Four graduate students selected for Georgia Sea Grant State Fellowship

by Hayley Hunter

Four graduate students will gain hands-on experience in the planning and implementation of coastal and marine policies and programs in Georgia as part of their Georgia Sea Grant State Fellowships. The year-long fellowships offer a unique opportunity for students to work in host offices that include state and federal government agencies as well as non-governmental partners and industries in Georgia.

“We’re excited to be working with a great group of partners to provide these incredible opportunities for students who will gain invaluable insights that shape their future,” said Mark Risse, director of Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. “It’s a win-win for everyone, as our partners will benefit from having talented students helping them solve critical coastal issues.”

The 2021-2022 fellows will work with the following partners: Georgia Audubon, NOAA Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary, the Georgia DNR’s Coastal Management Program, Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve and Sapelo Island Cultural and Revitalization Society.

Victoria Baglin has a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from South Georgia State College. She is currently pursuing her master’s in biology at Georgia Southern University. Baglin’s graduate research focuses on assessing the effects of climate change on leaf decomposition rates and the macroinvertebrate communities that

support decomposition processes. As a fellow with NOAA Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary, Baglin will advance several science, policy, and planning projects and programs, while gaining the diverse skills and professional experience necessary to succeed in a natural resource management career.

“The Georgia Sea Grant State Fellowship will not only allow me to engage in personal career development planning, but it will also allow me to contribute and participate in solving important environmental problems while addressing real-world issues faced by conservation managers,” Baglin said.

Kim Savides received a bachelor’s in wildlife science from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. As a master’s student at Utah State University, she is studying the migratory timing and routes of the Lazuli Bunting, a small songbird native to the western U.S. Her fellowship

at Georgia Audubon will involve expanding their coastal program with new bird research and monitoring, as well as public education and outreach about bird conservation.

“This fellowship is an exceptionally exciting opportunity that will allow me to build upon my research and monitoring experiences while also allowing me to interact with and engage a variety of resource managers, stakeholders and the public,” Savides said.

Shannon Matzke graduated from Louisiana State University with a degree in coastal environmental science. She is currently a master’s student in the biology department at Georgia Southern University. She is finishing up her thesis on Tybee Island’s coastal sand dune restoration project. Matzke will be working in the Georgia Coastal

Management Program, which is led by Georgia DNR’s Coastal Resources Division. She will assist with updating the Coastal Nonpoint Source Pollution program. While working on the project, she will experience active coastal management as well as gain key skills in coastal policy, resource management, stakeholder engagement and public interaction.

“This fellowship will introduce me to the policy side of coastal environmental work which will help me to better understand the ins and outs of current and future restoration projects,” Matzke said.

Hannah Morris has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from UGA and a master’s degree in anthropology from Ohio State University. She is currently a Ph.D. student in the integrative conservation program at UGA’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resource Management where she is studying land

use history and forest change on several barrier islands off the Georgia coast. As a state fellow, Morris will be working with the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve and the Sapelo Island Cultural and Revitalization Society to work on enhancing the resilience of Hog Hammock, a private community on Sapelo Island widely known as the last “Saltwater Geechee” community on the east coast. In her role, she will draft comprehensive flood mitigation recommendations to address the types of flooding impacting the community.

“This fellowship will allow me to bring my knowledge of that history, along with the skills and training I’ve received in my education, to address some of the most pressing conservation issues our coast faces, including climate change, land use change and socio-environmental justice,” Morris said.

UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant welcomes new Marine Education Fellows

by Haley Hunter

Four recent college graduates have been selected for Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant’s year-long Marine Education Fellowship based at the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium on Skidaway Island.

As part of the fellowship, they will gain experience in environmental education, aquarium husbandry and coastal extension. They will also be able to participate in professional development opportunities and build a network of environmental educators, marine researchers and conservationists working in coastal Georgia.

Throughout the year, the fellows will teach field, lab and lecture classes that are offered to visiting school groups. They will also assist with animal husbandry at the UGA Aquarium and work closely with Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant’s extension specialists to incorporate information about their projects into educational programming.

The 2021-2022 fellows are:

Maura Glovins is from Corning, New York. She graduated from the University of South Carolina with a bachelor’s degree in marine science and a minor in education. While in college, Glovins served as the education outreach coordinator for the marine science club and worked as an educator for Harbison State Forest where she applied her

teaching skills to a forestry setting. She is looking forward to finding her niche in marine education and turning it into a career.

