Oceans define this planet, yet we are just at the doorstep of understanding how these interconnected systems affect all life on Earth. Join us on the next step through this blue doorway to discovery.

From deep-water reef structures 100s of feet below, to ocean eddies 100s of miles wide. From the backbone of an international economy, to medical breakthroughs. From the engine that revs up hurricanes, to the lifeblood that sustains fisheries and the potential source of our own survival.

Oceans cover more than 70% of the planet’s surface, and hold untold secrets. We are just beginning to explore what lies beneath the Earth’s unique waters. As we learn about this realm, we push the limits of exploration and look for ways to understand and protect the oceans. Our future depends on what we discover and how we act towards this watery world.

The University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science and the Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy invite you to participate and support the exploration.


Shallow Water Coral Reefs – Preserving the “rainforests of the sea”.

Coral reefs are known as the “rainforests of the sea” because of their high biodiversity and productivity. Home to uncounted millions of organisms, these ecosystems house thousands of fish and invertebrates found nowhere else on the planet. Due to their slow growth, reef- building corals are especially sensitive to the multiple environmental threats that have increased in recent decades. Since the 1940’s, University of Miami scientists have led formative studies on the Florida Reef Tract, the only continental reef in the United States, as well as other reef systems around the globe.

Currently, University of Miami researchers are studying how corals adapt to sea temperature changes, ocean acidification, and researching ways to help minimize climate impacts on these ecosystems in the coming century.


coral reef - mike schmale copy
Mike Schmale


• Transplant coral colonies from nurseries to natural reefs to repair damaged areas

• Study the effect human activities are having on beaches, mangroves, and coral reef habitats in the local Miami area

• Conduct reef fish counts and habitat surveys to assess populations and evaluate Marine Protected Areas in the Dry Tortugas

 Deepwater Coral Reefs – 100-foot tall reefs, 1000s of feet underwater.

In the Straits of Florida, a living underwater forest exists. Here deepwater corals growing in thickets, up to 120 feet tall, provide deepwater habitats for biodiversity only recently discovered. In fact, there are more deepwater coral reefs around Florida than shallow reefs, but our understanding of these special places is just beginning. The University of Miami has pioneered research into these unique ecosystems first hand to contribute knowledge about this realm. In addition, there is a need to understand how these communities are affected by events such as the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster that poured millions of barrels of oil into the deepest recesses of the Gulf of Mexico, impacting these unique cold-water coral communities.



• Help decipher sonar studies of the Great Bahamas Bank that can yield information about new deepwater coral communities and benthic habitats

• Sample sediment cores off the Bahamas’ Exuma cays that benchmark climate change and other significant geological events


Deep reefs image
Dierk Hebblen, MSM20-4


UM Shark Research Lab – Empowering citizen scientists to protect our oceans.

To conserve for the future, we have to involve new generations, and encourage non-scientists to explore. That’s where the UM Shark Research Lab fits in. We engage the general public in scientific research, and show them how the environment relates to their daily lives. Participants, from high-schoolers to grad students to businesspeople are immersed in active conservation and research. Even land-locked or underserved communities can participate virtually. As a result, the Shark Research Lab is preparing an emerging group of stewards to protect our marine ecology. By learning hands-on about the threats facing our oceans, they are better equipped to deliver better solutions.


Jim Abernethy


• Shark tagging with RJD. Draw blood, take a fin clip for DNA sampling, and measure and tag these threatened apex predators’ migration

• Directly interact with scientists collecting data and participating in active fieldwork

• Participate using our comprehensive online curriculum


Tarpon, Bonefish and Permit – Sportfish conservation makes smart business and smarter living.

Bonefish, tarpon, and permit are shallow water tropical recreational fisheries that have an extremely positive economic impact on coastal communities in southern Florida and the Caribbean. The newly established Tarpon and Bonefish Research Center (TBRC), a partnership with the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, strives to protect and enhance these species by gaining a better understanding of their biology, habitats, population dynamics and ecology. Long-term success demands solid science that can inform future ocean policy. By driving innovative scientific methods, new technologies, and best-policy practices, we will foster better management and increasingly sustainable fisheries.



• Join teams of guides and anglers spread from Key Biscayne to the Marquesas west of Key West to log bonefish sightings during a one-day survey, to study their population changes

• Catch and track tarpon, the “Silver King”, with TBRC scientists to learn about migrations, spawning locations and ocean habitat use

bonefish and fishermen
Jiangang Luo