Category Archives: Gray’s Reef

Sarah Fangman moves to Florida Keys NMS

By Michele Riley
Gray’s Reef recently announced that NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries has selected Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary superintendent, Sarah Fangman, as the new superintendent for its sister sanctuary, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Sarah has been a dear member of the Gray’s Reef family and will be an effective leader for the Keys. She has been with the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries since 1998. Sarah moved to Savannah in 2005 to serve as the program coordinator for the sanctuary system’s Southeast, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean region, and worked in the Florida Keys extensively before becoming the superintendent of Gray’s Reef in 2014.

Gray’s Reef remains in good hands as Aria Remondi, on temporary assignment from NOAA Headquarters, is serving as acting superintendent at Gray’s Reef until September. Following, in the fall will be George Sedberry, also in an acting capacity. George is the science coordinator for the sanctuary system’s Southeast, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean region and is based here on campus. Many readers might already know George, since he previously served as Gray’s Reef’s superintendent in the mid-2000s.


New Faces on Campus

Trevor “T.J.” Dodge has joined the crew of the R/V Savannah as second mate. Trevor’s background is primarily within the charter and commercial fishing industry along the west coast where he has served as captain, mate, and engineer on various sized vessels. His experience includes small to large recreational fishing charters to lobster and purse seine commercial fisheries. He brings engine room mechanical skills and extensive experience operating hydraulic systems such as winches, cranes, and capstans to complement his more than 10 years of experience operating sea going vessels. Trevor is married and has a one-and-a-half-year-old son.

Ziming Fang is a Ph.D. student from Xiamen University, China, conducting research in Aron Stubbins’s lab. Ziming’s major is marine biogeochemistry with a focus on the black carbon cycle in the open oceans. “I love the kind people here and enjoy the beautiful environment at Skidaway,“ he said.

Brennan Perry is a public relations intern at Gray’s Reef. She graduated from Georgia Southern University earlier this month with a bachelor’s degree in public relations. Brennan is originally from Myrtle Beach, S.C.. She rides horses in her free time.


Camille Womack is a summer intern in the Frischer lab. Camille is a rising junior at UGA with a major in water and soil resources. From Suwanee, Ga., she likes to surf in her spare time.

Jacob Mabrey is a summer intern in the Brandes lab. He is also a rising junior with a major in environmental engineering. He is from Richmond Hill. He plays saxophone in the Redcoat Marching Band and enjoys camping and hiking.


NOAA’s Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary seeks advisory council applicants

marine-sanc-logoNOAA’s Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary is seeking applicants for one citizen-at-large seat on its advisory council. The council ensures public participation in sanctuary management and provides advice to the sanctuary superintendent.

“The sanctuary advisory council provides a vital place for the community and sanctuary management to exchange ideas, discuss issues and share information,’’ said Sarah Fangman, sanctuary superintendent.

Candidates are selected based on their expertise and experience in relation to the seat for which they are applying, community and professional affiliations, and views regarding the protection and management of marine resources. The applicant who is selected should expect to serve a two-year term.

The advisory council consists of 11 primary, non-governmental members representing a variety of public interest groups, including fishing, diving, education, research and conservation. It also includes eight governmental seats representing state and federal agencies.

Applications are due by Tuesday, Feb. 28. To receive an application kit, or for further information, please contact Chris Hines, deputy superintendent, via email at; by phone at 912-598-2397; or by mail at 10 Ocean Science Circle, Savannah, GA 31411. Application kits can also be downloaded from the sanctuary’s website at

Gray’s Reef Film Festival this weekend

The 2017 Gray’s Reef Film Festival is almost here! This year’s theme is “Our Community, Our Ocean,” and will feature films that showcase the incredible wonders of the ocean and remind viewers of the bond that coastal communities share with marine life.

Two 3D movie nights at Savannah’s Trustees Theater will present marine life at its most vivid and exciting. Opening night, Friday, February 3, will feature two intriguing films, “The Last Reef: Cities Beneath the Sea 3D” and this year’s headliner film, “Galapagos: Nature’s Wonderland 3D,” which features stunning, up-close footage of the unique and charismatic animals of the Galapagos Islands.

Galapagos sea lion and a lava lizard from "Galapagos 3D."

Galapagos sea lion and a lava lizard from “Galapagos 3D.”

On Saturday, February 4, Gray’s Reef will host an Emerging Filmmakers Competition at the SCAD Museum of Art where local up-and-coming filmmakers will present their work for evaluation by a panel of carefully selected judges. First, second and third place winners will be announced at Saturday night’s 3D showings which will include “Wonders of the Arctic 3D,” an awe-inspiring look into the life of whales, polar bears and other magnificent Arctic life. Back by popular demand is “Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Secret Ocean 3D,” which was shot in the Pacific and highlights many of the same marine creatures found at Gray’s Reef.

Also during the festival, sanctuary staff will unveil their first-ever traveling exhibit, “Gray’s Reef on the Road,” introducing a new way to bring Georgia’s amazing underwater park and its ocean wonders to the community. This traveling exhibit has been more than a year in the making and will include three interactive panels. “Gray’s Reef on the Road” will feature an array of colorful, moving features such as video displays, virtual dives, fish sounds and captivating 3D animals, including loggerhead sea turtles, goliath groupers and other unique marine animals which provide an authentic and memorable experience of Gray’s Reef.

Following the film festival, the exhibit will move to the Bull Street Library, which is the hub of Savannah’s Live Oak Library system. The exhibit will give the downtown Savannah area a new and interactive way to experience Gray’s Reef without ever leaving town.

