Current Projects

Georgia Sea Grant funds over half a million dollars of coastal research every two years.

two women kneel down outside in a coastal environment to inspect sea grass

Georgia Sea Grant funds research projects on two-year cycles, sponsoring projects that investigate or better understand coastal ecosystems, policy making and marine industries. Georgia Sea Grant research projects are shared with coastal communities and stakeholders, facilitating sustainable economic development and land use practices, healthy coastal ecosystems, safe and sustainable seafood and coastal hazard mitigation.

2024-2026 Projects

Neonicotinoid presence in coastal waters and potential impacts on the Eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica
Principle Investigator: Risa Cohen, Georgia Southern University

  • Neonicotinoid pesticides were introduced in the mid 1990’s and are now one of the most utilized classes of insecticides worldwide. Despite their intense use and ability to contaminate surface waters, this class of pesticides is rarely part of routine monitoring efforts due to their perceived benign effects on nontarget organisms. However, neonicotinoids appear to contribute to honeybee colony collapse disorder, warranting further investigation on other nontarget insects and freshwater and marine invertebrates. Bivalves may be at particular risk of adverse effects from neonicotinoid pesticides because they filter large volumes of water while feeding and reside at the sediment water interface where these pesticides may accumulate. Dramatic declines in the Eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, are occurring along the US Atlantic and Gulf coastlines from overharvest and disease, among other factors. This is especially problematic because in addition to being a commercially valuable species, reefs built by eastern oysters provide a variety of ecosystem services, including the formation of complex habitats utilized by numerous marine species, improved water quality through their filtration and associated processes, shoreline stabilization via dampening of flow and reducing sediment resuspension, and aesthetic value. This project will investigate linkages between imidacloprid exposure, the most used neonicotinoid globally, and effects on the Eastern oyster.

Exploring the potential for aquaculture product diversification with macroalgae
Principle Investigator: John Carroll, Georgia Southern University 

  • Oyster aquaculture is a rapidly expanding industry, although the industry is lagging behind in Georgia. Expansion and long-term success of Georgia’s nascent oyster aquaculture industry is dependent on establishing practices that maximize product yield in a sustainable manner while also diversifying farmed products. One potential practice could be co-production of oysters with seaweeds that would remove excess nutrients, buffer water pH, and some inhibit the growth of harmful algae. Farms using this practice may experience increased oyster production while also gaining a second marketable product, seaweed, which had a global production value of $14.7 billion in 2019. Thus, the main goal of this project is to determine the feasibility of seaweed aquaculture in Georgia and whether local seaweed, specifically Ulva species, can be produced in polyculture with oysters to improve water quality and enhance oyster yield.

A Sanctuary in Sound: Increasing Accessibility to Gray’s Reef Data through Auditory Displays
Principle Investigator: Jessica Roberts, Georgia Tech 

  • Public presentations of complex scientific data are often represented visually in graphs and charts that are inaccessible to learners who are blind or visually impaired (BVI) or have print related disabilities such as learning disabilities, low visual or text literacy skills, or innumeracy. This project seeks to increase the accessibility of Sea Grant and National Marine Sanctuary outreach efforts to the visually impaired and others unable to make sense of visual graphs. Because connection to local issues is known to be important to sensemaking in human-data interactions, the project will use publicly available data from the Gray’s Reef National Marine to create auditory displays representing local and regional phenomena in order to understand: (1) how to design auditory displays to facilitate conversations about issues affecting Georgia’s coastal and marine ecosystems for both sighted and visually impaired learners in informal environments and (2) what human-data interactions with auditory displays contribute to sensemaking by sighted and visually impaired learners in informal learning interactions. The auditory displays created during this grant could be brought to many of the science centers along the Georgia coast and be made available online for residents elsewhere in Georgia and beyond, and will provide inspiration and lessons learned to others who would like to create similar materials for other locally relevant data sources.

