Skidaway Institute of Oceanography
Research About US Education Faculty Publications R/V Savannah
SKIO Animation

News Headlines

The University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography invites applications for two, nine-month, tenure-track positions, resident in Savannah. Successful candidates will be interdisciplinary, self-motivated and interested in pursuing innovative research and education in a highly supportive environment. The successful candidate will enhance existing programs within the Marine Sciences Department at SkIO ( and in Athens (

Appointments will be made at the Assistant Professor level, but consideration will be given to exceptional applicants seeking more senior appointments. Applicants working in diverse marine settings are encouraged to apply, although experience and a desire to work in estuarine, coastal and shelf environments are preferred as are researchers who focus on the roles of anthropogenic forcing on marine processes.

A full job posting and directions for applying can be found at:


A young loggerhead sea turtle will make its public debut at the University of Georgia Aquarium on Saturday, Oct. 25, as part of Skidaway Marine Science Day. The campus-wide open house will be held from noon to 4 p.m. on the campus of the UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography on the north end of Skidaway Island.

The juvenile sea turtle, named Rider, was hatched on August 29, 2013 on Wassaw Island. Rider was a straggler, meaning he did not successfully get out of his nest when he was hatched. He was brought to the aquarium by the Caretta Research Project after being approved by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The staff at the aquarium has been caring for Rider for the past year, allowing him to grow large enough for public display. Rider will replace another sea turtle, named Ossabaw, who has lived at the aquarium for the past three years. Ossabaw outgrew its tank and will be released Sept. 8.

Rider’s debut is just one feature of a lengthy program of activities, displays and tours making the annual event a popular family event that attracts thousands of visitors each year.  

The UGA Aquarium, operated by the UGA Marine Extension Service, will be open to visitors with no admission fee. In addition to Rider’s debut, the Aquarium will unveil a new gray whale exhibit and an expanded touch-tank activity. The aquarium education staff will also offer visitors a full afternoon of activities including science talks, a reptile show, touch tanks and behind-the-scene tours of the aquarium. 

The UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography’s Research Vessel Savannah is another popular attraction. The 92-foot ocean-going research vessel will be open for tours and will exhibit science displays, including a display on the developing field of underwater robots. Elsewhere on campus, Skidaway Institute will present a variety of marine science exhibits and hands-on science activities. 

The UGA Shellfish Laboratory will provide visitors with displays and information on marine life on the Georgia Coast. Children will have an opportunity to help protect the marine environment by bagging oyster shells used for oyster reef restoration projects.

The staff of Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary will show visitors how to operate a remotely-operated-vehicle in a swimming pool and pick up objects from the bottom. The Gray’s Reef activity will include some of the participating student-teams from the annual MATE ROV competition. The high school and middle school teams will demonstrate the ROVs they designed and operated in this year’s MATE contest.

Along with the campus organizations, Skidaway Marine Science Day will also include displays, demonstrations and activities from a wide range of science, environmental and education groups, such as The Dolphin Project, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and The Nature Conservancy.

All activities at Skidaway Marine Science Day are free. For additional information, call 912-598-2325, or see


Severe beach erosion can be a significant problem for coastal communities affected by hurricanes and tropical storms like Hurricane Sandy. To assist Georgia communities in future recovery efforts, the University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography entered into a cooperative agreement with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to evaluate existing data on Georgia’s offshore sand resources and identify where more data are needed. This consolidated information will increase knowledge of Georgia’s offshore sand resources and contribute to long-term coastal resilience planning.

“Georgia’s sand resources are arguably the least well-known of those along the East Coast, and this project will provide critical data and insights to enhance coastal resilience,” said UGA Skidaway Institute professor Clark Alexander. “The work is being coordinated closely with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the state geologist to assure that our findings are disseminated rapidly and broadly.”

Under the $200,000 agreement, UGA Skidaway Institute will gather, evaluate and analyze existing geological, geophysical and benthic habitat data off Georgia’s coast and identify gaps in the information. Based on the data gaps, project scientists will suggest areas for future geologic studies to confirm previously identified sand resources and locate new ones. 

“A reliable inventory of offshore sand resources will help the Department of Natural Resources be effective at representing the state’s interest in discussions with BOEM and other federal agencies. We appreciate the initiative of Dr. Alexander and the UGA Skidaway Institute and look forward to the results of this project,” explained Spud Woodward, director of the Georgia DNR Coastal Resources Division.

The current project will be limited in scope – primarily evaluating and consolidating existing data regarding Georgia’s offshore resources.

“Since the 1960s, there have been quite a number of small studies, but the information is scattered,” Alexander said. “This project contributes significantly toward the goal of more fully understanding available sand resources by synthesizing existing information into a single, digital resource.” 

Much of the older information is only available in printed form, and needs to be converted to a digital format to be useful in the software that managers and scientists use for viewing and analyzing data. The goal of the project is to have all the compiled information readily accessible to coastal managers and municipal planners.

“This agreement demonstrates BOEM’s commitment to work with Georgia to help coastal communities recover from the effects of Hurricane Sandy and enhance resilience efforts for the future,” said BOEM Acting Director Walter Cruickshank. “We are committed to continuing to work in a collaborative manner to help local communities withstand damage from future storms.”

This agreement is one in a series of partnerships with 14 coastal Atlantic states, using part of the $13.6 million allocated to BOEM through the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013. The combined agreements support research that will help to identify sand and gravel resources appropriate for coastal protection and restoration along the entire Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf.


Pitching a tent in the woods and fighting off mosquitos may not sound like logistics of a typical oceanography experiment, but that is how researchers at the University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography completed an intensive, round-the-clock sampling regimen this month. The project, dubbed “26 Hours on the Marsh” was designed to investigate how salt marshes function and interact with their surrounding environment—specifically how bacteria consume and process carbon in the marsh.

