Newsletter Vol. 3                                              July 14, 2003

                          Our Most Recent Expedition: Oculina Coral Banks 2003

Project Oceanica staff members Dewey Golub and Dr. Leslie Sautter participated on the April 29 - May 8 expedition to Oculina Coral Banks off the east coast of Florida.  Following the previous Oculina mission, where a 3-D color image of the seafloor topography (bathymetry) was produced, researchers returned to further explore the area with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV).  Many groups collaborated to make the mission a success: the National Undersea Research Center (NURC) from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, NASA, and many branches of NOAA.  The science operations were lead by John Reed of the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, and Andy Shepard (NURC) served as the Expedition Coordinator.

A new and very exciting product from Project Oceanica was developed with tremendous help from the NASA Telescience Lab – our first web cast.  Three web casts were broadcast on May 1, with two themes.  The first was an overview of the Oculina Habitat Area of Particular Concern (OHAPC); the second was focused on careers.  The web casts have been archived and can be found at (they are viewed using Real Player, the download for which is available at the web cast site). 


Before the mission got under way Project Oceanica identified twenty-five education groups from North Carolina to Florida with whom to work.  During the mission these groups sent questions, via e-mail, to the shipboard scientists.  The questions were answered, sometimes with images, and posted back to the web site within twenty-four hours.  To view the question and answer forum, click here: 


As with previous missions, Oceanica and the scientific party created and posted daily at-sea logs.  These logs are topic-oriented narratives produced by the researchers.  They include photographs and are posted to the web each day.  They help to drive the question and answer forum.  To view the Oculina Coral Banks 2003 daily at-sea logs, click here: 


Overall the mission was a great success scientifically and there was a great deal of web-based public outreach and education.  Many ROV transects were run and nearly 40 hours of video data were collected.  Thirty-five sediment samples were retrieved using a Smith-MacIntyre grab sampler.  This cruise also included a fair amount of problem solving and hard work, which was fueled by the researchers’ and crew’s strong spirits.  Thanks for sailing along with us on our most recent mission.  To learn more about the mission objectives and meet the researchers, visit the Oculina Coral Banks 2003 site:  We’ll keep you updated as we post new photo galleries, video galleries and PhotoDocumentaries.


What Has the Staff Been Up To?

Master of Environmental Studies graduate student Sara Saksewski has produced a wonderful field guide and a website on Commonly Found Marine Mollusks of the Southeastern United States.

The laminated, doubled-sided field guides are available for purchase from Project Oceanica for only $5.00.  Funds raised from these shell guides will support future student research and other events and programs sponsored by Project Oceanica.  Shell guides can be purchased from Rachel McEvers, 843-953-7846 (or email

The website, titled Commonly Found Marine Mollusks of the Southeastern United States, is a wonderful tool for teachers, students and the everyday beach comber.  It contains photos of common shells, interesting information for each species, an interactive dichotomous key, standards-based activities for grades K-8, and more!  Please visit Project Oceanica's Lab and Field Resources page at to find the shell guide.


 In January/February, Program Manager Rachel McEvers participated in a cruise to study the Charleston Gyre supported by NOAA Ocean Exploration.  The cruise was the fourth leg of a mission titled “Exploration of the Charleston Gyre and its contribution to the production on the southeast United States continental shelf.”  Rachel sailed with researchers, lead by Jon Hare, from the NOAA Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research (Beaufort, NC) on the NOAA Ship OREGON II.  The purpose of the cruise was to examine the fate of ichthyoplankton (very small fish larvae) and zooplankton (very small floating animals) in the region of the meso-scale eddy formation known as the Charleston Gyre.

Rachel produced web-based resources and products including PhotoDocumentaries, Career Profiles and much more.  To see these products and learn more about the mission, visit the website


The entire staff attended the annual South Carolina Marine Educators Association (SCMEA) conference, held at Springmaid Beach in Myrtle Beach, SC March 14-16.  Leslie gave a presentation on “Live Rocks” and  Jennifer made presentations on the COASTeam aquatic workshops at the SC Aquarium and on the SouthEast Center for Ocean Science Education Excellence (SE-COSEE).   Our graduate student, Sara Saksewski, headed a workshop on commonly found marine mollusks of the southeastern United States (see news item above).  We learned a lot, had loads of fun and met great people!  For more information on SCMEA visit


The Charleston Maritime Heritage Festival was held from May 16-18 at Ansonborough Field in Charleston.  The highlight of the festival was the kick off of the Charleston to Bermuda sailboat race on the 17th.  Tours of the Spirit of South Carolina shipyard were also offered.  The festival included seminars, vendors, exhibitors, boat rides, music, food and more!  Oceanica was privileged to be one of the exhibitors at this exciting event.  Find out about the festival, the race and the Spirit of South Carolina at  (At right: Construction of the Spirit of South Carolina in progress.  Photo courtesy of The South Carolina Maritime Heritage Foundation web site.)


