Collateral Damage: Study Reveals Sharks Most Vulnerable to Commercial Fishing


Special to UM News

MIAMI, Fla. (July 22, 2014)—A new study that examined the survival rates of 12 different shark species captured as unintentional bycatch in commercial longline fishing operations found large differences across the 12 species, with bigeye thresher, dusky, and scalloped hammerhead being the most vulnerable. Led by researchers at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and the Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, the study provides new information to consider for future shark conservation measures in the northwest Atlantic. The unintentional capture of one fish species when targeting another, known as bycatch, is one of the largest threats facing many marine fish populations.

Researchers from the University of Miami and the National Marine Fisheries Service analyzed over 10 years of shark bycatch data from western Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico tuna and swordfish longline fisheries to examine how survival rates of sharks were affected by fishing duration, hook depth, sea temperature, animal size, and the target fish. Some species, such as tiger sharks, had bycatch survival rates that exceeded 95 percent, while other species, such as night sharks and scalloped hammerheads, had significantly lower survival rates— in the 20 to 40 percent range.

“Our study found that the differences in how longline fishing is actually conducted, such as the depth, duration, and time of day that the longlines are fished, can be a major driver of shark survival, depending on the species,” said Austin Gallagher, a Rosenstiel School Ph.D. student and lead author of the study. “At-vessel mortality is a crucial piece of the puzzle in terms of assessing the vulnerability of these open-ocean populations, some of which are highly threatened.”

The researchers also generated overall vulnerability rankings of species, taking into account not only their survival, but also reproductive potential. They found that species most at risk were those with both very slow reproductive potential and unusual body features, such as hammerheads and thresher sharks. The study authors suggest that bycatch likely played an important role in the decline of scalloped hammerhead species in the northwest Atlantic, which has been considered for increased international and national protections, such as the U.S. Endangered Species List.

The researchers suggest that high at-vessel mortality, slow maturity, and specialized body structures combine for the perfect mixture to become extinction-prone.

“Our results suggest that some shark species are being fished beyond their ability to replace themselves,” said Neil Hammerschlag, research assistant professor. “Certain sharks, such as bigeye threshers and scalloped hammerheads, are prone to rapidly dying on the line once caught, and techniques that reduce their interactions with fishing gear in the first place may be the best strategy for conserving these species.”

The study, titled “Vulnerability of oceanic sharks as pelagic longline bycatch,” was published online in the open-access journal Global Ecology and Conservation.

In addition to Gallagher and Hammerschlag, from UM’s R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program, coauthors included Joseph Serafy and Eric Orbesen from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center.

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Bascom Palmer Eye Institute Ranks No. 1 for the 11th Straight Year

Special to UM News


Eduardo C. Alfonso, M.D., professor and chairman of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, says outstanding care is the foundation of the institute’s reputation.

MIAMI, Fla. (July 14,2014)—For the 11th consecutive year, the Miller School of Medicine’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute has been ranked the nation’s best in ophthalmology by U.S. News & World Report. Bascom Palmer has received the No. 1 ranking a total of 13 times and has been in the top two since the annual rankings began 25 years ago.

“This ranking is a testament to the incomparable excellence and dedication found at every level at Bascom Palmer,” said Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Miller School and CEO of UHealth. “To be named No. 1 is a great honor; to be named No. 1 year after year and without interruption can only happen when you have an unwavering commitment to groundbreaking research, education and world-class clinical care. As of this date, Bascom Palmer has been ranked No. 1 more times than all other U.S. eye centers put together. At the Miller School and the University of Miami, we are so proud of our Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.”

The Bascom Palmer team is recognized as an international leader in every subspecialty in ophthalmology. Faculty and staff have made notable contributions in the fields of macular degeneration, retinal surgery, glaucoma, infections and inflammations, corneal surgery, Lasik, cataract surgery, neuro-ophthalmology, plastic surgery, pediatrics and cancers.

“We are honored to be recognized as the leader in the life-changing and dynamic field of ophthalmology. It is our privilege to deliver exceptional patient care, cutting-edge research and the finest medical education possible,” said Eduardo C. Alfonso, M.D., professor and Chairman of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. “The outstanding care that is delivered to each Bascom Palmer patient is the foundation for our reputation. The well-being of our patients inspires us to continually reach higher and excel in areas of clinical care, vision research and surgical innovation.”

