Tag Archives: marine extension

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Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant plan Oyster Roast for a Cause

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Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant welcomes new educators

By: Emily Woodward

Four recent college graduates have been awarded one-year education internships with UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. Funded by Georgia Sea Grant, the interns will serve as educators for students, teachers and members of the coastal community.

The interns will spend 50 weeks on Skidaway Island at the Marine Education Center and Aquarium offering educational programs focused on the ecology of Georgia’s coastal and estuarine ecosystems. They will also participate in community outreach by attending events like CoastFest and Skidaway Marine Science Day.

They began their training in September just as Hurricane Irma was bearing down on the coast, which presented a unique opportunity for them to learn how to prepare the aquarium for evacuation. With Irma now in the rearview, the new educators get to shadow Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant’s faculty and staff and gain the skills they need to teach all of the classes offered at the center.

The interns are:

Isabella Espinoza graduated from Boston University with a degree in biology, specializing in behavioral biology. For the past two summers, she worked with the Brookline Recreation nature camp in Massachusetts. The camp focuses on local nature education for all ages and has an outdoor adventure component for the older age groups. She also worked as a learning assistant in a vertebrate zoology lab course at Boston University. The course focused on the adaptations and life histories of species from the major vertebrate groups (fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals).

Victoria Green is from Ormond Beach, Fla. She graduated from Duke University with a degree in earth and ocean sciences and a certificate in Marine Science Conservation and Leadership. She studied at the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort, N.C., and at Seacamp in the Florida Keys. Through these experiences, she’s learned to take complicated marine science topics and translate it into information that K-12 grade students can absorb.

Mandy Castro is from San Diego, Calif. She graduated from Smith College in Northampton, Mass., with a degree in biological sciences and a minor in education and child studies. For the past three summers, she has been part of a team of Smith College student educators teaching marine science and conservation to local school children in Belize. While in Belize, she also collected data for her honors thesis, which focused on characterizing hard and soft corals of Mexico Rocks, a marine protected reef complex north of San Pedro.

Megan Wilson is from Salt Lake City, Utah. In high school, she began volunteering and interning at the Living Planet Aquarium, Utah’s only aquarium. She graduated from California State University in Long Beach with a degree in marine biology. In college, she conducted undergraduate research on the metabolic rate of the California horn shark. She also raised jellyfish while working for Sunset Marine Labs and acquired her environmental education skills while working in the education department at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, Calif.

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.

Symposium highlights UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant impacts

When Hurricane Matthew washed away 30 percent of Georgia’s sandy coastline last October, UGA was ready.

With funding from Georgia Sea Grant, the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography already was studying sand resources and creating an inventory of sand deposits along the coast. Researchers are using that inventory to identify areas where sand was available to replenish the coastline that was lost during the storm. Replacing the lost sand is important to protect lives and property, as well as critical habitats, from coastal hazards.

Clark Alexander presents at the symposium.

“The sand resources in our state waters are the most poorly known of all the states along the east coast,” said Clark Alexander, interim director of Skidaway Institute. “This research enables us to create maps identifying offshore areas that are suitable for beach nourishment and habitat restoration projects. With these data, we can know where suitable sand exists if we need it in the future after major storms.”

Alexander was one of many researchers across Georgia who presented a project during the Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant Research Symposium in Athens on June 1.

Marc Frischer discusses his research into black gill in shrimp.

The annual symposium provides an opportunity for researchers to share their Sea Grant-funded work, network with others in the scientific community and look for collaborative ways to tackle the latest issues impacting the coast.

“Case studies presented during the symposium aptly illustrated Georgia Sea Grant’s success in elevating awareness of coastal issues, increasing local communities’ resilience to the effects of a changing climate and developing models that can be replicated to improve conditions on a global scale,” said Paul Wolff, chair of the Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant Advisory Board.

Jay Brandes discusses his work with microplastics on the Georgia coast.

From projects that look at how to get local seafood into inland markets to those that measure the productivity of Georgia’s expansive salt marshes, Sea Grant-funded research spans a variety of topics and emphasizes the importance of multidisciplinary, collaborative research and outreach to effectively enhance coastal communities and ecosystems.

Research proposals submitted to Georgia Sea Grant are expected to include an education and outreach component to ensure that results reach beyond the research community and are delivered to a diverse audience. Education and extension faculty and staff at Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant work to incorporate Sea Grant-funded research into public programs, workshops and curricula targeted to pre-k through college age students, resource managers, decision makers, the seafood industry and beyond.

Kayla Clark describes the Georgia Sea Grant intern program.

“We received a record number of research funding preproposals this year and many of those submitting full proposals attended the research symposium,” said Mark Risse, director of Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. “Being able to learn from projects that have proved successful should strengthen research efforts and allow us to support projects that move rapidly to application and impact.”

Other presenters from the Skidaway Marine Science Campus included Jay Brandes, Marc Frischer, Anne Lindsay and Kayla Clark.

