Hello, Blogworld!

This is a blog for the faculty and staff of the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography.

We are a top-tier marine research laboratory in Savannah, Ga. Our scientists conduct research on a range of subjects, most of which are related to the salt water environment. Their travels take them all over the world. Hopefully, we can use this blog as a way to talk about some of the cool activities happening here.

I am Mike Sullivan, the external affairs manager (communications, etc.) here. I’ll edit this blog and contribute material from time to time. I hope to get some of our research team to also contribute entries on their work, experiences and travels.

Here is some background information on Skidaway Institute.

We are an autonomous unit of the University System of Georgia (USG). That is the umbrella state agency that oversees all of Georgia’s public colleges and universities. We are not a sub-unit of any of the other colleges and universities in the system (University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, etc.), but we do work closely with many of them. The educational component of our mission is to provide the research-based physical (labs, research vessels, access to a marine environment) and academic (working marine scientists) resources not available for students at a land-locked campus. (It is tough to conduct oceanographic field research when your campus is 200 miles from the ocean.) So we have undergraduates who come to us for research-internships, and we have graduate students at both the masters and doctoral levels who conduct their research projects here.

While we are here to serve the other USG institutions, we also host students from elsewhere in the US and around the world.

The larger mission at Skidaway Institute is to conduct leading edge oceanographic research. We have a strong focus on issues related to Coastal Georgia, our scientists study the marine environment wherever their research interests and grant money will take them. Recent research trips have gone to New Zealand, the Mediterranean Sea and Canadian Pacific Coast.

The research here tends to focus less on the animals that swim in the ocean, at least those large enough to see with the naked eye, and more on what is happening in the water at the chemical, physical, geologic and microbiological levels. So when I get calls from reporters looking for experts on migrating right whales or shark bites, I have to send them elsewhere.

We may not have a shark expert, but there is a lot of interesting research happening here. We have 16 Ph.D.-level faculty scientists, each of whom has his/her own team of research assistants and laboratory. At any given time, we have roughly 65 projects running. A brief sample of topics would include:

  • The way carbon cycles through the atmosphere and the ocean and its role in global climate change.
  • The way sediment and other material are transported in environments ranging from mountain streams in the Andes basin of Peru to the continental shelf off the Georgia coast.
  • The development of constant, near real-time observation systems to monitor ocean and ocean bottom conditions on the continental shelf.
  • The effect bottom currents have on ripple patters on the ocean floor and how those ripple patterns affect biological production in the ocean.
  • The impact of recreational docks on the salt marshes they cross.
  • Development of a microbiological “tool” to locate septic systems that leak into waterways. The tool involves injecting a virus specific to the bacteria commonly found in septic systems into the suspect system and tracing it in the waterway.
  • Development of a radar system to track surface ocean currents on the continental shelf.
  • A non-polluting, closed-cycle aquaculture system to raise black sea bass for the sushi market.
  • The predator/prey relationships of plankton and the role they play in the cycling of energy and materials in the ocean.

Skidaway Institute of Oceanography is located at the north end of Skidaway Island in suburban Savannah. We have a 600+ acre campus that was once a cattle plantation that the owner donated to the state. We share campus with several other agencies who share similar areas of interest.

  • University of Georgia Marine Extension Service
  • Georgia Southern University Applied Coastal Research Laboratory
  • NOAA – Grays Reef National Marine Sanctuary
  • Georgia Tech
  • Savannah State University
  • Georgia Aquarium
  • Georgia DNR Underwater Archaeology Program

We also operate a 92-foot ocean going research vessel, the RV Savannah, which is used by our scientists, but also researchers and agencies from around the country and internationally.

You can find out more about Skidaway Institute through our Web site at www.skio.usg.edu.

We would appreciate any comments on this blog or any of the topics we’ll be discussing.

Thanks for your interest.

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