Bascom Palmer’s physician-scientists lead research teams that are currently involved in new clinical trials using gene therapy, retinal chips, genomics and stem cell therapy. Additional research is being conducted on genetic mapping of cancers to better target treatment. The molecular basis of degenerative diseases of the retina being investigated in the laboratory will lead to new clinical treatments. In addition, surgical treatment of diseases such as cataracts, retinal detachment and glaucoma continues to be improved in the clinical setting.

Bascom Palmer Eye Institute/Anne Bates Leach Eye Hospital was also ranked the overall No. 1 hospital in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area.

Three other specialties of the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital were recognized as high-performing byU.S. News & World Report: nephrology, neurology and neurosurgery, and urology. In addition, UM/Jackson was ranked among the top 10 hospitals in the Miami Metro area.

Two specialties at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center/University of Miami Hospital and Clinics — cancer, and ear, nose and throat — were recognized as high-performing by U.S. News & World Report, and the facility was ranked among the top 25 hospitals in Florida.

This spring U.S. News & World Report named Holtz Children’s Hospital at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center one of the country’s best children’s hospitals. The rankings feature the top 50 hospitals in each of the 10 pediatric specialties.

Holtz was ranked in seven specialties this year: 20th in diabetes and endocrinology, 25th in gastroenterology and GI surgery, 33rd in nephrology, 44th in cardiology and heart surgery, 45th in urology, 47th in pulmonology and 48th in neonatology.

The complete 2014-15 Best Hospitals rankings are accessible online at http://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals and will be in bookstores and on newsstands in August.

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Study Provides New Approach to Forecast Hurricane Intensity

Brian Haus, professor of ocean sciences, co-authored the study.

Brian Haus, professor of ocean sciences, co-authored the study.

Special to UM News

MIAMI, Fla. (July 18, 2014)— New research  suggests that physical conditions at the air-sea interface, where the ocean and atmosphere meet, is a key component to improve forecast models. The study  from the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science offers a new method to aid in storm intensity prediction of hurricanes.

“The general assumption has been that the large density difference between the ocean and atmosphere makes that interface too stable to effect storm intensity,” said Brian Haus, professor of ocean sciences and co-author of the study. “In this study we show that a type of instability may help explain rapid intensification of some tropical storms.”

Experiments conducted at the RSMAS Air-Sea Interaction Salt Water Tank (ASIST) simulated the wind speed and ocean surface conditions of a tropical storm. The researchers used a technique called “shadow imaging,” where a guided laser is sent through the two fluids—air and water—to measure the physical properties of the ocean’s surface during extreme winds, equivalent to a category 3 hurricane.

Using the data obtained from the laboratory experiments conducted with the support of the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GOMRI) through the CARTHE Consortium, the researchers then developed numerical simulations to show that changes in the physical stress at the ocean surface at hurricane force wind speeds may explain the rapid intensification of some tropical storms. The research team’s experimental simulations show that the type of instability, known as Kelvin-Helmoltz instability, could explain this intensification.

Haus and colleagues will conduct further studies on hurricane intensity prediction in the new, one-of-a- kind Alfred C. Glassell, Jr., SUSTAIN research facility located at the UM Rosenstiel School. The SUrge-STructure-Atmosphere INteraction laboratory is the only facility capable of creating category 5-level hurricanes in a controlled, seawater laboratory. The nearly 65-foot long tank allows scientists to simulate major hurricanes using a 3-D wave field to expand research on the physics of hurricanes and the associated impacts of severe wind-driven and wave-induced storm surges on coastal structures.

The SUSTAIN research facility is the centerpiece of the new $45 million Marine Technology and Life Sciences Seawater Complex at the Rosenstiel School where scientists from around the world have access to state-of-the-art seawater laboratories to conduct an array of marine-related research.

The study, titled “The air-sea interface and surface stress under tropical cyclones,” was published in the June 16 issue of the journal Nature Scientific Reports. The paper’s lead author was Alex Soloviev of the Rosenstiel School and Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center. Other coauthors include: Mark A. Donelan, from the Rosenstiel School; Roger Lukas of the University of Hawaii; and Isaac Ginis from the University of Rhode Island.

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UM Launches Master’s in Nutrition for Health and Human Performance

UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (July 8, 2014)—Most Americans are keenly aware that a combination of daily exercise and proper nutrition is the only road to a healthier life. To help support this trend, the School of Education and Human Development (SOEHD) is launching a Master’s in Nutrition for Health and Human Performance to optimize personal health, maximize the quality of life, and foster peak athletic performance.

