Category Archives: Science

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter visits the UGA Oyster Hatchery

By: Emily Woodward

Congressman Buddy Carter toured the oyster hatchery at UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant and met with a shellfish grower who is working with UGA to grow single oysters in an effort to diversify the coastal economy.

Carter, along with Jared Downs, a member of U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s staff, spent Feb. 24 at the hatchery on Skidaway Island, learning about UGA’s effort to revive the oyster industry in Georgia.

U.S. Representative Buddy Carter (center in white shirt) tours the hatchery.

“The oyster industry has great potential to bring strong economic benefits to our area,” Carter said, following the visit. “The UGA oyster hatchery is leading this effort and working to strengthen Georgia’s shellfish industry.”

Carter and Downs met with Mark Risse, director of Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant Tom Bliss, director of the Shellfish Research Lab, as well as extension agents at the hatchery, to learn about their efforts to produce spat, or baby oysters, and grow them into single oysters for the half-shell market.

Since its launch in 2015, the hatchery has produced 700,000 spat, which have been given to 10 shellfish farmers on the coast who grow the oysters on sites they lease from the state Department of Natural Resources. The potential harvest value of the oyster is $140,000 to $245,000. By 2018, the hatchery is expected to produce between 5 million and 7 million spat per year, with an annual estimated harvest value between $1 million and $2 million. The goal is to attract a commercial hatchery and businesses related to oyster production to the area, which would provide jobs and greater economic development opportunities on the coast.

During his visit, Carter traveled by boat to see the oysters in Wassaw Sound farmed by John Pelli, owner of Savannah Clam Company, and sample the raw oysters. In addition to hearing about the economic benefit of oyster production, Carter also learned that oyster production improves water quality. A single adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day, a benefit to everyone, not just those involved in the seafood industry.

“I am glad to have had the opportunity to see the great work going on at the hatchery and I look forward to seeing the oyster harvesting business grow in our community and state,” Carter said.

UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant also is helping the oyster growers connect with seafood distribution companies and restaurants to raise awareness of the Georgia single oyster, Risse said.

 

R/V Savannah crewmate has whale named for him

Marc Frischer and his team went out on the R/V Savannah to hunt tiny doliolids in February, but they made a new and considerably larger discovery.

Just off of Wassaw Sound they saw what they thought was a right whale. They reported their sighting to the North Atlantic Right Whale Project of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The right whale researchers identified the whale as a humpback, and one that had not been previously documented.

Jordy the Humpback Whale

A few weeks later, the Florida whale watchers spotted the same whale again off of Nassau Sound, just south of Fernandina Beach.

“It didn’t match any of our previously identified humpbacks from this season, so we collected photo documentation and a genetic sample from the animal, said Laurie Leech from the North Atlantic Right Whale Project. “On arrival back at our office later that night, we matched the animal to the one that you (the Skidaway team) saw up in Georgia!”

The Skidaway team asked for the right to name the whale “Jordy” in honor of R/V Savannah first mate Jordan Solomon who was the first person to spot him. Although the Florida whale watchers responded that they do not have the right to give a whale an official name, they agreed that as far as Florida and Georgia are concerned, the whale will unofficially be named “Jordy.”

Skidaway scientists attend ASLO

Skidaway Institute was well represented at the 2017 Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography Aquatic Sciences Meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii,  February 26 – March 3.

Aron Stubbins and Sasha Wagner chaired a two-day session titled “The Biogeochemistry of Dissolved Organic Matter.”

Sasha presented her research on “Stable Carbon Isotopes Offer New Insight into the Biogeochemical Cycling of Black Carbon.” Aron, Jay Brandes and A. Ramapo Goranov, from the College of New Jersey were co-authors.

Former Skidaway Institute intern (Stubbins Lab) Camisha Few presented a poster “Photodegradation of Dissolved Organic Carbon Within the Connecticut River Watershed.” Camisha is a student at Florida A&M University. Her co-authors included Aron, Sasha, Kevin Ryan and K. Haiat-Sasson from the University of Rhode Island.

Camisha Few explaining all about CDOM and FDOM photochemistry at S+ASLO 2017

Aron presented his work on “Tree-Dom: DOM from the Crowning Headwaters of the Aquatic Carbon Cycle.” His co-authors included Sasha, T. Dittmar from the University of Oldenburg, Germany, and J.T. Van Stan from Georgia Southern University.

Thais Bittar presented “Growth, Grazing and Virus-Induced Mortality of Bacterioplankton in the Sargasso Sea.” Her co-authors included Karrie Bulski, Elizabeth Harvey, R. Parsons from the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, S. Giovannoni from Oregon State University and C. Carlson from UC-Santa Barbara.

Cliff Buck and Chris Marsay also made presentations. Cliff chaired a session on atmospheric deposition, “Linking atmospheric deposition to the biogeochemistry of aquatic and marine systems.” His co-organizer was Rachel Shelley from LEMAR-Universite de Bretagne Occidentale, France.

Both Cliff and Chris gave talks about data from the Arctic cruise in a session titled “Biogeochemical Cycling Trace Elements and Isotopes in the Arctic Ocean.”  Cliff’s talk was on the aerosol data and titled “Aerosol Concentration, Composition and Fractional Solubility on the US Geotraces Western Arctic Cruise.” In addition to Chris, his co-authors included A. Ebling, P. Morton, B Summers and W. Landing, all from Florida State University. Chris presented melt pond data, “Dissolved and Particulate Trace Elements in Arctic Melt Ponds.” In addition to Cliff, his co-authors included P. Morton, B Summers and W. Landing, all from Florida State University, and S. Rauschenberg and B.S. Twining, both from the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences.

