Tag Archives: r/v savannah

Skidaway grad students participate on glider team cruise 

From May 31st to June 5th, Skidaway Institute graduate students Kun Ma and Lixin Zhu joined a science cruise on the R/V Savannah off Cape Hatteras, N.C. The cruise was led by Jeffrey Book from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). The main objective of this cruise was to test and demonstrate the use of gliders together in teams and assimilate the data into ocean forecast models. The cruise was 22 days in total, divided into 3 legs. Kun and Lixin were part of the third leg.

Kun Ma cocks Niskin bottles on the CTD.

Kun is a new Ph.D. student at Skidway, working mainly on the MoDIE project with Jay Brandes and Aron Stubbins. This was her first science cruise and she collected some particular organic matter and dissolved inorganic carbon samples. She also helped Skidaway Institute researcher Bill Savidge by collecting some chlorophyll samples in order to calibrate the chlorophyll sensor on the CTD instrument.

Lixin Zhu in immersion suit during safety trainning

Lixin is a visiting Ph.D. student in Aron Stubbins’ lab. He collected filtered water samples on the cruise. He will analyze the color/fluorescence dissolved organic matter, and dissolved black carbon concentrations. In addition, Lixin performed solid phase extraction aboard and collected high-resolution real-time CDOM data using a S::CAN sensor coupled with the underway SCS system on the ship. Eventually, he will combine these data with other field data collected in the South Atlantic Bight area to see the overall dynamics of dissolved black carbon.

Four of the six gliders

“I really appreciate Dr. Jeff Book for having us on this amazing cruise,” Lixin said. “I am glad that we overcame seasickness, and it’s really cool to see that the glider team controlled six gliders at the same time aboard.

(l-r) Pierre-Yves Passaggia from UNC, Ian Martens, Ana Rice, Silvia Beatriz Gremes and Jeffery Book from NRL, Lixin Zhu, Santiago Carrizosa from the Navy, and Kun Ma

“Furthermore, their working approach and decision making process, based on real-time data, modeling and satellite results, impressed me a lot. Getting some samples from such a dynamic area definitely made me really excited.”



R/V Savannah honored for “Best Grub”

R/V Savannah chef Jack Van Dyke was honored with the “Best Grub” award by the University National Oceanographic Laboratory System. The citation reads:

2015-2016 Victual Award

Whereas by our Royal Concession, Our trusty Research Vessel Savannah has been inspected and found worthy by My Royal Staff, we hereby declare to all whom it may concern that it is Our Royal Will and Pleasure to confer upon her crew the National Science Foundation honor of Best Grub. Should any member of the crew or science party grow broad in the beam We do hereby command that all Kraken, Sharks, Whales and other dwellers of the Deep shall abstain from consuming this tasty morsel. We further direct all Sailors, Scientists, Funding Agency Representatives and other ne’er-do-wells of the High Seas to treat them with the respect due to One of Us.

Jack Van Dyke

Jack Van Dyke

R/V Savannah Crew Updates

by John Bichy

John Bichy

John Bichy

Following Michael Richter’s retirement as marine superintendent in late March, the ship has undergone a significant transformation.

First, the ship’s first mate John Bichy was hired as the new marine superintendent. John made the full transition to his new position on June 1st.  His first priority was to stabilize the crew and fill the vacant marine tech, engineer and first mate positions with qualified personnel.

Zach Tait

Zach Tait

In May, Zach Tait joined the crew as the new marine technician.  Zach was a fill-in tech for two years when he previously worked at Skidaway Institute under Aron Stubbins and, more recently, as a self-employed farmer in his home state of North Carolina. Zach’s strong scientific background, combined with his electrical and mechanical skills give him all the tools required to lead the science capabilities on the ship.

Terrell Scarboro

Terrell Scarboro

The ship’s second mate, Terrell Scarboro, was offered the full-time engineer position. Terrell served as the fill-in engineer for more than five months. He brings a strong mechanical skill set, a positive attitude and maturity to this important role on the ship.

This move opened up the second mate position, which was quickly filled with the rehiring of Jordan Solomon.

