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Ocean Hero
Demian ChapmanSpring/Summer 2016

Stony Brook University Magazine

From Shinnecock Bay to the UN, Ellen Pikitch is saving the sea

By Elizabeth Royte

On a mild winter morning, Ellen Pikitch opens the sliding glass doors of her East Quogue home, strolls across her back lawn and gazes over her proximate study area, Long Island’s Shinnecock Bay. A professor at Stony Brook’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) and the executive director of the school’s Institute for Ocean Conservation Science, Pikitch studies the fisheries ecology of the 9,000-acre bay. But her ultimate zone of influence is global. For more than four decades, Pikitch has been working to save the planet’s oceans from the twin threats of overfishing and pollution. She is perhaps uniquely positioned — by temperament and by training — to address these challenges on both the hyperlocal and the global stage, where she has gracefully assumed the role of a traveling expert on fisheries management.


October 25, 2019: IOCS published a new study, "Gaps in Protection of Important Ocean Areas: A Spatial Meta-Analysis of Ten Global Mapping Initiatives", out today in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science. The study synthesizes these maps, and examines the location of the world's marine protected areas, in order to uncover areas of the ocean that have been identified as important but that are currently unprotected. More   April 5, 2019

"State of the Bays Symposium and Seminar"

Presented by Christopher Gobler, Ph.D. of the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences.
April 5, 2019, 7:30pm More

  April 5, 2019
I Live by the Sea Contest
The "I Live by the Sea" campaign believes in the importance of educating people on marine environments, and helping them develop positive relationships with the ocean. More

Endowed Professorship Boosts SBU's Conservation Leadership Ellen Pikitch is the inaugural Endowed Professor in Ocean Conservation Science in Stony Brook University's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. More

  Ellen Pikitch
Blue Planet II Screening
Thursday, September 27th
7:30 - 10pm
GLS/HDV Center | Room 202
  Blue Planet II Screening

eDNA Analysis: A key to Uncovering Rare Marine Species The days of searching the oceans around the world to find and study rare and endangered marine animals are not over. More

  Stony Brook Newsroom

Dr. Ellen Pikitch submits comments on behalf of over 100 scientists to protect Atlantic Menhaden
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is currently evaluating whether to include ecosystem considerations in the management of Atlantic Menhaden along the eastern seaboard. More


On September 6th, 2017 Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the beginning of the Long Island Shellfish Restoration Project. This project aims to plant millions of clams and oysters in five targeted areas around Long Island, including Shinnecock Bay. These shellfish will augment the restoration being undertaken by the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program, which is a major initiative of IOCS and Stony Brook's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. Read more about this unprecedented state investment here.

  Long Island Press

Ellen Pikitch is co-author on a recent paper published in Marine Ecology Progress Series, entitled "Abundance and size structure of a reef shark population within a marine reserve has remained stable for more than a decade." Ellen spearheaded the standardized longline survey at Glover's Reef, Belize, in 2000. This survey was conducted annually for over a decade, and provides a time series of Caribbean reef shark abundance inside a marine reserve. Results of the study show that catch per unit effort of these sharks remained stable over time, supporting the idea that marine reserves are an effective conservation and management tool in this region. Lead author is SoMAS graduate Dr. Mark Bond.

  Marine Ecology Progress Series

IOCS supports maintaining U.S. marine monuments
Dr. Ellen Pikitch was one of 535 scientists to sign a letter to members of the United States Senate in response to a recent Executive Order questioning the validity of land and marine monuments. More


Correcting the record on forage fish and their predators: A response from the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force to recent publications.
Statement available here.

  forage fish
Ellen Pikitch to Advise President of Palau on Ocean Resource Management Renowned marine fisheries scientist Ellen Pikitch has been appointed by President Tommy Remengesau of the Republic of Palau to be his special advisor on Matters on Oceans and Seas. Read more   Dr. Ellen Pikitch

SoMAS Professor and IOCS Executive Director Dr. Ellen Pikitch is a co-author on a recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences entitled, "Opportunity for marine fisheries reform in China." Read more

  Dr. Ellen Pikitch

IOCS co-hosts event at 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly

Read more

Dr. Ellen Pikitch, Executive Director of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science, received the prestigious Oscar Elton Sette Award from the American Fisheries Society this weekend at the organization’s annual conference. Read more   American Fisheries Society

We were honored to welcome a group of United Nations ambassadors, dignitaries, and their families to the Stony Brook Southampton Marine Station for a tour of the facility and an overview of the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program (ShiRP). Read more

  Dr. Ellen Pikitch

Dr. Ellen Pikitch briefs the United Nations on the results of the Rome 10 x 20 Conference Dr. Ellen Pikitch, Professor and Executive Director of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University, briefed a diplomatic audience at United Nations on Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Read more

