ItemThwarting successful piracy(2012-06-11) Carchidi, ArielleIn recent years, maritime piracy has received more attention from governments, the maritime industry, and the media. Increased incidents of violent attacks, particularly in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, create hazards for seafarers and shipping companies. The maritime industry has issued “Best Management Practices for Protection against Somalia Based Piracy (BMP4) which can be used to prevent piracy worldwide; however, not all practices are implemented, often to the detriment of the vessel under attack. The purpose of this project is to identify what prevents an attack from being successful. Using data from the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Center and the Sea-Web shipping database, a comprehensive list of vessel characteristics, protective strategies with particular emphasis on BMP4, and cooperation with other companies or governments for each reported attack occurring between 2006 and 2011 was compiled. This information determined what relationships exist between the success or failure of an attack with the vessel and the strategies carried out by the crew. The results of this study can be used to protect ships and crewmembers. ItemAggie innovations: waste heat recovery system(2012-06-01) Thiele, Sarah; Harris, Kyle; Lerick, Luke; Robbins, BenCombustion engines are used to convert thermal heat into useful work, however much of this heat is rejected through the engine’s exhaust. Aggie Innovations is working on a method of recovering some of this waste heat and using it to create additional useable energy. Aggie Innovation’s Waste Heat Recovery System is composed of a sterling engine that converts the exhaust heat from a diesel engine generator into electrical power by means of a flywheel and alternator. The benefits of utilizing this waste heat are immense, in modern engines more than half of the heat created by the fuel is rejected as waste heat. The inherent economic advantage of increasing engine efficiency is that more power will be obtained when burning the same amount of fuel. The applications for such a system are endless. ItemInterpreting sediment transport pathways: an investigation of Hurricane Ike's impact on Offatt's Bayou, Texas(2012-06-01) Laverty, Paul; Decker, S; Davis, M; Bennett, RHurricane Ike made landfall near Galveston, TX with a 3-4m storm surge, inundating the surrounding area. The purpose of this study was to determine the existence or absence of a sedimentary deposit produced by Hurricane Ike within Offatts Bayou, the largest embayment within Galveston Island. Sediment samples were retrieved from the area of study using gravity core and bottom-grab sampling devices. These samples were then analyzed for water-content, grain size, and 210Pb geochronology. A Teledyne Benthos C3D high-resolution side-scan sonar and bathymetric system was implemented to collect sonar data reflecting the bathymetry and surface sediment features and composition of the study area. Analysis of remote sensing imagery recorded immediately after the Hurricane indicated a northeasterly flow pattern suggesting a predictable deposition in the north east portion of the bayou. Evidence of this deposit is supported by a backscatter anomaly observed in the side-scan sonar mosaic and coarse grained sediment feature indicated by grain size analysis. The study highlights erosion patterns experienced by developed coastal areas during brief periods of high energy associated with storm activity ItemActive heave compensation(2012-06-01) Zandbergen, Ryan; Zandbergen, Logan; Stewart, BrandonActive heave compensation is used on light construction ships used for subsea construction to compensate the crane's load from heaving up and down when the ship is being pushed up and down by swells. ItemPelton wheel turbine generator(2012-06-01) Yonts, Chris; Ramsey, Drew; Monguia, Ashley; Johnstone, JustinThe purpose of this project is to design and construct an efficient pelton wheel turbine generator. The idea of our project came from the topic of hydropower and the generation of renewable energy. This particular turbine generator design will show that it may be used in various applications ItemWind turbine power augmentation unit(2012-06-01) Walters, Kevin; Blakeway, Chris; Dearman, David; Navarro, Bobby; Stryker, ThomasShips at sea rely on electrical power created onboard by generators. These generators are typically driven by either diesel or stream power. Should the generator system fail completely, the vessel needs the ability to create emergency power independently of the onboard generator system. The Wind Turbine Power Augmentation Unit is a rapid-deploy system that provides minimum emergency power to a vessel in need. The unit is small enough to be stored efficiently, simple enough to be reliable, and is easily erected at pre-installed receiver locations on the ship. Multiple units can be deployed adjacent to power-need locations such as the engine room, below-deck spaces, and the bridge. The unit is designed to operate in a sea-going environment and deliver power reliably at the time when it is most needed by the crew. ItemATM 2012: Automation Training Module(2012-06-01) Hentschel, William