Formally launching in the fall of 2014, the master’s program has one comprehensive track that incorporates nutrition for health and human performance, including pertinent biochemistry, human biology, and exercise physiology. Arlette Perry, chair of the Department of Kinesiology and Sports Sciences, said that the master’s program took two years to put together and get approved. It came at the urging of many in SOEHD who saw the need for it.

“What makes this program unique is that it combines nutrition with exercise physiology,” said Perry. “We now know that these two are inextricably linked.”

The program should attract students who wish to become licensed nutritionists, medical doctors, physician assistants, wellness directors, physical therapists, and others in the health field. Students in the program are required to take courses that include: Nutrition and Health Issues across the Life Cycle, Clinical Aspects of Exercise Programming, and Cardiovascular Programming and Testing. Courses also will span a host of contemporary issues in nutrition, including medical nutritional therapy, integrative and functional medicine, and the use of supplements for human performance.

Students who wish to be certified as a Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist (LD/N), as approved by the Dietetics and Nutrition Practice Council, will be expected to complete 900 hours in clinical, community, and food service. Training locations will include sports performance and sports medicine and sports training facilities; athletic departments and teams; culinary and garden-to- classroom programs; rehabilitation, preventive and wellness centers; nonprofits and community-based programs.

“What sets us apart is we have an entire kinesiology and nutrition program that is applied and centered on complementary lifestyle components,” said Wesley Smith, director of the nutrition for health and human performance graduate degree program, and the physiology undergraduate program. “The program is designed to optimize health in clinical settings, as well as to focus on elements of nutritional biochemistry that help athletes perform their best while reducing vulnerability to injury and illness.”

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Faculty and Staff Support the U: Community Health Expert Strengthens Hispanic Families, and the University

Guermillo "Willy" Prado

Guillermo “Willy” Prado

Professor Guillermo “Willy” Prado is committed to making South Florida a better place to live. As director of the Division of Prevention Science and Community Health at the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, Prado has pioneered programs that reduce drug abuse and other health problems among Hispanic youths by strengthening their families. As a generous donor to the University, he also contributes to the education of a new generation of community leaders.

“I’ve given to our University for many years through the annual United Way drive and the Momentum2 campaign,” says Prado, M.S. ’00, Ph.D. ’05, the Leonard M. Miller Professor of Public Health Sciences. He also has contributed to the Master of Public Health Scholarship Fund and José Szapocznik Leadership Fund, which provides scholarships for public health students, and to the Springboard Program, which supports innovative, independent projects by students who are working toward or recently earned a master of public health.

Born in Mexico City, Prado moved to Miami at age 3 and graduated from Coral Gables High School. “My parents worked multiple jobs so that my brother and I could have a better life,” he says. “That inspired me at an early age to give back to our community.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree in math and statistics from the University of Florida, Prado joined the University of Miami in 2000 as a graduate student. Through the years, he has been involved in innovative teaching, research and service projects, and developed the Miller School’s foundation class in prevention science and community health.

Now, Prado is planning a doctoral program in prevention science and community health that would be the first such Ph.D. program offered by a U.S. medical school. “If we receive approval, we hope to admit the first students in the fall of 2015,” he says.

Once the doctoral program is established, Prado’s goal is to provide financial support in the form of scholarships to the aspiring prevention scientists. He also hopes to establish a world class Center of Excellence focusing on improving the health of adolescents.

Nationally known for his research, which has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Prado is a member of the National Hispanic Science Network’s Steering Committee. Last year he chaired the Society for Prevention Research’s 21st Annual Conference and the National Hispanic Science Network’s 14th Annual Conference. The Familias Unidas (United Families) intervention program he developed with Hilda Pantin, professor and executive vice chair of Public Health Sciences, has been so effective in preventing or reducing substance use and other risky behaviors among Hispanic youth, it has been expanded to tackle obesity. Familias Unidas also has drawn international interest, including the recent formation of a collaborative program with Ecuador.

“It has become the ‘gold standard’ for Hispanic families,” says Prado. “We help parents learn from each other in a group setting, and show them how to discuss sensitive topics with their children.”

When Prado isn’t working, he enjoys reading, running, and working out at the UHealth Fitness and Wellness Center. “I wake up every morning and look forward to coming here and making a difference in others’ lives,” he says. “It’s very rewarding to be part of our great University, and I encourage other faculty and staff to give back as well. Go ’Canes!”

Read about other faculty and staff who support the U.





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