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MCRI Research

The primary research efforts at the Aquarium of the Pacific are focused on species propagation. We have also developed collaborative relationships with various outside researchers and institutions who wish to study the species in our collection. In addition, our team of scientific divers support a variety of agencies and researchers in the field by collecting data.

Below are the research projects (in PDF form where available) that the Aquarium of the Pacific has been involved in since the inception of MCRI.

MCRI Research

Aquarium Education Program

Dr. Lance Adams, Duane Stanton, Aquarium of the Pacific | National Marine Fisheries Service

October 19, 2011

Sea Turtle Tagging  buttonLink

As of October 2006, the Aquarium of the Pacific, with the cooperation of the National Marine Fisheries Service and others, has released three green sea turtles with satellite tracking tags into the waters of the Gulf of California and off Southern California. Data was received from one of the released animals for over ninety days and allowed thousands of Aquarium visitors to track its movements and learn more about the habits and behavior of sea turtles.

Aquarium Education Program

Nancy Caruso- Marine Biologist/ Project Director Dirk Burcham- Biologist/ Research Associate

June 3, 2009

Orange County Giant Kelp Restoration Project  buttonLink

The purpose of this report is to provide a brief overview, for the MLPA process, of select species groups that have been monitored for the last seven years in Orange County as part of the Orange County Giant Kelp Restoration Project.

Aquarium Education Program

Alberto Lindner, Duke University

August 15, 2008

A Study of the Taxonomy of Hydrocorals of the Genus Stylaster (2002)  buttonLink

Samples of a local variety of cold water coral (Stylaster californicus) provided by the Aquarium of the Pacific have revealed, through the use of DNA analysis, that what was previously thought to be one species, is in fact, seven distinct species.

Aquarium Education Program

Chris Martin, CSULB

November 7, 2006

Species Composition and Abundances of Nearshore Reef Fish  buttonLink

As the majority of the twenty-seven petroleum platforms off of California are slated to end productivity within the next ten years, the issue of decommissioning is becoming of greater public interest. Previous surveys in the Santa Barbara Channel have shown that petroleum platforms act as rearing habitat for many over-fished rockfish species, however no thorough systematic surveys of the platforms located off Long Beach and Huntington Beach have been conducted.

Aquarium Education Program

Aquarium of the Pacific AAUS Volunteer Diving Program, Nancy Caruso and Dirk Burcham, California Coast Keeper Alliance

November 7, 2006

California Coast Keeper Alliance (2006 - present)  buttonLink

Trained AAUS volunteer scientific divers from the Aquarium of the Pacific are assisting the California Coast Keeper Alliance with a two-year monitoring project at Crystal Cove State Park.

Aquarium Education Program

Aquarium of the Pacific AAUS Diving Program, Dr. Doug Hammond and Steven Colbert, USC/University of Washington

November 7, 2006

USC Sediment Circulation Study (2006)  buttonLink

Trained AAUS volunteer scientific divers from the Aquarium of the Pacific assisted researchers from USC and the University of Washington studying seawater circulation through nearshore sediments by obtaining core sediment and water samples from the substrate from three sites off of the coast of Huntington Beach.

Aquarium Education Program

Steve Blair, Aquarium of the Pacific

November 7, 2006

Humbolt Squid Husbandry Research (2006 - 2007)  buttonLink

Assistant Curator of Fishes Steve Blair traveled to the Gulf of California in September 2006, where he made observations on the behavior of these little understood animals and conducted experiments aimed at determining their ability to tolerate capture, anesthesia and transport.

Aquarium Education Program

Marianne Porter, UC Irvine

November 7, 2006

Flexibility and Morphology of Spines in Swimming Sharks (2006 - present)  buttonLink

The Aquarium of the Pacific is currently supporting a study by UC Irvine researcher, Marianne Porter that examines vertebral flexibility of swimming sharks and its effect on their maneuverability. The ability to maneuver quickly and effectively has behavioral implications ranging from mating to prey capture and predator avoidance.

Aquarium Education Program

Aquarium of the Pacific AAUS Volunteer Diving Program, National Park Service, Coastal Marine Archaeology Resources

November 7, 2005

Maritime Archaeology/National Parks (2005)  buttonLink

In November 2005, the Aquarium Dive Safety Officer participated in the annual NPS/CMAR shipwreck survey in California’s Northern Channel Islands.