Leveraging sediment properties to enhance blue carbon storage in beneficial use restoration projects
Principle Investigator: Amanda Spivak, University of Georgia

  • Salt marshes are an important blue carbon ecosystem because sediment carbon deposits can be meters deep and thousands of years old. Iron (Fe) and aluminum (Al) are abundant minerals in the Earth’s surface and form associations with organic matter that protect against microbial decomposition and thereby contribute to long-term carbon storage. Dredging by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has generated billons of cubic yards of material that is largely disposed of at land and sea, but there is a desire to increase the use of dredged materials for beneficial projects that will build, nourish, and protect coastal wetlands and communities from rising sea levels. Decision makers need tools to help match dredge material with beneficial use projects. A potential co-benefit of beneficial use projects is increased blue carbon storage by leveraging the properties of minerals in the dredge material that protect organic matter from microbial decomposition. The overarching goals of this proposal are to identify the characteristics of dredge sediment that can enhance marsh carbon preservation and co-develop decision support tools for sediment selection for beneficial use projects.

Assessing the economic impact of compound risks in underserved communities: A Glynn County, GA, Case Study
Principle Investigator: Susana Ferreira, University of Georgia

  • Coastal Georgia is vulnerable to compound risks from coastal inundation and environmental contamination by hazardous materials. These risks are not borne evenly by its population but instead disproportionately threaten underserved communities. At a community fair in Brunswick, GA in July 2022 convened by members of the project team, flooding and water pollution were highlighted as key environmental health concerns, with most participants having experienced flooding in their neighborhoods. While local research efforts on environmental impacts are underway, an economic assessment focused on underserved communities is lacking and needed to integrate and advance local environmental and social justice efforts more effectively. Using Glynn County, GA, as a case study, this project proposes to quantify the compound risks of coastal inundation and contamination, and to estimate their economic impacts to inform community planning adaptation to climate change in the face of environmental injustice.

2022-2024 Projects

Enhancing the South Atlantic Black Sea Bass Pot Fishery with Acoustic Subsea Buoy Retrieval Systems
Principle Investigator: Charles McMillan, Georgia Conservancy

  • This project will evaluate the feasibility of using Subsea Buoy Retrieval Systems, also known as ropeless gear technology, in the commercial black sea bass pot fishery off Georgia’s coast. The use of this gear could provide incentivization for fishers to expand their fishing opportunities while minimizing impacts to protected species. If proven effective, utilizing these systems can potentially expand fishing opportunities for the industry. The project will also educate current and future commercial fishers on traditional fishing techniques and innovative approaches to harvesting seafood in a way that strengthens stewardship practices in the black sea bass pot fishery.

Probiotics for plants: harnessing microbiomes to improve the propagation of marsh grasses to support coastal ecosystem restoration
Principle Investigator: Joel Kotska, Georgia Institute of Technology

  • Spartina alterniflora is a foundational plant species that dominates primary production in salt marshes on the East Coast of the U.S., thereby providing key ecosystem services to people. Fungal diseases have been proposed as a major stressor limiting Spartina productivity along with environmental parameters, and diseases have also been reported to be an important problem during plant propagation for restoration. The overall goals of the proposed project are to investigate the role of pathogenic microbes as a key stressor limiting the growth and ecosystem function of Spartina as well as to provide proof-of-principle for the development of bioinocula to improve the resilience of coastal marshes during restoration and in response to environmental change.

Black/African American/Gullah Geechee Economic Development Research Project for Coastal Georgia
Principle Investigator: Cheryl Hargrove, Hargrove International, Inc.

  • Georgia attracts more than double the national average of African American travelers – 27% to 11% in the U.S. Despite this, local and state travel promotion does not often showcase Black/African American products, there is minimal recognition for the coastal region’s Gullah Geechee cultural heritage, and minority businesses are often not included in strategies to develop or market their goods and services to visitors. Data are also lacking on how the COVID-19 pandemic has specifically affected African American communities and businesses on the Georgia coast, and how tourism can jumpstart their economic recovery. The goal of this two-year research project is to foster economic development for Black/African American/Gullah Geechee businesses and entrepreneurship related to tourism and recreational industries in the six-county region (Chatham, Bryan, Liberty, McIntosh, Glynn, and Camden) of coastal Georgia.