Ashley Del Core is from Vacaville, California. She graduated from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and received a bachelor’s degree in marine sciences. Del Core’s passion for marine science education and outreach developed through volunteering as an aquarium educator and aquarist, assisting

with graduate student projects and serving as a teacher’s assistant for an ichthyology course. Del Core is excited to work with other passionate marine science professionals and introduce visitors to Georgia’s aquatic animals.

Chante Lively is from Atlanta, Georgia. She graduated from Nova Southeastern University with a bachelor’s degree in marine biology and minors in global engagement and Spanish. Prior to starting her fellowship, she worked as an environmental educator at the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance. She hopes to get back to

her roots in marine science and use new tools and skills obtained through the fellowship to help determine her next career steps.

Diane Klement is from Augusta, Georgia. She graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in ecology and a minor in studio art. Klement has worked as an elementary and nature kindergarten substitute teacher, helping students discover the wonder and joy that comes from learning about the natural

world. She is looking forward to learning strategies to teach more effectively about coastal ecology and to help others better appreciate Georgia’s coastal ecosystems.

Gray’s Reef develops virtual internship and fishing guide

The NOAA Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary team entered its 20th month of working from home in December 2021. The time spent out of the office provided the sanctuary staff with the opportunity to develop virtual student internships and a new digital guide to best fishing practices at Gray’s Reef.

Gray’s Reef has incorporated two virtual internship programs in support of different elements in the sanctuary’s management plan. First, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities research internship supports a student for a 15-week internship to develop two research plans — one studying invasive lionfish in the sanctuary and the other, a sea turtle tagging program.

The second fall-winter interns come from the Virtual Student Federal Service program and focus on two projects. One will work on curating the photo archive of the sanctuary, while the other will develop a virtual, best diving practices guide. The combination of these paid and unpaid opportunities is helping staff build capacity to meet the various needs of the sanctuary.

For decades, Gray’s Reef has been an ideal spot for fishermen of all experience levels. In October 2021, the sanctuary staff produced a best fishing practices guide to help fishermen conserve the sanctuary for generations to come. The virtual guide, found here, compiles regulations, best practices and citizen-science opportunities that can be used to make the most of a fishing trip to Gray’s Reef. The guide also combines maps of the sanctuary, 360-degree videos, walkthroughs and other multimedia into a comprehensive fishing guide. The project gathered support from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, University of Georgia Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council, Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Angler Action Foundation.

New technology provides fresh insight into marine life

University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography biologist Adam Greer studies marine life from the bottom up (of the food chain, that is). Greer investigates plankton – organisms between approximately one millimeter to several centimeters in size – adrift in the water column. He uses a new, cutting-edge imaging system that reveals more of this microscopic world than has ever been possible before.

“I study tiny organisms in the ocean, and I’m interested in how they interact with their ocean environment, how the environment impacts them and how they interact with each other,” Greer said. “Mostly, I am interested in the early life stages of some of the fish and what happens to them when they are really small.”

“I study tiny organisms in the ocean, and I’m interested in how they interact with their ocean environment, how the environment impacts them and how they interact with each other,” Greer said. “Mostly, I am interested in the early life stages of some of the fish and what happens to them when they are really small.”

Greer’s lab group currently focuses mostly on gelatinous organisms, what they eat and how they move around in the ocean currents. Most are very small and often go unseen, and as a result, they are very poorly understood. However, they are an important part of the marine ecosystem, and depending on the particular species, they can play different roles. Some gelatinous species also impact the populations of much larger animals, like fish, by eating their larvae.

“Seafood is a multi-billion-dollar industry, so it’s pretty important to understand the fundamental processes that are affecting fish populations,” he said. “There is a lot of fish larvae out there. A lot of them are being eaten by predators, and we don’t know really at what rates and what kinds of environmental things could influence that mortality and the abundances on down the line.”

Traditional sampling methods, like towed plankton nets, are valuable because they provide a tangible sample for analysis. However, they cannot provide a picture of marine organisms in their natural environment and allow scientists to observe their interactions. For that, Greer and his fellow researchers utilize a high-tech imaging system that is towed behind a research vessel. The In Situ Ichthyoplankton Imaging System and similar iterations of that instrument record thousands of high-resolution images of marine organisms along with precise depth location of each individual.

Adam Greer (r) and graduate student Patrick Duffy perform post-cruise maintenance on the In Situ Ichthyoplankton Imaging System.