Aquarium Education Program

Aquarium of the Pacific AAUS Volunteer Diving Program, University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO), Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (CINMS), Channel Islands National Park (CINP), California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG)

November 7, 2005

Channel Islands Monitoring (2005)  buttonLink

The overall goal of this community-based research program is to train volunteer non-scientists to conduct research and collect data relating toquestions of marine conservation and management inside the recently established Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) of the CINMS. Data was collected during a one week research expedition to the Channel Islands, where the divers practiced data collection following specific sampling protocols. Information obtained was used to supplement existing monitoring projects already underway by researchers at UCSB, PISCO, CDFG, the CINMS, and the Channel Islands National Park Service’s Kelp Forest Monitoring Program (KFM), among others.

Aquarium Education Program

Aquarium of the Pacific and UC Davis/Sea Grant

November 7, 2005

UC Davis/Sea Grant – Marine Debris Study (Derelict Gear Pilot Project) (2005)  buttonLink

Aquarium scientific divers-in-training participated in part of a statewide study managed by University of California, Davis/Sea Grant and funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Coastal Conservancy to locate and identify abandoned marine debris in the waters surrounding Catalina Island.

Aquarium Education Program

Mike Navarro, CSU Fullerton

November 7, 2005

Tracking the Brown Sea Hare (Aplysia californica) in the Southern California Bight (2005)  buttonLink

Volunteer scientific divers from the Aquarium of the Pacific assisted California State University, Fullerton PhD. candidate Mike Navarro with his studies aimed at understanding how larvae of many species disperse in ocean currents.

Aquarium Education Program

Diana Lloyd, CSU Fullerton

November 7, 2005

Cal State Fullerton – Larval Mollusc Movement Study (2005)  buttonLink

Scientific divers from the Aquarium of the Pacific assisted graduate students from California State University, Fullerton by collecting larval sea hares and various other mollusks. Deciphering the connectivity of marine populations involves tracking larval sources and settlement sites.

Aquarium Education Program

Dr. Chris Lowe and Barbara Ziegler, CSULB

November 7, 2005

Leopard Shark Thermal Inertia Study (2005)  buttonLink

In 2005 the Aquarium’s animal husbandry department assisted California State University, Long Beach graduate student Barbara Zeigler in conducting research on leopard shark thermoregulation. Several of the Aquarium’s sharks were fed a small temperature logger then held in tanks containing water of varying temperatures. The purpose of this study was to determine the thermal inertia of leopard sharks (i.e.: How long can they maintain their body temperature in varied temperature environments?)

Aquarium Education Program

Dr. Lance Adams, Aquarium of the Pacific

November 7, 2004

Sea Turtle Necropsy Workshop (2004)  buttonLink

Dr. Lance Adams and officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Marine Fisheries Service conducted a two-day workshop which consisted of classroom lectures and hands-on practicals, aimed at instructing veterinarians and stranding center managers in the proper methods of conducting necropsies and preserving tissue samples from dead sea turtles.

Aquarium Education Program

Dr. Michael Garner, Northwest Zoo Pathology Service | Dr. Lance Adams, Aquarium of the Pacific

November 7, 2004

A Retrospective Study of the Diseases of Sea Dragons (2004)  buttonLink

The Aquarium of the Pacific submitted more than forty-five samples that were used in this study. This is the groundwork for understanding the captive health management of this rare species and may have important conservation impacts. Thirty-four diseases of weedy sea dragons and twenty-eight diseases of leafy sea dragons were described.

Aquarium Education Program

Dr. Kathryn Gamble, Lincoln Park Zoo | Dr. Lance Adams, Aquarium of the Pacific | AZA Marine Mammal Taxon Advisory Group | National Marine Fisheries Service Office of Protected Resources

November 7, 2004

North American Captive Harbor Seal Phocid Distemper Virus Survey (2004)  buttonLink

Phocid distemper virus (PDV) is an important disease of free-ranging marine mammals and a potential health concern for introduction into captive phocid collections. Prior to this study, no comprehensive serosurvey of the 129 captive harbor seals in North America for this virus had been performed. The Aquarium submitted serum samples from its three harbor seals to support this project.

