Posts Tagged ‘Gray’s Reef’

Skidaway Marine Science Day 2016 canceled

October 18, 2016

The University of Georgia’s Skidaway Marine Science Day, scheduled for Oct. 22, has been canceled.

The UGA Aquarium reopened over the weekend, however the Jay Wolf Nature Trail remains closed as crews continue to remove debris brought on by Hurricane Matthew.

Both Clark Alexander, interim director of UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, and Mark Risse, director of UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, had hoped to reschedule the event, but no other date was available this fall.

“We are upset we are not able to offer this great event this year,” Alexander said. “However, we will be back bigger and stronger in 2017.”

Skidaway Marine Science Day has been an annual event on the Skidaway campus since 2001. The free, family-oriented program is presented jointly by the UGA Skidaway Institute, UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, and Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary.


Savannah newspaper article features UGA Skidaway Institute and R/V Savannah

July 5, 2016

The Savannah Morning News published a nice article over the weekend on the Rivers to Reefs teacher development program produced by Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary. Although the Rivers to Reefs is not a Skidaway Institute program, the last day of the experience was on board the Research Vessel Savannah. The ship and Skidaway scientist Marc Frischer are prominently featured. Here is a link to the article and also to a slide show on the SMN Web site. Kudos to Dash Coleman for an excellent article and beautiful pictures.

Photo Slide Show:

UGA Skidaway Institute receives funding for regional glider network

July 1, 2016

University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography researcher Catherine Edwards is leading a team that has received a five-year, $750,000 grant from the Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association, or SECOORA, to establish a regional glider network.

Also known as autonomous underwater vehicles, the gliders are torpedo-shaped crafts that can be packed with sensors and sent on underwater missions to collect oceanographic data. Equipped with satellite phones, the gliders surface periodically to transmit their recorded data and to receive new instructions during missions that can last from weeks to months.

UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography researcher Catherine Edwards assembles the tail cone assembly of a glider.

UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography researcher Catherine Edwards assembles the tail cone assembly of a glider.

The team will work collaboratively to operate regular glider missions on the continental shelf in an area from North Carolina to Florida known as the South Atlantic Bight. Regular coordinated experiments will involve simultaneous deployment of gliders at multiple locations off Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. Sensors on the gliders will allow the team to map temperature, salinity, density, dissolved oxygen and other scientific data over the entire South Atlantic Bight. The data will help scientists understand ocean processes and how the ocean physics may affect fisheries—for example, the location of fronts or areas of increased productivity where fish often congregate.

“This glider observatory is the first time regular glider efforts have been funded in the South Atlantic Bight and is complementary to larger SECOORA efforts in observing and modeling,” Edwards said. “The work is highly leveraged by contributions from each of the team members and partnerships with fisheries and observing groups at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA.”

Edwards and her team have designed the deployments with input from fisheries management partners and interests of commercial and recreational fisheries. Gliders will also be outfitted with passive and active acoustics receivers that will record sound and measure signals from tagged fish.   Fisheries managers at Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary, state Department of Natural Resources offices, the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council and others will be able use this information to better understand the ocean “soundscape,” fish migrations and key species use of their habitat.

“The glider missions will contribute important information related to research underway at Gray’s Reef,” said Sarah Fangman, superintendent of Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary. “We have been studying fish movement patterns inside the sanctuary, and the gliders’ acoustic receivers will provide a valuable new tool to expand where we can observe fish movements.”

In addition to regular coordinated experiments with multiple gliders and maximum regional coverage, the project will leverage opportunities to develop regular transects in areas where glider data may be of interest, for example near marine protected areas like Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary and other critical habitat zones designated by the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council.

The glider data will provide valuable information for validation of ocean models—regional models of ocean circulation funded by SECOORA as well as the larger modeling community. Further, the data will be packaged and used to improve ocean model forecasts.

“We’re sending all of the glider data to the National Glider Data Assembly Center as it comes in so that it can be assimilated into the U.S. Navy’s operational models,” Edwards said. “The gliders will improve Navy forecasts on the fly with real time data.”

The remainder of the research team includes Chad Lembke from the University of South Florida, Ruoying He from North Carolina State University, Harvey Seim from the University of North Carolina and Fumin Zhang from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Data and maps from the project will be shared freely and made available to the research community, fisheries managers and other stakeholders and the general public in near-real time through SECOORA at and the National Data Buoy Center.