  Dr. Ellen Pikitch

IOCS's Dr. Ellen Pikitch leads 10 x 20 Conference in Rome Dr. Ellen Pikitch, Professor and Executive Director of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University, recently chaired a groundbreaking conference in Rome, which developed guidance for the United Nations to achieve the globally agreed target of conserving at least 10% of coastal and marine areas by the year 2020. Read more

  Dr. Ellen Pikitch
IOCS participates in “10 x 20” campaign on marine protected areas at the United Nations Read more   Dr. Ellen Pikitch

SoMAS Student selected as Turner Fellow M.S. and Ph.D. candidate Sara Cernadas-Martin, a student in the lab of Dr. Ellen Pikitch, has been selected to receive a Dr. W. Burghardt Turner Fellowship! Read more

  Sara Cernadas-Martin

Dr. Ellen Pikitch elected AAAS Fellow Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch, Professor and Executive Director of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University was elected a 2015 Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Read more

  Dr. Ellen Pikitch

A new study from IOCS and Stony Brook University scientists demonstrates that globally, forage fisheries are often catching what seabirds, marine mammals, and large predatory fish eat. Using predator diet and fisheries catch data assembled from 40 food web models, the study, led by IOCS postdoctoral researcher Dr. Konstantine Rountos, calculated the mean trophic level of the catch-- meaning, on average, where the fish catch falls on the food chain. This study also examined a relatively new indicator, the mean trophic level of predator consumption. Read more


Ocean-Loving Student Nets Big Prize
When future generations sit down to a seafood dinner, they may want to give thanks to environmental advocates such as Emily Nocito ’16, who is launching a yearlong campaign to publicize the importance of marine protected areas as a way to restore ocean fisheries. Read more

  Emily Nocito

Dr. Ellen Pikitch featured in a recent publication
that explains the amazing natural phenomenon in Alaska around the annual herring spawn. More.

  Dr. Ellen Pikitch

IOCS co-sponsored high level oceans symposium at the United Nations on March 5, 2015
The Institute for Ocean Conservation Science co-sponsored an event at the United Nations, called “OneOcean: Achieving Sustainability Through Sanctuaries.” Scientists from around the world, led by IOCS's Dr. Ellen Pikitch, discussed how marine sanctuaries can help heal the world’s oceans, and diplomats announced commitments to strengthening ocean protection at the international level. Read a summary of the event here.

  United Nations

Dr. Konstantine Rountos, a senior postdoc at IOCS, presents on forage fish at this year's annual Seafood Summit in New Orleans.

Read more here.

  Dr. Konstantine Rountos

IOCS Scientist Dr. Demian Chapman featured at the next "Science on Tap," February 24th, in Stony Brook.

Read more here.

  Dr. Demian Chapman

Dr. Ellen Pikitch briefs the United Nations on the need for ocean protection.

Read the article from the Inter Press Service.

  Inter Press Service

Dr. Ellen Pikitch receives the 2014 award for Excellence in Public Outreach at the annual meeting of the American Fisheries Society. Read more.

  Dr. Ellen Pikitch

A dead shark found Tuesday evening on the beach at Amagansett has been confirmed as a great white, according to Demian Chapman, assistant professor of marine science at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences of Stony Brook University. Read More. (photo credit: Joe Vish)


The ocean’s forage fish are worth $17 billion and deserve more credit and conservation.
Read More.

  forage fish

IOCS Assistant Director Christine Santora helps spearhead eelgrass restoration in Shinnecock Bay through a day of citizen volunteering Read More.


Congratulations to Natasha Gownaris for winning the Pikitch Family Endowed Student Research Award. She is the first recipient of this newly established scholarship Read More.

  Pikitch and Gownaris

Congratulations to IOCS students Konstantine Rountos, for earning his Ph.D., and Jessica Steve, for earning her Master’s of Science degree, both through Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. Both were advised by IOCS Executive Director, Dr. Ellen Pikitch.

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Institute Executive Director and her family generously support Stony Brook University marine science students. SoMAS Professor Establishes Family Endowment Read More.

  Pikitch family

Institute for Ocean Conservation Science listed in Top 10 "Amazing Organizations Bravely Fighting for Marine Conservation" by One Green Planet. Read More.

  one green planet

Ellen Pikitch Testifies at Legislative Hearing in Washington. Ellen K. Pikitch, Professor and Executive Director of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University, was among a group of witnesses that provided testimony at The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources Legislative Hearing in Washington, D.C., on February 4. Read more.

  Dr. Ellen Pikitch

Female sharks return home to give birth. Research conducted in Bimini, spanning almost two decades, shows that female lemon sharks that were born there returned 15 years later to give birth, confirming this behavior for the first time in sharks. Dr. Demian Chapman, the Institute’s assistant director for science, started out 17 years ago as a volunteer researcher at the Sharklab in Bimini, and is a co-author, along with the Institute’s executive director, Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch, of the resulting paper published in Molecular Ecology. Read more.

  lemon shark

The Institute's executive director, Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch, is travelling to Ireland to present the findings of the Lenfest Forage Task Force. She was invited to make the presentation to be followed by discussion with members of the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine of Ireland’s National Parliament on Thurs., October 17, in Dublin. Her presentation can be viewed live as a webcast. . Read more.


