Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies

Image: Ripples on water

SF State's bayside marine and estuarine research facility.

RTC News


NSF-funded program will prepare students to protect urban coasts

As the only marine laboratory located on San Francisco Bay, the Romberg Tiburon Center has long played an important role in studying coastal and estuarine ecosystems. Now, the Center will launch a new graduate program, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), that will prepare San Francisco State University students to help these regions adapt to global changes such as climate change, sea level rise and ecosystem shifts. SF State News, 10/19/16


Ocean conditions contributed to unprecedented 2015 toxic algal bloom

Senior Research Scientist Dr. William Cochlan is a co-author with researchers at the University of Washington and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on a new study that connects the unprecedented West Coast toxic algal bloom of 2015 to unusually warm ocean conditions — nicknamed “the blob” — earlier that year. "Previous laboratory studies by co-author William Cochlan of San Francisco State University showed that P. australis can take up nitrogen very quickly from a variety of sources, and appear to outcompete other, nontoxic phytoplankton in nutrient-depleted warm water. For the new study, Cochlan’s lab performed experiments with P. australis from the 2015 bloom. They showed that when these cells experience warmer temperatures and get more nutrients they can double or triple their cell division rates, allowing them to potentially bloom into a large population fairly quickly at sea." UW Today, 9/29/16


Secrets of sandy beaches revealed

The Ocean Science Trust has released a Sandy Beach Snapshot Report, one in a series of such reports on the South Coast Marine Protected Area (MPA) that highlights key scientific findings from monitoring conducted during the baseline period (2012-2017). Each Snapshot Report is a widely accessible translation of technical reports. The Sandy Beach report was created in part by RTC Director Karina Nielsen, expert in sandy beach ecology. 9/28/16


Graduate student Alma Ceja receives prestigious ARCS Scholarship

Alma is the latest in a long line of RTC Master's students who have received the ARCS (Achievement Rewards for College Scientists) Scholarship to help further her research and pursue an advanced degree in STEM. Usually awarded to PhD students, ARCS awards to SF State Master's students illustrate the high caliber of the university's graduate research. 9/28/16


It's National Estuaries Week!

Our friends San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve reminded us that this week is National Estuaries Week! View photo contest winners and find ways to celebrate at the National Estuaries Week website. On social media, look for and use #EstuariesWeek and #EstuaryLove for photos and more. 9/19/16


SF State is first West Coast institution to join global partnership to monitor marine ecosystems

Researchers at San Francisco State University’s Romberg Tiburon Center (RTC) for Environmental Studies have joined a global partnership, led by the Smithsonian Institution, aimed at better understanding the world’s marine ecosystems and how they may be affected by climate change. Jonathan Morales, SF State News, 9/13/16


California’s summer of slime: Algae blooms muck up waterways across state

"California waterways are exploding with potentially toxic algae blooms, another fallout from the prolonged drought." Once again, harmful algal bloom (HAB) expert Dr. Bill Cochlan is consulted on the phenomenon, which he attributes in part to excess nutrients accumulated in the drought and washed into waterways with last winter's rains. Ryan Sabalow, The Sacramento Bee, 8/12/16


Latest algae bloom, in Discovery Bay, threatens way of life

Harmful algal bloom (HAB) expert Dr. William Cochlan is quoted in this SF Chronicle story: “The frequency and duration of these algal blooms seems to be increasing,” said William Cochlan, a senior research scientist at San Francisco State University, while noting a trend that’s occurred for at least a decade. “Some of these are just natural events, and some may be exacerbated by human activities.” Kurtis Alexander, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/27/16


Romberg partners with Smithsonian in global coastal research network (pdf, 981kb)

Scientists at the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies are joining a global initiative, sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution, to study marine life in shallow water environments like Richardson Bay, where people and marine life most often come into contact. Gretchen Lang, The Ark Newspaper, 7/20/16


An Emissary from a Forgotten Past, Thriving in an Unlikely Home

Dr. Kathy Boyer and her students are working with ecologist Peter Baye on restoration of a rare coastal plant in SF Bay, which could be a sweet spot for restoration and conservation of entire ecosystems, and sea level rise adaption. “It was just this light bulb,” Boyer says. “It would be such an attractive way to go forward, trying to introduce a rare species but thinking about it from a much broader community or ecosystem level.” Eric Simons, Bay Nature, 7/19/16