The team set up a sampling station and an outdoor laboratory on a bluff overlooking the Groves Creek salt marsh on the UGA Skidaway Institute campus. The scientists collected and processed water samples from the salt marsh every two hours, beginning at 11 a.m. on July 16 and running through 1 p.m. July 17. By conducting the tests for a continuous 26 hours, the team can compare the samples collected during the day with those collected at night, as well as through two full tidal cycles.

“We wanted to be able to compare not only what is happening to the carbon throughout the tidal cycle, but also what the microbes are doing at high and low tides and also during the day and night,” said Zachary Tait, a UGA Skidaway Institute research technician. “So we had to have two high tides and two low tides and a day and night for each. That works out to about 26 hours.”

The research team ran more than 30 different tests on each sample. The samples will provide data to several ongoing research projects. A research team from the University of Tennessee also participated in the sampling program. Their primary focus was to identify the bacterial population using DNA and RNA analysis.

This sampling project is one of many the researchers conduct during the year. They use an automatic sampling system for most of the other activities. The automatic system collects a liter of water every two hours, and holds it to be collected and processed at the end of the 26-hour cycle. The team could not use the auto sampler this time for several reasons; the scientists needed to collect much more water in each sample than the auto sampler could handle and the auto sampler tends to produce bubbles in the water, so it is not effective for measuring dissolved gasses.

“The UT scientists wanted to conduct enzyme analysis as well as RNA and DNA tests on the samples, and for those, the samples must be very fresh,” said Megan Thompson, a UGA Skidaway Institute research technician. “You can’t just go out and pick them up the next day.”

About a dozen scientists and students were involved in the project, including Thompson, Tait, a group of undergraduate students completing summer internships at UGA’s Skidaway Institute and a similar group from UT. They split their time between the tent and outdoor laboratory on a bluff overlooking Groves Creek, and the UGA Skidaway Institute laboratories a mile away.

“It was an interesting experience, and I think it went very well,” said Thompson. “However, when we wrapped it up, we were all ready to just go home and sleep.” 

“26 Hours on the Marsh” is supported by two grants from the National Science Foundation, totaling $1.7 million that represent larger, three-year, multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary research projects into salt marsh activity. These projects bring together faculty, students and staff from UGA’s Skidaway Institute, UT and Woods Hole Research Center. UGA Skidaway Institute scientists include principal investigator Jay Brandes; chemical oceanographers Aron Stubbins and Bill Savidge; physical oceanographers Dana Savidge, Catherine Edwards and Jack Blanton; and geologist Clark Alexander. Additional investigators include microbial ecologist Alison Buchan and chemical oceanographer Drew Steen, both from UT; as well as geochemist Robert Spencer from WHRC.


Upcoming Event
SkIO Seminar: Recreational water quality diagnostics in the era of molecular biology
Asli Aslan, Assistant Professor, Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health, Georgia Southern University
9/19/2014 11:00 am
Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, John F. McGowan Library Auditorium, Savannah, GA

Fecal indicator bacteria (FIB), a measure of water pollution and surrogates for waterborne pathogens, have been monitored for decades to manage risks related to recreational water activities. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) has published guidelines to reduce these risks and criteria are based on E. coli for fresh water and enterococci for marine waters. USEPA has recently revised their criteria and suggested implementing rapid test methods such as quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) where possible. In this study, the advantages and limitations of using molecular methods for beach water monitoring will be discussed from studies completed at freshwater beaches of the Great Lakes and ongoing studies at the marine beaches of Georgia. Factors affecting the distribution of FIB; such as diurnal variation, high turbidity, precipitation and relation with microbial source tracking markers will be presented.


Spencer, R. G. M., G. Weidong, P. Raymond, T. Dittmar, E. Hood, J. Fellman, and A. Stubbins. 2014. Source and biolability of ancient dissolved organic matter in glacier and lake ecosystems on the Tibetan Plateau. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta doi: 10.1016/j.gca.2014.08.006
Van Stan, J. T., A. Stubbins, T. Bittar, J. S. Reichard, K. A. Wright, and R. B. Jenkins. 2014. Tillandsia usneoides (L.) L. (Spanish moss) water storage and leachate characteristics from two maritime oak forest settings. Ecohydrology doi: 10.1002/eco.1549
Stubbins, A., J.-F. Lapierre, M. Berggren, Y. Prairie, T. Dittmar, and P. del Giorgio. 2014. What’s in an EEM? Molecular signatures associated with dissolved organic fluorescence in boreal Canada. Environmental Science and Technology, doi: 10.1021/es502086e
Chen, H., A. Stubbins, E. M. Perdue, N. W. Green, J. R. Helms, K. Mopper, and P. G. Hatcher. 2014. Ultrahigh resolution mass spectrometric differentiation of dissolved organic matter isolated by coupled reverse osmosis-electrodialysis from various major oceanic water masses. Marine Chemistry 164:48-59. doi: 10.1016/j.marchem.2014.06.002
Williams, R. L., R. McKinney, S. Wakeham, and K. F. Wishner. 2014. Trophic ecology and vertical trends of carbon and nitrogen isotopes in oxygen minimum zone zooplankton. Deep-Sea Research I 90:36-47. doi: 10.1016/j.dsr.2014.04.008
Humidity 79%
Request a Speaker
WERA Radar
Georgia Coastal Hazards Portal
The SKIO YouTube Channel
Skidaway Marine Science Day
Campus Partners
Campus Partners

Text Only Version

• Skidaway Institute of Oceanography • 10 Ocean Science Circle • Savannah, GA 31411 • USA • (912) 598-2400 •
Copyright © 2014 Skidaway Institute of Oceanography. All rights reserved.