Congratulations to Institute Ph.D. student Konstantine Rountos whose presentation at the recent American Fisheries Society (AFS) meeting was selected as the best student presentation in a Fish Habitat Section-sponsored symposium. Konstantine will receive both a cash award and a plaque for this accomplishment from AFS. His award-winning presentation, “The Effects of Harmful Algal Blooms on Early Life Stages of Estuarine Forage Fish,” explained the research that he and a team of Institute and SoMAS scientists have conducted on the these algal blooms in Shinnecock Bay, which are caused by the dinoflagellate, Cochlodinium polykrikoides. Read more.

  Konstantine Rountos

WildAid and Shark Savers have announced their intent to merge, combining two of the world’s most successful shark conservation programs. The Institute’s executive director, Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch, who is a Shark Savers’ Board Member will join WildAid’s International Advisory Board. Shark Savers’ programs and name will join WildAid’s portfolio of programs to protect endangered wildlife species. Read more.


Dr. Demian Chapman, the Institute’s assistant director for science, and SoMAS Ph.D. student Shannon O’Leary led a team of scientists in a study of winter flounder in six bays of Long Island, NY, one of the first that indicates the occurrence of inbreeding in a marine fish. The scientists also determined that the effective number of breeders in each bay was below 500 fish, suggesting that the spawning populations of this historically common fish are now relatively small in the area. These findings suggest the loss of genetic diversity presents survival risks for historically common marine fish and should be considered in fisheries management and conservation plans. Read more.


"People have had this idea for way too long that the seas are so vast and limitless that nothing we could ever do could hurt them,” remarked the Institute’s executive director, Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch in a Washington Post article about a conservation group’s effort to double the number of marine species listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Read more.


Dr. Ellen Pikitch, the Institute’s executive director, was interviewed by Jocelyn Zuckerman for OnEarth Blog about the importance of forage fish, and the impact that more human consumption of these fish might have on the current demand to use them primarily for animal feed. Read more.


Survival of the fittest plays out in wombs of sand tiger shark. Dr. Demian Chapman, the Institute’s assistant director for science, is the lead author of a paper published online by the journal Biology Letters on May 1. The paper, “The behavioural and genetic mating system of the sand tiger shark, Carcharias taurus, an intrauterine cannibal,” is the result of a multi-year study of these sharks to better understand their reproduction, which includes the killing of embryos by the most developed among them. And, although the female sharks mate with numerous male sharks, this cannibalism in the womb appears to result in “genetic monogamy.” Read more.


Institute and SoMAS Ph.D. student Mark Bond has been selected by the Stony Brook University Chapter of Sigma Xi for a Travel Award. Sigma Xi is an international research society that promotes the health of the scientific enterprise and honors scientific achievement. The Travel Award was awarded to Mark in recognition of the quality and importance of his research, and will be used to offset the expenses of traveling to the 26th International Congress for Conservation Biology to give an oral presentation on his research on southern stingrays in Belize. Read more.

  Mark Bond

The Institute Applauds Historic Action Taken By Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) To Protect Sharks and Manta Rays. The CITES 16th Conference of Parties meeting took a critically important step on March 14 to help prevent the extinction of five shark species, as well as manta rays, when the required two-thirds of the 177 member governments voted in plenary to grant them international trade protection. The oceanic whitetip, porbeagle, three species of hammerhead shark, and manta rays will now have a fighting chance to recover from the decimation of their numbers due to overexploitation. In order for this protection to be effective, however, the Institute strongly encourages that member nations work cooperatively to quickly develop international enforcement procedures of these trade regulations. Read more.


Five shark species and the manta ray gained international trade protection by CITES; however the agreement must still be formally approved by the CITES plenary session. Read more.

  shark fins

Representatives of 177 governments from around the world are expected to attend the 16th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) March 3-14 in Bangkok, Thailand. CITES, which was agreed to in Washington, DC, in 1973, offers protection to more than 30,000 animal and plant species around the globe. It has been instrumental in preventing their extinction and is generally recognized as one of the most effective and best-enforced international conservation agreements. Read more.


New research on migratory behavior of endangered oceanic whitetip sharks can help shape conservation strategies. Dr. Demian Chapman, the Institute’s assistant director for science, was a member of a team of scientists who attached pop-up satellite archival tags to 11 mature oceanic whitetip sharks in The Bahamas, and monitored the movements of sharks for varying intervals up to 245 days. Read more.


"Give Shark Sanctuaries a Chance," a letter to the editor, was published in the February 15 issue of Science magazine. Written by Dr. Demian Chapman, the Institute’s assistant director of science, who also heads the Shark Research Program, and Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch, the Institute’s executive director, along with several of their colleagues, the letter explain why these sanctuaries are important for shark conservation and how they can be successfully managed. Read more.


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