Archive for October, 2015

Skidaway Institute scientist explores deep-sea hydrothermal vents

October 29, 2015

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUniversity of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography scientist Aron Stubbins joined a team of researchers to determine how hydrothermal vents influence ocean carbon storage. The results of their study were recently published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Hydrothermal vents are hotspots of activity on the otherwise dark, cold ocean floor. Since their discovery, scientists have been intrigued by these deep ocean ecosystems, studying their potential role in the evolution of life and their influence upon today’s ocean.

Stubbins and his colleagues were most interested in the way the vents’ extremely high temperatures and pressure affect dissolved organic carbon. Oceanic dissolved organic carbon is a massive carbon store that helps regulate the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere—and the global climate.

Photo Credit: NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, INDEX-SATAL 2010

Photo Credit: NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, INDEX-SATAL 2010

Originally, the researchers thought the vents might be a source of the dissolved organic carbon. However, their research showed just the opposite.

Lead scientist Jeffrey Hawkes, currently a post-doctoral fellow at Uppsala University in Sweden, directed an experiment in which the researchers heated water in a laboratory to 380 degrees Celsius, 716 degrees Fahrenheit, in a scientific pressure cooker to mimic the effect of ocean water passing through hydrothermal vents.

The results revealed that dissolved organic carbon is efficiently removed from ocean water when heated. The organic molecules are broken down and the carbon converted to carbon dioxide.

The entire ocean volume circulates through hydrothermal vents about every 40 million years. This is a very long time, much longer than the timeframes over which current climate change is occurring, Stubbins explained. It is also much longer than the average lifetime of dissolved organic molecules in the ocean, which generally circulate for thousands of years, not millions.

“However, there may be extreme survivor molecules that persist and store carbon in the oceans for millions of years,” Stubbins said. “Eventually, even these hardiest of survivor molecules will meet a fiery end as they circulate through vent systems.”

Hawkes conducted the work while at the Research Group for Marine Geochemistry, University of Oldenburg, Germany. The study’s co-authors also included Pamela Rossel and Thorsten Dittmar, University of Oldenburg; David Butterfield, University of Washington; Douglas Connelly and Eric Achterberg, University of Southampton, United Kingdom; Andrea Koschinsky, Jacobs University, Germany; Valerie Chavagnac, Université de Toulouse, France; and Christian Hansen and Wolfgang Bach, University of Bremen, Germany.

The study on “Efficient removal of recalcitrant deep-ocean dissolved organic matter during hydrothermal circulation” is available at


Skidaway Institute’s Elizabeth Harvey embarks on month-long Atlantic cruise

October 27, 2015

UGA Skidaway Institute scientist Elizabeth Harvey will be spending the next month on board Woods Hole’s Research Vessel Atlantis.NAAMESbannerWithSat w

The North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study (NAAMES) is a five year investigation to resolve key processes controlling ocean system function, their influences on atmospheric aerosols and clouds and their implications for climate.

Here is Dr. Harvey’s first post on the cruise’s blog. 

Skidaway Marine Science Day 2015

October 25, 2015

We had a great open house yesterday. Skidaway Marine Science Day. Lots of visitors. Great weather. Fantastic activities, exhibits, tours and talks. Lots of effort from all the folks at Skidaway Institute, the UGA Marine Extension, Gray’s Reef and our off-campus exhibitors.












Skidaway Marine Science Day Schedule of Activities

October 16, 2015

The UGA Skidaway Marine Science Campus will open its doors again on Saturday, October 24, from noon to 4 pm for the 2015 edition of Skidaway Marine Science Day. The campus is located on the  north end of Skidaway Island in suburban Savannah. (10 Ocean Science Circle)

Touch tanks at the UGA Aquarium help visitors of all ages learn about the sea creatures who live right in our backyard.

Touch tanks at the UGA Aquarium help visitors of all ages learn about the sea creatures who live right in our backyard.

Sponsoring groups include the UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, UGA Marine Extension and NOAA’s Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary. All activities at Skidaway Marine Science Day are free. For additional information, call 912-598-2325, or see



Jay Wolf Nature Trail, Interpretive Cabin, Learning Garden

UGA Aquarium Open 10 am-5 pm / Free Admission & Special Activities Noon-4 pm

Behind the scenes peeks at the Aquarium. Every 20 minutes (12 –4 pm) – pick up your FREE ticket in the lobby to reserve your time!

New Touch Tank Display (Aquarium)

Touch Tanks (Aquarium Day Group Room)

Phytoplankton Lab Demo (Aquarium Plankton Lab)

Invertebrate Explorations (Aquarium Invertebrate Lab)

Dock Discoveries (Aquarium Dock) – Learn more about organisms found in our estuary and get your hands wet at a stingray touch tank!

Interactive Reptile Exhibit – Meet and greet some common reptiles of the Georgia coast (MAREX screened porch)

Oyster Hatchery Display and Hatchery Tours (Shellfi­sh Parking Lot)

PhotoBooth (McGowan Library auditorium)

Plankton World & CytoSense (Library overhang & lobby)

Build a Plankton (Tent outside McGowan Library)

Plankton Sink-O­ff (Tent outside McGowan Library) A Sink-Off round every 30 minutes

Environmental Group Exhibits (Skidaway Institute Quad)

Tours of Research Vessel Savannah (Skidaway Institute Dock)

Microbe Hunt – Grab a swab and find the microbes in the world around you. (Skidaway Institute


Gray’s Reef’s “Fly an Underwater ROV” — (Skidaway Institute Quad)


12:30 pm – Fish Feeding (Aquarium)

12:45 pm – Science Talk (Skidaway Institute Quad) “Arctic Carbon Cycling”

1:00 pm – Fish Feeding (Aquarium)

1:15 pm – Science Talk (Skidaway Institute Quad) “Sea Level Rise”

1:30 pm – Fish Feeding (Aquarium)

1:45 pm — Science Talk (Skidaway Institute Quad) “Underwater Robots”

2:00 pm – Fish Feeding (Aquarium)

2:00 pm – Science Talk (MCSRIC Conference Room) “Your tax dollars at work”

2:15 pm – Science Talk (Skidaway Institute Quad) “How do phytoplankton smell?”

2:30 pm – Fish Feeding (Aquarium)

2:45 pm – Science Talk (Skidaway Institute Quad) “Black Gill in Georgia Shrimp”

3:00 pm – Fish Feeding (Aquarium)

3:15 pm – Science Talk (Skidaway Institute Quad) “Weather Reports from Inside the Ocean”