WPBT2’s popular ocean series returns this month with four exciting new episodes. This season the documentary series examines timely issues affecting the oceans, ranging from the lionfish invasion to the aftermath of the Gulf Oil Spill. Venture into the blue with scientists on a mission to better understand the threats our oceans are facing and how ecological balance might be restored.
Tuesday, June 7 at 7:30 p.m.
In the waters of the western Atlantic and Caribbean, a voracious alien predator has taken hold. Native to the Indo-Pacific, the invasive lionfish is a major threat to biodiversity and the health of already stressed coral reef ecosystems. The popular aquarium fish is thought to have first been released into the wild in South Florida in the mid 1980s. With no natural predator in this part of the world, lionfish numbers have increased rapidly. Experts say that on some Bahamian reefs lionfish have reduced native fish populations by up to 90 percent in just a few years. To combat this problem, experts are encouraging people to “eat’em to beat’em”. Changing Seas joins scientists in the field to learn more about this beautiful, yet gluttonous feeder and the threat it is posing to native fish populations.
Tuesday, June 14 at 7:30 p.m.
In the emerging science of coral reef restoration, marine biologists and resource managers are discovering naturally occurring mechanisms that promote coral growth and restore ecological balance in these gardens of the sea. Around the world, damage from boat groundings and other factors have placed these organisms on the “threatened” list of the Endangered Species Act. Staghorn and Elkhorn are considered principal reef building corals. In South Florida, scientists are using native sponges and spiny sea urchins in novel ways that may help attract corals to damaged sites.
Tuesday, June 21 at 7:30 p.m.
The oceans are part of America’s newest medical frontier. In Florida, scientists are studying a variety of marine invertebrates which may hold the key to unlocking the secrets of our own biology. At Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce, researchers are testing sea sponges for their potential anti-cancer properties. At The Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience in Marineland, experts are taking a closer look at horseshoe crabs to better understand how eyes function and change with age. Scientists there are also studying sea slugs for insights into neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Tuesday, June 28 at 7:30 p.m.
After the Spill
On April 20th, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, killing 11 workers and setting off the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. Over the course of the next three months, an estimated 4.9 million barrels of Louisiana sweet crude gushed out of the Macondo wellhead and into the surrounding waters. Located 5,000 feet beneath the water’s surface, the wellhead discharged large amounts of oil and gas under enormous pressure, creating deep sea plumes of hydrocarbons. To keep the oil from soiling sensitive marshes, 2.9 million gallons of the chemical dispersant Corexit were applied at the surface and near the wellhead to break up the oil. Never before had dispersant been used at depth, and many questions remain about the impacts it may have on marine ecosystems.
For more information on this program go to www.changingseas.tv.
Major funding for this series was made possible by a generous grant from the Bachelor Foundation.