Tag Archives: Gray’s Reef

Gray’s Reef’s Michelle Riley wins national award

NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) has awarded Michelle Riley the Sea to Shining Sea: Excellence in Interpretation and Education Award for her project “Georgia Public Broadcasting Live Exploration of Gray’s Reef.”

According to a statement from ONMS, “Michelle and the Live Exploration of Gray’s Reef through Georgia Public Broadcasting are recognized for the creation of a livestream, virtual dive event featuring Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary that engaged more than 45,000 viewers from 44 states as well as internationally.”

GPB host Ashley Mengwasser, GRNMS Superintendent Sarah Fangman and UGA research scientist Scott Noakes, Ph.D. discuss Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary during the livestream. Photo M. Riley/GRNMS

The program was streamed live from the UGA Aquarium on May 10, 2017. During the event viewers were introduced to Gray’s Reef NMS through video, heard from scientists and had the chance to submit questions to be answered live. This program directly introduced tens of thousands of mostly elementary and middle school students to the wonders of Gray’s Reef and the challenges it faces.

This is the fifth year that ONMS has recognized outstanding achievement in the fields of interpretation and environmental education. This annual award is given to employees, contractors and volunteers for their demonstrated success in advancing ocean and climate literacy and conservation through national marine sanctuaries, as well as for their innovation and creative solutions in successfully enhancing the public’s understanding of the National Marine Sanctuary System and the resources it protects.

Michelle will receive the award at the National Association for Interpretation’s annual conference in Spokane, Wash. in November. It will be presented in conjunction with several other agency awards including the U.S. Forest Service’s “Gifford Pinchot Award” and the National Park Service’s “Freeman Tilden Award.”

“It is fitting for sanctuaries to be at the forefront of interpretation and education alongside some of the country’s best interpreters,” said John Armor, Director of Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

 

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New faces at Skidaway Institute, NOAA

LuLu Lacy is a new intern in Marc Frischer’s lab. She is a UGA ecology major with a minor in studio art. She has a wide range of experience outside of the classroom, including an independent research project at UGA’s Costa Rica campus; working as a landscape arboretum fellow for Trees Atlanta; and tending crops on an organic farm. She is a founder of the Athens Free School – an initiative to create a monthly calendar of free classes taught by volunteers in the Athens community on various subjects from bread making to bike maintenance.

Katherine “Kat” Scheuering is a communications intern at Gray’s Reef. Kat is a senior English/ Professional Communications major at Armstrong State University and is due to graduate in December. Kat is originally from Goshen, New York; a small town about an hour and a half outside New York City. “Close enough to commute but far enough that there were horse farms down the street,” she said. Kat chose to intern at Gray’s Reef because, she said, she is passionate about the environment and conservation. “I’m actually the president of the ‘Go Green’ club at Armstrong and we usually do a beach clean-up once a semester,” she said. “I’m looking forward to exploring my options once I graduate but I think ideally I’d like to find something where I can use writing and creative skills to campaign and raise awareness for environmental causes.”

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.

Two NOAA staffers honored

Two Skidaway Island-based NOAA staffers were recently recognized with prestigious awards from NOAA. Reed Bohne and Marybeth Head were presented the awards on May 23rd in Washington, D.C.

Bohne was awarded the NOAA Distinguished Career Award for “exceptional contributions to the management and growth of the National Marine Sanctuary and National Estuarine Research Reserve systems.” Bohne supervises six of the system’s 13 national marine sanctuaries, including Gray’s Reef.

NOAA Corps Ensign Head, who also serves as the Vessel Operations Coordinator at Gray’s Reef, received the NOAA Bronze Medal Award, the highest award granted by the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere. Ensign Head was recognized for “rapid integration and deployment of Autonomous Surface Vessels for hydrographic use aboard the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson.”

Gray’s Reef joins GPB for “Live Exploration”

Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary, in collaboration with Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB), created a livestream virtual dive event on May 10th from the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium. More than 35,000 viewers from as far away as Romania tuned in from their homes, schools and offices to dive into a 30-minute virtual field trip of Gray’s Reef.

GPB host Ashley Mengwasser, GRNMS Superintendent Sarah Fangman and UGA research scientist Scott Noakes discuss Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary during the livestream. Photo M. Riley/GRNMS

The virtual expedition included underwater surgery on a fish to insert a tagging transmitter and beautiful views of the vibrant and abundant marine life found at Gray’s Reef. Viewers learned how Gray’s Reef was formed, how the seafloor serves as a habitat and how they can help protect the reef from major threats.

The sanctuary’s communications coordinator, Michelle Riley, worked with GPB’s Education division in Atlanta to create the event using underwater footage of Gray’s Reef and featuring sanctuary superintendent Sarah Fangman and UGA researcher Scott Noakes as experts. Emily Woodward and her colleagues at UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant provided substantial support to the event, and aquarium staff updated the tanks with a colorful new interpretation of Gray’s Reef. UGA’s Skidaway Institute of Oceanography provided technical assistance, utilizing the expertise of senior system administrator Wayne Aaron.

