Saturday, March 31, 2007

My brother Dr. Ransom Myers

In December, I held my brother Randy's hand and thanked him for loving me. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to tell him goodbye as I did not have the opportunity with Mama. Emotionally, I have always felt that Mama just vanished... left me, although intellectually I know she was killed one night on Highway 1 by a cotton trailer with no lights. Randy always loved me, unconditionally and without judgement. My life has been better because he was my brother. The world is better for having such an innovative, creative, determined and fearless scientist.

2004 interview of Ransom Myers

Listen to an NPR interview of Dr. Ransom Myers on July 8, 2004

Friday, March 30, 2007

Ransom Myers = solid science + brilliant analysis

Ransom Myers of Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia warned at length, using solid science and brilliant analysis, of the dangers of overfishing. He didn’t mince words and he wasn’t afraid to report bad news. As the Guelph Mercury reports, the 54-year-old biologist, originally from Mississippi, was known for his groundbreaking research and blunt warnings about the extinction of marine life around the world...

Ransom Myers on CBC

Listen to an interview about Ram on CBC's As It Happens (Click on "Part 3"):

In memoriam Dr. Ransom Myers (1952-2007)

This beautiful memoiram was posted today on the Myers Lab website "Our dear Ram (Ransom A. Myers), the leader of our research group, passed away on Tuesday, March 27th. We miss him terribly. For those of us in the lab, working with Ram every day was a very special experience, imbued with Ram's gleeful exuberance. His immense energy, brilliant ideas, sheer determination to obtain and analyze ecological data, and ability to answer complex problems with elegantly simple answers was truly unique. Ram was also incredibly funny; his blunt statements about mis-management of the oceans and tendency to describe his research in original ways triggered many laughing exchanges in the lab - usually followed by insightful re-analysis of the problem at hand.
We all experienced how much Ram cared each of us - a concern that extended far beyond publications and thesis completion. This concern for people he trusted and cared about was integral to Ram's character, and was part and parcel of his passion for conservation. He believed that good-hearted people, guided by careful analysis, should and would make changes necessary to protect marine species like sharks and sea turtles from extinction. As he said in one of hundreds of media interviews he has given over the years: "I want there to be hammerhead sharks and bluefin tuna around when my five-year-old son grows up. If present fishing levels persist, these great fish will go the way of the dinosaurs."
As we think about Ram and what he meant to us, it is clear that each of us has developed different strengths because Ram saw them in us and could draw them out. There is no question that Ram has changed the world with his scientific genius, ability to untangle "impossible" data, and compunction to speak the truth at all costs. He has also changed the world through his influence on those he worked with, who will continue to do the science needed understand our oceans and speak out to stop the ecological destruction that Ram revealed and fought so hard to bring to a halt."

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Protege Julia Baum carrys on Ransom Myers' legacy

“With fewer sharks around, the species they prey upon – like cownose rays – have increased in numbers and in turn, hordes of cownose rays dining on bay scallops have wiped the scallops out. Large sharks have been functionally eliminated from the east coast of the U.S., meaning that they can no longer perform their ecosystem role as top predators. The extent of the declines shouldn’t be a surprise, considering how heavily large sharks have been fished in recent decades to meet the growing worldwide demand for shark fins and meat. With an average population increase of about eight per cent per year, the east coast cownose ray population may now number as many as 40 million. The rays (which can grow to be more than four feet across) eat large quantities of bivalves, including bay scallops, oysters, soft-shell and hard clams, in the bays and estuaries they frequent during summer and migrate through during fall and spring.
Our study provides evidence that the loss of great sharks triggers changes that cascade throughout coastal food webs. Solutions include enhancing protection of great sharks by substantially reducing fishing pressure on all of these species and enforcing bans on shark finning both in national waters and on the high seas. " Julia Baum stated in an interview on the eve of Science journal's publication of her research with Dr. Ransom Myers.

Dr. Myers passed away on the eve of the publication of this study. His passing has deeply affected the Dalhousie community, but his legacy remains in the form of continued meaningful research in the Myers Lab that has the potential to change the world for the better. This research is a fitting way to honour his memory.

