An Ultra Impact to our Marine Life

By Jessica Alvarez

An Ultra Impact to our Marine Life

By Jessica Alvarez
Maria C. Cartolano, a Postdoctoral Associate in Marine Biology and Ecology, is giving marine life a voice.

Festivals such as the Ultra Music Festival have heavily impacted Virginia Key, Florida. It’s blaring music from dusk to dawn and heavy traffic were among the complaints of many residents. However, the complaints of one group have gone unheard – marine life. Maria C. Cartolano, a Postdoctoral Associate in Marine Biology and Ecology at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS), is a voice for impacted marine populations. Her research focuses on understanding how various sources of pollution, such as oil spills and sound pollution, are affecting aquatic organisms.

During her time here, Maria led a team of several other postdocs to investigate the impact of said local music festivals. With the ocean waters a mere distance from these festivals, it posed a high risk for the marine life. Their results found an increase in sound in the marine environment and an increase in the stress hormone cortisol in fish. This research was also conducted at the UM Experimental Hatchery on the RSMAS campus. Maria and her team took these results to local city officials to inform them of the impact of such music festivals on marine life.  The reason this research is vital is because sound pollution can not only cause a stress response, but it can also impair important natural communication and affect the marine environment overall.

When asked what she enjoys most of her research, she responded, “I enjoy designing and conducting new experiments and sharing my passion for research and conservation with the community." Maria hopes that her research​ can spread knowledge on how humans are disturbing the marine environment and on ways to change the course of these effects. By doing so, she hopes to​ inspire others to preserve the health of the oceans.