Assessing the Socio-Economic Value of Salt Marsh Ecosystems for Climate Resilience Financing in Georgia
Principle Investigator: Matthew Bilskie, University of Georgia

  • Worldwide there is growing interest in innovative finance mechanisms for protecting and restoring natural ecosystems that provide multiple socio-economic benefits. With most of the remaining salt marsh on the U.S. east coast spanning North Carolina through northern Florida, the southeast is a prime region to evaluate the risk reduction potential of salt marsh systems and explore innovative insurance products that could provide payouts for ecosystem conservation and recovery. Insurance represents a promising platform for integrating nature-based solutions, as it (1) puts a price tag on risk, (2) provides incentives for risk reduction, and (3) creates formalized payout structures. With its over 350,000 acres of salt marsh, Georgia serves as an excellent pilot area to develop models to quantify the socioeconomic flood risk benefits of salt marsh ecosystems to people and property under various climate change, marsh loss and restoration scenarios. This project will quantify the value of the Georgia salt marsh in flood mitigation, the cost of marsh repair and restoration, and show the distribution of these benefits along the Georgia coast. The project will engage state and regional stakeholders through targeted outreach to communicate marsh ecosystem’s benefits and discuss risk finance mechanisms with the insurance industry and community partners.

Conserving Ecologically and Culturally Important Plants in Georgia’s Coastal Ecosystems
Principle Investigator: Elizabeth King, University of Georgia

  • In Georgia, the unique bio-cultural heritage of Gullah Geechee and African-American communities is intimately interwoven with local landscape and ecosystems. This project aims to understand the applied ecology of sweetgrass (Muhlenbergia sericea), a culturally important plant species on the Georgia coast. Sweetgrass is the dominant species in the Southern Atlantic Interdunal Swale vegetation community, which provides critical ecological functions as wildlife habitat and in maintaining the integrity of seaward coastlines. The extent of remaining sweetgrass populations in Georgia, and their prospects for persistence, are unknown. This project will adopt an integrated, bio-cultural conservation approach to evaluate the status of sweetgrass populations on the coast. Findings will be synthesized from habitat suitability modeling, field surveys, and experimental ecological studies to gain a holistic understanding of sweetgrass conservation status. These activities, along with an oral history listening project, will promote the empowerment and inclusion of marginalized African-American perspectives in coastal conservation, which is essential for conserving healthy – and just – coastal ecosystems.

2020-2022 Projects

Field Testing a New Synthetic Sustainable Bait for Georgia’s Blue Crab Fishing Industry
Principal Investigator: Charles Derby, Georgia State University

  • This project is designed to test a sustainable, effective, and relatively inexpensive synthetic blue crab bait that releases attractants at desired rates for catching crabs. The project will support the blue crab fishing industry by resolving the issue of unavailable or expensive bait. Developing and testing new tools and technologies can help Georgia’s blue crab industry market its products and maximize profits. Advertising this novel fishing practice as using a sustainable and non-animal bait not only makes economic sense but also marketing sense, and the practice could contribute to Georgia Sea Grant’s Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture goal of supporting sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.

How do environmental conditions and oyster population genetics influence pathogen prevalence and intensity?
Principal Investigator: John Carroll, Georgia Southern University

  • Understanding the relationships and interactions that might influence oyster diseases and human pathogens is critical for growth and proper management of the oyster aquaculture industry in Georgia. The ultimate goal of this research is to examine the relationships between population genetics and environmental conditions with oyster susceptibility to parasites and human-pathogen loads. Building on preliminary work in Oyster Creek, the proposed research seeks to address the following objectives: 1) Examine the presence and intensity of common oyster diseases within the leases and cultured stock; 2) Determine the fine scale population structure of oysters in select harvest areas; and 3) Conduct fine scale bi-monthly sampling of oysters to explore whether abiotic stressors relate to pathogen or parasite risk. Results from this research will be useful for management of the wild- and culture oyster fishery.