Ramsom Myers and Abundance

Ram and Abundance
by S. D. Fuller (a PhD student of Ram's)
Dec 1, 2006

Ram Myers is a man of abundance. He always has an abundance of enthusiasm, support and advice for his students, endless abundance of love for his family – which I first noticed when he would talk to his wife Rita on the phone from his office. Hello my lovely wife he would say, yes my love, I will be home soon, lovely, perfect wife. He always has an abundance of ideas, spilling from his mind to his mouth faster than hecan keep up with. Befitting of all his ideas, Ram has an abundance of published papers on a abundance of topics. Many of them concerning the lack of abundance of marine species and various reasons for this – from evolutionary questions, life history, overfishing, historical events. If you search Google for Ransom A. Myers and abundance, 49,000records are listed. That is an abundance of google hits!

Ram would not be Ram without his abundant curiosity. Have you seen him "in the field" or out on a walk? My favorite field story is Ram in the water in Florida, surrounded by what would certainly be considered an abundance of box jellies, and risking the sting to observe the abundance of small fish taking shelter in the tentacles.

He has an abundance of students and post docs, people who depend on his abundant spirit to buoy them when things are not going quite right, and to learn how to stick to an idea or a hypothesis until a solid, quantitative answer is found. Ram always strives to gather anabundance of data – get all the data in the world, he says. And he does.

Ram has an abundance of commitment to the world of biology and ecology, dedication to using his scientific ability to tell the stories that need to be told. Of all the people I know who work for change in the world, in varying capacities, Ram has the greatest abundance of drive to do the right thing. He has an abundance of trust, trusting his students and colleagues to do the right thing.

He loves an abundance of babies, always encouraging students to have babies as soon as they finished, and supporting them when the babies came along during a thesis. He has what in North America is considered an abundance of children of his own. Ram has an abundance of friends, and even among his critics, we suspect an abundance of secret admirers. All of this abundance, can only be met with an abundance of gratitude, an abundance of respect and an abundance of love. Leave it to Ram to only be diagnosed with cancer, when the cells have reached such great abundance. What Ram hasnever had – is an abundance of time. There has never been enough time to spend with his children, to to spend doing nothing. There has never been enough time to do everything, to spend with everyone, to find all the data, to answer all the questions, to go to all the meetings, to talk to all the reporters, to give all the seminars. The first five minutes of any conversation with Ram are the moments of gold – where a question might get answered before a new idea arose and shoved the issue at hand, aside. Those five minutes are never enough, but enough to get started, enough to be either frustrated or inspired, but oneway or another enough to move on. Ram's lack of abundance of time seems to be the one thing that he has not been able to change. But the time those of us who know him or ever met him, was enough to ensure that his work, enthusiasm, compassion and concern for people and other species, will go on.

S. D. Fuller

Ransom Myers CBC Radio Interview

Listen to Dr Ransom Myers. Below is a link to his 10/12/06 CBC interview

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

L A Times reports Ransom Myers' backstory:

I have found 26 articles reporting Ram's death, but none have included his backstory. But there is a writer who knew Ram and cared enough to write what most don't know. His name is Ken.Weiss of the LA Times. His story is the one you want to read.,1,192207.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

Born and raised in the tiny town of Lula, Miss., Ransom Aldrich Myers Jr. was one of four children and the namesake son of a cotton farmer who owned a plantation stretching across thousands of acres.In grade school, his teachers were worried that he was slow to learn to read, according to his younger sister, Susan G. Myers. But by high school, his teachers said that he shouldn't bother coming to school. It was for another reason: There was apparently nothing they could teach him that he hadn't already mastered. At age 16, he won an international science fair with an "X-ray crystallograph" that measured the symmetry between atoms — a delicate instrument that he built in his bedroom. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology tried to recruit Myers for its physics department, but his father wouldn't stand for it. "My father wouldn't let him go because it was north of the Mason-Dixon line," Myers' sister said, explaining that deep Southern roots included ancestors who were Confederate soldiers.So Myers earned a physics degree at Rice University in Houston and then worked in the oilfields of Kuwait as a physicist to earn some money before departing on a series of adventures that took him trekking in Nepal, backpacking through Africa and sailing across the Atlantic from Africa to the Caribbean in a 28-foot boat.It was during this time that he became interested in fish, his sister said. Not wanting to displease his father, he ventured farther north than the Yankee north and enrolled in Dalhousie University, where he received a master's degree in mathematics and a PhD in biology.

