Category Archives: University of Georgia

Savannah Sultry Swamp Run held at Skidaway campus

The first Savannah Sultry Swamp Run was held on the trails at Priest Landing on July 29. The 34 competitors ran a 3.1 mile loop multiple times for total distances ranging from five to 20 kilometers. The race organizers awarded prizes, not only to the race winners, but also to the runner who gathered the most trash from the course.

The starting line was a Priests Landing.

“One particular runner, Michelle Vail, picked up a ridiculous amount of garbage,” race organizer Dan Hernandez said.

Michelle Vail

The race had originally been planned for Tom Triplett Park, but recent heavy rains flooded parts of that course. Race organizers asked permission to move the race to the Skidaway campus.

A portion of the proceeds from the race benefited the South East Georgia chapter of the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association (SORBA), part of the International Mountain Bicycling Association. SEGA-SORBA is a volunteer non-profit 501(c)(3) organization formed to promote great off-road bike trails in Southeast Georgia.

“I am a huge fan of what that organization does for the establishment and maintenance of the trails in our community,” Hernandez said. “If it wasn’t for SEGA-SORBA we wouldn’t have enough wild places to run, bike and hike in our community.”

SEGA-SORBA maintains off-road biking trails located on the Skidaway campus.

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NOSB national winners visit Skidaway campus

The winning team of the National Ocean Science Bowl visited the Skidaway campus in July. The four-person team from Santa Monica High School (California) was awarded a week-long trip as first prize.

Marine Superintendent John Bichy explains Skidaway Institute’s marine operations to the NOSB winners.

The four high school students spent the morning of July 18th visiting the aquarium. After lunch they walked across campus to Skidaway Institute, where Mike Sullivan gave them an overview of the institute. Brian Binder, from the UGA Department of Marine Sciences, described the marine science program at UGA. The team toured the campus and visited several labs. John Bichy showed them through the R/V Savannah. The afternoon wrapped up with research presentations from Liz Harvey and Cliff Buck.

An interdisciplinary ocean science education program of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, the NOSB tests students’ knowledge of ocean-related topics, including cross-disciplines of biology, chemistry, policy, physics, and geology. To qualify for NOSB finals, the 25 competing teams first had to win their regional competitions. The regional competition for Georgia and South Carolina was held at Savannah State University in early February. In total, approximately 392 teams, made up of 1,960 students representing 33 states, participated.

New faces on campus

We have a number of new faces on campus, although some may be leaving us shortly.

Alisia Holland is a first year doctoral grad student in Julia Diaz’s lab. She recently graduated from Florida State University with a B.S. in geology. Alisia is originally from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Mariele Paiva is a Brazilian Ph.D. student from Universidade Federal do Rio Grande (FURG). She is working in Cliff Buck’s lab. Mariele has particular interests in natural chemical tracers of marine processes such as submarine groundwater discharge and marine geochemical cycling. She is sponsored by the Nippon Foundation and Partnership for Observation Oceanography. Mariele spent the first year of her research work at the Alfred Wegener Institute (Germany), working on the measurement of dissolved and particulate Thorium-228 and Radiuim-224 in coastal waters. She was recently granted a scholarship by the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel for a one-year-visit study at Skidaway Institute. Here, she will work on sediment samples from the Southwestern Atlantic Shelf.

Sarah Zajovits has been interning in Aron Stubbins’ lab this summer. She is from Raleigh, N.C. and is a junior marine science major at the University of South Carolina. Sarah plans to go to graduate school when she graduates. Her work this summer has focused on dissolved inorganic and organic carbon. “Nothing makes me happier than the sun, sand and the sea; so it looks like I’ve found where I’m meant to be,” Sarah said.