Optimizing Georgia’s Shrimp Fishery in the Age of Black Gill
Principal Investigator: Marc Frischer, UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography

  • This project will study black gill, a parasitic infection affecting shrimp on the Georgia coast. Research objective are to identify and determine mechanism(s) of ciliate transmission routes, continue to monitor black gill, particularly during the early summer (May – June) and winter (November – December) periods when black gill emerges and disappears from white shrimp and when routine monitoring is most limited, and develop new tools (mathematical models) to estimate the impact of black gill on shrimp stocks. The project will facilitate the dissemination and use of this information to the benefit of a sustainable and healthy shrimp fishery in Georgia.

Expanded Head of Tide Determination of Georgia’s Coastal Rivers: Influences of Upland Riverine Flooding, Tidal Inundation, and Stochastic/Storm-surge Events
Principal Investigator: Christopher Hintz, Savannah State University

  • This research will determine the head of tide, which is the transition from tidal fresh waters to upland river water, in each of the five major river watersheds along the Georgia Coast-line: Savannah, Ogeechee, Altamaha, Satilla. and St. Mary’s Rivers. Determining the head of tide will allow the research team to more clearly identify the boundaries of the Protection of Tidewaters Act, which placed restrictions on land use and development along Georgia’s coastal river ecosystems. The study will also identify critical areas of vulnerability for each watershed system, and develop present-day baseline for understanding future changes to the river from sea level rise or land use development. With limited resources available throughout the state to bolster coastal resiliency and protect the environment, this research strives to develop effective, low-cost, scientifically-sound methodologies to accurately identify head of tide in coastal watersheds. This research directly aims to improve the knowledge and technical skillset of Georgia’s citizens, improving the workforce potential and public environmental literacy.

Addressing Policy Barriers and Promoting Opportunities for the Success of Oyster Aquaculture in Georgia
Principal Investigator: Scott Pippin, UGA Carl Vinson Institute of Government

  • Oyster farming present a number of different economic opportunities including wholesale to restaurants, direct sales to consumers, on-site restaurants, working with seafood distributors as well eco-tourism and other experiential type opportunities. Conflicts with oyster farms can be categorized into two broad categories: those occurring in the water (i.e., recreational boating), and those occurring on the land (i.e., zoning that restricts dockside operations). This project will address barriers to the growth and development of oyster aquaculture in Georgia. Specifically, this project supports the following goals: 1) Facilitate the development of model state laws and guidance to address typical legal and regulatory barriers to the aquaculture industry; and 2) Conduct surveys to assess and describe consumer, public, and coastal managers’ acceptance level and desire to promote aquaculture industries, including consumer perception and preferences, food safety, labeling and certifications, seafood demand studies and promotion of local seafood.

Tidal channel network dynamics and salt marsh ecosystem functioning along the Georgia Coast
Principal Investigator: Amanda Spivak, University of Georgia

  • This study will quantify tidal channel migration and marsh change along Georgia’s coastline from 1850s to present and characterize the impacts on both existing infrastructure and on marsh ecosystem functioning. Through a combination of historical, geospatial, ecological, and geochemical approaches, the project team will generate an integrated assessment of tidal channel migration and how this process affects marsh ecosystem ecology and carbon storage. Data will allow the project team to determine if the rate of channel migration has changed over time, whether plant biomass differs in retreating versus prograding marshes, identify hotspots of landscape change and determine whether they pose a risk to the built infrastructure (power lines, roads, pipelines). By integrating large- and small- scale processes, results will refine the role of Georgia’s marshes in large scale carbon budgets and facilitate ecosystem service valuation.

