Science For Citizens Videos

The Chesapeake Biological Laboratory (CBL) offers Science for Citizen Seminars to engage members of the public in learning about innovative research being pioneered by scientists at the oldest state-supported marine lab on the East Coast.  As a part of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, CBL faculty and graduate students are developing new approaches to solving the environmental management problems facing Calvert County, our nation, and the world. All members of the public are invited to attend these free Science for Citizens Seminars in-person. To learn about upcoming seminars, please refer to the current Science for Citizens Seminars Series schedule or sign-up to recieve email notifications about upcoming Science for Citizens seminars and series using the button below:

"Live quality" videos of past Science for Citizens seminars are available for online viewing below.


Fear For the Turtle? The Chesapeake's Diamondback Terrapin

Presented by Dr. Chris Rowe

Dr. Chris Rowe is peering into the future to see what it holds for Maryland’s state reptile and UMD College Park’s mascot: the diamondback terrapin. Terrapins reside throughout much of the Chesapeake and our coastal bays, but during their life cycle they rely on different types of habitats.  Learn about the diamondback terrapin and find out how sea level rise and climate change may impact these critical habitats and this iconic species.

WATCH THE VIDEO (Recorded 10/25/16)

Manure Happens: The Consequences of Feeding Seven Billion Carnivores

Presented by Dr. Eric Davidson

Humans have profoundly altered the global nitrogen cycle in an effort to feed 7 billion people.  Dr. Davidson will discuss how food and energy production from agriculture, combined with industrial and energy sources, have more than doubled the amount of nitrogen circulating annually on land and how this has caused widespread effects on ecosystems, biodiversity, human health, and climate. Effective solutions for reducing nitrogen losses from agriculture to water resources exist, so what political and economic impediments to their adoption remain?

WATCH THE VIDEO  (Recorded 10/18/16)

Coal Mining and the Death of Appalachian Streams

Presented by Dr. Margaret Palmer

Activities that are known to degrade streams are permissible under U.S. law if the natural resources that are lost in the process can be offset by undertaking environmental improvement projects elsewhere. In this seminar, Dr. Palmer will describe how stream networks have been degraded by mountaintop mining, the offset projects (“mitigation actions”) that have been completed, and why those actions do not make up for the stream natural resources lost.

No video available. 


Mercury in Maryland: A Local or Global Problem?

Presented by Dr. Andrew Heyes

Did you know that because of high concentrations of mercury, many fish from all of Maryland’s lakes come with advisories limiting their consumption by humans? It’s true! But how does mercury get into our fish, and can citizens of Calvert County help solve the problem locally? In this seminar, Dr. Heyes will explain the sources and severity of mercury contamination in Maryland’s fish and will discuss whether action within Maryland can alleviate this problem or if it is a global concern.

WATCH THE VIDEO      (Recorded 10/4/16)   

Managing Fisheries in the Chesapeake Bay

Presented by Dr. Tom Miller

The Chesapeake supports many species important to both commercial and recreational fisheries – including striped bass, menhaden, blue crab and oyster.  Currently each of these species is managed separately.  However, over the last 25 years CBL scientists have been advocating for a new approach that explicitly recognizes interactions between species. This ecosystem-based approach presents challenges of its own – should people interested in striped bass have a say in how many menhaden or blue crab are caught?  This talk will look at the science behind ecosystem-based approaches and some of the societal issues it raises.

WATCH THE VIDEO      (Recorded 9/27/16)   



The Gathering Storm: Flooding the Chesapeake Bay

Presented by Dr. William Boicourt

The enclosed nature of Chesapeake Bay protects us from most hurricanes moving from the tropics up the east coast.  But for certain storms, such as Isabel in 2003, the Bay area is especially vulnerable. Recognizing that hurricanes are heat engines that feed off warm ocean temperatures is leading toward improvements in forecast warnings.  As our surface waters in the ocean warm, the present understanding leads scientists to predict fewer hurricanes in the coming years.  But when they come, they are going to be intense.

WATCH THE VIDEO      (Recorded 04/26/16)  

Beautiful Swimmers Revisited Film Screening

Presented by film interviewee Dr. Tom Miller

It’s been 40 years since William W. Warner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book introduced us to the creature that’s been captivating diners and scientists alike ever since: the blue crab. Beautiful Swimmers Revisited is a documentary film that takes viewers on a journey around the Bay to look in on those who catch, study and eat blue crabs. The film demonstrates how science has evolved since Warner’s day to better understand the behavior of this enigmatic shelled creature. Join CBL for a screening of this 57 minute film prior to its television debut. No video is available for this seminar, however, you can view the film trailer here.