Skidaway Marine Science Day video on YouTube

December 1, 2015

Our annual campus-wide open house event, Skidaway Marine Science Day, was held on Saturday, October 24. Here is a a quick look at the fun and activities.

Skidaway Institute participates in worldwide ocean snapshot

June 29, 2015

Scientists at the University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography joined researchers around the globe in a worldwide Ocean Sampling Day on Sunday, June 21, the summer solstice.

This was the second year Skidaway researchers have participated in the Ocean Sampling Day event. The first was conducted last year, also on the summer solstice. The event focuses on simultaneous sampling of microbes in ocean, coastal and Great Lakes waters.

This year, 191 marine research locations—from the Rothera Research Station in Antarctica to Göteborg University in Sweden—participated. The sampling program supports international missions to provide information on the diversity of microbes, their function and their potential economic benefits.

“It’s a global effort to take a snapshot of microbes across the world’s oceans at the same time, on the same day, in this case, the summer solstice,” said Skidaway Institute professor Marc Frischer.

The Skidaway Institute team transfers a water sample from the Skidaway River during Ocean Sampling Day.

The Skidaway Institute team transfers a water sample from the Skidaway River during Ocean Sampling Day.

Frischer cited the significance of the project by describing microbes as the “engines of our planet” and said half the oxygen in the atmosphere is produced by microbes in the ocean.

Skidaway Institute scientists collected samples at two locations. One team collected and processed samples from the Skidaway River estuary immediately adjacent to the Skidaway Institute campus. That also served as part of an ongoing water-quality monitoring program Skidaway Institute has supported for more than 25 years. A second group teamed up with scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary and collected samples from Gray’s Reef. The 14,000-acre marine sanctuary is located about 17 miles off the Sapelo Island coast.

“We helped Gray’s Reef by collecting and processing their samples in the way they needed to be done,” Frischer said. “You really need a laboratory for that, and we were able to provide that.”

One goal of the global project is to note the commonalities and the differences among the microbial communities around the globe. Some of those differences were seen just in the samples collected at Gray’s Reef and at the Skidaway campus, two sites only 40 miles apart.

“We generally observe a larger number of smaller organisms out in the ocean, which makes sense because they are adapting to a system with lower nutrients,” Frischer said. “We also saw a different kind of photosynthetic organisms since there is much more light available in the ocean compared to rather turbid waters in our estuary.”

Much of the fieldwork at both Skidaway Institute and Gray’s Reef was handled by undergraduate college students gaining research experience at Skidaway Institute this summer. These included students from UGA and Savannah State University’s Research Experience for Undergraduates program.

All samples and data were sent to Bremen, Germany, for DNA extraction and sequencing to ensure maximum comparability. The resulting data will be made publicly available as soon as quality checks are finished. These cumulative samples, related in time, space and environmental parameters, will provide insights into fundamental rules describing microbial diversity and function and contribute to the blue, or oceanic, economy through the identification of novel, ocean-derived biotechnologies.

Ocean Sampling Day was jointly coordinated by Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany, and the University of Oxford in the U.K. and is part of the European Union-funded Ocean of Tomorrow research project Micro B3.

“It is really important to have a global perspective,” Frischer said. “We are glad we can participate in what they are now calling “gigascience” where we are collecting a snapshot from all over the world. It is amazing!”

Additional information on the global Ocean Sampling Day project is available at



Skidaway open house 92 percent ‘landfill-free’

October 30, 2013

 The effort to make Skidaway Marine Science Day a ‘landfill-free’ event was largely successful, according to event organizers. Held on the campus of the University of Georgia (UGA) Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, the annual open house attracted nearly 2,000 visitors on Saturday, Oct. 26, but generated only nine pounds of unrecyclable trash. The event organizers used recycling and composting bins to collect and recycle materials in an attempt to reduce the stream of trash ultimately headed to a landfill.

 The event was sponsored by the UGA Skidaway Institute, the UGA Aquarium and UGA Shellfish Laboratory, which are both part of Marine Extension, a public service and outreach unit of UGA, and by Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary and the Nature Conservancy.

 When the event was over, 57 pounds of recyclable paper, mostly napkins and hot dog wrappers, and 35 pounds of cans and plastic were collected. The compost containers held 10 pounds of food waste.