Russell Nicholson, a senior biology major at Haverford College in Pennsylvania, has been interning in Liz Harvey’s lab this summer. He is studying the effects of marine bacterial metabolites on phytoplankton, specifically the toxicity of algicidal compounds, which kill or limit the growth of algae. For his experiments, he runs bioassays with the coccolithophore, Emiliania huxleyi, and uses fluorescence probes to detect stress signals that identify the algicidal compounds’ mechanism of action. He also accompanied Liz on a research cruise off the coast of Bermuda aboard the R/V Atlantic Explorer.

Sam Khallaghi is working in Clark Alexander’s lab this month. He is a Ph.D. student at Clark University. Sam is originally from Iran. He has two master’s degrees, one from Tabriz University in Iran on applications of GIS and remote sensing with focus on land and water resources, and a second one from Lund University in Sweden, specializing in geomatics. In 2014, he moved from Sweden to the United States and joined Hewlett-Packard in Sunnyvale, Calf., as a network security technical support engineer. He began his doctoral program at Clark University in 2016.

His current project has several objectives, “But the two main ones are to make a land cover map of Sapelo Island using five time points, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2017, and then do a post classification change analysis to find the metrics of change in the study area,” he said. “Then the findings would come out in the form of a report and hopefully a journal article.”

The Gray’s Reef dive team welcomes Erika Sawicki, this year’s Dr. Lee H. Somers American Academy of Underwater Sciences Scientific Diving Internship scholarship winner. The scientific diving internship provides undergraduates with experience and exposure to research and field work at environmental organizations around the country.

Erika recently graduated from the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine with a double major in ocean studies and marine affairs, and environmental science with a minor in philosophy.

Erika recently received her AAUS certification at the Scripps Research Institute. She will use her new training for the month of August assisting GRNMS staff on dive missions. To read about her adventures, please visit her blog at http://blog.owuscholarship.org/.

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.

 

New faces on campus

Charlie Rice is Skidaway Institute’s new HVAC specialist, replacing  Neil Mizell, who recently retired from Skidaway Institute. He was  born and raised in Savannah. Charlie is married and has a nine year old son.

Skye Mills is a public relations and communications intern at Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary. She will graduate from Armstrong State University in May 2017 with a B.A. in English and professional communications. Skye is a native of the Savannah area.

“I enjoy my southern and coastal roots,” she said. “I spend as much time as I can in my kayak, strolling the beach, or immersing myself in Savannah’s rich history.

Skye says she wants to work for something that matters and makes a difference. “I wanted to work for a cause that I can get behind and at Gray’s Reef I really feel like I am accomplishing that.”

National award will allow more students to experience the Georgia coast

A $50,000 Hollings Award from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation will pay for 850 fourth graders from Liberty and McIntosh counties to experience Georgia’s coastal environment and Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary during field trips to the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium on Skidaway Island.

Marine Extension associate director Anne Lindsay shows a corn snake to a group of students.

“We are extremely excited about this opportunity,” said Mark Risse, director of UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, which oversees the education center and aquarium. “Reaching these historically underserved communities with hands-on, field-oriented educational programs is often difficult due to transportation and economic issues. This funding will allow us to target our efforts just for them and provide free transportation and programs.”

In addition, the grant will allow UGA and Gray’s Reef to offer free programs on Georgia’s estuarine systems and offshore habitats at a school in each county, extending the education to students’ families.

“These communities are located in watersheds that impact the waters around Gray’s Reef. We hope that our efforts will influence the decisions they make and benefit the coastal ecosystems surrounding the sanctuary,” Risse said.

Enhancements to the Gray’s Reef exhibit at the UGA Aquarium are also included as part of the project. A new wall-mounted monitor and graphics will feature underwater video footage of the reef and provide information to aquarium visitors about the National Marine Sanctuary Program.

The award is one of five 2017 grants totaling $215,000 from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation’s Hollings Awards, an annual program designed to expand public awareness of conservation issues.

UGA Skidaway Institute director search begins

The position of director of UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography has been officially posted on the UGA Web site. It can be seen here: https://facultyjobs.uga.edu/postings/1915