Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant is offering a series of science classes this winter at the UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium on Skidaway Island.

The Winter Science Series provides experiential learning opportunities for those who want to explore the coast and learn about the roles that recreationally and commercially important fish species play in supporting healthy coastal ecosystems and economies. Three classes will be offered that focus on fish biology, morphology, taxonomy and diversity.

Topics will be introduced through scientific experiments and exploration. Participants will learn about sampling methods used for different types of fisheries research. For example, one class will involve a boat trawl in Wassaw Sound, collecting and recording information on different types of marine life. All the data recorded becomes part of Georgia Department of Natural Resources marine inventory record.

“This series offers something for everyone, from the person who wants to explore his or her artistic side to the person interested in processing and analyzing fish samples for scientific research,” says Kayla Clark, public programs coordinator for Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant.

Class topics and dates are provided below. Registration is required for each class. Participants can register online here. More information is available on the Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant event calendar.

Fish Taxonomy, Jan. 8
In this class participants will improve their fish identification skills through the application of art and science. Fish taxonomy is a branch of science that involves classifying organisms. Before photography, illustrations were used to document different types of marine life. Gyotaku, the Japanese art of fish printing, is one type of art form used to document and identify fish. Participants will practice Gyotaku and will learn how to use a dichotomous key to identify different types of preserved fish species.

Microplastics and Fish, Feb. 12
This class will focus on the ingestion of microplastics by marine life. If enough anchovies are available, participants will dissect and analyze their gills for the prevalence of microplastics. If they aren’t available, participants will process water samples collected from the Skidaway River. Marine educators will discuss the potential impacts of microplastics on marine ecosystems and will share information about a new citizen science initiative that involves sampling for microplastics at sites along the Georgia coast.

Fish Sampling Cruise, March 12
This program will include a cruise aboard the R/V Sea Dawg in Wassaw Sound. A trawl net will be pulled along the bottom of a tidal river to collect marine specimens. Participants will examine and learn to identify the animals collected. Trawl samples vary, but a typical catch includes fish, horseshoe crabs, squid, stingrays and more.