2007 After Hours Lectures

The Enchanted Sludge Forests of Surry County

(October 25, 2007) Wastewater from homes and workplaces was once released directly to rivers and streams, with dire environmental effects. Wastewater is now treated, a process that produces "biosolids," a witch's brew of nutrients and other substances increasingly used as fertilizer. Application of biosolids to fields and forests has been viewed as beneficial by some and reckless by others. Join Dr. Rob Hale as he explores the controversy surrounding biosolids and their potential health risks.

Fat Cats: Blue catfish in Virginia's tidal tributaries

(September 27, 2007) Blue catfish, native to the Mississippi River drainage, were introduced to Virginia's tidal rivers beginning in the mid-1970s, where they now support a significant recreational and commercial fishery. These fish, which can grow to well over 100 pounds, eat a wide variety of prey and are prolific spawners, traits that have enabled them to thrive in local waters. Join Bob Greenlee, a fisheries biologist with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, as he explores the unique status of this species among the fishes of Virginia's tidal freshwater tributaries of Chesapeake Bay.

Hurricanes and Global Warming: Is there a link?

(August 30, 2007) Media reports have suggested a link between global warming and increased hurricane activity. If valid, this link would raise the hurricane risk in Hampton Roads, the largest U.S. population center outside New Orleans at risk from sea-level rise and storm surges. Join Dr. David Malmquist as he examines the connection between global warming, hurricanes, and coastal development in the Chesapeake Bay region.

Turning the tables on cownose rays

(July 26, 2007) Recent efforts to restore native oysters to Chesapeake Bay have suffered significant setbacks due to predation by cownose rays. In response, a team of marine scientists, watermen, and seafood-industry representatives has renewed its efforts to sustainably manage rays in the Bay. Join Mr. Bob Fisher of the Sea Grant program at VIMS as he describes the problematic history of ray-shellfish interactions and explores potential solutions—including development of a ray fishery, and exclusion of rays from shellfish beds by fences, cages, and chemical repellents.

Diamonds in the Rough: The Natural History and Status of Diamondback Terrapins in Virginia

(June 28, 2007) Diamondback terrapins, once common denizens of Chesapeake Bay, face a number of ecological challenges, including habitat destruction, drowning in crab pots, nest predation, and unregulated harvesting. In many states, environmental conditions have degraded to the point that terrapin populations are now classified as "threatened" or "at risk." Join Dr. Randy Chambers, Director of the Keck Environmental Field Lab at the College of William and Mary, as he explores the natural history and status of these ancient creatures in tidewater Virginia.

May After Hours at Marine Science Day

(May 19, 2007) The May After Hours event will feature two mini-lectures held in conjunction with VIMS' Marine Science Day on Saturday, May 19th. The lectures will continue the 2007 After Hours theme (which explores the ecohistory of Chesapeake Bay in light of the 400th anninversary of the founding of the English settlement at Jamestowne) with a focus on the colonists' use of sturgeon and oysters. Marine Science Day is VIMS' annual open house, and provides a fun and educational day for both children and adults.

Algal Blooms in Chesapeake Bay:
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

(April 26, 2007) Blooms of microscopic, single-celled plants called algae help fuel Chesapeake Bay's bounty of fish and shellfish. But too much of a good thing can be bad: excessive algal growth in the Bay, stimulated by runoff of nitrogen and other nutrients, can devastate submerged vegetation and lead to oxygen-poor "dead zones." Some algae can also produce toxins harmful to marine life. Join Dr. Larry Haas of VIMS' Dept. of Biological Sciences as he describes the causes and consequences of good, bad, and ugly algal blooms in Chesapeake Bay.

Eel be back? American eels in Chesapeake Bay

(March 29, 2007) Each spring pulses of young American eels migrate into Chesapeake Bay as part of a fascinating life cycle that brings these creatures from the deep blue waters of the Sargasso Sea to the shallow, turbid estuaries from Greenland to Venezuela. Join VIMS fisheries scientist Marcel Montane as he describes efforts to study juvenile eels in light of recent declines in landings of adult American eels along the Atlantic coast. Those declines are clearly evident from the VIMS Trawl Survey, which has been recording the abundance of sub-adult and adult eels and other fishes in Virginia's waters since 1955.

Small fish, big controversy: Menhaden in Chesapeake Bay

(February 22, 2007) Join VIMS researcher Dr. Rob Latour as he explores the debate surrounding Atlantic menhaden, their commercial harvest, and the recreational fisheries that target menhaden predators such as striped bass. Latour is working with researchers at VIMS and elsewhere to determine menhaden abundance in the Bay, quantify the role that menhaden play in filtering water and sustaining predators, and better understand the process by which young menhaden are "recruited" into the adult population.

James Fort and the Ecohistory of Chesapeake Bay

(January 25, 2007) The rediscovery of James Fort in 1994 has led to more than a decade of amazing discoveries adding volumes to our understanding of the first permanent English colony in the New World. Among the finds are thousands of marine species collected and consumed by the early colonists as well as artifacts used to harvest food from the bay. Join us as Danny Schmidt, APVA Senior Staff Archeologist, describes how these finds begin to paint a picture of Chesapeake Bay 400 years ago, and to shed light on how the English were beginning to impact the estuary. This is the first in a series of 2007 After Hours Lectures designed to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the 1607 founding of the Jamestown settlement.