SCDNR Open House 2017

The SCDNR Open House was this past Saturday, October 21. Every two years SCDNR invites the public to meet and talk with marine biologists, fisheries managers, and educators at the Marine Resources Center plus their partners at the College of Charleston, Hollings Marine Lab, NIST and NOAA.
Guests learned about marine science with informational booths as well as tutorials, tours, crafts and fun family-friendly activities.
We are happy to be a partner for this event and had a great day meeting the community!

GPMB students hosted a touch tank and offered fun crafts for the kids.

GPMB students also had a bake sale and raffle to raise funds for the MBGSA in support of student travel for conferences and events.

Guests were invited inside to see some of the resources of the lab and experience hands-on activities.
Faculty and students presented preserved sharks and fish, live plankton samples and the entire collections room of over 100,000 preserved fish and invertebrate specimens!

Thanks to everyone who made the event a success! It was a great day and we are already looking forward to the next one!

First Ocean Friendly Garden in SC

Ocean Friendly GardensThe Grice Green Teaching Garden puts College of Charleston on the map as home to the first Ocean Friendly Garden in South Carolina. Ocean Friendly Gardens is a national program sponsored by the Surfrider Foundation. It teaches CPR (Conservation, Permeability, and Retention) for landscaping in an effort to prevent storm water runoff from entering the local watersheds. Urban runoff from lawns and hard surfaces is the #1 source of ocean pollution. By using the three important concepts of CPR, we can prevent bacteria, pesticides, fertilizers, sediment, and other harmful pollutants from entering into the ocean. Sharleen Johnson, the MBGSA Green Garden Outreach Coordinator, and Kim Counts of Carolina Clear spearheaded this effort. Ashley Cooper Stormwater Education Consortium also donated signs identifying the native plant species in the garden.




Green Garden Fall Workday

The Marine Biology Graduate students gathered at Grice last weekend for a successful garden workday of planting and garden maintenance.  Although the weather was a little overcast, a lot was accomplished. Projects that took place included planting sweetgrass around the cistern and dune sunflowers around the front sign. The sweetgrass plants were donated by Kim Counts of Carolina Clear. Paty Cowden, the College’s Supervisor of Grounds, donated the dunes sunflowers. Our Green Garden Coordinator, Sharleen Johnson, germinated the seedlings  romaine lettuce and komatsuna for planting in the vegetable bed. After harvesting the existing the sweet potatoes, the group also emptied the compost tumbler  and used this to amend the soil. They planted purple coneflower and brown-eyed susans in the perennial flower bed and replaced the turf grass with fogfruit, a ground  that provides nectar and larval food source for butterflies.

Sargassumfish Joins CORAL Program


A Sargassumfish joins the CORAL (Community OutReach And Learning) program. Histro histrio is a frogfish of the family Antennariidae.  It unique look and prehensile pectoral fins help it hide and cling to sargassum seaweed. This fish is also called the Angler fish. Evolution has modified it’s front spine  to a thin growth on the upper lip called the illicium that is tipped with a fleshy bulb known as the esca. This morphological adaptation is used to lure and ambush  it’s unsuspecting prey.  This creature can change colors rapidly and can consume animals larger that itself. For this reason, our new friend, Fred, will have it own accommodations in the main office.

Green Teaching Garden

Many different groups at the College will be able to take part in the different stages of the project including: Master of Environmental Studies Student Association (MESSA), Urban Agriculture (UA), GML Community Outreach Research and Learning (CORAL) Program, CofC Grounds Department, Clemson Extension and Ashley Cooper Stormwater Education Consortium. The composter provided by this grant will be supplied with organic material from the on-site kitchen and grounds maintenance. The first crop will consist of native plants, vegetables and herbs. The produce collected from the garden will be donated to a food shelter to benefit the local community. The garden will serve as an educational tool for the public and students and as a potential research resource for lab-based instruction or research projects.

Planting the Green Teaching Garden at Grice will serve to strengthen the ties between the marine lab’s remote location and the downtown campus. It will provide unique opportunities to expand existing educational and outreach efforts. In addition to GML hosting hundreds of visitors annually, the Grice CORAL program works to educate more than 2400 people about marine biology each year. Multiple student groups have expressed interest in helping with GTG construction, upkeep, and outreach efforts. Faculty members of the School of Science and Mathematics have expressed interest in incorporating the GTG into their teaching curriculum.

GML and the MBSGA have a history of using interdisciplinary approaches to science education. During the recent SEWE event, we partnered with a local gallery to provide an aquarium exhibit featuring both live animals from local estuaries as well as the artwork of select Lowcountry wildlife artists. This innovative platform offers many possible collaborative opportunities with other schools at the College including Art, Business, Education, Humanities and Social Sciences.


Dr. Sotka Studies Invasive Seaweeds

Dr. Erik Sotka at the College of Charleston’s Grice Marine Laboratory is documenting how two invasive seaweeds appear to be negatively impacting our economy and health of our ecosystem. Over the last decade, Gracilaria vermiculophylla has become extremely common along the mudflats in several South Carolina estuaries, including Charleston Harbor, St. Helena Sound and Port Royal Sound. A second species, Polysiphonia breviarticulata, undergoes a ‘boom-and-bust’ cycle that is poorly understood. Its blooms occur largely outside of the estuaries within a few miles of the shoreline. The Sun News, the Island Packetand the Post and Courier have published articles addressing the impact of these algal species on coastal South Carolina.

Dr. Wiseman on the Water with BIO 209

web100_9723The marine biology course students (Biology 209) peregrinated nearly 1400 miles up and down the Carolina coast from the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort, NC to the eastern tip of Kiawah Island, SC, mucking through and seining in tidal marshes, diving on rocky jetties and floating docks, and trawling in Charleston Harbor. Some of the field experiences were shared with the Drs. Burnetts’ summer REU students. Dr. Wiseman has been offering the course for 30 years, and reminds his students that there are no teachers just different degrees of learners.

Molecular Core Facility Integrated Into Curriculum

The Molecular Core Facility (MCF) located in room 210 at the Grice Marine Laboratory provides Molecular Biology services that support onsite research and varying curriculum needs here at the College of Charleston. One class in particular, Dr. Erik Sotka’s Marine Molecular Ecology Course (Bio 503), become regular visitors to the MCF throughout the Spring semester. The goal of the course is to introduce graduate level students to the genetic tools that can be applied to a wide variety of ecological topics. This semester projects included identifying cryptic species of Blackbelly Rosefish (Helicolenus dactylopterus), determining the primary reproductive mode (asexual vs. sexual) of the invasive alga Gracilaria vermiculophylla, and quantifying the degree of genetic differentiation among populations of the tropical reef-building coral Porites asteroides and the mudflat periwinkle Illyanassa obtusa. The students became proficient on several instruments within the MCF including a thermocycler and a digital imagining system as their projects progressed. Additionally, they received demonstrations and personal reviews of their DNA sequencing, microsatellite, and applied fragment length polymorphism data as it was generated by the Genetic Analysis System housed at the MCF. Results from these projects have spurred several individuals to continue their working relationship with the MCF in regards to their thesis research and additional side projects.