Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
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RIVERS TO REEFS 2016

Day 5, Friday: June 17, 2016

Candace Bridges; Tattnall Square Academy, Macon, GA
Katie Knight, Brookwood High School, Snellville, GA
Westby Slade, Eastvalley Elementary School, Marietta, GA

Candace Bridges

Today, we said goodbye to Sapelo Island and hello to the RV Savannah. The day started off with a safety lecture and a drill in which we had to properly put on a life preserver. As we began our journey, we watched as the barrier islands disappeared and the open ocean appeared.

Candace Bridges testing water on R/V Savannah on way to GRNMS.

Candace Bridges testing water on R/V Savannah on way to GRNMS.
(Photo: Michelle Riley, GRNMS)

While on the boat, we trawled for ten minutes for marine organisms. Skates, sharks, shrimp, and many other fish were among our bounty! We as a group contributed to the research that was occurring on the ship by separating and categorizing white and brown shrimp and those with and without the black gill. After seeing the shrimp up close and personal, the group listened to a lecture about the black gill and its impact on the Georgia shrimping industry.

Water testing was concluded today with three spots at various distances from the coast. One of my favorite parts of today was watching the live video feed of the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) as it made its way through various parts of Gray's Reef. The footage showed skates, soft corals, hard corals, sea urchins, sponges, and fish. This experience was so amazing it was like I was in the water scuba diving.


Katie Knight

At the end of every day this week, I have been saying, "this was my favorite day so far," but today was the most valuable for me and my future students. I am really nerdy about Biology, and marine ecology happens to be the subject that I am most passionate about, so I already have a lot of experience in this subject area, but today, I learned so much!

Katie Knight (l) and Westby Slade (r) finished sorting shrimp with black gill disease on way to GRNMS.

Katie Knight (l) and Westby Slade (r) finished sorting shrimp with black gill disease on way to GRNMS.
(Photo: Michelle Riley, GRNMS)

We boarded the RV Savannah, and trawled the ocean floor for macroorganisms right away. This was new for me, and it was exciting to hold and count the sharks, rays, fish, and shrimp. About one third of the shrimp sample had a new disease called black gill. Dr. Frischer then gave us a lecture on his current research, and it was fascinating.

Students are always asking, "why are we learning this?" Well, studies like this and seeing me experience real ecological issues makes the subject matter more relevant, and it makes it easier for me to transfer my passion into the students. Thank you so much Dr. Frischer for allowing us on your research vessel and letting us get a taste of what real research looks like. I will never forget this experience.


Westby Slade

What a day!!! I have been looking forward to this portion of the trip since I signed up for the workshop. I have read about and taught my students about Gray's Reef for many years. However, to have the opportunity to come out here and experience Gray's Reef is an incredible adventure.

Seeing marine life from skein on RV Savannah.

Seeing marine life from skein on RV Savannah.
(Photo: Michelle Riley, GRNMS)

On the trip out we deployed CDT monitoring device at three locations to check the water quality. We even were able to conduct a trawl on the way out. Pulling in the trawl net was like Christmas morning. The net was full of surprises. We caught and released numerous fish and even a few sharks. The shrimp were bountiful but many of the shrimp had black gill.

Dr. Marc Frischer, Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, explained how this organism affects shrimp. Once we arrived at the reef we deployed an ROV to explore the reef without getting wet. The hard bottom reef was filled with sponges and soft corals - just beautiful. We deployed a plankton net and captured hundreds of "out-of-this-world" animals.

The Rivers to Reef workshop has been an incredible experience and one that I will cherish for many years - thank you Georgia Aquarium and Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary.

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