Monthly Archives: December 2014

Intern Sean Russell receives Brower Youth Award

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGeorgia Sea Grant Intern, Sean Russell has been selected as a recipient of one of six prestigious Brower Youth Awards, a national prize awarded to exceptional environmental leaders ages 13-22 from North America. Sean is receiving this award for his work on the Stow It-Don’t Throw It Project, a youth-driven fishing line recycling and marine debris prevention initiative he launched in high school. Since then, the project has grown into an international program. He was also credited for his work directing the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit, an annual event designed to train students from across the country how to launch their own ocean conservation projects.  For more information on the 2014 Brower Youth Awards visit:

It’s been a a busy fall for Sean. He was also invited to speak at the New York State Marine Education Association Conference on October 25th at Rachel Carson High School in Coney Island, N.Y.

This year, the Association invited high school and college students from New York to participate in their conference, and have included special sessions to highlight student driven ocean research and conservation projects. Sean lead a special session for all student participants focused on the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit.


MAREX participates in CoastFest, Gulfstream Day

Aquarium curators, Devin Dumont and Lisa Olenderski along with Georgia Sea Grant Interns, represented UGA MAREX at CoastFest 2014 held in Brunswick in early October.

CoastFest is an annual free admission festival run by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to celebrate the nation’s waters and shorelines, and showcases over 80 exhibitors involved in environmental education, research, conservation, recreation, and resources. UGA MAREX educated fair-goers on the biology and life history of marine animals with a variety of live touch tank animals, animal models and seashells.

MAREX has participated in the annual event since the first Fest 20 years ago. This year’s event was attended by 9,594 people.

Also, on October 11, Mare Timmons along with Georgia Sea Grant interns Maeve Snyder, Beth Smith and Cara Lin participated in the Gulfstream Family Day.Gulfstream Families of Gulfstream employees stopped by the UGA tables and displays to learn about coastal Georgia. Children and adults were able to touch models and specimens of important species like the horseshoe crab, sea turtles, and invasive mussels. This unique opportunity allowed Gulfstream family members outside of Georgia, to become aware of the native and invasive species that live in and around coastal Georgia’s local marine ecosystems. The event serves as one of the methods in which MAREX extends the resources and knowledge of the University to the community at large. Over 10,000 people attend the annual event.

Armstrong State University Academic Intern Joins MAREX

MECA Intern aLauren Glenn has joined Marine Extension as is an academic intern at the Aquarium for Fall semester. She is an undergraduate student at Armstrong State University (ASU) majoring in Biology.

UGA MAREX academic internships are offered to undergraduate students students to earn academic credit for volunteer services at the Aquarium. Lauren will spend August – December learning about the curatorial field and assisting with the care and feeding of fish, reptiles and invertebrates housed at the Aquarium.

Established in 2010, the academic internship program is an excellent example of Marine Extension’s efforts to provide undergraduate students from USGS Institutions with knowledge and valuable experience in pursuit of their interests and to build careers in the field of Aquarium science and marine education.

MAREX continues phytoplankton monitoring with citizen scientists

MAREX citizen science volunteers along with Georgia Sea Grant Interns Cara Lin, Sean Russell, and Maeve Snyder attended a Phytoplankton Monitoring Network (PMN) training session at Burton 4-H center on Tybee Island.

Steve Morton of the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science presented on the history and application of the PMN and provided training in identification of common phytoplankton groups. Jennifer Fuquay discussed future opportunities for citizen scientists to monitor marine microplastics.

Since 2001, the PMN has identified 250 algal blooms in North America, of which 45 were toxin-producing. Citizen scientists at MAREX continue their work with PMN to monitor for harmful algal blooms in the Skidaway River in order to prevent negative human health and economic impacts. 250 sampling sites throughout the US that are monitored by 235 citizen science groups.

MAREX to host Youth Ocean Conservation Summit

The University of Georgia Marine Extension Service and Georgia Sea Grant will be holding a Youth Ocean Conservation Summit (YOCS) for high school students on Saturday, February 28, 2015. The summit will be held at the Marine Education Center and Aquarium.

This exciting event will allow student participants to:

  • Learn about current ocean conservation topics including: marine debris, citizen science, habitat restoration, and endangered species.
  • Brainstorm and develop community projects plans concerning ocean conservation.
  • Attend workshops with leaders experienced in fields that are beneficial for project success, including fundraising, marketing, and using art to communicate conservation messages.
  • Connect and network with other interested students and professionals.

Student registration and more details will be available this month. For more information contact 912-598-2354 or

Aron Stubbins publishes multiple papers

SkIO’s Aron Stubbins has a number of new publications.

Productivity from the glacier grant. Aron is the lead PI. This is the grant page.

