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UVI Seminar to Explore the Impact of Climate Change on Ciguatera Fish Poisoning

The University of the Virgin Islands will host a seminar on the impact of climate change on ciguatera fish poisoning at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 10, at the Administration and Conference Center on the St. Thomas campus. It is open to members of the University community and the general public.

The seminar - officially titled "Impact of Climate on Dinoflagellates and Ciguatera Fish Poisoning" - will focus on preliminary findings developed by the Ciguatera Fish Poisoning Monitoring project. The project, also called CaribCATCH, is a three-year, cooperative effort designed to monitor outbreaks of ciguatera poisoning in the Caribbean. The seminar will be presented in three sections: Clinical Studies and Epidemiology, Environmental Data and Surveys, and Trophic Transfer and Toxicity.

Preliminary findings from other parts of the world suggest that increases in water temperatures trigger an increase in growth of a specific marine algae, known as Gambierdiscus toxicus, which produces a group of closely related toxins known as "ciguatoxins." Ciguatera fish poisoning occurs when people eat fish that have accumulated these toxins. Supported by the National Center for Environmental Health at the Centers for Disease Control, CaribCATCH is the first federally funded study examining the connections between warming sea temperatures and human health.

Dr. J. Glenn Morris, the CaribCATCH project's principal investigator, is director the Emerging Pathogens Institute at the University of Florida, Gainesville, where he is also a Professor of Medicine specializing in Infectious Diseases.

Partners in CaribCATCH include UVI's Center for Marine and Environmental Studies, the Schneider Regional Medical Center on St. Thomas, the University of Florida, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Florida State University, the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and the Food and Drug Administration's Gulf Coast Seafood Laboratory at Dauphin Island, Alabama. The project is endorsed by the St. Thomas Fishermen's Association. More information is available from the CaribCATCH website - www.caribcatch.org.

A follow up presentation titled "Potential Impact of the Atlantic Warm Pool on the Caribbean Climate" is scheduled at noon in the same venue. The Atlantic Warm Pool is a large body of warm water in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea and Northwest Atlantic that can have a significant impact on the climate of the Lesser Antilles. The presentation is sponsored by UVI's Water Resources Institute and offered by project partner Vasu Misra, an assistant professor of meteorology at the Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies at Florida State University.

For more information, contact Dr. Tyler Smith, research associate professor of marine science at UVI's Center for Marine and Environmental Studies at (340) 693-1394 or send e-mail to: tsmith@uvi.edu.