14th Annual Gray’s Reef Film Festival expands to Tybee Island and adds second 3D Night

by Michelle Riley / GRNMS

Moviegoers gave rave reviews to the Gray’s Reef Film Festival’s first-ever “3D Night” last year, spurring Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary to offer two consecutive nights of 3D fun for the upcoming festival. The sanctuary also is expanding the event’s reach by adding a daytime showing at the Tybee Post Theater.

“We’re having a lot of fun putting together this year’s festival,” said organizer Chris Hines, deputy superintendent of Gray’s Reef.  “Our theme this year is ‘Our Community, Our Ocean.’ These beautiful movies highlight the deep bond with nature and the ocean that we are so fortunate to experience as a coastal community, and how important a healthy ocean is to preserving our way of life.”

Galapagos sea lion and a lava lizard from "Galapagos 3D."

Galapagos sea lion and a lava lizard from “Galapagos 3D.”

On tap for the 3D showings at the Trustees Theater Feb. 3-4 are “Galapagos 3D: Nature’s Wonderland,” “The Last Reef 3D,” “Wonders of the Artic 3D,” and “Secret Ocean 3D.” “Galapagos 3D” is directed by award winner Martin Williams, who is well known for his documentaries with David Attenborough. “The Last Reef 3D” was shot in five different countries and is the production of Academy Award nominees Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas, while “Wonders of the Arctic 3D” is a sweeping film by David Lickley, who describes himself as a “wilderness environmental-themed filmmaker. “Secret Ocean 3D” is a beautiful jewel of a movie by Jean-Michel Cousteau.

The Tybee Post Theater offerings on Feb. 5 will include a delightful sampling of films from the San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival, the premier venue in North America for ocean-related movies, most of which are largely unavailable to the general public.

“Our partnership with the Tybee Post Theater this summer exceeded our expectations, with more than 1,000 attendees expressing their interest in ocean-themed movies,” said Hines. “We are excited to expand the film festival and deepen our engagement with our beach communities.”

Like last year, Gray’s Reef suggests a donation of $10 per day for adults, $5 per day for children, students and military, to benefit the Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.

Changes at Gray’s Reef

chris-hines-headshot-1-wChris Hines is the new Deputy Superintendent for State Programs at Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary. After joining Gray’s Reef as a volunteer in 2014, Chris served as the initial executive director of Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and as the part-time Partnership Development Manager for the sanctuary. A NOAA diver, Chris has diverse experience in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, including four years at a nonprofit in Tanzania, a State Department fellowship, and four years in the corporate sector. Originally hailing from California, Chris received his B.S. in Business from Purdue University and M.S. in International Public Service from DePaul University.

vicki-weeks-1-wVicki Weeks is the new executive director of the GRNMS Foundation.  Vicki graduated from Southern Illinois University with a degree in psychology. Shortly thereafter she began her love affair with the sea. She was the first female diver on Mel Fisher’s Treasure Salvors dive team in Key West, Fla. When her landlady tired of musket balls and pottery shards in lieu of rent, she became a SCUBA instructor, opened a dive shop and taught more than 400 people to dive.

Vicki went on to serve on the founding board of Reef Relief, a nonprofit organization that installed the first mooring buoys along the Florida Keys reef tract, as well as on the first advisory council for the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary. She eventually became a nonprofit development consultant and served as the executive director for two healthcare organizations.

Since moving to Savannah, she has returned to her environmental roots, helping clients successfully build community support for environmental issues ranging from banning offshore drilling, to stronger EPA regulatory action on greenhouse gasses, to saving southern forests from clear-cutting by the wood pellet biofuels industry.

When not assisting environmental activists, she enjoys writing and has been published in regional and national magazines. Her first novel, Code of Honor, was released in 2015.

marybeth-head-1-wEnsign Marybeth Head is the new vessel operations coordinator at Gray’s Reef. She replaces Lieutenant Jared Halonen, who has been assigned to NOAA headquarters.

Marybeth was previously stationed aboard the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson, a hydrographic survey ship in Norfolk, Va.  She is a PADI divemaster and has her 50-ton USCG license. Prior to NOAA Corps, she worked as an assistant dive safety officer and as a charter boat deckhand. Marybeth grew up in Applegate, Ore. and graduated from Oregon State University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Fisheries and Wildlife with a specialization in Marine Ecology.  She has been a big fan of sea critters for as long as she can remember!


Kimberly Roberson new research coordinator at Gray’s Reef

kim-roberson-wKimberly Roberson is the new research coordinator for Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary.

Kimberly began working with NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science’s Biogeography Branch in 2005 and joined the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries in 2016. Kim received her bachelor of science degree from Berry College in Rome, Ga. She earned her master of science degree from Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia where she conducted research on leatherback sea turtles, using genetics to explore connectivity between nesting populations and pelagic individuals. Prior to NOAA, Kim worked with the National Park Service in St. Croix, USVI, conducting research and implementing conservation measures on endangered and threatened species.

Kim uses diving as a tool for research and has been a NOAA certified diver since 2005 and a NOAA divemaster since 2006. She served as the National Ocean Service Diving Officer for three years and chaired the NOAA Diving Control and Safety Board for two years. Her early NOAA work had her diving, conducting fish counts and assessing the potential research area boundaries of Gray’s Reef.

Kim is originally from Tennessee and developed a love for the ocean during family vacations to the coast. She enjoys spending time outside, running, swimming, playing and exploring with her husband and two young sons.