Role of Sediments in the Susceptibility to Ocean Acidification in Coastal Habitats
Principal Investigator: Martial Taillefert, Georgia Institute of Technology

  • Ocean acidification (OA) decreases the pH and carbonate saturation state of seawater, modifies biogeochemical cycles, and is detrimental to benthic and pelagic calcareous organisms, ecosystems, as well as fishing and shellfish industries. Given the renewed interested in oyster mariculture in Georgia and the known effects of OA on oyster growth and development, it is important to determine if OA is significant and identify the main processes potentially generating OA in Georgia coastal waterways. The project objectives include: 1) Quantifying benthic alkalinity and dissolved inorganic carbon fluxes and biogeochemical processes regulating these fluxes using state-of-the-art in situ benthic landers and microbiological techniques; 2) Comparing benthic fluxes to water column processes across different habitats to determine the role of nutrient inputs and salt marshes on surface water susceptibility to OA; 3) Assessing the importance of runoff and coastal storms on the benthic flux of alkalinity or acidity; and 4) Engaging K-12 teachers and graduate and undergraduate trainees in research and preservation of coastal habitats to increase environmental literacy, and informing stakeholders and the general public about this potentially important problem.

2018-2020 Projects

The Role of the Spartina Phytobiome in Restoration and Resilience to Environmental Change
Principal Investigator: Joel Kostka, Georgia Institute of Technology

  • The goals of the project are to investigate the role of the Spartina phytobiome (plant host + constituent microbiome + environment) in supporting the health and ecosystem function of Spartina and to provide an understanding of the role of the phytobiome in the resilience of coastal marshes during restoration and in response to environmental change (drought, warming, sea level rise).

Shrimp Black Gill in Georgia
Principal Investigator: Marc Frischer, University of Georgia

  • This project will (i) determine the life history and taxonomic identity of the ciliate that causes shrimp black gill in Georgia, (ii) investigate the relationship between black gill infection and the shrimp life cycle and (iii) quantify effects of black gill on shrimp growth and mortality and how these effects are modulated by temperature. Addressing these objectives is of primary concern for the shrimping industry and resource managers charged with protecting the resource for a sustainable fishery.

Sensitivity of Gray’s Reef invertebrates and algae to ocean acidification and implications for the ecosystem
Principal Investigator: Daniel Gleason, Georgia Southern University

  • This study will provide baseline knowledge about the species-level effects of ocean acidification that will enable scientists and managers to better anticipate OA’s effects on hard bottom reefs of the South Atlantic Blight. Research results will inform resource management efforts by staff at Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Incorporating Future Infrastructure Decisions into Salt Marsh Migration Models
Brian Bledsoe, University of Georgia

  • The goal of this project is to develop improved salt marsh migration modeling tools representing interactions between shoreline armoring techniques and marsh migration. This project will include a scientific assessment of salt marsh response to sea level rise and future shoreline infrastructure along the Georgia coast. PIs will develop a series of model scenarios representing interactions between plausible shoreline armoring actions and marsh migration to explore the upland edge of the Georgia coast in response to SLR through 2100. Results will show how armoring decisions, policies and approaches influence the extent to which salt marshes dominated by Spartina alterniflora and brackish marshes dominated by Juncus romerianus can be maintained through inland migration.

Is groundwater a potential driver of oyster populations within Georgia creeks?
Principal Investigator: John Carroll, Georgia Southern University

  • The proposed project will (i) examine the relationship between oyster abundance and groundwater discharge (GWD) by mapping four tidal creeks; (ii) quantify oyster recruitment along discharge gradients; and (iii) discern between the effects of GWD and sedimentation on recruitment, growth and survival at the Oyster Creek field site. The proposed research would expand on preliminary work in Oyster Creek by investigating three new approved harvest areas, increasing the number of survey sites and conducting field experiments designed to examine the potential interaction between oysters, groundwater discharge, and sediment accretion.