Targeted to students, the livestream included a question-and-answer session with Fangman and Noakes, during which viewers submitted more than 1,000 questions. The event was accompanied by supplemental materials tailored to Georgia Department of Education standards for K-12. GPB had hoped for an audience of 3,000 – 5,000, and was pleased that the participation level was substantially higher than originally expected.

To view the archived event, go to http://www.gpb.org/education/explore/grays-reef.

New faces on campus

Douglas Love is the newest face in Skidaway Institute’s plant operations. Douglas was born and raised in Savannah. After high School, he joined the navy, spending four years in uniform with two tours in the Persian Gulf. Douglas has been married for 17 years and he is an avid outdoorsman

Silvia Falco is an assistant professor at Universitat Politècnica de València, Spain. She will spend the next two months at Skidaway Institute collaborating with Cliff Buck as they study atmospheric inputs of elements to coastal ecosystems. Her research is on marine biogeochemistry with a focus on eutrophic processes in sediment and coastal and estuarine waters.

Cacinele Rocha is a Ph.D. student from Federal University of Rio Grande, southern Brazil, who also came to collaborate with Cliff Buck in the Trace Element Chemical Oceanography Lab. Cacinele’s major is submarine groundwater discharge with a focus on the geological deposition influence.

Kun Ma is a UGA doctoral student in Jay Brandes’s lab. Kun is from Inner Mongolia, China, and first came to the United States in 2006 for school. She completed her B.S. in biology at State University of New York Geneseo and a M.S. in ecology at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania. Her master’s thesis is on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in karst springs. Kun is interested in biogeochemistry, particularly elemental cycling in the marine environment. She will be working with Jay and Aron Stubbins on carbon dioxide production from photochemical degradation of dissolved organic carbon for the next few years. Kun enjoys traveling and many outdoor activities like hiking, camping, backpacking, swimming and skiing. She likes to read and has a particular interest in ancient Chinese history.

Emily Noakes is an intern from UGA who will be splitting her time between Skidaway Institute and the UGA Aquarium. She is an Athens native. “The ocean has always been my home,” Emily said. “I have always been enthralled with the inhabitants of the ocean, and my father, (UGA associate research scientist) Scott Noakes, has been teaching me about the ways of the marine world from the time I could grasp a mollusk.”

Erin Siebert is an intern in Aron Stubbins’s lab. Erin is a senior at Alfred University in Alfred, N.Y, pursuing a double major in environmental studies and geology. She plays soccer for Alfred University. She is working on dissolved inorganic and organic carbon. Erin’s future goal is to attend graduate school and obtain a master’s degree in environmental science and policy with a concentration in water resources.

Quinton Diou-Cass is an intern in Liz Harvey’s lab. Quinton is a senior ecology major at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania. He is originally from central Maine. After graduation, Quinton would like to pursue a master’s degree in marine ecology or biological oceanography and eventually continue on to a Ph.D. He is very interested in natural and anthropogenic changes in marine invertebrate ecology. “I believe that understanding, evaluating, and quantifying the ecological and environmental changes within the ocean’s ecosystems, as they relate to both natural and human impacts, is an exceedingly important field of research, and I aim to be a part of what should (and hopefully will) be a subject of increasing priority,” he said.

Doug Mollett is back for his second summer in Julia Diaz’s lab. He is a junior at Georgetown College in Kentucky. He is working on a double major in environmental science and Spanish. This summer he will be working on measuring polyphosphate degradation in local waters.

Gray’s Reef hosts MATE ROV competition

by Michelle Riley
Gray’s Reef NMS

Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary recently hosted their annual Southeast regional Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) competition. Spearheaded by GRNMS’s Volunteer and Events Coordinator Jody Patterson, staff and volunteers from the sanctuary as well as Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary Foundation welcomed sixteen teams of students who came to compete for first place and a shot to compete in the national MATE competition.

Wolfpack Robotics Team from North Paulding High School competing, first place winners. Photo Credit: Michelle Riley

The competition is open to young scientists from K-12 to university level students and challenges them to create innovative solutions to real-world situations that are dealt with by NOAA and other marine industries. This year’s theme was Port Cities of the Future, which prompted students to use their underwater robots to perform tasks that could be utilized to clean and maintain the waters of port cities. MATE encourages students to develop their entrepreneurial skills by creating a business plan that supports their innovative marine technology as well as marketing materials that showcase their work. Students choose from four classes of competition in which they can present their marketing materials and demonstrate their robots.

Vying for a spot at the international competition was the eight-time champion team InnovOcean from Carrollton High School as well as five other teams in the ranger class. Although the competition was fierce all day, in the end, first place fell to the Wolfpack Robotic Team from North Paulding High School in Dallas, Ga. Gray’s Reef congratulates all the teams that competed in the Southeast regional competition and will be cheering on the Wolfpack Robotic Team in June as they compete in the international competition in Long Beach, Calf.