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February Science Café: The Secret Life of Fish

By Kathleen Laufenberg, National High Magnetic Field Laboratory


The Secret Life of Fish:
Grouper Sex and Other Salty Stuff


When: February 5th, 6:15 to 7:30 p.m.
Where: Ray’s Steel City Saloon,
515 John Knox Road, Tallahassee
Cost: Free

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Marine biologist Felicia Coleman has the answers to some juicy sea-creature questions — and she’s ready to reveal them on Feb. 5 at the MagLab’s first Science Café of 2013. Take grouper sex, for example. Coleman, the director of the Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory, has the down low on an amazing gender-transforming scenario that regularly plays out beneath the waves.

 Coleman Feb2013-SCMarine biologist Felicia Coleman will speak at the February 2013 Science Café.

Given the right circumstances, some types of grouper switch from female to male. Why? How? Not surprisingly, learning the answers to those questions helped lure Coleman into her specialty: marine ecology and reef fish.

“When I found out about the sex-change aspect, I was hooked,” says Coleman, who is also the scientific director of the Deep-C Consortium, a long-term, interdisciplinary study of deep-sea-to-coast connectivity in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

If you’d like to discover more secrets about the sea and its denizens, head to Science Café at Ray’s Steel City Saloon, 515 John Knox Road, on Feb. 5. The MagLab- sponsored event starts at 6:15 p.m. and wraps up by 7:30 p.m. Get there early to grab a seat and order something tasty to nosh on.

Click image to download
event poster (PDF).

Coleman will also talk about the grouper’s homebuilding proclivities. Some grouper dig — yes, dig — giant holes that other marine animals like to hang out in, including shrimp, lobster, coral, anemones and more. These busy beavers of the fish world have been spotted digging holes more than 16 feet across and 9 feet deep! Their engineering skill also has weighty implications for what may happen if humans continue to ignore the role these amazing fish play in the marine world.

After Coleman wows you with stories about some of the strange goings-on in the ocean, the winter Science Café line-up will continue monthly through May with a stellar cast. In March, the intrepid Darrel Tremaine, a young MagLab scientist in chemical oceanography, will talk about his trek into caves such as the Dragon’s Tooth for clues to our climate’s history.

April presents a special treat, bringing former MagLab scientist Jennifer Stern to the venue to talk about being a scientist who works on the Curiosity Mars Rover — and what we’ve discovered so far. In May, FSU’s new vice president of research, Gary Ostrander, will wrap up the series, which then takes a break for the summer.

Science Café, held the first Tuesday of the month, is free and gives you a chance to ask the experts your own questions. See you there!

Source:  National High Magnetic Field Laboratory

Dean Grubbs

Dr. Felicia Coleman, Director of The Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory,  is studying 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  -- she is concentrating 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. 

The Deep-C consortium is a long-term, interdisciplinary study investigating the environmental consequences of petroleum hydrocarbon release in the deep Gulf of Mexico on living marine resources and ecosystem health. The consortium focuses on the geomorphologic, hydrologic, and biogeochemical settings that influence the distribution and fate of the oil and dispersants released during the Deepwater Horizon accident, and is using the resulting data for model studies that support improved responses to possible future incidents.

Grouper Sex and Other Salty Stuff

Deep-C was a four-year, interdisciplinary study of deep sea to coast connectivity in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico.Deep-C is no longer an active research project.  The information on this website is for historical reference purposes only. 

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