 “One lesson we learned is that chip bags are not recyclable, and we collected one and a half pounds of them,” said  Amanda Wrona Meadows,  a marine scientist with The Nature Conservancy and one of one of the event organizers. “That’s a 50-gallon trash bag of chip bags.”

 The rest of the non-recyclable waste was composed of material such as duct tape, pipe cleaners, cigarette butts, garbage bags and diapers.

 “About 92 percent of the waste generated at the event was kept out of the landfill,” said Meadows. “I think that is something we should all feel good about.”

Here is a tentative schedule of events for Skidaway Marine Science Day

September 24, 2012

Skidaway Marine Science Day

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Noon to 4 p.m.

  • Jay Wolfe Nature Trail, Interpretive Cabin, Interpretive Gardens (Open at 10 a.m.)
  • University of Georgia Aquarium Open – Free Admission
  • “Ossabaw” the Loggerhead Sea Turtle on display (Aquarium)
  • Touch Tanks (Aquarium)
  • Behind the Scenes peeks at the UGA Aquarium. Every 10 minutes. Maximum of 15 visitors at a time. Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.  Line up at back aquarium door.
  • Environmental Group Exhibits (Skidaway Institute Quad)
  • Tours of Research Vessel Savannah (Skidaway Institute Dock)
  • Plankton World (Marine and Coastal Science Research Center)
  • Build a Plankton (Tent outside the Marine and Coastal Science Research and Instruction Center)
  • Science Exhibits (Skidaway Institute Quad & R/V Savannah)
  • Microbe Hunt – Grab a swab and find the microbes in the world around you.  (Skidaway Institute Quad)
  • Gray’s Reef ROV Activity (Skidaway Institute Quad)
  • Oyster Reef Restoration Displays and Activities (Shellfish Lab Patio)
  • Habitat Explorations “Oceans” (Aquarium Day Group Room)
  • Habitat Explorations “Plankton” (Aquarium Plankton Lab)
  • Habitat Explorations “Tidal Creeks” (Aquarium Invertebrate Lab)
  • “Marine Debris” (Aquarium Art Lab)
  • Crabbing on the Dock 1-3 p.m. (UGA Marine Extension Service Dock)
  • The Savannah Blood Alliance Blood Donation Drive (Aquarium Parking Lot)
  • Door Contest:  Visitors can enter their name in a drawing for a Free Season Family Pass to the Aquarium. Sign up at front desk in Aquarium Lobby.
  • Radio Broadcasting – Adventure Radio Group


12:15 PM — Fish Feeding (Aquarium)

12:30 PM – “Bridges and Bulls: A history of Skidaway Island” A talk and walking tour by Dr. Bill Savidge

1:00 — Shark Dissection with Curator Devin Dumont (Aquarium Invertebrate Lab)

12:30 PM – Plankton Sink- Off Preliminary Round (Tent outside Marine and Coastal Science Research and Instruction Center)

1:30 PM – “What are scientists talking about?” A series of short talks by Skidaway Institute scientists on current research and issues in marine science.  – McGowan Library Auditorium

1:30 PM – Plankton Sink Off Preliminary Round (Roebling House)

1:50PM — Fish Feeding (Aquarium)

2:00PM — Reptile Show with John “Crawfish” Crawford, Marine Educator (Screened porch.) – Gators, snakes, turtles, and lizards, OH MY! Develop a greater understanding of some of the most amazing vertebrates found along the Georgia coast.

2:30 PM – Plankton Sink Off Preliminary Round (Tent outside Marine and Coastal Science Research and Instruction Center)

2:00 PM – Skidaway Island History Talk and Tour by Dr. Bill Savidge (McGowan Library Auditorium)

2:30PM — Behind the Scenes Tour (Aquarium)

2:30 PM – Plankton Sink Off Preliminary Round (Tent outside Marine and Coastal Science Research and Instruction Center)

2:50 PM — Fish Feeding (Aquarium)

3:00 PM – Georgia Sea Turtles with John “Crawfish” Crawford, Marine Educator (Screened Porch) – Join in this fun and exciting know all about sea turtles, especially the ones that use Georgia beaches as nesting sites.

