Tag Archives: skidaway scoop

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.”

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Jay Brandes collaborator on research paper

Jay Brandes is a collaborator on a recent publication focusing on the roles of methane, iron and microbes in regulating the temperature of the primordial ocean. The research team was led by Georgia Tech Ph.D. student Marcus Braye. An article describing the project, can be found here.

 

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.

 

Georgia Sea Grant education interns arrive at the coast

Four recent college graduates have been awarded one-year marine 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 the general public.

The interns will spend 50 weeks on Skidaway Island at the Marine Education Center and Aquarium offering formal and informal educational programs focused on the ecology of Georgia’s coastal and estuarine ecosystems. Interns also will participate in community outreach by judging science fair projects, teaching during science nights at local schools and participating in events, like CoastFest and Skidaway Marine Science Day.

The interns were selected from an international pool of applicants and began their training in September. They are Kira Krall from Saint Petersburg, Fla.; Hannah Kittler from Adams, Mass.; Hannah Edwards from Navarre, Fla.; and McKenna Lyons from Beachs Park, Ill.

2016-2017 Georgia Sea Grant Education Interns (from left to right): Hannah Edwards, Kira Krall, McKenna Lyons, and Hannah Kittler

2016-2017 Georgia Sea Grant Education Interns (from left to right): Hannah Edwards, Kira Krall, McKenna Lyons, and Hannah Kittler

Kira Krall graduated from the University Florida with a degree in natural resource conservation. While in college, she volunteered for two years as a school programs docent for the Florida Museum of Natural History. After graduation, Kira worked as a teaching assistant for the Duke Talent Identification program’s marine science summer camps and as an environmental education intern at the Conservancy in Southwest Florida.

Hannah Kittler attended St. Michaels College in Vermont. She majored in biology and minored in chemistry and environmental studies. After graduation she worked at the Rock Eagle 4-H Center for a year as an environmental educator and spent time as a technician in their wildlife and aquatics lab.

Hannah Edwards received a degree in environmental science and policy from the University of South Florida. Hannah worked as a student teacher in high school, hosting field trips and community outreach Programs focused on marine ecosystems. In college, she volunteered at Sweetwater Organic Community Farm, educating groups about organic farming, the biology and significance of the diverse Sweetwater plants, and the importance of environmentally-friendly and sustainable life choices.

McKenna Lyons graduated with a degree in marine and atmospheric science from the University of Miami in Florida. She worked as a naturalist at the Biscayne Nature Center, leading summer camp groups on fishing trips in the local seagrass beds. Lyons taught students how to identify marine life, gave presentations on sea turtle life history and discussed human impacts on aquatic environments.

Donna Rutter joins Skidaway Institute’s business office

Donna Rutter is UGA Skidaway Institute’s new procurement specialist.

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Donna is originally from Pennsylvania, but has lived in the Kennesaw, Ga. area for the past 33 years.

“I recently decided I needed a change for various reasons and when I saw the posting for this position, I thought Savannah was absolutely a great choice,” she said. Donna is a member of the first graduating class of Lassiter High School which has always been one of the highest rated schools in Georgia. She is a certified purchasing technician who comes to Skidaway from a four year stint at Chattahoochee Technical College.

Donna has two children.  “My 20-year-old son, T.J., was awarded a full scholarship at Princeton last year but has not gone yet,” she said. “My 13-year-old daughter, Dakota Rose, is exceptionally gifted as well, loves to sing and dance on stage and is on her way to high school next year.  Both are very artistic and are my pride and joy!”

Donna says she is a diehard NASCAR fan and a recreational artist in just about every medium, such as drawing, painting and sculpture.  She also loves to garden. “Bingo is a rockin’ good time to me!” she exclaimed. “I overdose on educational TV along with a heavy portion of guilty pleasure viewing.”

“I used to do my own tune-ups in the 80s, before computer chips. I’ve almost always driven a Camaro Z28, having owned three in the past,” she said. “I will almost always stop for a car show, if possible.”

She owns a previous Futurity Champion Arabian horse which is located in Dallas, Ga.

 

UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant welcomes Emily Woodward

emily-wEmily Woodward is UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant’s new public relations coordinator. She’ll be taking over the communications program in place of Jill Gambill, who was recently promoted to UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant’s coastal community resilience specialist and public service assistant. Woodward will be based on Skidaway Island at the Shellfish Research Lab.

In her role, she will work to improve the visibility of UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant not only on the coast, but across the state of Georgia by promoting the latest marine research, educational opportunities, and outreach events on behalf of UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant.

Throughout her professional career, Woodward has communicated the importance of science and natural resource conservation for government agencies, non-government organizations, and academic institutes. She understands the need to educate coastal communities about marine research and how it can be used to inform public policy and coastal management. She believes in the importance of helping humans understand natural systems by explaining their connections to them and the benefits they derive from them.

Most recently, Woodward served as the Communications Specialist at the North Carolina Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve, a program managed through a state and federal partnership between NOAA and the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Coastal Management. Some of her projects involved leading a communications and outreach campaign promoting the use of living shorelines for erosion control, writing articles focused on marine ecology and water quality research, and assisting with K-12 educational programs and training workshops designed for technical and real estate professionals. She has her bachelor’s degree in English from North Carolina State University.

Kimberly Roberson new research coordinator at Gray’s Reef

kim-roberson-wKimberly Roberson is the new research coordinator for Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary.

Kimberly began working with NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science’s Biogeography Branch in 2005 and joined the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries in 2016. Kim received her bachelor of science degree from Berry College in Rome, Ga. She earned her master of science degree from Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia where she conducted research on leatherback sea turtles, using genetics to explore connectivity between nesting populations and pelagic individuals. Prior to NOAA, Kim worked with the National Park Service in St. Croix, USVI, conducting research and implementing conservation measures on endangered and threatened species.

Kim uses diving as a tool for research and has been a NOAA certified diver since 2005 and a NOAA divemaster since 2006. She served as the National Ocean Service Diving Officer for three years and chaired the NOAA Diving Control and Safety Board for two years. Her early NOAA work had her diving, conducting fish counts and assessing the potential research area boundaries of Gray’s Reef.

Kim is originally from Tennessee and developed a love for the ocean during family vacations to the coast. She enjoys spending time outside, running, swimming, playing and exploring with her husband and two young sons.