The imaging system is built around two pods with a camera in one pod and a light source in the other. As it is towed through the water, the plankton flow between the two pods and, if plankton are present, each individual blocks the light from reaching the camera. The camera picks up the shadows of the plankton that scientists or computer algorithms can identify. The system allows scientists to look at a large volume of water because all of the shadows are in focus.

“If you’re interested in gelatinous plankton, fish larvae, things like that, they’re not that common, compared to other plankton,” Greer said. “And so, you have to actually look at a lot of water to find those types of organisms. If you’re looking at too small of a volume, you won’t really run into things that are relatively rare in the plankton world like fish larvae and gelatinous organisms.”

A still-frame image from the In Situ Ichthyoplankton Imaging System with several zooplankton visisible.

Typical abundances for fish larvae are one individual per approximately 250 gallons of seawater, but there is a wide range observed in different marine ecosystems.

Researchers can see what each individual is experiencing in the environment and where they are in the water column. They can also observe the characteristics of their environment like temperature, salinity and dissolved oxygen concentration.

“That’s a lot of information that we were just missing until now,” Greer said.

The imaging system also provides insight into which organisms are sharing the same space and how they interact. Which species is a predator and which species is the prey? What organism is a parasite to another? How do organisms move from one set of ocean conditions to another as they go through life stages?

Greer says each deployment is an adventure. “Every time we put it in the water, I feel like we see something new and something unexpected. And so that’s really the exciting part about these camera systems is that it’s really just a new view of how ocean life is interacting with each other and the environment.”

Greer recently published the results of some of his work in the ICES Journal of Marine Science. The paper can be viewed at https://doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fsab149.

Celebrations and Virtual Explorations at Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary

By Michelle Riley, GRNMS

40th Anniversary

January 16 marked the 40th anniversary of Gray’s Reef’s designation as a national marine sanctuary. We invite everyone to share their thoughts about Gray’s Reef throughout 2021 on a Kudoboard set up by Jody Patterson, director of the Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.

The anniversary celebration began with a month-long social media campaign and continued with a proclamation from Savannah Mayor Van Johnson, naming January 16 “Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary Day.”

40th anniversary recognition from Savannah Mayor Van Johnson

Former President Jimmy Carter sent a letter recognizing the anniversary to Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Director John Armor. He also mentioned the other three sanctuaries he designated (Channel Islands, Looe Key, and Point-Reyes Farallon Islands).

President Carter’s letter

The anniversary was covered in print, online, and TV media, and culminated on Feb. 4. with a small Virtual Happy Hour celebration.

Scott Kathey joins the team

Scott Kathey has joined the staff at Gray’s Reef as Resource Protection Specialist. Kathey served as acting superintendent of the sanctuary in 2018.

Scott Kathey Photo Credit: Jody Patterson

Kathey and his wife, Sandy, are natives of Louisiana and have moved to Savannah from Monterey Bay, Calf., where his most recent role was Regulatory/Emergency Response Coordinator for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. For more than 28 years, Scott has used a combination of statutory, regulatory, policy, administrative and social tools to prevent and minimize threats to natural resources and processes in multiple national marine sanctuaries. He has collaborated with government partners, NGOs and the public to improve stewardship of protected marine resources. Scott succeeds and expands the role of Becky Shortland, who retired in December 2019 after 20 years at Gray’s Reef.

Gray’s Reef introduces multimedia galleries to exhibits

Sanctuary supporters are familiar with Gray’s Reef kiosks found at museums, aquaria and visitor centers that enable guests to explore the sanctuary from land. Starting this year, Gray’s Reef will replace the kiosks with large, touch screen, multimedia galleries showcasing 360-degree photos and videos of the sanctuary, sanctuary sounds, an interactive ecosystem and games.

Illustration of Gray’s Reef’s new touch screen, multimedia gallery

The multimedia galleries will allow for guided tours and lessons about the wonders of Gray’s Reef.

R/V Savannah gets an overhaul

By John Bichy, Marine Superintendent

As part of the R/V Savannah’s biennial maintenance schedule, the ship was hauled out at Stevens Towing shipyard on February 17. Located on Young’s Island, S.C., near Charleston, the shipyard is close to the ship’s home port on Skidaway Island and offers top quality commercial yard services.

These shipyard periods are necessary to conduct maintenance projects that can only occur when the vessel is out of the water. This year’s projects are routine with the primary scope of work to resurface the bottom shell and top side shell coatings. Other projects include replacing the port shaft seal and standard gauging of the hull plate to measure steel thickness.

