David M. Hudson

David M. Hudson
Research Scientist
The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk
Research and Conservation
10 N. Water St.
Fields of interest
Physiological Ecology
Behavioral Ecology
Invasive Species
Climate Change
Description of scientific projects
Ocean Farming and Fisheries
Derelict Fishing Gear
To remediate some of the issues with lobster trap “ghost” fishing, TMA is working with CT DEEP and Cornell University Cooperative Extension to remove some of the over 1 million derelict lobster traps currently in the Long Island Sound. These traps are death chambers for fish and crustacean populations in the Sound.

Kelp Farming Impacts on Fisheries
TMA is working with the University of Connecticut to determine how well kelp farms serve as essential fish and invertebrate habitat in the Long Island Sound. This kelp farm project necessitates benthic dive transect surveys to quantify productivity, since kelp can also be used to remediate nutrient inputs to Long Island Sound.

Shark Spatial Use of Long Island Sound
A data gap exists for conservation information with respect to sand tiger shark usage of the western Long Island Sound. In conjunction with state environmental protection agencies in Connecticut and neighboring states and other NGO partners, TMA is planning to deploy acoustic receivers to track tagged animals in western Long Island Sound and to tag animals as appropriate in coordination with those partners. Understanding these apex predators is key to understanding recovering fisheries of Long Island Sound.

Climate Change and Coastal Resilience
Long Island Sound Coastal Resilience and Marsh Restoration
The Aquarium is working with Harbor Watch, CT DEEP, and Connecticut Department of Transportation to plan tangible coastal restoration in the Norwalk River through marsh grass planting in conjunction with the Walk Bridge construction project. This project will directly stabilize sediment currently at risk of coastal erosion from peak storm events and sea level surges. Additionally, Harbor Watch and the Aquarium are working to study the effectiveness of past restorations, particularly the effects of marsh grass source location with climate change.

Effects of Climate Change on Predator-Prey dynamics in the LIS
The blue crab has been a more active predator in the LIS of late, so more information will help determine what engineering action is necessary to help improve and protect oyster aquaculture in the Long Island Sound. Through this project, the Aquarium and colleagues at SUNY Stony Brook and Georgia Institute of Technology are determining the effects of climate change on the activity of an important benthic predator, the blue crab, on oysters and other bivalves. Additionally, work is progressing to study the effects of temperature on the feeding of a local recreational fish, the tautog.

The Maritime Aquarium’s Biodiversity Project
Biodiversity Database and Protection of Species at Risk
As part of its Long Island Sound Biodiversity Program, TMA and collaborators are preparing a publication of LIS inshore animal census collected on the 20-year database in context with how harbors are changing. Component projects include the contributions of TMA’s daily research vessel cruises and coastal programs to the Biodiversity Database, Project Limulus (horseshoe crab tagging), sand tiger shark reproduction (SEZARC), AZA Frog Watch USA, Osprey Nation, Trout in the Classroom, and TMA’s Invasive Species Monitoring Program. Included in this are nascent efforts to regularly monitor the Norwalk Islands using dive transect protocols. Other biodiversity efforts include staff-driven projects to save species (horseshoe crabs, Barrens Topminnow project with Tennessee Aquarium), sea turtle conservation (NC Aquariums, Santa Marta, Colombia), coral restoration and research (transects and fish surveys in Colombia, British Virgin Islands, and Florida Reef Tract), Andean freshwater conservation, and contributions to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (evaluating “endangered” status for species), with more to come. Field experiments and data collection necessitate the use of SCUBA for many of these projects.

Long Island Sound Watershed Water Quality
TMA, along with our partner Harbor Watch, are amongst the premier authorities on LIS water quality and interpretation by leading and participating in LIS community water quality projects. Aligning both institutions’ resources and collaborating with Harbor Watch increases the appeal to funders and enhances grant probability. Component projects include Save The Sound’s Unified Water Study, TMA’s Straws By Request campaign, water quality monitoring in the Long Island Sound Biodiversity Monitoring Program, and sediment sampling and microplastics monitoring with Southern Connecticut State University.

Citizen Science
Engagement in citizen science programs is expanding, and a way for The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk to include people in its activities outside the building. The projects are strong and expanding, including TMA’s horseshoe crab monitoring project (Anecdata, iNaturalist, Project Limulus), leadership in Fairfield County’s AZA Frog Watch USA chapter, Osprey Nation (CT Audubon), Trout Unlimited Restoration, Unified Water Study, Diamondback Terrapin Trackers (CT DEEP, Western CT State University), Alewife Monitoring (CT DEEP), and Coastal Cleanup Team. This area has brought recent opportunities for TMA to have exposure to local and national media.