3:30 PM – Plankton Sink-Off Final Round (Tent outside Marine and Coastal Science Research and Instruction Center)

Participating Environmental and Educational Groups

  • Georgia DNR-CRD
  • Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary
  • The Dolphin Project
  • Savannah National Wildlife Refuge
  • Georgia Sea Turtle Center
  • Tybee Marine Science Center
  • Sierra Club
  • Skidaway Island State Park
  • Georgia DNR – Law Enforcement
  • Georgia DNR – Underwater Archaeology
  • Savannah State University Marine Sciences Department
  • Armstrong Atlantic State University Diamondback Terrepin Project
  • Youth for a Cleaner Environment

We had a great open house!

October 20, 2011

We had beautiful weather and a great turnout for our open house, Skidaway Marine Science Day, last Saturday. If you did not attend, here are some pictures to whet your appetite for next year.

Apple iPad top prize in scholarship fundraiser

October 11, 2011

Some lucky visitor to Skidaway Marine Science Day will win a new Apple iPad tablet computer.  The iPad is the top prize in fundraiser for student intern scholarships at Skidaway Institute of Oceanography. For each donation of $3, a donor will receive one chance to win the iPad.

The proceeds from the fundraiser will support the scholarship program sponsored by the Skidaway Marine Science Foundation. The Foundation awards scholarships to a number of undergraduate college students who spend the summer conducting research in the Institute’s laboratories.

Donations will be accepted at the Skidaway Institute information booth. A drawing will be held later in the afternoon. Donors do not need to be present to win.

The drawing is one of the activities of the campus-wide open house on Saturday, October 15, from noon to 4 p.m. on the Skidaway Institute campus on the north end of Skidaway Island.

Skidaway Marine Science Day is 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.

Activities geared for all ages will include programs, tours, displays and hands-on activities, primarily related to marine science and the coastal environment. The event is open to the public and admission is free.

For additional information, call (912) 598-2325, or visit

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Skidaway Marine Science Day a success!

October 18, 2010

We had a beautiful day last Saturday as more than 1,900 visitors converged on our campus for our annual open house,  Skidaway Marine Science Day.

The event featured activities geared for all ages from young children to adults. These included programs, tours, displays and hands-on activities, primarily related to marine science.

Skidaway Marine Science Day was presented Skidaway Institute and our campus partners, including the University of Georgia (UGA) Marine Education Center and Aquarium, the UGA Shellfish Research Laboratory, Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary and WSVH Georgia Public Radio.

The Skidaway Institute offered a variety of activities for adults and children, including tours of the Research Vessel Savannah;

R/V Savannah

Visitors in the R/V Savannah's "dry lab."

A crowd on "the bridge."

science displays and talks on current research programs; and hands-on science activities.

Charles Roberston explains a CTD array.

Jay Brandes explains some of the science behind the Gulf oil spill.

The UGA Marine Extension Service Aquarium was be open with no admission fee. In addition, the aquarium education staff offered visitors a full afternoon of activities including science talks, a reptile show, boat tours, touch tanks, and behind-the-scene tours of the aquarium.

The aquarium touch tanks are always popular.

The UGA Shellfish Laboratory provided visitors with displays and information on marine life on the Georgia Coast.

Bagging oyster shells for a good cause can actually be fun.

Children were given the opportunity to help protect the marine environment by bagging oyster shells used for oyster reef restoration projects.

Driving ROVs in the pool.

The staff of Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary set up their remotely-operated-vehicle (ROV) in a swimming pool and teach visitors how to “drive” it and pick up objects from the bottom.

WSVH Georgia Public Radio was open for visitors.

Skidaway Institute professor Bill Savidge presented a special program, “The Seven Deadly Sins of Science Fair Projects,” aimed at parents and students involved in science fair projects.

For the second year in a row, Skidaway Marine Science Day was also open to non-campus scientific and environmental groups.

Some children got "up close and personal" with wildlife.

Maybe a little too up-close.

Organizations such as the Georgia Department of  Natural Resources, The Dolphin Project and the Georgia Sea Turtle Center were on-hand to present, information, displays and activities.

The Diamond Terrapin Project brought some of their subjects, which were a big hit with the younger set.

Kids prepare their model plankton for the Plankton Sink-Off.

The Plankton Sink Off is a race to see who can get to the bottom of the tank last.

And what would a festival be without some face painting.

We have a much larger photo gallery on the Skidaway Institute Web site.