A Social Census of Georgia’s Working Waterfronts
Principal Investigator: Jennifer Tookes, Georgia Southern University

  • This project will address concerns about the sustainability of Georgia’s commercial fishing industry by investigating these guiding questions: (i) What are the demographic, economic and social wellbeing patterns for businesses, workforce, and community in Georgia’s coastal seafood industry? (ii) How do these patterns change over time? (iii) What strategies can improve the long-term sustainability of Georgia’s seafood industry workforce? PIs will use participatory research to emphasize the involvement of local people in the research process. Insights from data analysis will be combined with case study results to better understand the long-term workforce sustainability challenges the industry faces; and their potential solutions. The project addresses critical workforce issues by identifying concerns voiced by the industry, and best practices to remedy these issues as determined through case study analysis and cooperative research.

Real-time Flood Risk Modeling Using Social Media Data
Principal Investigator: Ge Zhang, Georgia Institute of Technology 

  • This project aims to improve the understanding and prediction of flood risk through big data and social media analytics. Specific research questions addressed are: (i) Are there distinct geographic differences in flooding information obtained through social media and hurricane models? (ii) How do these differences affect the prediction of flood risk (i.e., flood model outputs)? (iii) How can social media data be used to improve flood risk prediction?

2016-2018 Projects

Seafood Epidemiology: Providing Mentored Marine Research Opportunities for Master of Public Health Students
Principal Investigator: Matthew Gribble, Emory University

Tag Horseshoe Crabs on St. Catherine’s Island
Principal Investigator: Fredrich Rich, Georgia Southern University

Resilience of Transportation Infrastructures to Extreme Weather Events in Coastal Georgia Area — Phase 1
Principal Investigator: Mehran Mazari, Savannah State University

Evaluation of the Return on Investment of Georgia Sea Grant Funded Research Projects
Principal Investigator: Jeffrey Dorfman, University of Georgia

Oyster and Salt Marsh Edge Interactions: Informing Living Shoreline and Oyster Restoration Design
Principal Investigator: James Byers, University of Georgia

  • This project will expose the spatial relationships and mechanisms of interaction between the two dominant ecosystem engineers of Georgia’s estuaries — Spartina cordgrass and oyster reefs — as well as how their distributions and relationships are likely to change over time. It is intended to inform resource management and predictive modeling.
  • Project Abstract

Black Gill in Georgia Shrimp: Causes and Consequences
Principal Investigator: Mark Frischer, Skidaway Institute of Oceanography; Kyle Johnsen, University of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc.

  • The goals of this proposed project are to identify the causes, drivers and consequences of shrimp Black Gill (sBG) to the Georgia shrimp fishery and to facilitate the dissemination and use of this information to the benefit of a sustainable and healthy shrimp fishery in Georgia.
  • Project Abstract

Assessing Prevalence and Composition of Ingested Plastic Contaminants by Georgia’s Estuarine Organisms
Principal Investigator: Jay Brandes, Skidaway Institute of Oceanography

  • The goals of this study are to quantify the amount and identify the type of plastic pollution found in Georgia estuarine organisms, particularly in shellfish, fish and shrimp species important to local Georgia fisheries. Another goal is to educate stakeholders, the public, educators and students about the issue of plastic pollution.
  • Project Abstract

A novel hybrid approach for mapping belowground productivity and carbon sequestration potential within Georgia salt marshes
Principal Investigator: Deepak Mishra, University of Georgia

  • The purpose of this study is to develop data fusion tools that use remote sensing to estimate both above and belowground production, GPP, CHL and overall carbon sequestration potential in salt marshes.
  • Project Abstract

Investigation of the Shallow Hydrogeologic System on St. Catherines Island to Define Salt Water Intrusion Pathways and the Potential for Shallow-Deep Aquifer Communication
Principal Investigator: Robert Vance, Georgia Southern University