 

Skidaway Institute radar system restored after Hurricane Matthew

Gabe Matthias

Gabe Matthias

UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography’s WERA radar system is back on line after being knocked out by Hurricane Matthew, and Dana Savidge is crediting research technician Gabe Matthias for the accomplishment.

Savidge’s lab operates two low-power radar installations, one at the Villas by the Sea Resort on Jekyll Island and the other on the beach at the north end of St. Catherine’s Island. The radar system monitors the speed and direction of surface ocean currents on the continental shelf.

Both installations went down due to power failure during the early October storm. The St. Catherine’s installation was off-line the longest, but it was actually the easier fix. It was relatively undamaged, but power wasn’t restored to the north end of the mostly uninhabited island until December. Matthias said when he visited the St. Catherine’s site after the storm, the power was still out. He removed some debris and straightened the antennas, and then used a back-up power supply to test the equipment.

“It ran out of juice quickly, so I had about 10 seconds to look at the return and see that it all looked good,” he said. “I was psyched and like ‘It’s all here. St. Catherine’s will be just fine.’”

The installation on Jekyll Island was another story. The antennas were mounted on a beachside boardwalk and on the adjacent beach.

A radar antenna mixed with hurricane debris at Jekyll Island.

A radar antenna mixed with hurricane debris at Jekyll Island.

“When I got there, I could see we were in trouble,” Matthias recalled. “Three of the four antennas on the sand and several on the boardwalk were knocked down and rolled up in all the rack, logs and seaweed, and shoved up into the dunes to the new high tide line.”

Matthias spent several days just cutting through the debris to recover the antennas and cable. One antenna was completely buried. Matthias only located it because he was able to trace the cable that was sticking out of the sand. Eventually, he was able to repair seven of the 12 receive antennas and two of the four transmit antennas. When power was restored, the installation went back online but with limited capability, pending the delivery of replacement parts.

“I was hooting and hollering and screaming for joy when I got the Jekyll Island installation back online,” Matthias said.

Savidge praised Matthias for his work. “Gabe did a great job under trying circumstances. I can’t say enough about his energy and dedication.”

 

Catherine Edwards participates in glider workshop

 

Catherine Edwards was invited to participate in an Interagency Ocean Observation Committee glider workshop in January at the John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The purpose of the workshop was threefold: to assemble a task force to identify needs requiring funding; to provide an opportunity for  interagency collaboration; and to discuss the formation of an international glider user group to share and exchange information on science and  glider operations.  Catherine was invited to represent the Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association (SECOORA.) Her lab is the largest glider operation in the Southeast in terms of experience and the number of days gliders are in operation. More information is available here:

http://www.iooc.us/activities/task-teams/glider-tt/us-underwater-glider-workshop/

Georgia Sea Grant seeks applicants for 2018 Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship

The Georgia Sea Grant College Program is taking applications for the 2018 Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship, which places graduate students for a year in various executive and legislative branch offices throughout Washington, D.C.

The fellowship provides a unique educational experience in the policies and processes of the federal government to students who have an interest in ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources and in the national policy decisions affecting these resources. The fellowship period begins Feb. 1, 2018 and ends on Jan. 31, 2019.

Any graduate student, regardless of citizenship, who on Feb. 10, 2017 is enrolled in an academic institution in Georgia, is eligible to apply. A full list of application materials and additional information on eligibility can be found online at

http://seagrant.noaa.gov/Portals/0/Documents/funding_fellowship/knauss_fellowship/prospective/NOAA-OAR-SG-2018-2004993%20Full%20Announcement.pdf

Applications must be submitted to Georgia Sea Grant by 5:00 p.m. on Feb. 10, 2017, via its online submission system, eSeaGrant, that can be accessed using the following link http://eseagrant.uga.edu/index.php

Potential applicants are also encouraged to contact Mona Behl, associate director of UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, at 706-542-6621 or mbehl@uga.edu to discuss application content and submission. For more information on applying for the Knauss Fellowship, please visit the Georgia Sea Grant website at http://georgiaseagrant.uga.edu/article/knauss_marine_policy_fellowship/

Aron and Kevin attend Chile conference

Aron Stubbins and Kevin Ryan attended the 1st IberAmericano Limonology Conference in early November where Aron gave a plenary talk and chaired a symposium, and Kevin gave a talk in Spanish. Aron’s talk was on the Pulse-Shunt Concept, which is a new concept for the cycling and transport of river carbon. This was in connection with his NSF Macrosystems grant. Kevin’s talk addressed continuous assessment of carbon cycling and transport in the Connecticut River – part of the Pulse-Shunt NSF Macrosystems project.

The following week, they visited the Universidad Austral de Chile’s Coastal Research Center and their Limnological Research Center.

Kevin (right) with a Chilean grad student (cewnter) and Jorge Nimptsch, Aron's collaborator and professor at Universidad Austral de Chile

Kevin (right) with a Chilean grad student (center) and Jorge Nimptsch, Aron’s collaborator and professor at Universidad Austral de Chile

“We also visited some rivers we are studying that are being impacted by salmon farming and some streams draining native and non-native forest, that we are also studying,” Aron said.

Aron also gave a public lecture sponsored by the “American Corner”, a US Embassy Sponsored program. The talk was at the Centro de Estudios Científicos (Center for Scientific Studies; http://www.cecs.cl/website/index.php/en/acerca-del-cecs) and attended by high school children, the public and local scientific community.