A good portion of work is conducted by the ship’s crew. Crew projects this year include, resurfacing the exterior decks, rails and superstructures; cleaning fouled pipes; and installing equipment such as a new replacement satellite communications antenna for the ship’s Fleet Express broadband internet service, to name a few. The crew understands this is a critical time for maintenance. It’s their home for much of the year, and they take a great deal of pride in making her the best platform she can be.

UGA naturalist retires but legacy will continue on through endowed fellowship

by Emily Kenworthy

For 30 years, John “Crawfish” Crawford has regaled campers and school children on field trips to the UGA Aquarium, guiding them on nature walks through the salt marsh and introducing them to the many creatures that call coastal Georgia home.

His tenure officially ended Dec. 1, when Crawford retired from the University of Georgia. But his legacy will continue through an endowed educator position at UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, funded by a generous estate gift made by longtime supporters.

John “Crawfish” Crawford holds up a bonnethead shark on the R/V Sea Dawg.

The John “Crawfish” Crawford Public Service and Outreach Faculty Fellowship will generate incentive for a leading naturalist to fill a faculty educator role at the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium and provide the resources to support traditional naturalist practices that maintain an emphasis on exploration, curiosity, field interpretation and personal connection to the world.

A new film by Motion House Media tells the story of Crawford’s impact through interviews with individuals who have been inspired by the larger than life conservationist over the years. Watch it here.

The endowed funds will also enhance the faculty fellow’s ability to make a difference in the lives of students and help fulfill the university’s public service and outreach mission—as Crawford has.

Crawford leads a hike on the UGA Aquarium’s Jay Wolf Nature Trail with Friends of the UGA Aquarium.

“Someone who gets the endowed fellowship will need to know who John is, what he cared about, and what he’s like,” says Ruth McMullin, who, with her husband Tom, made the gift. “We want to make sure the way (John) teaches, his enthusiasm, and his methodology remain when he’s no longer here.”

McMullin, who lives on Skidaway Island, has been volunteering at the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium for 23 years. She is inspired by Crawford’s curiosity, enthusiasm and ability to mold minds and develop stewards of Georgia’s coastal environments.

“He’s just so special,” McMullin said. “I was really happy to volunteer because I knew I would get to spend more time learning from him.”

“I have learned an awful lot from watching how he interacts with children and adults and how he shares his excitement with other people. You can’t be somebody you admire, but you can copy them.”

Crawford holds a diamondback terrapin hatchling, one of the UGA Aquarium’s animal ambassadors used in education programs.

Crawford grew up in Savannah, where he explored the coast’s mud flats and maritime forests, discovering corn snakes, fiddler crabs and other animals that often found their way into his house. At age 15, he had dozens of pet snakes, all of which he kept in his room.

He cultivated his knowledge of coastal resources at Armstrong State College and Florida Keys Community College in the late 1960s and early 1970s. After his time in Florida, he made his way back to the Georgia coast where he continued to make his mark on the conservation and environmental education community.

He joined UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant in 1990, where as a marine educator he has spent 30 years sharing his knowledge with K-12 students, teachers, education fellows, coastal residents and conservation professionals.

“He has taught hundreds of professional educators, tens of thousands of students, and changed the landscape of environmental and marine education along the coast,” says Anne Lindsay, associate director of marine education at Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. “He knows boats, plants, animals and people and a little about every other natural science or coastal topic you can think of.”

Lindsay, who was mentored by Crawford when she was hired at what was then the UGA Marine Extension Service in the 1990s, explains how he laid the foundation for the education programs that are still offered at the facility today.

“He has helped us expand our reach, establish new collaborations and partnerships, nurture long standing relationships with educators, scientists and citizens,” Lindsay said. “He has cemented the reputation of the Marine Education Center and Aquarium as an institution with a standard of educational quality that we aspire to uphold.”

Learn more about Crawford and the importance of this endowed position in a short film by Motion House Media, a video production company based in Athens, Georgia. The film tells the story of Crawford’s impact through interviews with individuals who have been inspired by the larger than life conservationist over the years.

You can view he film here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAZBx7mecwA&t=1s

Gifts in honor of Crawfish can be made at http://gacoast.uga.edu/crawfish

Contact: Emily Kenworthy, ekenworthy@uga.edu, 912-598-2348, ext. 107

New equipment system expands UGA Skidaway Institute’s research capability

A new equipment system is providing researchers at the University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography greater capability to study the extremely rare, but essential chemicals in the ocean.