Aquarium Education Program

Dr. Thomas Eurell, University of Illinios at Urbana-Champaign | Dr. Ilze Berzins, Florida Aquarium | Dr. Lance Adams, Aquarium of the Pacific | Dr. Michael Walsh, Dr. Beth Chittick, Sea World of Florida | Dr. Rich Toth, Audobon

November 7, 2004

Sandtiger Scoliosis Project (2004)  buttonLink

Aquarium of the Americas’ tissue samples from two clinically affected sand tiger sharks, one from the Aquarium, were analyzed. The presence of a previously unidentified pigment crystal was identified in all the shark samples.

Aquarium Education Program

Dr. Lance Adams , Aquarium of the Pacific | Lisa Bartley, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

November 7, 2004

Clinical Research Using a Neonicitenoid (Capstar, Nitenpyram)  buttonLink

Current treatment for this Lernea sp. parasite (arthropod) requires the use of toxic materials that are hazardous to the environment, staff, and to sensitive animals in aquariums.

Aquarium Education Program

Dr. Lance Adams and Jodi Michalkiewicz, Aquarium of the Pacific | Dr. Ian Gordon, Dr. Christine Ma-Agas, Veterans Affairs Hospital Long Beach, Department of Vascular Surgery

November 7, 2004

Clinical Research Using Regranex to Treat Head and Lateral Line Erosionsin Marine Fish (2004)  buttonLink

The purpose of this study was to develop a more practical and cost-effective protocol for the treatment of HLLE in fish using Regranex.

Aquarium Education Program

Bridgette Nace, CSU Northridge

November 7, 2004

Reproductive Behavior and Coloration of Black Perch (Embiotoca jacksoni)  (2004)  buttonLink

Aquarium scientific divers assisted with weekly observations from the Summer of 2004 through the Summer of 2005 as part of a study to determine details of the spawning periodicity of black perch, in King Harbor at Redondo Beach, California.

Aquarium Education Program

National Park Service

November 7, 2004

National Park Service Kelp Monitoring Survey (2004)  buttonLink

Several Aquarium scientific divers participated in kelp monitoring survey cruises held by the National Park Service at the Channel Island Marine Sanctuary. Their contributions were especially valuable since kelp forest monitoring has been severely impacted due to limited funding by these agencies.

Aquarium Education Program

Aquarium of the Pacific and the California Department of Fish and Game

November 7, 2004

Abalone Surveys with California Department of Fish and Game (2004 - present)  buttonLink

In the spring of 2004 the Aquarium of the Pacific began a cooperative effort with the California Department of Fish and Game aimed at determining baseline data on existing populations of abalone at Santa Catalina Island. Scientific divers have conducted numerous monitoring trips at several locations around Catalina and the Palos Verdes peninsula.

Aquarium Education Program

Dr. Jim Hicks | Dr. Suzy Muns, University of California Irvine | Dr. Lance Adams, Aquarium of the Pacific | Dr. Todd Schmidt, Dr. Judy St. Ledger, Sea World of California

November 7, 2003

Evaluation of the Breathing Patterns of Normal and Respiratory Diseased Olive Ridley Sea Turtles  buttonLink

In 2003 the Aquarium transported two normal Olive Ridley sea turtles to the University of California Irvine to serve as controls for the respiratory disease turtles used in the study. The turtles were attached to a custom pnuemotachography mask to measure the components of the respiratory cycle.

Aquarium Education Program

Dr. Lance Adams, Aquarium of the Pacific and Jack Jewell, Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay

November 7, 2003

Vitamin D Levels in Green Sea Turtles (2003)  buttonLink

In cooperation with Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay, the Aquarium of the Pacific participated in a study aimed at determining the relationship between a sea turtle’s access to UV light and its ability to produce and metabolize vitamin D.

Aquarium Education Program

Deborah Wisti, American Museum of Natural History

November 7, 2003

Molecular Phylogeny of Lorikeets (2003)  buttonLink

The Aquarium of the Pacific contributed tissue samples to this researcher who was conducting studies aimed at determining the phylogeny of this distinct group of psittacine birds.