Leslie Sautter led a group of 5 marine educators (including Program Manager, Rachel McEvers) on a 7-day trip to San Salvador, Bahamas in December 2002.  The purpose of the trip was to develop a Marine Ecology and Geology of the Bahamas field course for teachers.  Five full field days were planned and materials for the course are under development.  The course was stationed at the Gerace Field Station on San Salvador ( (As you can see we still had time for some fun!)



The NOAA Ship FERREL, which was used for Oceanica’s At Sea! program, was decommissioned in November.  Her replacement, the NOAA Ship NANCY FOSTER, has finally arrived in her homeport of Charleston, SC. The ship recently completed two cruises within the Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary (, monitoring juvenile and adult fish in and around the sanctuary and collecting sediment samples to assess sediment contaminant levels.  Gray’s Reef was generous enough to donate three days of ship time on the FOSTER to Project Oceanica in May.  We used those days to offer two “open-to-the-public” and one invitational At Sea! cruises which were hugely successful with 84 participants.  Please see “At Sea! Program Update” and the following news item below for more details. 


Partnering with the SouthEast COSEE


The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently helped fund a grant for the SouthEast Center for Ocean Science Education Excellence (SE-COSEE).  Dr. Lundie Spence is the Director, and Oceanica’s very own Jennifer Jolly Clair is the Curriculum Specialist.  “SouthEast COSEE” is one of seven regional centers receiving an NSF award.  NOAA Coastal Services Center and NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration complete the funding platform, and the SE-COSEE headquarters are located at the SC Sea Grant Consortium office in Charleston.  SE-COSEE includes science and education partners in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.


In May, SE-COSEE hosted a workshop titled “Multicultural Pathways to Ocean Science Education” in partnership with the Avery Research Institute at the College of Charleston. The workshop’s major goal was to assist SouthEast COSEE in meeting its objective to increase access of ocean sciences and ocean sciences education to underrepresented groups of students.  Oceanica took the participants on a two-hour research education cruise on the NOAA Ship NANCY FOSTER with ship time donated by Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary (


SE-COSEE also hosted an Ocean Sciences Education Leadership Institute in Wilmington, NC from June 22-27th.  The goal of the Institute was to develop a working partnership with a cadre of teachers from the Southeast region, and introduce them to regional ocean science research and existing ocean science education resources.   Thirty teachers from the tri-state region participated.  As one of the research scientists who has partnered with SE-COSEE, Andy Shepard of the National Underwater Research Center (NURC) asked Oceanica to offer two educational cruises to the participants.  Dewey and Rachel conducted two condensed versions of Oceanica’s At Sea! cruise.   NURC offered use of their research vessel, R/V Cape Fear and also provided one of their remotely operated vehicles (ROV) as well as an ROV operator, Lance Horn.  Many of the participants even got to try their hand at operating the ROV.  It was a great day and everyone seemed to enjoy the opportunity to experience many marine science research methods.  For many, these were first-time experiences.


SE-COSEE will be one of the mentor organizations participating in the EIC model of education (Using the Environment as an Integrating Context for Learning) in South Carolina.  The EIC model merges environment-based, minds-on/hands-on learning approaches with standards-driven, cross-disciplinary education.   SE-COSEE has been paired with Colleton County Middle School, and Oceanica will serve as an auxiliary resource for SE-COSEE in the mentoring program.  For more information on the EIC model visit


Current Projects


Paul Korchari, a Masters of Environmental Studies student from the College of Charleston, and Mary O’Leary, a technology teacher from St. Andrew’s School of Math and Science are working on a project based on the “Islands in the Stream 2002: Exploring Underwater Oases” expedition (  This mission explored shelf-edge reefs off the coasts of Florida, Georgia and Charleston, SC.  Paul and Mary are looking at submersible video from many shelf-edge locations along the path of the Gulf Stream.  They have viewed and annotated the contents of hours of video footage taken from the submersible Johnson Sea Link II (Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution (

They are developing on-line activities using video to compare the ecosystems on the northern shelf-edge and the southern shelf-edge of the study region.  Their soon-to-be-posted, exciting, inquiry-based web page outlines the locations along the shelf-edge and how they differ.  Included in the site will be learning modules for visual comparison of reef ecosystems, and an assessment investigation for use by educators and students alike.  The web page will be available on the Project Oceanica website at the end of the summer.  We’ll keep you posted!


Nicole Abdul, a geology major at the College of Charleston, received a Katuna Summer Research Scholarship to work with Oceanica.  She is studying the benthic foraminifera from the Oculina Coral Banks off the east coast of Florida.  Benthic foraminifera are single-celled organisms in Kingdom Protista that secrete a chambered calcium carbonate (CaCO3) shell.  There are hundreds of species that live within the seafloor sediments.  Nicole’s results will be developed into a web site this fall.


