Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Skidaway Co-Op proposed

by Jody Patterson / Gray’s Reef

Tis the season for a bountiful garden and a full nest! What grows in your yard?

Enough to share and trade with other local growers? Even bakers! Do you want to trade your craft products, baked goods or garden items at a weekly campus exchange?

I’ll start by offering my farm fresh eggs! Eggs

What do you have to trade? 

Email Jody Patterson and let the exchange begin.


Wrona Meadows participates in TNC learning exchange conference

Amanda Wrona Meadows recently organized, facilitated, and participated in a learning exchange conference focused on The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) global marine strategies.   The Marine Aggregation is a meeting of The Nature Conservancy’s marine staff and partners that takes place about every three years. This year, almost 200 staff and partners, representing over 15 countries and all U.S. coastal states, gathered at the Asilomar Conference Grounds, Calf.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA for a robust exchange of ideas and solutions among our growing marine community.

Participants celebrated, shared and learned ways to TNC’s work; participated in plenaries, sessions and networking discussions to better understand and contribute to TNC’s global marine strategies; and exchanged ideas and experiences around the necessary science, practice, policies, communications and partnerships for conservation success.

The meeting was a mixture of engaging plenaries, group workshops and concurrent sessions organized around three Global Marine Strategies: Ocean Solutions – Integrated Ocean Management, Sustainable Fisheries, Climate and Disaster Risk Reduction, with the fourth session – Expanding Our Practice – designed to cut across the three strategies.

To learn more about the conference, watch recorded plenaries, or read about sessions, you can visit the Conservation Gateway Web site.  

To learn more about all of TNC Global Priorities including how and where TNC is focused on our global oceans, visit this site :

Marine Extension Highlights – Education –March 2014

March 1 – Southern Stingray Bowl

Seven different teams from Georgia competed in the Regional competition for Georgia and Saouth Carolina high school students at The Southern Stingray Bowl hosted by Savannah State University March 1st, 2014.  Volunteers from MAREX included GA Sea Grant Interns Nick De Prospero, Katelyn Hunt, Daniel Rhiner, and MAREX faculty Dr. Mare Timmons.  Volunteers worked to ensure that all students who participated had a team of experts to maintain the success of the competition, despite the large federal cuts from the program this year.

March 1 – New Coastal Birding Public Program

MAREX educators and 12 participants took to skiffs for a winter morning on coastal waters. Several traveled from Atlanta and others from Richmond Hill to observe ducks, shorebirds, and dolphins around nearby coastal islands. The objective of the program is to connect people with nature and promote an awareness of birds and wildlife.

March 1 – Green Screen 

Dodie Sanders of the University of Georgia Marine Extension Service (UGA MAREX) presented a poster, “Using Marine Debris Surveys to Engage and Educate the General Public about Tidal System Vulnerability in the Southeast” at the 2nd Annual Jekyll Island Green Screen Event on March 1st , 2014. The poster highlighted the marine debris program, Project SORT, funded by the NOAA Marine Debris Program and currently being implemented at UGA MAREX on Skidaway Island. The public event showcased two films, “Into the Gyre” and “Wings of Life”, reaching approximately 700 participants.

March 7 – 3rd Annual Georgia Scholarship of STEM Teaching and Learning Conference

MAREX faculty Dr. Mare Timmons and Mary Sweeney-Reeves presented a poster and session at the 3rd Annual Georgia Scholarship of STEM Teaching and Learning Conference at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, GA.  Their presentation “Creating effective 21st Century educator through personal research experiences” was delivered to k-12 teachers, university professors, and administrators.  The program was well received and recruited teachers and graduate students to apply for research experience through the Improving Teacher Quality funded GA Shore workshop scheduled for June 8-22, 2014.

March 11-12 – Environmental Stewards Program

University of Georgia Marine Extension provided a 2-day program, “Environmental Stewards” for twenty two, 10 to 12 year olds. Hands-on activities included dock studies, live invertebrate observations, treks into the salt marsh, and marine debris investigations. A marine debris stewardship activity on both Skidaway and Tybee Islands was the highlight of the program. Support for this program was provided the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration’s Marine Debris Program.

March 8 – Natural Resource Discovery Day with US Fish and Wildlife

Georgia Sea Grant Marine Education Intern Daniel Rhiner represented MAREX in the Natural Resource Discovery Day at the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. Approximately 1000 participants were reached. Participants were able to handle live animals from the aquarium (hermit crabs, whelks and spider crabs. Participants also learned about Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge and the types of educational trips that MAREX leads there.

Late submission for February

February 23-24 – Bliss attends Ocean Sciences Meeting

The 2014 Ocean Sciences Meeting was held in Honolulu, HI Feb 23-28. The international conference population presented over 3,500 posters and 1,000 + oral sessions. UGA MAREX and COSEE SE was present with Bliss’s poster presentation on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) based-tools known as the eBOB (elementary basic Observation buoy) and ROVes (Remotely Operated Vehicles for Elementary Students).  Additionally, Bliss co-present on two additional posters focusing on the Research-Educator Exchange Forum (REEF) project and regional collaborations and on one oral session focused on the elementary program known as the South Carolina Amazing Coast Project which eBOBs and ROVes have been an integral part.

