder. These will be fair game for one of your required ID quizzes in Jamaica. That quiz could consist of field, laboratory and/or photographic identifications. There are also links to several online resources for fish and coral ID in the folder. Also be aware that the Humann and Deloach Reef Fishes book is indispensable for Jamaica. REEF.org has online quizzes (http://www.reef.org/resources/quizzes) and fish ID webinars (http://www.reef.org/resources/webinars) that you should check out. 

I would encourage all of you to participate in the REEF fish survey database (http://www.reef.org/programs/volunteersurvey). This is a fun way to do citizen-science while diving, and contributes to their long-term and world-wide surveys of fishes. E-mail me with questions, and get your dive physicals and passport copies to me.

Meeting, February 1, 3:30PM

posted Jan 28, 2013, 9:55 AM by Erin Burge   [ updated Jan 28, 2013, 10:00 AM ]

Jamaican currency
We would like to hold a meeting Friday, February 1, at 3:30 in CSCC 201 (or nearby). At this meeting we will give more details about proposals, and set deadlines for submission (hint: March 1 seems good!). We can also answer any questions you may have. 

Project selection and proposal writing are the MOST IMPORTANT tasks you have complete between now and when we leave and ultimately a good proposal will translate into you getting more out of your Jamaica experience. See the advice from former students and notice how many mention this!

To aid in your planning I have copies of the Library and Resource DVD ready to go. Stop by to pick them up ASAP! The DVD represents over 900 references (most with .pdfs) for your use. There are close to 200 papers that are from undergraduate projects, many conducted in Discovery Bay. Pay special attention to those from the journals Korallion, Physis, Dartmouth Studies in Tropical Biology, and Tropical Biology. Download the DBML Dive Physical form that is REQUIRED to dive in Jamaica. Go ahead and make an appointment with Student Health Services to get this taken care of for free. They have a limited number of slots available each week so don't wait until late and have to pay for this yourselves.

Korallion 3 is done!

posted Dec 10, 2012, 10:44 AM by Erin Burge   [ updated Dec 10, 2012, 1:53 PM ]

Korallion - Maymester 2012
I am very happy to announce that the third volume of Korallion is complete. This research compilation contains student projects from our 2012 Ecology of Coral Reefs class in Discovery Bay, Jamaica.

I am very proud of all the hard work the student editors (Karaleigh Leonard and Lorna Scribner) and authors put into their respective projects. If you would like a digital copy of the compilation (.pdf; 10 Mb) it is available for download from the Student Publications tab. I will add separate links to the individual papers once I have some time.  

If you are interested in a paper copy of Korallion 3 we are placing a bulk order for professional printing with HP MagCloud. We can get a 25% discount on the order with a minimum purchase of 20 copies. These first run copies will cost *$14.00 including shipping* with the 25% discount and a reduced shipping price. 

If you would like one or more of these first run copies use the Donate button to transfer the money to the Jamaica account via Paypal. Send me an e-mail confirming how many copies you want, and I'll get you on the list. If we fail to make 20 copies we can decide as a group what to do. 

I would like to submit the order by Monday, December 17, so have the money in before then. If you decide to order a printed copy later (without the bulk discount) they can be ordered and shipped directly to you from HP MagCloud for about $17 + shipping. If you won't be around after Christmas I can mail your copies to you separately. 

For first run copies, 1 copy = $14; 2 copies = $28; 3 copies = $42; 4 copies = $56; 5 copies = $70.

Congratulations to the Jamaica Maymester class of 2013!

posted Nov 16, 2012, 11:37 AM by Erin Burge   [ updated Nov 17, 2012, 4:42 PM ]

Final decisions have been made regarding the enrollment for the Coral Reef Maymester courses. Please check your Coastal e-mail to confirm your status. As an additional way to keep in touch and receive course updates, join our Facebook group.

As a first start to thinking and planning for the trip be sure to visit the Advice page. Follow up on your acceptance by getting your next deposit payment into the International Programs office and getting more information together to begin to focus on your research topic. After visiting the research page check in with Dr. Koepfler and Dr. Burge about your idea(s). CDs containing library resources are being worked on, and they will be issued to participant students as soon as they are finished. In the mean time visit the Reading List  (start with this one http://www.unesco.org/csi/pub/papers/gayle.htm). Also consider suggesting these gift ideas to your parents, as they will enhance your learning in Jamaica!

If you were selected for the course but will be unable to attend please let me know ASAP. We have a couple of students on a waiting list. Once we begin expending funds to pay for the trip costs we will be unable to issue you a refund.

The 2013 class will also produce the 4th issue of a student edited volume of papers, Korallion, that serves as an archive of our research. If you are interested in an editorial position (2-3 available with enrollment in Fa13 MSCI 399 Scientific Publishing, 1 cr) please let Dr. Burge know if you are interested in this.

If you do not already have a valid passport apply for one ASAP. You can find an application and more information at http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html.

SCUBA certification is required to get the most out of the trip, so if you are not already certified talk to Steve Luff (sluff@coastal.edu; Coastal Dive Safety Officer) or sign up for a class at a local dive shop. Certification dives can be completed in Jamaica at the discretion of our dive safety officer. The option of NAUI Advanced certification is also available this year at Steve's discretion.

We will have other details and and a more complete timeline after the holidays. Full balances for the trip must be paid by February 15 in order to secure a discount that is already built into the budget. If you want to get a jump on buying dive equipment or books take a look at the Packing Lists.

