Grad students clean Tybee Island beach

Grad students from both the Skidaway and Athens campuses teamed up with volunteers from Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant to clean the beach at Tybee Island and to assist with a dune restoration project.

The project happened during a “bonding weekend” in late September. The students coordinated a beach clean-up with the Tybee Clean Beach Volunteer group. Once there, they also joined forces with the Tybee Beach Task Force that had a dune restoration project at the North Beach. This included putting up dune fencing, placing wrack and planting vegetation. The students’ specific jobs were to clean the beach and wrack.

They collected more than 20 pounds of trash. “Our biggest source of trash was cigarette butts,” Christine Burns said. “We easily had more than 400 cigarette butts. We also found a kite, a bunch of beach toys and umbrella pieces.”

The students also recorded more than 500 pieces of very small pieces of plastic and styrofoam that were broken up and sprinkled throughout the wrack.

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Gray’s Reef’s Michelle Riley wins national award

NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) has awarded Michelle Riley the Sea to Shining Sea: Excellence in Interpretation and Education Award for her project “Georgia Public Broadcasting Live Exploration of Gray’s Reef.”

According to a statement from ONMS, “Michelle and the Live Exploration of Gray’s Reef through Georgia Public Broadcasting are recognized for the creation of a livestream, virtual dive event featuring Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary that engaged more than 45,000 viewers from 44 states as well as internationally.”

GPB host Ashley Mengwasser, GRNMS Superintendent Sarah Fangman and UGA research scientist Scott Noakes, Ph.D. discuss Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary during the livestream. Photo M. Riley/GRNMS

The program was streamed live from the UGA Aquarium on May 10, 2017. During the event viewers were introduced to Gray’s Reef NMS through video, heard from scientists and had the chance to submit questions to be answered live. This program directly introduced tens of thousands of mostly elementary and middle school students to the wonders of Gray’s Reef and the challenges it faces.

This is the fifth year that ONMS has recognized outstanding achievement in the fields of interpretation and environmental education. This annual award is given to employees, contractors and volunteers for their demonstrated success in advancing ocean and climate literacy and conservation through national marine sanctuaries, as well as for their innovation and creative solutions in successfully enhancing the public’s understanding of the National Marine Sanctuary System and the resources it protects.

Michelle will receive the award at the National Association for Interpretation’s annual conference in Spokane, Wash. in November. It will be presented in conjunction with several other agency awards including the U.S. Forest Service’s “Gifford Pinchot Award” and the National Park Service’s “Freeman Tilden Award.”

“It is fitting for sanctuaries to be at the forefront of interpretation and education alongside some of the country’s best interpreters,” said John Armor, Director of Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

 

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Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant plan Oyster Roast for a Cause

Frischer black gill paper published

Marc Frischer recently had a new paper on black gill published in the Journal of Shellfish Research. Dick Lee, Tina Walters, Karri Bulski and Ashley Price were among his co-authors.

Frischer M.E., Lee R.F., Price A.R., Walters T.L., Bassette M.A., Verdiyev R., Torris M.C., Bulski K., Geer P.J., Powell S.A., Walker A.N. and Landers S.C. (2017). Causes, diagnostics and distribution of an ongoing penaeid shrimp black gill epidemic in the South Atlantic Bight, USA. Journal of Shellfish Research. 36: 487-500. doi: 10.2983/035.036.0220

Glider partners come to the rescue during Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma presented an interesting problem to Catherine Edwards and other glider operators in the Southeast. They had several gliders deployed off the east coast as the hurricane approached, including Skidaway Institute’s glider, “Modena.” Catherine and the others were confident the gliders themselves would be safe in the water, but the computer servers that control them would not.

Catherine working on “Modena”

The gliders are equipped with satellite phones. Periodically, they call their home server, download data and receive instructions for their next operation. It was expected that Skidaway Institute would lose power for at least several days (as did happen.) However, Skidaway’s back-up partner at the University of South Florida’s marine science facility in St. Petersburg, Fla. was also directly in the storm’s projected path.

“In the week before she hit, Irma sort of blew up our hurricane emergency plans,” Catherine said.

Several other options, including Teledyne Webb’s back-up servers and Rutgers University were not feasible for technical reasons. Glider operators at Texas A&M University came to the rescue. Catherine was able to instruct Modena to switch its calls over the Texas A&M server. No data was lost and Modena continued its mission.

According to Catherine, two big lessons emerged from the experience.

“First, most of us rely on nearby or regional partners for emergency andback-up support, but disasters are regional by nature, and the same Nor’easter or hurricane can take down you along with your backup,” she said. “Second, there aren’t a lot of glider centers that can absorb several gliders on a day’s notice, and there are some compatibility and operations issues involved, so it is best to identify our potential partners and build out these steps into our emergency plans well in advance.”

Frischer lab attends international conference

arc Frischer, Tina Walters and Lauren Lamboley attended the 3rd Symposium on Molecular Analysis of Trophic Interactions in Upsalla, Sweden in mid-September. They made several presentations.

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Lauren, Marc and Tina shoot a selfie at the cathedral in Upsalla.

Frischer, M.E., Walters, T.L. and Price, A.R. (2017). Distribution, Ecology and Role of a Parasitic Ciliate on Commercial Penaeid Shrimp in the US Southeast Atlantic: Insights Gained Using Molecular Interaction Tools. 3rd Symposium on Molecular Analysis of Trophic Interactions. 13-15 September 2017. Upsalla, Sweden.

Lamboley, L.M., Walters, T.L. and Frischer, M.E. (2017). Quantitative Significance of Different Prey Types in the In Situ Diet of Dolioletta gegenbauri. (2017). 3rd Symposium on Molecular Analysis of Trophic Interactions. 13-15 September 2017. Upsalla, Sweden.

Walters, T.L. and Frischer, M.E. (2017). Molecular Gut Profiling of Dolioletta gegenbauri in the South Atlantic Bight Shelf: What Are They Eating? 3rd Symposium on Molecular Analysis of Trophic Interactions. 13-15 September 2017. Upsalla, Sweden.

Following the symposium the three spent two weeks at the University of Bergen (Norway) testing a new technology called digital drop PCR.

“It worked great and was a great learning experience, especially for Tina and Lauren,” Marc said.

New faces at Skidaway Institute, NOAA

LuLu Lacy is a new intern in Marc Frischer’s lab. She is a UGA ecology major with a minor in studio art. She has a wide range of experience outside of the classroom, including an independent research project at UGA’s Costa Rica campus; working as a landscape arboretum fellow for Trees Atlanta; and tending crops on an organic farm. She is a founder of the Athens Free School – an initiative to create a monthly calendar of free classes taught by volunteers in the Athens community on various subjects from bread making to bike maintenance.

Katherine “Kat” Scheuering is a communications intern at Gray’s Reef. Kat is a senior English/ Professional Communications major at Armstrong State University and is due to graduate in December. Kat is originally from Goshen, New York; a small town about an hour and a half outside New York City. “Close enough to commute but far enough that there were horse farms down the street,” she said. Kat chose to intern at Gray’s Reef because, she said, she is passionate about the environment and conservation. “I’m actually the president of the ‘Go Green’ club at Armstrong and we usually do a beach clean-up once a semester,” she said. “I’m looking forward to exploring my options once I graduate but I think ideally I’d like to find something where I can use writing and creative skills to campaign and raise awareness for environmental causes.”