R; Palmietto, Aaron; Puckett, Scott; Sattler, CassandraOur project is essentially a plant process automation control training device that, when built, will allow students in the Marine Automation (MARE 402) class to get hands on experience installing, calibrating, and operating automation equipment in two types of control process loops. The completed system will feature a liquid-level tank control process as well as a heat-exchanger bypass temperature control process. ItemMulti-purpose telescopic boom crane(2012-06-01) Conteh, Sanfa S.; Gould, Dwayne; Ragasa, Ferdinand; Conteh, Lamin S.; Sene, SaliouThe Goal of our Project is to design a crane that serve the purpose of both lifting cargoes on and off a vessel, and also as a gangway to transfer personnel from one vessel to another. ItemIsolation and comparison of exopolymeric substances (EPS) from five dominant phytoplankton species in the Gulf of Mexico(2012-06-01) Kennady, Benjamin J; Chuang, Chia-Ying; Ho, Yi-fang; Schwehr, Kathleen A.; Santschi, Peter H.Interest in EPS has recently been increasing as they have a great impact on many of geochemical processes, including prediction of POC flux, trace element, nanoparticle, and radionuclide scavenging, and tracing different water masses. EPS, released from marine micro-organisms are composed of polysaccharides and proteins, . Thus, there is a great need for these compounds to be characterized. Five phytoplankton species were chosen because of their dominance in the Gulf of Mexico. These species are Dunaliella tertiolecta, Thalassiosira pseudonana, Synechococcus elongates, Emiliania huxleyi, and Phaeodactylum tricornutum. The growth curves of these algae were monitored using a Spectrophotometer at 750 nm. By monitoring the growth curve, the transitional phase for each algae culture was estimated so that the EPS could be collected under similar conditions. EPS was harvested through a series of filtration processes between the sizes of 0.45 μm and 1 Kda. These non-attached EPS were tested using ATR-FTIR, Spectrophotometry, and CHN/S elemental analyzer. Results will be used to determine and compare the total polysaccharides, proteins, and elemental contents of each phytoplankton species, thus allowing for a better understanding of the total EPS composition in the Gulf of Mexico. ItemOffshore natural gas hydrate harvesting system(2012-06-01) Owens, Andrew; Bradberry, Ross; Unger, Ben; Cummings, ChrisThe purpose of this project is to design a system that will allow for production of methane gas from a deep-sea Methane Hydrate Harvester. A satellite host system was chosen in a feasibility report, released in September of 2011, where several concepts were economically and technically evaluated. The satellite host system is comprised of four subsea harvesters that will be deployed to search for and harvest the ocean’s naturally occurring thermogenic methane hydrates. The system will be located in the Gulf of Mexico where there is an active source of methane available for formation and accumulation of hydrates. The focus of the project was the design and stress analysis of the subsea riser, harvesters, and subsea manifold. Each harvester will travel above the seafloor where the top 6 inches of seafloor will be fluidized with warm water jets. Fluidization will allow for the dissociation of methane from the natural hydrate formations. The riser will provide a conduit from the harvesting units to the topside processing and storage vessel, modeled after currently available CNG FPSO hull configuration. The process is modeled after a patented process authored by Dr. Ken Hall (Texas A&M) and Todd Willman (National Thermodynamic Laboratory). Use of time domain, frequency domain, static, and quasi-static, finite element modeling, as well as, time domain hydrodynamic panel diffraction modeling was conducted to design the system components. Ship to shore transport was also analyzed using Freeport’s LNG facility as a delivery point. ItemHistory repeats: a demand-supply price case study of the 19th century Diamond-back terrapin population collapse(2012-06-01) Carter, Josh E.; Walker, Raven D.; Jones, Dr. Glenn A.Increasing demand for turtles in the Chinese and Indonesian food markets is leading to severe decline in several Southeast Asian species and an accompanying increase in freshwater turtle imports from the US. The Diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin), a marine turtle that inhabits brackish riparian waters in the eastern U.S., is now state protected after years of high demand as a first-class delicacy during the late 1800s and early 1900s. During this time the diamondback terrapin moved from being a food of the poor in the early 19th century to a high-priced delicacy by the 1880’s. By utilizing a variety of never-before examined data sources, including historical newspapers, periodicals, and restaurant menus, we have been able to quantify that a sharp growth in consumer demand led to a sharp increase in the wholesale value of diamondback terrapin from $20 (US$400 in 2010) per dozen in 1875 to an astonishing $120 (US$3158 in 2010) per dozen at its peak in 1897. Correspondingly, menu prices ranged from $0.75/dish (US$12.93) in 1863 to $4.50/dish (US$104.00) in 1907. Due to market demand, it is likely that