So Congrats! Enjoy Thanksgiving & Good Luck on Finals!

Organizational Meeting for 2013 Maymester in Jamaica

posted Oct 4, 2012, 9:12 AM by Erin Burge   [ updated Oct 4, 2012, 9:15 AM ]



Want Great Research & Diving Experience?

Need Advanced University Credit?


Study, Research and SCUBA dive in Discovery Bay, Jamaica 2013


·      (MSCI 477) Ecology of Coral Reefs (3hrs)

·      (MSCI 499) Research Credit (3hrs)


This course will be taught during Maymester at the

University of the West Indies Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory

In Discovery Bay, northern Coast of Jamaica


Course web page:


Frequently asked questions?


1st Organizational Meeting

October 9th, 3:30pm MSCI Office Suite, Coastal Science Center 151


For additional details contact either:

Dr. Eric Koepfler (eric@coastal.edu; 843-349-2222)

Dr. Erin Burge (eburge@coastal.edu; 843-349-6491)

Coastal Carolina University, Conway SC 29526

Final 2012 meeting - Monday, April 30, 4PM

posted Apr 29, 2012, 6:13 PM by Erin Burge   [ updated Apr 29, 2012, 6:13 PM ]

The most agreeable time from the people I heard back from is Monday at 4PM. We will meet in CSCC 201. Come prepared with questions. I will return proposals with any comments I might have made. Remember that you are responsible for getting or having me order (probably too late now) anything you might need for your project. We will be packing lab supplies this week, and I'll let you know what "generic" equipment I will pack for everyone.

Final 2012 Meeting-RESPONSE REQUIRED

posted Apr 28, 2012, 5:47 AM by Erin Burge   [ updated Apr 28, 2012, 5:48 AM ]

1. Meeting time: Use the Doodle poll to indicate availability. Do it now! This will allow me to choose a time that works best for everyone. Indicate all of your available time slots. The first ones are on Monday so don't wait. http://doodle.com/5swnu7x88nfk6rad 

2. Proposals: I will have final comments back to you on proposals during the meeting. With the exception of one slacker who hasn't turned in a proposal, these look much better than the 1st round. 

3. Material lists: If you did not include a Materials List in your proposal, e-mail me one ASAP. You are responsible for insuring that the necessary materials to do your project get in the cases and to Jamaica. Cases will be available for packing all next week in my research lab. Stop by and insure what you need gets in there!

4. Packing: The checked bag MUST be under 40#. Here are the requirements for baggage: http://www.spirit.com/Policiesbags.aspx

5. Slates, notebooks and gloves: If you requested a slate ($9) and/or notebook ($8) I have them. Bring cash to receive. If you want the best dive gloves ever (http://www.coopersafety.com/product/atlas-therma-fit-gloves-12-pairs-1310.aspx), we could split a box of 12. This is what I wear. Let me know ASAP. $6/pair incl. shipping.

6. Are you interested in a pool refresher session with Steve? If so we will discuss at our meeting on __________ at _____ in ________. If you have new or borrowed gear, or haven't been diving in a while it is really important (in your best interest) to make sure that your stuff works.

7. Get ready for one of the most intense, fun, educational, and exhausting experiences of your lives!

Rosemary Abbitt ('09) joins NOAA Corps

posted Apr 20, 2012, 9:34 PM by Erin Burge   [ updated Apr 24, 2012, 11:04 AM ]

Congratulations to Rosemary Abbitt, a 2009 Jamaica participant, on her appointment to the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps!

ENS Rosemary P. Abbitt reported to the NOAA Corps Officer Training Center on 4 February 2012, to begin her basic training in the NOAA Commissioned Corps. Prior to joining the NOAA Commissioned Corps, ENS Abbitt was participating in an internship at the Atlantic Hydrographic Branch (AHB) at NOAA's Marine Operations Center – Atlantic, in Norfolk, Virginia, through Earth Resources Technology, Inc. During her time at AHB, she reviewed hydrographic surveys for acceptance and compiled surveys for the updating of nautical charts. Additionally, she sailed on the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson and the NOAA Ship Ferdinand Hassler, while learning about Multibeam and Side Scan Sonar field acquisition and processing. Prior to working with NOAA's National Ocean Service, she worked at Springmaid Pier in their tackle shop in Myrtle Beach, SC while she was working on her undergrad. 

ENS Abbitt graduated from Piedmont Virginia Community College with an Associate's Degree in General Studies of Science and then graduated from Coastal Carolina University (CCU) in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Science. ENS Abbitt was born to be in the water, on the water, and under the water! She has always had a love of the ocean and her name actually means "Dew of the Sea." 

ENS Abbitt's other proficiencies include being a NAUI certified Advanced Diver, and she is fascinated by coral reef and fishes. She conducted an independent research project during her senior year at CCU on Coral Diversity in Discovery Bay, Jamaica and she aspires to become a working diver for NOAA in the near future to continue her dive education. 

While ENS Abbitt enjoyed learning about Hydrography during her internship, and becoming somewhat of a "Hydro Geek," she aspires to be a "Fish Head" and sail on a NOAA's Fisheries vessel for her first sea assignment. Although she has an open mind and will gladly go where ever she is needed! She is proud to serve her country and she looks forward to a long career in the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps!

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