Archive for July, 2012

Nice newspaper article!

July 25, 2012

Mary Landers from the Savannah Morning News wrote a nice article on our marine plastics project.It appeared on the front page of Sunday’s issue. Thanks, Mary!

The reporters who went to Wassaw Island last week. Mary is wearing the straw hat on the far right.

News media trip to Wassaw Island

July 20, 2012

We took several reporters to Wassaw Island this week for a story on marine plastic debris. We’ve seen two TV stories thus far and expect a story in the Savannah Morning News, probably over the weekend.

Alice Massimi from WSAV-TV (NBC) in Savannah interviews UGA Marine Extension Service educator Dodie Sanders on the beach at Wassaw Island.

 

Skidaway Marine Science Day set for Saturday, October 20

July 12, 2012

An afternoon of marine science programs, displays, tours and activities — Skidaway Marine Science Day 2012 — will be held on Saturday, October 20, from noon to 4 p.m. on the campus of the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography at the north end of Skidaway Island.

The Skidaway Marine Science Day is a campus-wide open house with activities geared for all ages from young children to adults. These will include programs, tours, displays and hands-on activities, primarily related to marine science. The University of Georgia Aquarium will be open free-of-charge with special displays and activities. Skidaway Institute of Oceanography’s ocean-going research vessel, the R/V Savannah will also be open for tours.

Visitors examine the controls of the R/V Savannah during Skidaway Marine Science Day 2011.

The event is open to the public and admission is free.

The event will be presented by the campus’s marine research and education organizations, including the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, the University of Georgia (UGA) Marine Education Center and Aquarium, the UGA Shellfish Research Laboratory and Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary.

All activities at Skidaway Marine Science Day will be free. For additional information, call (912) 598-2325, or visit http://www.skio.usg.edu.


Teachers at sea

July 10, 2012

It has been a busy summer on board the R/V Savannah. One cruise involved some teachers, who blogged about their experience. This is fairly interesting.

Plastics pollution a widespread problem on the Georgia Coast

July 5, 2012

No part of the Georgia coast is protected from pollution by plastics and other marine debris. That is one finding of a study conducted by Skidaway Institute of Oceanography scientists Jay Brandes and Dick Lee.

The scientists studied the collection totals from beach clean-up programs by environmental groups like Clean Coast and the Tybee Beautification Association and Rivers Alive. They found that while beach-sweep programs at populated spots like Tybee Island collect the most plastic, even sweeps in relatively remote locations like Cumberland and Ossabaw Islands collect a sizeable haul. A 2007 beach sweep on Tybee by the Tybee Beautification Association and Rivers Alive collected 5,400 pounds of plastic. In similar clean-ups by Clean Coast in 2009, volunteers collected 1,100 pounds on Cumberland Island and 750 pounds on Ossabaw Island.

The places with the largest amount of plastics accumulation were Tybee Island, Little Tybee Island, Turner’s Creek and Pigeon Island.

“It is interesting that some of the beaches receiving relatively low numbers of visitors, such as Blackbeard Island and Cumberland Island, still have relatively high amounts of plastic debris,” Brandes said. “This suggests that the source of plastics on remote beaches is the surrounding coastal waters that contain plastics from both inland and the coast.”

The Skidaway Institute researchers focused their attention on plastics for several reasons. Plastics tend to be very durable and persist in the environment for long periods of time.  Also, relatively small pieces of plastic can be a threat to marine animals. Fish sometime eat the plastics, which can block their digestive systems. Sometimes harmful contaminants tend to cling to plastic and can be ingested when the plastic is eaten.

“Plastics pollution has been getting a lot of attention recently, especially those large gyres, like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” said Brandes. “But most of those plastics are coming from land and that means that most of the plastic in our environment is going to remain near the shore.”

For this study, the scientists were restricted to analyzing data provided by the various beach clean-up groups. The problem is these groups are, understandably, usually more concerned about cleaning up the beach than sorting types of debris they collect. Based on earlier studies of marine debris and limited sorting that has been done during some cleanups, the research team worked under the assumption that one half of the total material collected was comprised of plastics.

The plastics problem is not limited to coolers and plastic cups. According to Brandes, many of the larger plastic objects eventually become broken down into smaller pieces, as tiny as a grain of sand. They may remain suspended in the water column. Brandes has found these micro-plastic particles while collecting samples for other projects.

“Right now, very little is known about what kind of impact these micro-plastics might be having on fish or other parts of the marine ecosystem,” said Brandes.

Students in the Marine Debris program weight some of the material they have collected on the north beach of Wassaw Island.

To help with the problem of understanding what kinds of plastics foul our beaches and marshes, Skidaway Institute scientists are collecting additional data on marine plastics and other debris though a cooperative educational program, “Marine Debris,” with the University of Georgia Marine Extension Service.

“Marine Debris” is a hands-on, interactive program that incorporates the topic of marine debris with an emphasis on plastic debris along the coast of Georgia. Students and their teachers are conducting shoreline marine debris surveys on Wassaw Island to determine types of marine debris, weight of plastics collected and accumulation rates for the designated site. The students are compiling the data using the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Accumulation Survey protocol. The data is being submitted to the Southeast Marine Debris Initiative data base.

Upcoming training for new coastal hazards portal

July 3, 2012

Join coastal scientists and educators to learn more on Georgia’s coastal hazards while delving into a new interactive GIS tool, known as the GEORGIA COASTAL HAZARD PORTAL (GCHP). GCHP is built with ArcGIS Viewer for Flex and is comprised of multi layers of coastal hazard data and imagery.  GCHP can be accessed at http://gchp.skio.usg.edu.

Please select one of the following sessions:

Session #1:
July 18th at Savannah-Chatham MPC Offices
Scientists Presenting: Clark Alexander (SkIO), PhD and CJ Jackson (GSU), PhD with tutorial led by Angela Bliss (UGA MAREX)
Time: 12:30pm to 4:30 pm
Registration Link: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dEd1ZzhJN2xLNXdnQzNyUk5yTXVySXc6MQ

Session #2:
July 20th at The new Jekyll Island Convention Center (145 Old Plantation Road, Jekyll Island)
Scientist Presenting: CJ Jackson(GSU), PhD with tutorial led by Angela Bliss (UGA MAREX)
Time: 12:30 noon to 4:30 pm
Registration Link: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dEMxZ1F5bS1sRTMydG9lS2c3SzJvdXc6MQ

PLEASE NOTE:
Registration required and spaces are limited.
Participants will receive flashdrive of presentations and GCHP Tutorial help sheets.
4 APA credits are available.

Please direct all questions to Angela Bliss, acbliss@uga.edu.