Trace elements, like iron, cadmium and zinc appear in the ocean in very small concentrations, yet they are vital for many oceanic processes. For example, the relative abundance or scarcity of iron is often the limiting factor for the growth of microscopic marine plants known as phytoplankton. These single-cell marine plants serve as the base of the marine food web and also produce about half the oxygen in our atmosphere.

According to UGA Skidaway Institute scientist Clifton Buck, measuring and studying trace elements in the ocean is a significant challenge.

“The concentrations we’re talking about are just so incredibly small, down to parts per billion and parts per trillion, and, so, one of the of the challenges that we face is how to collect water samples in a way that we don’t introduce contamination into the water that we’re trying to collect,” Buck said.

Buck, fellow UGA Skidaway Institute researcher Daniel Ohnemus and marine superintendent John Bichy applied to the National Science Foundation for funding to obtain a system of highly specialized equipment that will give UGA Skidaway Institute’s Research Vessel Savannah the capability of collecting contaminant-free samples in coastal waters. The system–manufactured by SeaBird Scientific–is based on a frame, called a rosette. The rosette is built of aluminum and titanium components which greatly reduces the contamination risk because these metals do not readily dissolve in seawater. The frame itself is also “powder coated” to provide additional protection. It can collect water samples from as deep as 2,000 meters. The rosette holds 12 plastic collection bottles that can be triggered to close by sending electrical signals from the surface. It also carries a number of sensors that measure characteristics such as pressure, temperature, salinity, oxygen concentration and more.

The trace metals rosette in its packing crate.

“So that really gives us a lot of power now, to be able to do relatively high-resolution sampling of the waters around the South Atlantic bight and out to the Gulf Stream, using the RV Savannah as a platform,” he said.

Buck and his colleagues are also working with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, which is building a specially designed winch with a dedicated non-metallic cable.

The system will be available for use by scientists outside of UGA Skidaway Institute. Researchers can use the R/V Savannah through the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System to study coastal waters from Chesapeake Bay to the western Gulf of Mexico. They can also request the equipment be shipped to them to use temporarily on their own research vessels.

Equipping the R/V Savannah, which typically operates in continental shelf waters, reflects a shift in focus for Buck and the trace elements community as a whole. In the past, the emphasis of most trace element research was on the deep ocean, with lengthy transect cruises, thousands of miles long, that mapped trace elements across a wide stretch of ocean.

“Trace element scientists are really starting to focus more along the margins, things like rivers,” Buck said. “And the actual continental shelf sediments themselves are big influences on trace elements and as a supply and as removal functions.

“So, we are getting into using smaller ships going into shallow water, and doing what we call process studies, wherein you identify some sort of process that you think might be happening in a region, and you spend some time there to, to really kind of tease out the relationships, whatever they may be.”

The project is funded by NSF grant 2015430 totaling $182,625.

After 50 years of on-site experiential education programs, the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium goes virtual

by Emily Kenworthy

On the deck of the Sea Dawg, Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant’s 43-foot research vessel, Marine Educator Dodie Sanders sets up her computer, webcam and teaching props, which include live fish, corals and a stingray.

She introduces herself through her webcam and asks her first question, “What do we call water that’s in between fresh and salty?”

“Brackish!” responds a chorus of students from the speakers of her computer.

A few hundred miles away in Rome, Georgia, 25 fifth graders at the Darlington School are watching Sanders’ program on their iPads. Typically, this conversation would happen aboard the Sea Dawg while trawling for live specimens in Wassaw Sound. For the next two days, educators at UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant’s Marine Education Center and Aquarium are bringing the on-site, outdoor experiences to the classroom for the first time by way of virtual school trips.

Sanders uses a computer and webcam to virtually teach students.

Sanders describes the importance of Georgia’s brackish water estuaries where so many different species, like red drum, shrimp and blue crabs spend all or part of their lives. She talks about the different animals in her touch tank, explaining the physical and biological characteristics that are unique to each animal.

The educational trawl is just one of 16 different virtual classes now available to K-12 classrooms across the state. Available classes include marine debris, squid dissection, maritime forest hikes and more.

“Shifting from on-site to virtual programs has made us approach everything we do from a very different perspective with the goal of creating meaningful and impactful education programs,” says Sanders, who, along with her marine educator colleagues, spent several months modifying on-site programs for a virtual setting.