  • This study’s objectives are to develop a three-dimensional framework of the shallow stratigraphy and geologic structure of St. Catherines Island on which to build a more accurate conceptual model of the hydrogeology of the surficial aquifer; to characterize the spatial and temporal changes in the geochemistry of the island’s surficial aquifer; and, characterize possible temporal variations in the hydrologic flow system of the island’s surficial aquifer.
  • Project Abstract

Promoting Flood Hazard Resilience: The Economics of Elevation Retrofitting of Homes
Principal Investigator: Warren Kriesel, University of Georgia

  • The objectives of this project involve obtaining property-specific measurements of the elevation of homes’ first floor above the base flood elevation in Savannah/Chatham and Camden Counties. The researchers will analyze the benefits of home elevation retrofitting from a regression analysis of how elevation and other important property characteristics affect property sale prices. Additionally, the research team plans to incorporate the results into an outreach effort and development of a web-based application that will allow any user to estimate the benefits and costs of retrofitting a home to be resilient to flooding hazards.
  • Project Abstract

A Geospatial Assessment of Nearshore Sand Resources and Sediment Transport Pathways for Georgia Coastal Resiliency and Recovery
Principal Investigator: Clark Alexander, Skidaway Institute of Oceanography

  • Sand resources are needed to rebuild beach and dune systems to provide the same or better level of protection to lives and property, and to restore habitats that are degraded by events such as hurricanes and large storms. These sand resource data are critically needed in Georgia, as the sand resources on the continental shelf are the most poorly known of all the states along the East Coast. This project proposes to collect new, high-resolution data to build toward an understanding of the sand resources available on the Georgia shelf, and the transport pathways by which these sediments are redistributed. The focus will be on the three developed barrier islands that have not been renourished (Sea, St. Simons and Jekyll Islands) as these are the regions that may require renourishment in the future.
  • Project Abstract

2014-2016 Projects

Adding dynamic information to resiliency planning: wetland mitigation and open space opportunities
Principal Investigators: Liz Kramer, University of Georgia; Craig Landry, University of Georgia; Shana Jones, University of Georgia

  • The objective of this project is to identify and prioritize the best sites for wetland protection, mitigation, restoration and migration along the Georgia Coast, taking account of potential future land use change and the impacts of sea level rise. Recognizing that local government financing of infrastructure has a 30-year life cycle, the researchers will identify and prioritize wetland sites that could be restored, created or protected based on their location and condition 30 years from now.

Black Gill Disease in Georgia Shrimp: Causes, Distribution, and Transmission
Principal Investigators: Marc Frischer, Skidaway Institute of Oceanography; Richard Lee, Skidaway Institute of Oceanography

  • The objectives of this project are to identify the cause of Black Gill in Georgia shrimp, develop tools to identify the source of Black Gill and conduct studies useful for forecasting and managing Black Gill in coastal Georgia. Through collaboration with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Georgia shrimpers, the results of this research will be utilized to guide the management of Georgia’s shrimp fishery.

Can the local food movement be an opportunity for Georgia seafood producers to participate in the inland seafood market?
Principal Investigators: Tracy Yandle, Emory University; Peggy Bartlett, Emory University

  • This study’s objective is to answer the broad question: “How can Georgia seafood producers use the burgeoning local food movement to increase their participation in the inland market and make sustainable, local fish available to a larger segment of the Georgia population?” The researchers will assess the potential of three innovative ways to bring Georgia seafood into the local food market (Community Supported Fisheries, placement in existing farmers markets and greater presence at farm-to-table restaurants). Recommendations of how each market could be developed will be provided, and the most economically advantageous option will be piloted.

