GYRE Research Expedition Update

PCEC and Algalita have been continuously working together since our GYRE expedition to analyze samples and complete our scientific project. PCEC president Jesus Reyes was on a 2 month voyage to the northern Pacific gyre to collect blood samples and liver samples from fish exposed to debris in the open ocean. Since returning back PCEC has completed analysis on the blood samples; specifically aimed at measuring thyroid hormone levels in these fish. PCEC has also initiated the processing of the liver samples for Proteomic analysis. Thus far about 25% of the samples have been analyzed and proteins have been identified as a result of debris exposure as having been impacted in some way (either up-regulation or down-regulation in protein expression). This collaborative project also includes Lorena Rios Mendoza from University of Wisconsin-Superior who is simultaneously analyzing water samples and microscopic plastic debris from the same locations in which PCEC sampled fish. PCEC, UW-Superior and Algalita will continue this collaborative work and bring to the public the results of this historic research expedition.

Colorado Lagoon Update!

PCEC is continuing our collaboration of studying the Colorado lagoon in Long Beach, California.  We are closely working with Tidal influence and The Friends of the Colorado Lagoon to look at the impacts native fish species in the lagoon faced prior to the restoration project that has been occurring since late last year.  Now we are focused on monitoring the restoration project and in doing so following the health of the fish as the project comes to full completion.  Our collaborative effort will focus on the physiological health of shiner perch and California staghorn sculpin by measuring endocrine parameters such as thyroid hormone, cortisol and performing cutting edge science using proteomic approach to understand the underlying mechanisms of these impacts.

PCEC Welcomes 4 College Students to Internship Positions

This summer PCEC has developed a total of 4 internships where college students will get to learn about environmental research and analysis.  The students were chosen through two different forms; two of the students were given a PCEC internship through the COAST program (which is a program run by the Cal State University system), the other two were chosen by PCEC through our educational outreach program.  The students were chosen from a field of 26 students total and come from California state university, Long Beach, California State university Humboldt and Oregon State University.  The students are participating in field projects such as the Colorado lagoon restoration project, San Francisco bay thyroid disruption study as well as our continuing work off the coast in Orange county looking at human impacts in native flatfish.  The students will participate in a 10 week internship that will develop their laboratory skills as well as their field collecting skills.  They will also present a scientific presentation giving them the opportunity to engage other scientist and build further collaborations.

PCEC Partners with Friends of the Colorado Lagoon and Tidal Influences to Improve the Health of Local Wetland

Our local wetlands are some of the most unique and endangered environments.  From development to invasive species to pollution, there are many things that pose a threat to the health of these environments.  Two groups have been fighting to ensure that at least one (the Colorado lagoon), and others are saved for us to enjoy now and in the future.  Friends of the Colorado Lagoon (a community group) and Tidal influence have been working together to improve the health of the lagoon to ensure its survival.  PCEC now joins in that fight by participating in a project that will measure the health of the lagoon during a restoration project that will focus on increasing water flow to the lagoon, dredging the lagoon and improving the health of the organisms in this environment. PCEC will analyze the health of two local inhabitants of the lagoon; Shiner perch and the Staghorn sculpin.  Our organization will analyze for key hormones that directly link to overall health as well as proteomic analysis to specifically look at how some of the pollutants are affecting the proteins in charge of all physiological and metabolic functions.  Check out our story in the local Long Beach paper the Grunion Gazette

The San Gabriel River Regional Monitoring Program and PCEC to Study the Health of the San Gabriel Watershed

The San Gabriel River watershed involves many different tributaries and waterways that originate in the San Gabriel mountains and stretches all the way to the ocean. PCEC in collaboration with the Regional monitoring program will undertake a project to understand and evaluate the health of the watershed by sampling native insects and determining how the environment affects the organisms by looking at their proteome. A proteome is the profile that results from the natural proteins found in an organism, different exposures will cause different proteins to be expressed in higher or lower concentrations when compared to a “normal” proteome. By measuring the organisms that make-up the base of the food chain in these environments we can begin determining the overall health of the watershed.  The regional monitoring program has data collected from the previous years that will be used in conjunction with the data collected from this study to bring together the bigger picture on how these ecosystems are doing since the regional monitoring program began restoring portions of the watershed. Together we are excited about bringing together powerful research techniques to evaluate and help answer environmental issues that both organizations feel very strongly about and feel will benefit not only the health of the watershed but will benefit all those that enjoy the San Gabriel River watershed.

PCEC to Support Scholarships for Student Researchers Attending PRIMO Meeting in Long Beach, California in May 2011

PCEC promotes environmental education and is happy to support the PRIMO meeting by providing students attending this meeting with scholarships to the short course “Non-reproductive forms of Endocrine Disruption”, It is support from you that allows us to provide such student support, so thank you for your donations!!

New Study to Focus on Longjaw Mudsucker in Newport Bay, California. July 2009.

PCEC has teamed up with Southern California Coastal Water Research Project (SCCWRP) to conduct a pilot study to determine whether contaminated Newport Bay may be associated with changes in the health of a native
bottom-dwelling fish, the longjaw mudsucker.  Staff at SCCWRP have collected and trapped these fish in Newport Bay and at selected other coastal locations in southern California.  The fish from Newport Bay are being compared with fish from the other locations in the aim to shed light on whether abnormal changes may exist in the hormones that maintain the physiology and health of the animals.  Such changes, if they occur, would be evidence of so-called “environmental endocrine disruption” in the Newport Bay resident fish.  PCEC is contributing to the analyses of hormonal status, including measuring concentrations of thyroid hormones essential for growth and development. Newport Bay has a large yacht harbor and is a popular location for boating and numerous other forms of water recreation.  These activities in addition to urban runoff into the bay make up important sources of pollution that may impact resident wildlife like the longjaw mudsucker.  Results of this work will be an important component in ongoing efforts to determine the health of the bay and the well being of its native species, and may potentially warrant further monitoring other native bay species.


PCEC Continues Its Collaborative Research Efforts with the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD). May 2009.

PCEC is pleased to continue in its collaborative research with OCSD.  These efforts have been some of the first of their kind to characterize the effects of existing contaminants in urban marine environments on wild fish. Findings from the research have pointed to impacts on the physiological systems used to handle stress (“stress response”) and on reproduction.  Since the onset of these studies several years ago, OCSD has proven itself to be a leader nationwide as an agency that actively supports research focusing on environmental impacts derived from human society and its activities, particularly as relates to the marine environment (southern California region). The most recent work, driven by PCEC, was directed toward studies addressing the coastline stretching from Huntington Beach South to Dana Point.  Part of this work included analyzing a native fish, the English sole (Parophrys vetulus), for potential relationships between exposures to anthropogenic chemicals in their environment and the status of important endocrine systems.  It is already clear that certain kinds of chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)- are strongly related to dysfunction in the stress response endocrine system.  Thus, fish exposed to certain kinds of PCBs do not have normal physiological systems that enable this fish to survive stress, which is important for an animal in its wild setting.  Other findings on reproductive and developmental hormones are in the works.  Such partnerships between our non-profit (PCEC), agencies such as OCSD, and universities (CSU Long Beach, UC Riverside), are providing new and needed information to address the complex issues facing the southern California urban ocean environment.