Gray’s Reef testing whether unmanned aircraft can help manage sanctuary resources

Gray’s Reef has begun testing an unmanned aircraft system in waters adjacent to the sanctuary that could allow researchers to monitor marine life at relatively close range with minimal disturbance. The test of the Puma system, which can fly lower, slower and quieter than manned aircraft, took place off the Georgia coast, March 25-30. During the test, the aircraft was launched and recovered from the sanctuary’s research vessel Joe Ferguson.

The Puma UAS system was launched from Gray’s Reef  Research Vessel Joe Ferguson and flown  in a  forward-progressing box-like path in front of the vessel.

The Puma UAS system was launched from Gray’s Reef Research Vessel Joe Ferguson and flown in a forward-progressing box-like path in front of the vessel.

The test mission was meant to demonstrate the aircraft’s camera resolution and to allow researchers to explore the aircraft’s potential to support management of Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary. “The primary objective of the tests is to determine if this technology can be used to survey schools of Atlantic menhaden, an important fishery species along the Atlantic coast,” said George Sedberry, Acting Sanctuary Superintendent. “We also plan to test the Puma system’s capability to survey other fish species, marine mammals and sea turtles.” The Puma aircraft will fly transects up to three miles from shore between Wassaw Sound and Brunswick, searching for spring migratory schools of menhaden, which move northward along the coast in spring, followed by bluefish, king mackerel, red drum and other valuable fish that feed on them.

Real-time imagery of the seascape  along the path of the UAS, including the vessel itself, is visible on a monitor on-board the vessel.

Real-time imagery of the seascape along the path of the UAS, including the vessel itself, is visible on a monitor on-board the vessel.

The Puma is a 13-pound, battery-powered aircraft with a nine-foot wingspan, equipped with real-time video and still photo capability. The aircraft can be hand-launched from any location on land or at sea from a boat and is controlled remotely by an operator. Durable and rugged for deployment to remote marine areas and repeat usage, the aircraft can fly for up to two hours on a charge and cover a range of about 50 square miles.

The UAS is then landed on the water for retrieval by the team. (Photo credit: Reed Bohne, Regional Director, Northeast and Great Lakes Region, ONMS)

The UAS is then landed on the water for retrieval by the team. (Photo credit: Reed Bohne, Regional Director, Northeast and Great Lakes Region, ONMS)

Gray’s Reef NMS has partnered with other NOAA scientists and resource managers from the National Marine Fisheries Service. If successful, unmanned aircraft technology could be used in marine research worldwide. Possible uses include wildlife surveys for seabirds, marine mammals and sea turtles, surveys to locate and identify marine debris, and other scientific data collection. For more information, contact Sarah Fangman (; 912-598-2428).

Sanders participates in congressional briefing

Jim Sanders 2 wSkIO executive director Jim Sanders participated as one of four panel members in a congressional lunch briefing on Coastal Resiliency – The Convergence of Scientific Tools for Advancing Environmental Restoration and Economic Growth in March.

The briefing attracted more than 80 people for the approximately 90-minute presentation.

After the briefing, Sanders and the other panelists met with congressional staff from the House committee on Science, Space and Technology and the Senate committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation

Spanish scientist, Pablo Balseiro visits Skidaway Institute

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPablo Balseiro has joined the Frischer lab for a two-month stay this spring. Pablo comes from the Unversity of Bergen (Norway.)

Pablo earned his Ph.D. in marine biology and aquaculture from the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain). He has been working on several projects about mollusks molecular biology in the Marine Research Institute of Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). His Ph.D. focused on the use molecular methods to improve the diagnosis of diseases of mollusks in Galicia (NW Spain).

Pablo was also involved in the European Union projects Imaquanim and Reproseed. His role in the Imaquanim project was to describe the immune response of Mediterranean mussel, Mytilus galloprovincialis, and the characterization of expression and function of the antimicrobial peptide Myticin C. The Reproseed project’s main objective was the improvement of seed production of the main bivalve species cultured in Europe, and developing genomic tools for one clam species, Ruditapes decussatus; two mussel species, M. galloprovincialis and Mytilus edulis; and one scallop species, Pecten maximus. Specifically, he used next generation sequencing using 454 and Illumina methodologies and microarray design using Agilent platform.

Currently, Pablo is working in the Institute of Biology of the University of Bergen in close cooperation with the former SkIO researcher, Christofer Troedsson. Their project, TRAPH, traces phytoplankton grazed by mussels – using molecular methods to identify preys and improve modelling. The project is funded by The Research Council of Norway and involves the Institute of Marine Research, the University of Bergen and the UniMiljø, from Norway, as well as the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography.

“My work in SkIO will cover the use of the Ion Torrent High Throughput Sequencer to explore the trophic interactions between the blue mussel Mytilus edulis and the eukaryotic planktonic biota in Lysefjorden, Norway,” Pablo said. “It will be developed in two phases, one until May and the other in the next fall-winter, so probably you are going to see me here for a while.”