Spencer, R.G.M., Weidong, G., Raymond, P., Dittmar, T., Hood, E. Fellman, J., Stubbins, A. (2014) Source and biolability of ancient dissolved organic matter in glacier and lake ecosystems on the Tibetan Plateau. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. doi:

Fellman, J., Spencer, R.G.M., Stubbins, A., Raymond, P.A., Hood, E. (2014) Watershed glacier coverage influences dissolved organic matter biogeochemistry in coastal watersheds of southeast Alaska. Ecosystems. doi:

Spencer, R.G.M., Vermilyea, A., Fellman, J., Raymond, P., Stubbins, A., Scott, D., Hood, E. (2014) Seasonal variability of organic matter composition in glacier outflow: insights into glacier carbon sources. Environmental Research Letters. doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/9/5/055005.

Also, a collaboration with GSU Assistant Professor John Van Stan to discern the role of trees in the cycling of dissolved organic matter.

Van Stan, J.T., Stubbins, A., Bittar, T., Reichard, J.S., Wright, K.A., Jenkins, R.B. (2014) Tillandsia usneoides (L.) L. (Spanish moss) water storage and leachate characteristics from two maritime oak forest settings. Ecohydrology. doi:

The following paper provides new insights into the nature and chemistry of oceanic dissolved organic matter published as part of a project Aron led at Old Dominion University and is now wrapping up. Hongmei Chen (lead author) graduated this fall from ODU.

Chen, H., Stubbins, A., Perdue, E.M., Green, N.W., Helms, J.R., Mopper, K., Hatcher, P.G. (2014) Ultrahigh resolution mass spectrometric differentiation of dissolved organic matter isolated by coupled reverse osmosis-electrodialysis from various major oceanic water masses. Marine Chemistry. doi: 

Shrimpers, others join SkIO Black Gill research cruise

A group that included Skidaway Institute scientists and representatives from Sea Grant, MAREX, Georgia DNR, the shrimping industry and researchers from North and South Carolina joined a one-day research cruise on board the R/V Savannah on October 9. The focus of the cruise was to collect shrimp for the Black Gill research project, and also to give the various groups the opportunity to exchange ideas. This account of the project comes from co-PI Marc Frischer.

Group Photo a wWe had 20 people on board (not including the ship’s crew), representing 3 states (GA, SC and NC) and interests from the industry, management, research, and education/outreach communities. Although sometimes the conversations were outside of my comfort zone, I found the discussions and interactions that I had interesting, significant and useful. I found particularly interesting the perspectives from some of the professional shrimpers who were onboard made it clear to me that a research priority should be investigating the relationship between shrimp mortality in the field and the incidence of black gill. Discussions with the management community also provided me new insights into the difficulties we are facing with management and regulation. Conversations with those charged with communicating with the broader public remind me to choose words carefully to avoid misunderstanding.

In terms of the science, the day was largely successful despite the very low shrimp catches. Our priority was to collect enough live shrimp to conduct experiments to investigate black gill transmission and to explore the effect of ciliate infection on molting frequency. Although there were not many shrimp caught, we caught enough to conduct our planned experiments, and we were able to bring live shrimp into our facilities with almost no mortality. Utilizing the relatively large R/V Savannah and being able to dock within feet of our labs made this uniquely possible.

Thanks goes to the director of the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography (Jim Sanders) for making the vessel available to us. Cost for the ship is not covered by funding provided by GA Sea Grant and was provided as matching funds by the Institute.

Experiments got underway immediately upon our return and will continue for the next several weeks. If anyone is interested and wants to visit the lab for an update you are welcome to do so.

In addition to collecting live specimens, we were able to collect and preserve samples for a large variety of other analyses that will contribute to our identification of the Black Gill agent and to understanding its impact on shrimp. Several of the samples we collected are now on their way to various labs around the world where researchers with expertise beyond ours will study them.

Also, for the first time, we, collected water and sediments to be examined using our novel molecular-based diagnostic tools that are just now coming online. These studies will form the basis of a student project and thus generate both new information and new talent.

Unfortunately, because we were not able to catch more shrimp, we were not able to quantify the prevalence of Black Gill along the transect we sampled (offshore Wassaw Island, Wassaw Sound, and the Wilmington and Skidaway Rivers). However, this is a task valiantly undertaken by the GA DNR who had just visited the area in September and will be at it again. However, in addition to observing that catches were low everywhere, we were able to estimate a prevalence in the neighborhood of 50%. Except for offshore where we only caught one shrimp and it had black gill (so 100%). Two insights from this experience — first, our observations agree very well with DNR’s estimates and it is clear that we are probably not sampling sufficiently. Second — engaging the fishing community in this effort, if we can do so in a scientifically sound manner, will be truly helpful.