On June 16th Rachel joined part-time staff members Arla Jessen and Holly Schneider on a one-day Sea Turtle tagging cruise with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.  DNR veterinarian Dr. Al Segars was in charge of the cruise, which was week four of this year’s tagging efforts.  There were also participants from UNC, SeaMAPS and Pritchard’s Island.  Two loggerhead turtles were caught and tagged.  A web page dedicated to this cruise and the ongoing turtle project will be available on our Oceanica web site near the end of August.  (At right: weighing one of the loggerheads.)


SC-DNR just finished up a series of shark tagging cruises.  Over the next few months they will be compiling and analyzing the data.  Oceanica built a web site for the mission, which can be viewed at Remember to check it regularly for updates.


From Aug 2 - 14 Leslie will be out at sea on a return mission to the Charleston Bump. This mission will continue Oceanica’s growing collaboration with Dr. George Sedberry at SC-DNR, and will initiate a new collaboration with the Marine Science Program of the University of South Carolina, working with Drs. Steve Stancyk, Brian Helmuth and Rich Styles.  More information will be sent in the next 2 weeks related to this exciting expedition!


At Sea! Program Update

The NOAA Ship FERREL, used for all our At Sea! cruises, was decommissioned in November, 2002.  Her replacement is the NOAA Ship NANCY FOSTER (see news item above).  Unfortunately, Oceanica lost its ship time for March due to the refurbishing schedule of the FOSTER.  However, Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary ( was generous enough to donate 3 days of their ship time on the FOSTER to Project Oceanica.  Thank you Gray’s Reef!  We put that ship time to good use. 


The dates provided were at the very end of the school year so we modified our usual At Sea! Program format by omitting the pre-cruise and post-cruise components.   We opened the day-cruises up to anyone and everyone – not just high school and college students.  What a response!  Two of the three days were filled almost immediately.  Participants included graduate students, high school students, teachers, staff and faculty from the College of Charleston and University of Georgia, and Adam Ferrell (no relation to the NOAA vessel!) from the Post and Courier newspaper.  You can read the Post and Courier article related to this cruise at


The cruise format itself remained the same, although we had far more space to work on the newer ship!  Everyone got their hands dirty with the sediment grab sampler, saw alien-like plankton after towing the plankton net, and assisted with navigation, plotting and other exciting data collection.   

The third day was reserved for the participants of SE-COSEE’s Multicultural Pathways workshop (see the “Partnering with the SouthEast COSEE” article above).  The SE-COSEE participants were very enthusiastic – and they were such troopers, considering it rained for most of the cruise.  Thank you to SE-COSEE for allowing us to be a part of your workshop!





COASTeam Update – Aquatic Workshops


With generous funding from the SC Sea Grant Consortium (, the COASTeam Program has partnered with the SC Aquarium ( to offer grade-specific marine science courses for kindergarten-5th grade teachers. The goal of Aquatic Workshops is for students to have exposure to marine science throughout their elementary school experience, not just at one grade level. The courses are offered through the College of Charleston as 1-credit graduate professional development courses. Each Aquatic Workshop consists of one 6-hour Saturday workshop at the College of Charleston, one 6-hour Saturday workshop at the SC Aquarium, and one 3-hour Saturday field trip to Folly Beach. Each grade level focuses on a specific region of South Carolina and integrates marine science concepts and exhibits at the SC Aquarium.


This past school year, six schools, five of which were Title 1, from Dorchester, Charleston and Berkeley counties participated in the kindergarten – 2nd grade workshops.  The 3rd – 5th grade workshops are currently under development and will be offered in October (3rd grade), December/January (4th grade) and February (5th grade).  To find out more about these workshops, to register or to view the schedule, please visit the COASTeam website at


How Can I Learn More?!


Oceanica is constantly involved in fun, exciting and educational opportunities all over the southeast.  We are growing each week!  Please join us on our journeys whether it’s in person or through our many web resources and products.  If you are an educator, please let us know if and how you utlize our web site and resource products in your own curricula.  If you are interested in publishing lesson plans (pre-college educators) or laboratory/lecture classroom exercises (college faculty) on our site, please contact us!  The website is always changing so make sure to visit often, and please tell your friends and colleagues to visit!  If you want more information on any of our projects don’t hesitate to contact us at 


Thank you so much for your support and interest.  We’ll continue to keep you posted on upcoming expeditions and new web pages.

Ph. 843-953-7263
Project Oceanica
Dept. of Geology & Environmental Geosciences
College of Charleston
Charleston, SC 29424
Fax 843-953-7850