Build waterfront park, not homes, at Point Molate

Journalist and author David Helvarg mentions Romberg Tiburon Center's interest in continuing to study and do restoration work in the healthy eelgrass bed at Point Molate in this Opinion piece about proposed development. San Francisco Chronicle, 7/18/16


Miles of Algae and a Multitude of Hazards

RTC Senior Research Scientist and harmful algal bloom expert Dr. William Cochlan is part of this New York Times Science article on the recent bloom in Florida and others around the world. The New York Times, 7/18/16


Climate change could further delay crab season

"When the state delayed our local Dungeness crab season last November, San Franciscans were upset. I heard people blame climate change for the toxic algae bloom that poisoned our crabs, but this explanation may be too simple. What really caused the unusual bloom of Pseudo-nitzschia phytoplankton and will our Thanksgiving plates be without crab again?" Robyn Purchia, San Francisco Examiner. 5/25/16


Humpback and blue whales feeding in record numbers off SF coast

The recently completed ACCESS Partnership Cruise made a "splash" while in port at the Exploratorium: "Record numbers of humpack and blue whales are feeding off the coast of San Francisco in a display of gluttony virtually unprecedented for this time of year, marine scientists fresh off a weeklong study near the Farallon Islands confirmed Sunday." Peter Fimrite, SFGate. 5/22/16


Scientists Seeing More Whales Than Ever Before In Bay Area Waters
"A group of scientists returned Sunday from their 13th annual research trip in the Farallones Marine Sanctuary, where they say they saw more whales than ever before." Mark Kelly, CBS Local (KPIX 5), 5/22/16



Scientists Find Whales & Rare Birds on Sonoma-San Mateo Ocean Study

Graduate student Ryan Hartnett (Nielsen Lab) is interviewed about findings on the latest ACCESS Partnership research cruise.

ABC7News, 5/22/16


Devoted senior dedicated to observing seals at Jenner Headlands. Graduate student Karen Backe (Hines Lab) is quoted in this story about citizen scientist Elinor Twohy and the value of her long-term data set. "Backe said she is the latest of several colleagues to utilize data collected by Twohy, applying it to work on climate change and coastal habitats. 'Elinor does amazing work, taking these daily observations in a way that is standardized, which makes it incredibly valuable,' Backe said." Mary Callahan, The Press Democrat, 5/12/16


New West Coast mission investigates ocean acidification threat.

On May 4, NOAA scientists, along with members and alumni of the Cochlan Lab, embarked on "the most extensive effort to understand changing ocean chemistry on the West Coast and its impact on economically and culturally important fish and shellfish." Research technician Chris Ikeda, and alumni Julian Herndon and Brian Bill are on board to investigate ocean acidification connections to harmful algal blooms. Keep track of the scientists' activities through this blog. 5/9/16


At Tiburon marine lab, kids spend quality time with eels, slugs and amphipods

Timmy Hsiao, 3, right, and brother Anthony, 5, watch as their mother Linda measures an invasive green crab Sunday during the Discovery Day event at the Romberg Tiburon Center. Janis Mara, The Marin Independent Journal, 5/2/16


Fishermen Ready for Opening of Bay Area Commercial Crab Season

As Dungeness crab season is set to open, ABC7's Wayne Freedman checks in with fishers and SF State's Dr. Bill Cochlan, who stated that aside from temperature, the parameters leading to toxin production is still unknown. ABC7 News, 3/25/16


See previous coverage of the impact of toxic algae on the Dungeness crab fishery in our News Archive.


More acidic oceans could reduce fertility for algae eaters

New research shows that increased levels of carbon dioxide in the oceans cause changes that alter key nutrients essential to the reproduction of animals low on the food web. According to graduate student researcher Morgan Meyers, the study “gives us a broader picture of how ocean acidification affects the food web beyond a single species." Lauren Lipuma, Earth & Ocean Science News, 2/29/16


Massive Public Works Project Will Help Clean Sacramento River

Senior Research Scientist Richard Dugdale was interviewed as part of this public radio report. Dr. Dugdale spoke about the potential impact of incompletely treated wastewater on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Amy Quinton, Capitol Public Radio News, 2/16/16


Federal relief may soon be on way for California Dungeness crab fisherman

ABC7's Wayne Freedman talks to Dr. Bill Cochlan about the need for research into the toxic algae blooms that shut down the fishery. "Well, I would say that if we don't want this to happen in the future, we have to understand the root causes," Cochlan said. Wayne Freedman, ABC7 News, 2/9/16




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