over-harvesting of the diamondback terrapin led to its decline and disappearance as a high-priced menu item by the 1920s. ItemEffects of pelagic larval duration on the geographic population structure of two sipunculan species in the Sea of Japan(2012-06-01) Timm, Laura; Schulze, AnjaThis study examines genetic diversity in two species of sipunculan worm, Phascolosoma agassizii and Themiste pyroides, in the Sea of Japan. Low sea levels of the Pleistocene era partially or completely isolated marginal seas of the northwestern Pacific, including the Sea of Japan. Differences in life history patterns between species observed in the sipunculan species may reflect this event. Themiste pyroides exhibits a larval stage of approximately 15 days, about half as long as the 31-day pelagic larval stage of P. agassizii. These differences in pelagic larval duration (PLD) may impact genetic population structure within the regions. I hypothesize that a longer PLD will result in increased inter-population gene flow and genetic homogeneity in P. agassizii. For both species, we sampled four populations within the Sea of Japan. We then compared the interpopulation and intracommunity genetic diversity between the four populations for each species. Analyzing sequence data from 16S ribosomal RNA (16S) and cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) with the AMOVA statistic, we found substantially higher interpopulation genetic variance values in T. pyroides compared to P. agassizii. These results may support a direct correlation between PLD and gene flow, indicating a dynamic relationship between life history traits and genetic population structure. ItemEurythoe complanata: more cryptic species in the Pacific?(2012-06-01) Johnson, Marandia; Borda, Elizabeth; Schulze, AnjaMitochondrial DNA data has shown that Eurythoe complanata is a cryptic species complex characterized by deeply divergent sympatric populations in the Atlantic, and on either side of Panama, despite almost no morphological differences. Previous work examined populations primarily in the Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean, with little exploration of the phylogenetic relationships of Pacific populations. We aim to study these relationships using nuclear (ITS-1) and mitochondrial (COI and 16S rDNA) sequence data. We include representatives from populations in the east Pacific (Mexico and the Gulf of California), Indo-Pacific (Indonesia, Moorea and American Samoa), and from aquaria. The objectives of this study are to: 1) identify if there are cryptic species in the Pacific; 2) infer the phylogenetic relationships among amphi-Pacific populations; and 3) estimate the distributional patterns of animals that reproduce both sexually and asexually. ItemDark side of birding: perceptions of bird watching's negative ecological impacts(2012-06-01) Reznicek, Lisa JeaneBirders, in the pursuit wild birds, can negatively impact birds and critical bird habitat. Often, competition for space or resources can create conflict among recreational users and bird conservation initiatives. This study is a comparative analysis of how birding’s negative impacts are perceived by the people involved in recreation and conservation. Further examination of within-birder specialization evaluated impact perceptions against various intensity levels. Interviews with birding stakeholders identified the need for the study and importance of conservation. To identify differences between stakeholders, separate on-site surveys, were conducted to assess stakeholder perceptions of birding’s negative impacts to the ecology of the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail. Changes in recreational intensity were also analyzed for differences in negative impact perceptions from birding. ItemPolychaete feeding behavior and geographical distribution in the Gulf of Mexico(2012-06-01) Carvalho, Russell; Schulze, AnjaPolychaete annelids contribute greatly to macrofaunal species diversity in dynamic deep-sea ecosystems. The aim of our study was to assess the functional composition of deep-sea polychaete assemblages in the Gulf of Mexico. We examined various factors influencing the diversity, density and distribution of this taxon. Polychaete assemblages are ubiquitous in the deep sea but abundance, diversity and species composition are sensitive to changing environmental conditions. We tested the hypothesis that polychaete feeding-guilds show a stronger correlation with depth and environmental characteristics than their taxonomic groupings. Polychaetes were sampled from a total of 51 stations consisting of 7 transects and individual juxtaposed stations in the Gulf of Mexico. Additionally, we also carried out ecological niche modeling (ENM) using the Maximum Entropy model (MaxEnt) estimate the potential geographical distribution of the most dominant polychaete species found in our study. The highest species diversity was present at the central and the upper slope of the Mississippi trough area. Polychaete density decreased exponentially from the shallow, central regions to the eastern and western regions. Diversity in polychaete feeding-guilds was high on the Mississippi trough, upper and mid-slope regions and declined to a few guilds on the abyssal plain region. A