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For some Skidaway Islanders, the history of our island goes back only to the early 1970s, when the first modern bridge was built across Skidaway Narrows and development began in The Landings. Yet Skidaway Island has been home for human residents since pre-colonial times. In the middle decades of the 20th century, visitors from all over the world were attracted to the annual cattle auctions at the Roebling family’s Modena Plantation at the north end of the island.

Landings resident and University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography professor Bill Savidge will examine the island’s history and lead a walking tour of the Roebling’s cattle plantation (now Skidaway Institute) in a reprisal of his popular program on Saturday, October 25, at 1:00 p.m. in the Marine and Coastal Science Research and Instructional Center the Skidaway Institute campus. The program, entitled “Bridges and Bulls: A History of Skidaway Island,” is part of the annual Skidaway Marine Science Day open house event.

“There is really a fascinating story here that pre-dates the island’s modern development,” Savidge said. “It includes the Guale Indians and the Franciscan monks, after whom Priest’s Landing is named.”

For example, few island residents may be aware of the direct tie between Skidaway Island and the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City. 

The first Roebling to emigrate to the United States was John Augustus Roebling in the 1830s. An engineer, Roebling was one of the original developers of “wire rope” or twisted wire cable that made possible the construction of large suspension bridges. Roebling designed and began construction of the Brooklyn Bridge in the 1870s and 80s. The manufacture of twisted wire cable became the source of the family fortune.

“Three generations later, Roebling’s great-grandson, Robert Roebling, purchased the northern part of Skidaway Island,” Savidge said. “He moved here with his wife, Dorothy, and their children and set up Modena Plantation as a breeding facility for angus cattle. In 1967 he donated his land to the state to become the home of Skidaway Institute.” 

Savidge’s talk and tour is one of a wide range of activities that will be presented at Skidaway Marine Science Day, a campus-wide open house with activities geared for all ages from young children to adults. These 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.

Along with UGA Skidaway Institute, the event will be presented by the campus’s marine research and education organizations, including the University of Georgia (UGA) Marine Education Center and Aquarium, the UGA Shellfish Research Laboratory and Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary.   

The UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography will offer a variety of activities for adults and children, including tours of the Research Vessel Savannah and smaller research vessels; science displays and talks on current research programs; and hands-on science activities.

The UGA Marine Extension Service Aquarium will be open to visitors with no admission fee. One highlight will be the public debut of “Rider,” a juvenile loggerhead sea turtle who will go on public display for the first time. In addition, the aquarium education staff will offer visitors a full afternoon of activities including a reptile experience, touch tanks and behind-the-scene tours of the aquarium. 

The UGA Shellfish Laboratory will provide visitors with displays and information on marine life on the Georgia Coast. Children will be given the 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 bring in remotely-operated-vehicles (ROVs) that are used in underwater exploration. Visitors will have the opportunity to operate some simple, hand-made ROVs in a swimming pool and pick up objects from the bottom. Gray’s Reed has also invited participating teams from the annual student ROV competition. The high school and middle school teams will demonstrate the ROVs they designed and operated in this year’s contest. 

Also on display will be exhibits from environmental and education groups, such as The Dolphin Project, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and the Savannah Wildlife Refuge.

For the second year in a row, Skidaway Marine Science Day will be targeted as a “landfill free” event. Last year the event attracted nearly 2,000 visitors, but generated only nine pounds of unrecyclable trash. The event organizers will use recycling and composting bins to collect and recycle materials in an attempt to reduce the stream of trash ultimately headed to a landfill.

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


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. (A full list of events and activities is below.)

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





Jay Wolf Nature Trail, Interpretive Cabin, Learning Gardens (Open at 10 am)

University of Georgia Aquarium Open – Free Admission

Behind the Scenes peeks at the UGA Aquarium. Every 20 minutes (12-4 pm) – pick up your FREE ticket in the aquarium lobby and meet at the back door of the aquarium at your specified time! (Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. No strollers, please.)

Touch Tanks (Aquarium)

Touch Tanks (Aquarium Day Group Room)

Phytoplankton Lab Demo (Aquarium Plankton Lab)

Invertebrate Explorations: A Floating Dock Study (Aquarium Invertebrate Lab)

“Choose Your Own Adventure” – Interactive AUV Game (Bluff behind the UGA Aquarium)

New Gray Whale Exhibit (Aquarium)

Rider the Loggerhead Sea Turtle on display (Aquarium)

Interactive reptile exhibit – Meet and greet some common reptiles of the Georgia coast (Screened porch near Aquarium)

Environmental Group Exhibits (Skidaway Institute Quad)

Tours of Research Vessel Savannah (Skidaway Institute Dock)

Plankton World (McGowan Library overhang)

Build a Plankton (Tent outside the McGowan Library)

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

Create your personal marine life postcard – McGowan Library

Boats & 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 Parking Lot)

Aquaculture and oyster farming exhibit (Field next to Shellfish Lab)


12:15 pm -- Fish Feeding (Aquarium)

12:45 pm – Fish Feeding (Aquarium)

1:00 pm – “Bridges and Bulls: A history of Skidaway Island” A talk and walking tour by Dr. Bill Savidge (MCSRIC Conference Room, behind library)

1:15 pm – Fish Feeding (Aquarium)

1:45 pm – Fish Feeding (Aquarium)

2:15 pm – Fish Feeding (Aquarium)

2:45 pm – Fish Feeding (Aquarium)

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

Skidaway Island State Park

Georgia DNR - Law Enforcement

Savannah State University Marine Sciences Department

Armstrong Atlantic State University Diamondback Terrepin Project

Youth for a Cleaner Environment

LTER Research Project

Friends of the Wildlife Refuge


Clean Coast

The Nature Conservancy

Friends of the Wildlife Refuge

Coastal Wildscapes


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.


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
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• Skidaway Institute of Oceanography • 10 Ocean Science Circle • Savannah, GA 31411 • USA • (912) 598-2400 •
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