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Why Sharks Need Our Help
Demian ChapmanAugust 2014

Hamptons Magazine

Sharks have long been the sea's scariest creatures, but now they find their very existence threatened as scientists work to save these misunderstood monsters.

It’s 8:26 am when the R/V Shinnecock pulls in its first trawl—a juvenile horseshoe crab and baby tautog. Bluefish are flitting at the surface of Shinnecock Bay, and the eight-person crew from Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) is out this morning to catalog the bay’s water quality and life. There’s devotion among the scientists and volunteers on this 35-foot platform research craft. They started this project in 2012 with a clear vision—to take care of what’s happening in the Long Island university’s aquatic backyard and to see how to protect and improve it.

A second and third trawl reveal striped sea robins, anchovies, shrimp, comb jellies, and a half-dozen varieties of crab. Other days, they’ll be joined by stingrays, fluke, and grouper. But these are small fish in a vast pond. They’re only half of the story.

The other half is sharks.


Excellent piece on Dr. Ellen Pikitch in the new issue of Stony Brook University Magazine. Ellen talks candidly about her childhood, career, and what makes her tick. Inspirational! Read the article.

  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.

[Click images to enlarge.]



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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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