Jordan Solomon

Jordan Solomon

Jordan was a crew member for two years before he departed last July. We feel lucky to have Jordan back. He is a hard worker and well respected by fellow crew and ship users.

Last but not least, Skidaway Institute hired another former employee Sean McNulty as first mate.

Sean McNulty

Sean McNulty

Sean left Skidaway in 2011 for a chief mate position on the UNOLS ship R/V Hugh Sharp. Sean is the ultimate professional who brings years of experience operating and maintaining large ships.

After months of uncertainty the ship’s crew is finally stable and one that is as strong as ever.


Gray’s Reef presents Rivers to Reefs program

by Chad Larsen

This month, Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary is hosting the 13th annual Rivers to Reefs trip in association with Georgia Aquarium, Gordon State College and the UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography. Rivers to Reefs is an educational expedition of a lifetime for teachers, focused on Georgia’s Altamaha River watershed.

During the 6-day trip, the teachers will canoe the Oconee, Ocmulgee and Altamaha Rivers into the Sapelo estuary and then travel offshore to Gray’s Reef on board the R/V Savannah. They will learn and explore the connections between the watershed and the ocean. The teachers will then take the knowledge and experiences gathered from the trip and pass it on to their students in the classroom.

Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary Foundation chair Cathy Sakas, a leader of the Rivers to Reefs program, explains that Rivers to Reefs helps teachers learn just how much we touch our watersheds and that our watersheds influence our great global ocean.

The "marsh crawl" is a memorable part of the Rivers to Reefs program.

The “marsh crawl” is a memorable part of the Rivers to Reefs program.

“The watersheds here in Georgia give us the sediment that creates the coastal plains. It gives us the nutrients for us to have rich and beautiful environments like Gray’s Reef, which is full of creatures ranging from seahorses to whales,” Sakas said. “As they become educated about the watersheds and the consequences of man’s actions on the environment, Rivers to Reefs participants are incentivized to teach their students about conservation and protection of natural resources.”

Editor’s Note:  Skidaway Institute professor Marc Frischer is also involved in the Rivers to Reefs project. Marc’s doliolid project is providing the R/V Savannah ship day as part of the broader impacts component of the project.  He will be going out with the group on the cruise and conducting a follow-up session the next day.

For NSF purposes: Collaborative Research: The cryptic diet of the globally significant pelagic tunicate Dolioletta gegenbauri (Uljanin, 1884.) Project number: OCE 1459293


Teachers join UGA Skidaway Institute research cruises

A Frischer lab cruise on board the R/V Savannah to hunt and collect doliolids had a pair of extra passengers in May. Two K-12 teachers joined the cruise. JoCasta Green is a pre-K teacher from Decatur, Ga., and Vicki Albritton is a middle school teacher at the STEM Academy here in Savannah. The two  were the second group of teachers to join a cruise this year, as part of a cooperative program between UGA Skidaway Institute and Georgia Southern University’s Institute for Interdisciplinary STEM Education (i2STEM). The goal of the i2STEM  program is to improve the teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering and mathematics at all levels from kindergarten through college throughout coastal Georgia.

“I was hoping to see science in action, and I did that all day long,” Albritton said. “I got to participate and learn what was going on and to take many pictures. Now I have a wealth of information to take back to the classroom.”

(l-r) Mike Sullivan, Aurea Rodriguezsanti (Hampton Univ), Natalia Lopez Figueroa (Hampton Univ), Lauren Lamboley, Vicki Albritton, Nick Castellane, JoCasta Green, Marc Frischer, Tina Walters

(l-r) Mike Sullivan, Aurea Rodriguezsanti (Hampton Univ), Natalia Lopez Figueroa (Hampton Univ), Lauren Lamboley, Vicki Albritton, Nick Castellane, JoCasta Green, Marc Frischer, Tina Walters

Albritton says an experience like the cruise raises teachers’ credibility in the classroom, because the students see the teachers going out to learn more themselves. “If I want them to be perpetual learners, then I need to demonstrate that same trait,” she said.