Dalhousie's Memoriam

In memoriam Dr. Ransom Myers (1952-2007) One of Dalhousie’s brightest lights, Dr. Ransom Myers, passed away in Halifax on March 27, at the age of 54. Ram, as he was known, captured the world’s attention time and time again with breakthrough research on declining fish populations. He focused much of his attention on models of extinction, which is a growing concern in the marine environment.
As Dalhousie’s inaugural Killam Chair in Ocean Studies he was widely respected around the globe as a leading world-class ocean researcher. Last year, Fortune Magazine named him the only Canadian on a list of the “Top Ten People to Watch” in the world over the next 75 years. His work was featured on the cover of Time magazine and the New York Times (“above the fold”) and he testified at the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Hearing on Overfishing and at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. He was also in Who’s Who in Canada.
Dr. Myers received his B.Sc. in Physics from Rice University, and his M.Sc. in Mathematics and Ph.D. in Biology from Dalhousie University. He published more than 100 refereed scientific publications in diverse fields of aquatic ecology. His influential work on the causes for the collapse of fish stocks, particularly cod in Eastern Canada, has been well documented.
The Dalhousie community is enriched for having known and worked with him. Dr. Myers' achievements will long be recognized by his colleagues and his many friends, the world over. The entire Dalhousie family is deeply saddened by the passing of an outstanding colleague and friend and our hearts are with his family today and in the days ahead

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Bon Voyage Dr. Ransom Myers

Dr. Ransom Myers and son, innocently walking last summer under a "Bon Voyage" sign in Cape Breton. And now, today, it is so painfully, so permantely, so tragically, so senseless........BON VOYAGE. Bon Voyage brother. Bon Voyage to a Fearless Guisus who helped changed the world. Bon Voyage to a man who loved with a loved that was more than love.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Visits with Ram

"Hi Ram, I really love each of our visits. I may not be learning new science but with each visit I am learning more and more of what makes you such a fantastic person. Even without the use of words, you have this ability to communicate and make people feel so important and loved. Your honesty and upfrontness along with your compassion and enthusiasm is so inspiring. I wish everyone could be so lucky to have met you. Thank you for everything that you have done for me- I wish I could do more for you. " Christine.

"Christine A. Ward-Paige, Ransom A. Myers, Christy Pattengill-Semmens. In Prep. Yellow Stingray in the Florida Keys.This study analyzed temporal trends of the yellow stingray in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) as recorded by trained volunteer divers using the Roving Diver Technique. Data were obtained from the REEF Fish Survey Project. A generalized linear model on presence-absence data was used to estimate the change in yellow stingray by year. Habitat type, bottom time, depth, site, water temperature, and Julian date were included in the model to standardize the data. The decline in sighting frequency has occurred in all habitat types, depths, sites, and regions of the FKNMS. Within the FKNMS yellow stingray sightings declined from 32% SF (425 sightings in 1323 surveys) in 1994 to 8.5% SF (93 sightings in 1095 surveys) in 2005, averaging ~18% decline per year. The decline has gone virtually unnoticed. This study highlights the importance of protecting marine communities for the preservation of fishery resources and shows the importance of recording all marine species extractions. It also demonstrates the value and application of trained volunteer divers for monitoring temporal trends and species interactions of marine communities. This work was presented at the Summer 2006 American Elasmobranch Society meeting."

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Ram in 1963

This picture was taken in 1963 in Lula, Mississippi at Ram's grandmother's house. Ram (then known as Randy) is on the left. His sister Joan is on the right. And I'm in the middle.

Saturday, March 3, 2007


"The goal of this project, headed by Ransom Myers of Dalhousie University, is to protect large sharks and their ecosystems. The aims are three-fold: to locate data and develop analysis techniques that demonstrate the magnitude of the declines in shark populations on a global scale, to effectively communicate the results, and to advance conservation action. The strategy for producing this global synthesis of data is to link existing raw data from around the world with modeling expertise and then to present the findings to the general public.Since Dr. Myers and colleagues launched the Pew Global Shark Assessment in October of 2003, we have obtained the first glimpses of what we have lost from our pelagic ecosystems. The ongoing analysis of the Myers research lab will continue to reveal the status of global shark populations and the implications for our ocean ecosystems.Drastic Declines in Shark Populations in the Gulf of MexicoIn February 2004, Baum and Myers published “Shifting baselines and the decline of pelagic sharks in the Gulf of Mexico” in Ecology Letters. This research developed a ‘scientific snapshot’ of what shark populations in the Gulf of Mexico looked like in the mid-1950s and compared these abundances with recent shark abundance data. Baum and Myers revealed that oceanic whitetip sharks have been reduced by 99%, or 150-fold in numbers (300-fold in biomass), and continue to decline (see Figure 1). Other commonly caught shark species, silky and dusky sharks, were estimated to have declined by 91 and 79%, respectively." For the rest of this article, click