“How do you virtually capture searching for invertebrates living on the underside of a floating dock, the smell of salt marsh mud, hiking across an undeveloped barrier island, or touching cool organisms collected in a trawl net?” Sanders asks. “We’re incorporating the same teaching methods, the same tricks of the trade but perhaps on a more complicated and elevated level.”

Through virtual programming, students can experience live animals such as this alligator held by Marine Educator Katie Higgins.

The education team developed program templates, wrote teaching outlines, created new pre- and post-activities and tested new audio-visual equipment to prepare for the virtual school programs.

They keep the students engaged by showing pre-recorded videos of local environments and up-close live shots of animals that are native to the coast.

They also frequently pause instruction for question and answer sessions and encourage opportunities for students to share their own stories.

“Do you ever not want to go trawling and just sit on the boat instead?” asks one student during the virtual trawl.

“What happens if you catch a shark?” asks another.

Julie Fine, a fifth-grade teacher at Darlington School, says students at Darlington have been visiting the education facility on Skidaway Island for 10 years.

“We were really concerned that our kids would be missing out on a lot of the things that make fifth grade special. So much has already changed in their world,” says Fine. “When we reached out to see what you guys might be able to offer, we were really excited to hear about the virtual experience.”

Marine Educator Nina Sassano shows students a hermit crab during a virtual program at the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium.

Fine and fellow fifth grade teacher Bebe Cline chose the classes they would normally have done on-site, like the squid dissection and dolphin excursion, but they also picked new classes, like the trawling trip and coastal reptiles, which ended up being big hits with their students.

“At one point, one of the fish jumped out of the little tray and they loved that. They loved seeing them up close,” Fine says.

Their goal was to make the two days as full and as exciting as possible, without actually being at the coast, Fine says. They also chose topics that aligned with their studies of classification and coastal Georgia as part of the fifth-grade curriculum.

“Our students were definitely focused and learning and really getting the material, much the same that they do while they are actually there,” Fine says.

This positive feedback from Darlington is encouraging for educators at the Marine Education Center and Aquarium, who plan to further enhance virtual school programming and reach more students in the coming year.

In the past, transportation, funding and logistics have often made field trips a challenge for schools who want to come to the Marine Education Center and Aquarium.

With the virtual programs up-and-running, teachers can bring the coast to their students with the click of a mouse and at a fraction of the cost.

“Our new world of teaching virtually affords the opportunity to reach and serve more diverse communities, especially those who may not be able to take part in our on-site programs,” says Sanders. “Virtual programs make us more accessible.”

Teachers can learn about and register for Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant’s virtual school programs at https://gacoast.uga.edu/virtual-school-programs/

Paper by UGA Skidaway Institute scientist featured in prominent journal

A research paper by University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography scientist Natalie Cohen was selected as the cover article in the February issue of the journal Nature Microbiology.

The paper, “Dinoflagellates alter their carbon and nutrient metabolic strategies across environmental gradients in the central Pacific Ocean,” was based on data a team of fellow researchers collected on a 2011 cruise in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Dinoflagellates are tiny plankton, many of which are capable of using photosynthesis in addition to eating small prey.

They play a fundamental role in the biogeochemical cycles in the ocean by transferring energy from lower to higher life forms and also transporting carbon vertically in the water column.

“Some dinoflagellates can travel vertically in the water column using their flagella,” said Cohen, the lead author of the paper. “Some are also capable of bioluminescence which can light up the sea surface at night.

“They are found throughout the world’s oceans and an important component of the ocean carbon cycle.”

When the scientists analyzed the data from the cruise, they discovered a greater abundance of dinoflagellates than they expected. Researchers found the dinoflagellates were abundant both in the sunlit surface ocean and also in deeper, darker waters. This relative abundance in two drastically different environments lead the researchers to conclude the dinoflagellates must change how they function as they move from one depth zone to the other.

Cohen conducted the research while she was a postdoctoral fellow at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Along with Cohen, the other members of the research team include Matthew McIlvin, Dawn Moran, Noelle Held, Jaclyn Saunders, Mak Saito and Michael Brosnahan, all from Woods Hole; Nicholas Hawco from the University of Southern California; Giacomo R. DiTullio from the College of Charleston; Carl Lamborg from the University of California, Santa Cruz; and John McCrow, Chris Dupont, Andrew Allen, all from the J. Craig Venter Institute.

The entire paper can be viewed at the journal website.