Although Green admitted she was nervous about the cruise initially, she credited the scientists with making her comfortable. “They were great teachers,” she said. “I understood what we were doing and why we were doing it.”

The partnership between UGA Skidaway Institute and i2STEM is expected to grow. Five additional doliolid cruises are scheduled this year with space available for as many as four teachers on each cruise. UGA Skidaway Institute will also offer two half-day cruises this month as part of i2STEM’s summer professional development workshop for teachers.

R/V Savannah cruises Chesapeake Bay

by John Bichy

The R/V Savannah spent the majority of September (23 days) in the Chesapeake Bay participating in the Patuxent River 2015 Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Office of Naval Research Science and Technology Demonstration (ONR S&T Demo). This was the largest demonstration of its kind to ever take place at PAX Naval base.  The purpose of this project was to “accelerate the relevance and utility of emerging technologies by bringing together operators, developers, and stakeholders to jointly explore Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) and Unmanned-Surface Vehicle (USV) technologies in a common at sea environment.”

A total of six countries, 20 vessels, and over 50 vehicles (AUV or USV) took part in this effort. The R/V Savannah science crew primarily consisted of members from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City and Penn State’s Applied Research Laboratory. Two modified WHOI REMUS 600 vehicles were operated from the R/V Savannah, the Small Synthetic Aperture Minehunter III (SSAM III) and the Laser Scalar Gradiometer (LSG).

Science and ship crew’s dockside at the west basin PAX River Naval Surface Warfare Center with the SSAMIII (foreground vehicle) and LSG (background) AUV’s.

Science and ship crew’s dockside at the west basin PAX River Naval Surface Warfare Center with the SSAMIII (foreground vehicle) and LSG (background) AUV’s.

Vehicles were deployed off the ship and set on daily missions to demonstrate and test their functionality within 3 sample regions (Patuxent River, Main Bay, Potomac River). The vehicles’ mission part was to locate underwater targets that were deployed in each sample area. At the end of the operational period, results from each vehicle were presented to all ONR S&T Demo participants including Navy Rear Admiral M. Winter.

The R/V Savannah spent its last day recovering targets with help from the Navy ship Grapple.  The cruise was successful on multiple levels.  From a science standpoint SSAM III and LSG performed well.  Both the Chief Scientist Tim Molnar (IPS) and lead engineer Andy Girard (WHOI) were impressed with the R/V Savannah as an AUV operational platform and expressed plans to use the ship in the future, including a potential project in Puerto Rico. From the ship’s perspective, this cruise introduced the ship to new user groups and new waters as the ship had never sailed this far up the Chesapeake Bay.

New faces at Skidaway Institute

We have three new faces at Skidaway Institute.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJack Van Dyke is the new cook on the R/V Savannah. Jack came to Skidaway from  Mission Viejo, Calf.  He has been cooking on boats for nearly 30 years for as many as 149 passengers. For nearly 20 years Jack worked for Dana Wharf Sport Fishing & Whale Watching as cook and captain on vessels from 45 to 95 feet. He is also an A.C.S. Naturalist and has held a USCG 100 ton Captain’s license for 13 years.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKate Doyle is a new research professional in Bill Savidge’s lab, but she’s not new to Skidaway Institute.  Back in 2002-2003, she was the lab manager for Keith Maruya’s environmental chemistry lab, and also did some “free-lance” technician work for Dana Savidge from 2008-2010. She earned her master’s degree in 2007 from UGA in marine science. She had spent the most recent five years as a marine science technician at Savannah State University before re-joining Skidaway in June.  Kate says,  “I’m enjoying being back out at Skidaway, and I love seeing familiar faces after all these years!”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChristina Codden is a new UGA Ph.D. graduate student in Aron Stubbins lab. She recently finished her undergraduate studies with a biology major and chemistry minor from St. Catherine University, an all-women’s university in Minnesota. “I’m excited to leave snowy winters behind and start research here on riverine dissolved organic matter,” Christina said. “Outside of science, some of my interests include volleyball, playing the cello and oil painting.”