USF Marine Science Puzzler

USF Biological Oceanographer Joseph Torres and a team of 10 from the College of Marine Science will spend the next six weeks in the Antarctic in search of clues to what has caused a major food source for penguins, seals and other creatures to disappear.

Follow their journey through the St. Petersburg Times, in Detectives in the Antarctic.




ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (March 15, 2010) – USF College of Marine Science professor Joseph Torres is bound for Antarctica – the 11th time since 1983 – in his continuing quest to chart the effects of global warming on one of the coldest places on earth.


Torres, a biological oceanographer, studies an important link in the Antarctica food web – the silverfish, a tiny creature that is an important food for penguins, seals and seabirds that has been on a rapid decline.


While once a major food source for these animals, the silverfish has all but disappeared through a wide swath of Antarctica. Scientists suspect the slow-growing fish, which hatches and develops underneath the Antarctic ice sheet, has been affected by the diminished ice formation.


“I am hoping we get some good solid information on this fish because it’s sort of a bell weather for climate change,” Torres said. “It’s a good example of an animal that has likely disappeared due to regional warming.”


Torres is leading a team of 10 College of Marine Science master’s and PhD students and recent graduates on the Antarctic expedition. You can follow along on their six-week journey through an interactive media and blog project featured in the St. Petersburg Times, Detectives in Antarctica.


Also, those interested in Torres’ previous journeys to Antarctica, which includes dives beneath the polar ice sheet, can find more information on his website.


Photos courtesy Joseph Torres.


The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of only 25 public research universities nationwide with very high research activity that is designated as community engaged by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  USF was awarded $380.4 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2008/2009. The university offers 232 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The USF System has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 47,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.