Why Does Blue Crab Abundance Change Year to Year?

Presented by Dr. Eric Schott

Blue crabs support vital fisheries and play a crucial role in the coastal and estuarine ecosystems of Maryland as well as throughout the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of North and South America. In the Chesapeake Bay, the number of crabs varies from year to year, and this fluctuation is only partly understood by scientists. This presentation will discuss some of what scientists know and don’t know about crab abundance and mortality, and a new factor that may help explain some of the variation.

WATCH THE VIDEO      (Recorded 04/12/16)   

Oyster Restoration in Maryland

Presented by Dr. Kennedy Paynter

Oysters have been well established as a “keystone” species in the Chesapeake – a species that plays a key role in the creation of reef habitat and the biogeochemical processing of nutrients and sediment in the water column.  Restoration efforts in Maryland were at first scattered throughout the Bay and, by most measures, were relatively successful in establishing small populations of oysters in many tributaries. Over the last 4 years, that effort has been focused into one tributary, Harris Creek, that has received the bulk of restoration resources. Hundreds of millions of baby oysters, called spat-on-shell, have been produced by the UMCES oyster hatchery in Cambridge, MD, and deployed in Harris Creek covering about 350 acres. The results have been exciting.

WATCH THE VIDEO      (Recorded 04/05/16)       

Atlantic Menhaden: Stories from Early Life

Presented by Dr. Tom Miller

Atlantic menhaden is a critical component of estuarine and marine ecosystems all along the Atlantic coast of the US.  It supports important commercial fisheries and serves as food for many fish and bird predators.  Yet, it begins its life as a 3 mm, transparent lava far out to sea that can barely swim or eat.  Before it can end up in the stomach of striped bass or an osprey, or survive to produce the next generation, it must “recruit” to nursery areas.  This talk will explore what factors influence its survival, growth and distribution by combining computer modeling, laboratory experiments and statistical analyses. 

WATCH THE VIDEO      (Recorded 03/29/16)



Little Fish, Big Impacts: Forage Fish and Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management

Presented by Dr. Ed Houde

Forage fishes are small, but abundant, fishes in Chesapeake Bay and other coastal waters. They are food for a multitude of predators, including striped bass, ospreys, and dolphins. The most abundant forage fish in the Bay is the Atlantic menhaden, which supports the Bay’s biggest fishery. In this seminar, CBL scientist Ed Houde discusses forage fishes, their management, and implications for ecosystem-based management of fisheries.

WATCH THE VIDEO    (recorded 10/27/15)

Hold Your Breath and Keep Swimming: Advances in our Understanding of the Chesapeake Dead Zone

Presented by Dr. Jeremy Testa

Low-oxygen areas, often referred to as “Dead Zones” in the popular media, are unwelcome yet common features of estuaries worldwide that have generally expanded in space and time during the past century. In this presentation, Dr. Jeremy Testa describes the rich history of research related to the “Dead Zone” in Chesapeake Bay, with an emphasis on new insights into what controls the size of the dead zone, how its size has varied in past, and what we should expect in future decades. 

WATCH THE VIDEO!    (recorded 10/20/15)

Can We Climate Proof Our Insurance?

Presented by Dr. Slava Lyubchich

One of the many aspects of climate change is the escalating frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. CBL scientists have been studying precipitation thresholds that trigger an increased number of house insurance claims, and how many more days with such extreme precipitation we can expect to see in the future. In this seminar, Dr. Slava Lyubchich shows the results from statistical models that forecast how the future insurance risks might change based on alternative climate scenarios.

WATCH THE VIDEO!    (recorded 10/13/15)

Corals and Climate Change:  Reconstructing the past to understand the future

Presented by Dr. Hali Kilbourne

Corals not only support beautiful coral reef ecosystems, they also record environmental conditions on reefs within their skeletal chemistry.  In this seminar, Dr. Kilbourne explains how she extracts climate records from corals, what she has learned about our climate system from corals, and how that information can improve projections of future climate change.  

WATCH THE VIDEO!    (recorded 10/6/15)

Oysters in the Potomac:  Harvesting what you plant

Presented by Dr. Tom Miller

Oysters are iconic of both the Chesapeake Bay and our efforts to restore it to a healthy state.  Efforts have focused on restoring entire reefs or establishing reserves to restore their ecological function and to support fisheries.  Others have worked in developing aquaculture.  An alternative being explored in the Potomac River is to use waterman cooperatives who buy “shares” in an oyster program that will plant triploid oysters in the river that will be available for harvest by shareholders after two years.  Could this be the future of the oyster fishery?  This seminar describes how CBL scientists are advising the waterman and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission on the feasibility of this approach.