Closing the water budget for the Satilla Basin, Georgia*
Principal Investigators: Marc Stieglitz, Georgia Institute of Technology; Elizabeth Kramer, University of Georgia

  • The goal of this project is to show proof of concept for being able to model the water budget for ungauged portions of the coastal zone. Prior to examining the effect of land use change and management of freshwater to the coastal estuary, it is necessary to prove that it’s possible to determine the water budget, especially prove that evapotranspiration (ET) can be modeled accurately. The results of this study would provide a better understanding for the development of a more targeted wetland restoration program, thereby enhancing the resiliency of estuary fisheries through the restoration of the timing of delivery of freshwater inputs.

Coastal Georgia Regional Wastewater Planning
Principal Investigators: Laurie Fowler, University of Georgia; Katie Sheehan, University of Georgia

  • With supervision and support from the Coastal Regional Commission, this project aims to develop a regional wastewater plan that will provide the framework for sustainable wastewater infrastructure decisions on Georgia’s coast. We will convene groups of experts and stakeholders, construct a framework for the plan, educate our constituents and analyze regional wastewater infrastructure alternatives according to a set of parameters chosen by our coastal stakeholders.

Creating a Model System for Sustainable Development: Striking a Balance Between the Ecological, Economic, and Social Needs of Jekyll Island State Park
Principal Investigator: Kimberly Andrews, University of Georgia; Katie Mascovich, University of Georgia; Tracey Tuberville, University of Georgia

  • As one of Georgia’s four barrier islands accessible by car, Jekyll Island is in a unique position to serve as a model for sustainable development. In order to balance maintaining a healthy beach ecosystem while developing Jekyll’s beachfront, this project focuses on accomplishing the following goals: monitor the response of the federally protected loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) to the developing and changing beach habitat; create a habitat change model that can be used in the development of Jekyll Island’s beach management plan; work with Jekyll Island stakeholders to promote sustainable development; and increase the environmental literacy of Jekyll Island’s guests and residents such that they become better beach stewards.

Evaluation of a turtle excluder device (TED) design for use in the cannonball jellyfish fishery operating in Georgia’s territorial waters
Principal Investigators: David Stasek, College of Coastal Georgia; James Page, Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Todd Mathes, Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Patrick Geer, Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Lisa Liguori, University of Georgia

  • The practice of harvesting jellyfish for human use is a relatively new endeavor in Georgia. Since fishing efforts began, several fishers have expressed concerns over the negative impact of the mandated use of the TED on jellyball catches. Gear-related concerns in this fishery need to be addressed. This study will develop and evaluate new TED designs to potentially increase jellyball retention in nets while still promoting sea turtle exclusion.

Increased Tidal Flooding in Coastal Georgia: Assessing the Barriers and Value of Acquiring and Relocating Property
Principal Investigators: Scott Pippin, University of Georgia; Shana Jones, University of Georgia

  • A strong need exists in Georgia to develop tools and information for local decision-makers so that they understand the growing risk posed by sea level rise and identify where acquisition and relocation might be an appropriate response. Where a risk analysis indicates that an acquisition program will be beneficial, local officials need information to help them overcome identified barriers to establishing such a program, in order to improve local resilience to flood risks. This project will calculate, using Tybee Island as a study area, 1) the up-front and long-term costs to the local government and 2) the benefits of generating Community Rating System (CRS) credits and reducing flood insurance rates with respect to acquiring the most at-risk properties currently subject to repeated flooding. The researchers will examine legal and policy barriers to property acquisition and analyze existing studies that demonstrate how green space increases property values and promotes community continuity.

Planning for Competitive Port Expansion on the U.S. Eastern Seaboard: The Case of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP)
Principal Investigator: Stephen Ramos, University of Georgia

  • This project will analyze the geographic coastal impacts of port competition and look at the unique circumstances of the Greater Savannah Metropolitan Region in planning for future growth of its port. The project will incorporate GIS to generate thematic maps, exploring issues related port expansion and river deepening. These include a regional impact analysis of the transportation and land-use changes, an impact analysis on local ecologies and government capacity in the area surrounding the port and job creation and economic development generated by the port.

*Program Development Project

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