significant correlation was observed between polychaete feeding-guilds and environmental variables. Using species presence-only data for ENM we generated potential distribution maps of the four most dominant polychaete species found at a regional scale in the Gulf of Mexico. We conclude that that feeding-guild analysis and ecological niche modeling are powerful tools for polychaete diversity studies, as they provide a clear understanding of the spatio-temporal patterns and trophic organization of deep-sea benthic assemblages. ItemMercury contamination in Gulf of Mexico fish(2012-06-01) Kuklyte, Ligita; Rowe, GilbertMercury is a toxic, naturally occurring element that is hazardous to humans at high concentrations. Natural sources include degassing of the earth and volcanic activities; however human-related activities contributing to atmospheric levels such as industrial waste disposal, chlor-alkali plants and fossil fuel combustion have increased three fold since 1900. Once mercury enters marine systems it can be converted by microbes to its most toxic form - methyl mercury (MeHg). Methyl mercury is a neurotoxin and poses a great risk to human health; it is especially dangerous to pregnant women and developing children. MeHg accumulates from small benthic invertebrates to large pelagic fish; thus it reaches the human population and other terminal predators such as marine mammals through fish consumption. Mercury concentrations were measured in eight Gulf of Mexico fish pelagic fish species using a DMA 80 analyzer in order to determine mercury accumulation rates in different species. Total mercury concentration ranged from 0.035 to 12.11ppm and increased with increasing length (and thus age) of the fish. Highest measured was 12.1 ppm in Wahoo (Acanthocybium solandri). Blackfin tuna (Thunnus atlanticus) and yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacores) had moderate mercury concentrations (1.4 and 1.3 ppm). Dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus) and vermilion snapper (Rhomboplites aurorubens) had lowest concentrations (<1ppm). Knowledge of mercury transfer in food webs is essential to ensure protection of the environment and human health. This project is supported by the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) through the Environmental Studies Center of Qatar University, Doha. ItemGenotypic diversity of Sabellid worms from carbon dioxide vents(2012-06-01) de Guzman, Heidi Jane; Borda, Elizabeth; Schulze, AnjaMarine carbon dioxide vents are very common in the Mediterranean Sea, especially around Italy and Greece where they typically eject volcanic fluids containing up to 1-2% hydrogen sulfide. Natural CO2 venting sites have endemic fauna unique to them, and vent communities are generally distinct from the surrounding waters. In the Mediterranean Sea, the sabellid polychaete Amphiglena mediterranea is reported as one of the most common species associated with shallow carbon dioxide vents covered with photophilic algae. The aim of this study is to determine the genotype diversity of A. mediterranea exposed to low pH conditions, from the cold carbon dioxide vents of the island of Ischia, Italy and compare it to that of populations at non-acidified control sites. Specimens were collected from four different CO2 vents sites with different pH concentrations. Genotype diversity between different populations of the Mediterranean sabellid Amphiglena mediterranea are being investigated through the use of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase I (COI) gene. Based on the above objective, the following null hypothesis will be tested: There is no significant difference in the genotype diversity in A. mediterranea population from acidified and non-acidified locations ItemHigh degree of connectivity among amphi-Atlantic populations of Hermodice carunculata (Amphinomidae, Annelida)(2012-06-01) Ahrens, Joseph; Borda, Elizabeth; Campbell, Alexandra; Schulze, AnjePolychaete annelids in the genus Hermodice exhibit an amphi-Atlantic distribution extending into the Gulf of Mexico as well as the Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas. Currently, this genus contains two nominal species; H. carunculata, which inhabits the Greater Caribbean, and H. nigrolineata which is found in the Mediterranean and along the African Atlantic coast. In this study, we analyzed DNA sequence data from specimens in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM), the Mediterranean and Caribbean Seas to estimate population structure and phylogeographic patterns for Hermodice. Analysis of mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) and 16s rDNA indicates low levels of divergence between Greater Caribbean and Mediterranean specimens. Additionally, at least three outliers from Mediterranean populations cluster with Greater Caribbean specimens in phylogenetic analyses. Our results provide no support for the distinction between H. carunculata and H. nigrolineata and stress the importance of including molecular data as a criterion for delimiting species. Whereas other genetic studies of marine taxa often reveal the presence of cryptic species complexes, our study indicates high population connectivity across a wide geographic range for H. carunculata.