Tag Archives: hurricane matthew

Symposium highlights UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant impacts

When Hurricane Matthew hit the Georgia coast last October washing away some of its sandy shoreline, UGA was ready.

With funding from Georgia Sea Grant, the UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography already was studying sand resources and creating an inventory of sand deposits along the coast. Researchers are using that inventory to identify areas where sand was available to replenish the coastline that was lost during the storm. Replacing the lost sand is important to protect lives and property, as well as critical habitats, from coastal hazards.

“The sand resources in our state waters are the most poorly known of all the states along the east coast,” said Clark Alexander, interim director of Skidaway Institute. “This research enables us to create maps identifying offshore areas that are suitable for beach nourishment and habitat restoration projects. With these data, we can know where suitable sand exists if we need it in the future after major storms.”

Clark Alexander

Alexander was one of many researchers across Georgia who presented a project during the Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant Research Symposium in Athens on June 1. The annual symposium provides an opportunity for researchers to share their Sea Grant-funded work, network with others in the scientific community and look for collaborative ways to tackle the latest issues impacting the coast.

“Case studies presented during the symposium aptly illustrated Georgia Sea Grant’s success in elevating awareness of coastal issues, increasing local communities’ resilience to the effects of a changing climate and developing models that can be replicated to improve conditions on a global scale,” said Paul Wolff, chair of the Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant Advisory Board.

Marc Frischer describes research into black gill in shrimp.

From projects that look at how to get local seafood into inland markets to those that measure the productivity of Georgia’s expansive salt marshes, Sea Grant-funded research spans a variety of topics and emphasizes the importance of multidisciplinary, collaborative research and outreach to effectively enhance coastal communities and ecosystems.

Research proposals submitted to Georgia Sea Grant are expected to include an education and outreach component to ensure that results reach beyond the research community and are delivered to a diverse audience.

Jay Brandes presents his research into microplastics on the Georgia coast.

Education and extension faculty and staff at Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant work to incorporate Sea Grant-funded research into public programs, workshops and curricula targeted to pre-k through college age students, resource managers, decision makers, the seafood industry and beyond.

“We received a record number of research funding preproposals this year and many of those submitting full proposals attended the research symposium,” said Mark Risse, director of Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. “Being able to learn from projects that have proved successful should strengthen research efforts and allow us to support projects that move rapidly to application and impact.”

Kayla Clark describes the Sea Grant intern program.

Other presenters from the Skidaway Marine Science Campus included UGA Skidaway Institute professors Jay Brandes and Marc Frischer, and from Marine Extension, associate director for marine education Anne Lindsay and public programs coordinator Kayla Clark.

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Skidaway Marine Science Campus weathers Hurricane Matthew

Hurricane Matthew is now a memory, but like most of the coastal area, the Skidaway Marine Science Campus still bears signs of its passage.

The Skidaway Institute docks were heavily damaged by wave action at both at the main campus and the Priest Landing sites. While most of the campus buildings remained above the water line, the storm surge inundated some of the facilities shops at the north end of the campus with up to 24 inches of water. Due to the water damage, extensive internal repairs were needed.

One of Skidaway Institute's shop buildings at the height of the storm.

One of Skidaway Institute’s shop buildings at the height of the storm.

The UGA Aquarium was able to reopen the weekend following the storm, but parts of the Jay Wolfe Nature Trail remain closed due to downed trees and debris.

It also became necessary to cancel the campus’s annual open house event, Skidaway Marine Science Day. 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.

Downed trees and storm debris near Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary's building.

Downed trees and storm debris near Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary’s building.

“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.