WATCH THE VIDEO!    (recorded 9/29/15)



90-years of Beautiful Swimmers at CBL: Blue crabs past, present and future

This seminar explores the biology, ecology and fisheries for blue crab based on 90-years of research conducted at CBL since our founding in 1925.  The seminar shows how the life cycle of blue crab determines the timing of fisheries and how climate change may disrupt that pattern.

WATCH THE VIDEO!    (recorded 3/31/15)

How are North America’s Arctic Ecosystems Responding to Sea Ice Loss?

Drs. Lee Cooper and Jackie Grebmeier, both scientists based at CBL, but with long-term field experience in the Arctic, discuss their research and related work that is addressing how arctic ecosystems and organisms are responding to the loss of seasonal sea ice and other environmental changes.

WATCH THE VIDEO!    (recorded 4/7/15)

Oysters in Maryland: Where we've been and where we're going

Maryland once supported one of the largest oyster fisheries in the world, but their abundance is now much lower than it was 50-100 years ago.  In this Science for Citizens Seminar, CBL's Dr. Michael Wilberg describes how and why oyster abundance has changed, how management of the fishery has changed, and what might be in store for the future.

WATCH THE VIDEO!    (recorded 4/14/15)

A Short History of a Long Study in CBL's Backyard:  Our local water quality

The Chesapeake Biological Laboratory has studied the water quality of Solomons Harbor since 1987.  This talk provides an overview of this work and the patterns and change scientists have documented over the past twenty-seven years of monitoring.  Learn about the health of our local waters!

WATCH THE VIDEO!    (recorded 4/21/15)

What Happens When We Do The Right Thing? A study of Mattawoman Creek

So, what does happen when we "do the right thing" regarding nutrient pollution in the Bay?  Exactly that was done in Mattawoman Creek, a tributary of the Potomac River.  The results were stunning but it took patience for the results of this clean-up effort to emerge.  This talk will provide the details and a bit about how we pieced this success story together.

WATCH THE VIDEO!    (recorded 4/28/15)

The Plastic Oceans: New insights into the distribution of marine debris

CBL scientist Michael Gonsior has traveled aboard three major expeditions to evaluate the extent of marine debris (mainly plastics) in our World’s Oceans.  Drawing on his experiences from these cruises, he will introduce seminar attendees to the problems created by plastic pollution in the offshore environment and what researchers know about its distribution.

WATCH THE VIDEO!    (recorded 5/5/15)

Whales & Wind Farms: Studying marine mammals in the Maryland wind energy area

Offshore wind farms allow renewable energy to be generated with few carbon dioxide emissions. However, potential impacts on marine species could include habitat loss and harmful effects of increased noise. This seminar describes ongoing studies led by Dr. Helen Bailey to understand the distribution of whales and dolphins in the proposed Maryland Wind Energy Area, and how they may be impacted.

WATCH THE VIDEO!    (recorded 5/12/15)

What Lies Beneath: Methane in natural systems

From the Chesapeake Bay and Gulf of Mexico to as far away as Brazilian reservoirs and Arctic lakes, Dr. Laura Lapham studies methane in natural systems. Drawing on her research from these diverse locations she discusses how methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is naturally formed in low oxygen sediments (such as those that underlie oceans, estuaries and lakes), what sorts of changes occur over time, and how it impacts the environment.


Innovations in Environmental Technology

From sensors that can monitor dissolved oxygen and nutrients in freshwater, coastal and ocean environments to our ability to remove invasive species from the ballast water of ships, Dr. Mario Tamburri will be describing two programs based at CBL that facilitate the development and adoption of new innovations to better understand and protect our environment.

WATCH THE VIDEO!    (recorded 5/25/15)

Maryland's Highly Migratory Fishes

We are witnesses to an unprecedented era of digital-age discoveries arising from advances in ocean observing systems, in methods to track fish movements, and in computing and telecommunications systems designed to detect, summarize, and simulate fish migrations. CBL scientist, Dave Secor, presents digital age discoveries from his laboratory on the far flung migrations of Maryland’s striped bass, sturgeon, and bluefin tuna.

WATCH THE VIDEO!    (recorded 6/2/15)