Aquarium Education Program

Dr. Andrew Lawrence, University of Hull, England

November 7, 2003

Endocrinology of Sand Tiger Shark (Carcharias taurus) Reproduction (2003)  buttonLink

The Aquarium contributed blood samples that were used in this study of fluctuations in hormone levels as a function of the reproductive cycle of sand tiger sharks.

Aquarium Education Program

Dr. Chris Lowe and Jeremy Vaudo, CSULB

November 7, 2003

Movement Patterns of the Round Stingray (Urobatis halleri) at Seal Beach, California (2003)  buttonLink

Scientific divers from the Aquarium assisted in this study involving the use of acoustic telemetry to determine how long round stingrays congregate at Seal Beach, and where they go after leaving the area.

Aquarium Education Program

Aquarium of the Pacific

November 7, 2003

Marine Biotoxin Monitoring for California Department of Health Services (2003 - present)  buttonLink

Since 2003 the Aquarium of the Pacific has been participating in a statewide project aimed at determining levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning and domoic acid toxins in marine bivalves and plankton.

Captive Growth Rates and Reproductive Biology of the Weedy Sea Dragon (2003)

Kristy Forsgren and Dr. Chris Lowe, CSULB

November 7, 2003

Captive Growth Rates and Reproductive Biology of the Weedy Sea Dragon (2003)  buttonLink

The Aquarium of the Pacific supported this important study by providing Kristy Forsgren (a CSULB Master’s candidate) with the opportunity to conduct observations using their collection of rare weedy sea dragons.

Aquarium Education Program

Kelly Pollack, University of California, Irvine

November 7, 2003

Effects of Caffeine on Corals (2003)  buttonLink

The Aquarium of the Pacific assisted University of California, Irvine (UCI) Ph.D. candidate Kelly Pollack with a study she conducted on the effects of caffeine on reef-building corals.

Aquarium Education Program

John Froeschke, CSU Northridge

November 7, 2002

The Fish Assemblage of the Outer Los Angeles Breakwater (2002 - 2003)  buttonLink

Scientific divers from the Aquarium conducted numerous surveys at two locations near the mainland and at Catalina Island as part of a project to assist California State University, Northridge master’s of science candidate John Froeschke in this study comparing species of fishes and schooling and aggregating behavior.

Aquarium Education Program

Dr. Chris Lowe and Yannis Papastamatiou, CSULB

November 6, 2002

Feeding Periodicity in Leopard Sharks (Triakis semifasciata) (2002)  buttonLink

By granting these researchers from California State University at Long Beach access to their collection of leopard sharks, the Aquarium of the Pacific assisted in the development of a technique to determine when sharks feed in the wild, the effectiveness of pH as an indicator of feeding in leopard sharks, and whether pH can be used to estimate the mass of the meal the shark ingested.

Aquarium Education Program

Dr. Lance Adams, Aquarium of the Pacific and Dr. Branson Richard, University of Georgia

November 7, 2001

Study of Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease (PBFD) in Lorikeets (2001)  buttonLink

In 2001 the Aquarium of the Pacific provided nine lorikeets that had tested positive for the presence of psittacine beak and feather disease to Dr. Branson Richard at the University of Georgia Animal Disease Laboratory.

Aquarium Education Program

Dr. Julie Hagelin, Swathmore College

August 28, 2000

Pheromones in Crested Auklets (2000 - present)  buttonLink

Dr. Julie Hagelin, an ornithologist with the Swathmore College in Pennsylvania, has been working with our staff aviculturists since 2000 in the study of a previously undiscovered mode of communication in birds: chemical signaling. Her studies involve the Crested Auklet (Aethia cristatella), which produces a seasonally distinctive tangerine scent that is directly associated with courtship. The Aquarium of the Pacific is one of only two facilities in the country to house captive Crested Auklets.

Aquarium Education Program

Aquarium of the Pacific

August 27, 1998

Propagation of At-Risk Species (1998 - Present)  buttonLink

Since its opening in June 1998, the Aquarium of the Pacific has been a leader in the captive propagation of many species of marine fishes andinvertebrates.