 

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.

Devotion to the Ocean: Savannah YOCS 2017

by McKenna Lyons
Sea Grant Intern

The University of Georgia’s third annual Youth Ocean Conservation Summit took place earlier this year at UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant on Skidaway Island. Thirty students between the ages of 12 and 17 heard from engaging keynote speakers, participated in skill-building workshops and created their own initiatives to tackle current conservation issues.

This event had been many months in the making, organized by the me and the three other Georgia Sea Grant interns at the Marine Education Center and Aquarium. I can’t say I was surprised by the vast number of logistics that had to be tackled in order to pull off this event. However, several things did catch me off-guard. First and foremost was the task of creating a project that would challenge the students to think critically and enthusiastically about conservation issues that were important to them.

Mare Timmons works with a summit student.

In turn, making a worksheet with guided questions challenged us to think about the important components of creating a conservation initiative. There was a good deal of mentally stimulating work to be done, which was a facet of the project that I greatly appreciated. Challenging ourselves to create a thorough program led to a successful event in which students not only learned how to make change, but also took the first steps towards doing so. Their projects addressed issues such as marine debris, deforestation and coral bleaching caused by sunscreen. It was extremely rewarding to see the students tackle what we had prepared for them with such enthusiasm.

Participants respond to a discussion.

A welcome surprise was the overwhelming amount of support we received as we were planning the event. Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant employees, both from Skidaway Island and from Brunswick, Ga., were invested in our project and happy to help. They did everything from advertising to presenting on the day of the workshop. Their help was essential to the successful implementation of the summit, and I couldn’t be more grateful to have such dedicated people supporting us. We also received outside support in the form of donations from Stream2Sea, the Tybee Island Marine Science Center and Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary. The donations were given to participants, not only as goodies, but as a way to familiarize and connect them with these other outstanding organizations. The scientific community in Georgia is a close-knit network of people who support one another to advance change and make positive impacts. I’m pleased that we were able to introduce the summit participants to this community.

All of our planning and preparation culminated in a successful summit ripe with creativity, dedication and inspiration. Keynote speakers included Clayton Ferrara, the executive director of IDEAS For Us, and Olivia and Carter Ries , the founders of One More Generation. Our colleagues, along with speakers from One Hundred Miles, Leadership Savannah and Savannah State University led science workshops and skill-building activities. The day ended on a spectacular note, with groups of students presenting well-developed and creative plans to undertake conservation initiatives of their own design. I speak for all of the Georgia Sea Grant marine education interns when I say that we couldn’t have hoped for a better event. Everyone that participated in this summit was inspiring, and the involvement of so many young people was a testament to the fact that anyone, at any age, can make a difference.

Rider helped educate UGA Aquarium visitors, now back in his natural habitat

By: Emily Woodward
UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant

Rider, a loggerhead sea turtle who spent the last three years at the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium, was returned to his natural home in the ocean.

“It went well,” said Devin Dumont, head curator at the aquarium. “Rider seemed a little unsure at first, but after we placed him in the water, his instincts kicked in and he went on his way.”

Prior to the release, Rider was tagged by Joe Pfaller, research director of the Caretta Research Project, so that he can be identified if encountered again. After receiving the tags, the 50-pound sea turtle was loaded onto a skiff and transported to Wassaw Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Once at the beach, Dumont and Lisa Olenderski, assistant curator at the aquarium, lifted him from his tub and placed him on the sand.

Lisa Olenderski encourages Rider to walk towards the ocean.

Rider crawled forward a few inches before stopping, as if not quite sure what to do next. With a little help from Dumont and Olenderksi, Rider eventually made it to the surf where he swam in circles a few times, orienting himself to his new surroundings, before disappearing into the waves.

Lisa Olenderski and Devin Dumont carry Rider into deeper water.

Rider arrived at the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium as a straggler discovered during a nest excavation by members of Caretta Research Project who monitor the sea turtle nests on Wassaw Island. Stragglers that don’t make it out of the nest with the rest of the hatchlings typically have a much lower chance of survival. By giving them a temporary home at the aquarium, it increases the likelihood that they’ll make it in the wild.

Rider played an important role educating visitors to the UGA Aquarium. As an ambassador sea turtle, he was featured in multiple marine education classes and outreach programs for all age groups, from pre-K to adult.

“We estimate that Rider saw about 70,000 visitors,” said Lisa Olenderski. “If each of those people left knowing just one new fact about sea turtles or gained a new appreciation for them, it’s all worth it.”

In preparation for the release, Rider was fed live food, such as blue crabs and mussels, to practice active foraging and hunting skills. Aquarium staff also received approval from Dr. Terry Norton, director and founder of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources prior to the release.

“We’re always appreciative of the opportunity to work with multiple partners on the coast through our ambassador sea turtle program,” said Dumont. “Because of this collaborative effort, Rider has a much stronger chance of making it to adulthood.”