Helping Massachusetts communities understand and address coastal challenges and identify economic and environmentally sustainable opportunities
• Research        • Education         • Technical assistance
From the Director

Sea Grant, as established by Congress in 1966, “engages citizens, communities, scientists, organizations and governments to sustain and enhance the vitality, value and wise use of the nation’s coastal resources.” To this day, engagement activities are a core element of our program. In this edition of our e-newsletter, we highlight examples of how Woods Hole Sea Grant remains true to the mission that Congress envisioned for us over half a century ago. During the past year, we partnered with the Beach Sisters organization and Northeastern University to raise awareness about marine debris by encouraging the use of reusable shopping bags in Lynn, Massachusetts. We co-sponsored the annual Society for Women in Marine Science Symposium in support of their mission to increase diversity among scientists who study the oceans. Lastly, we joined forces with the town of Falmouth, the Coast Guard, and local scientists to provide a public update on the response to an oil spill in Woods Hole’s Great Harbor. What do these activities have in common? They each serve to increase environmental literacy, awareness and stewardship across a diverse range of citizens. Please read on for more details on these and other recent happenings in our program. And as always, we’d love to hear from you about how we are doing as Coastal Impacts approaches its 1-year anniversary!

-- Matt Charette

Technology Enables Better HAB Monitoring and Mapping
Nauset Marsh in Eastham, Mass. on Cape Cod serves as a “natural laboratory” for researchers working to better understand harmful algal blooms (HABs) or red tide.

“One of the things that has been really remarkable in studying Nauset is that blooms there develop very, very fast,” says WHOI biologist Mike Brosnahan, who, with funding from Woods Hole Sea Grant, is field-tested a novel sampling system call the high throughput Imaging Flow Cytobot or IFCB-HT, which continuously records microscope images of phytoplankton and identifies them in real time. “By looking at the images from the IFCB-HT, we can see how the size of the cells changes throughout the day and actually estimate how fast the cells are growing.”

The IFCB-HT allows scientists to look at lots more cells, providing a window into the mechanisms that govern HAB outbreaks and ultimately assist in their management.


Links to educational activities and resources related to HAB research

(1) Bad Algae! This lesson for grades 9-12 answers the questions, "What are harmful algal blooms and what can be done about them?"

(2) Toxic and Harmful Algal Blooms These lessons for elementary through high school start with the basics of how algae fit in the food web and extend to the impacts of harmful algal blooms and what we can do about them.

(3) In Full Bloom This lesson is for grades 9-12 and is part of the BRIDGE data series. Compare concentrations of harmful algal blooms using NOAA's Coastal Services Center Harmful Algal Bloom Forecasting (HABF) Project data.

(4) McLane Research Labs This webpage, from the commercial manufacturer of the Imaging FlowCytobot (IFCB), gives an overview of the instrument. If you scroll to the bottom you can see a live stream of images from an IFCB deployed in-situ at the Martha's Vineyard Coastal Observatory as well as a HAB sensitive salt pond on Cape Cod.

(5) Cytobot Gives Early Red Tide Warning This Oceanus magazine article describes how the Imaging FlowCytobot detected a HAB outbreak in the Gulf of Mexico.

RESEARCH ON EDUCATION: Learning by Listening

A Sea Grant-funded project aims to make science accessible to visually impaired students. Carla Curran, professor of marine sciences at Savannah State University, and Laela Sayigh, a biologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, worked with Kathy Patterson, the manager of WHOI’s Ocean Science Discovery Center, to develop a classroom activity and a museum exhibit that uses sound to teach kids about marine mammals.

“Marine mammals’ reliance on sound makes them a natural subject for a science lesson that targets students with visual impairments,” said Curran.
The researchers tested the activity with students and teachers from the Perkins School for the Blind as well as with students who were not visually impaired.  
EXTENSION: Training in Wetland Delineation Leads to Better Protection

Each year in Massachusetts, dozens of wetlands are threatened by development projects that could degrade their functions. Determining if a project is in a wetland requires training.  Project applicants often hire a private consultant to make that delineation, which the town conservation agents can then confirm or challenge. But many of these officials do not have the background (or their skills may have gotten rusty) to assess a project’s impact on the coast. 

To remedy the situation, Woods Hole Sea Grant (WHSG), Cape Cod Cooperative Extension, and Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management provided wetland delineation training in June 2017 for 10 of the 15 Cape Cod conservation agents.

Public comments for Woods Hole Sea Grant Review

Every three years, the National Sea Grant College Program conducts a review of each of the 33 state Sea Grant Programs. Woods Hole Sea Grant will be reviewed on November 6 – 8, 2018. The review will be conducted at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and will consider all aspects of Woods Hole Sea Grant’s programs including management and organization, performance, stakeholder engagement and collaborative activities, including those with various offices of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

This notice invites you to participate in our review by emailing your comments about Woods Hole Sea Grant to oar.sg-feedback@noaa.gov.

Kindly send your comments at your earliest convenience -- the comment period will end on October 30, 2018, one week before the Site Review Visit date. Please put “Woods Hole Sea Grant site review” in your email’s subject line.

With Support from Woods Hole Sea Grant

In addition to funding fundamental research and conducting education and extension programs, Woods Hole Sea Grant also supports local organizations’ efforts to raise awareness of the coastal ocean. Often small amounts of funding can make a big difference to organizations engaging their community in the need to sustain and promote the wise use of coastal resources. Recently Woods Hole Sea Grant supported the following activities:

Beach Sisters: Keeping Plastic Bags
off the Beach

The peer leaders at Beach Sisters are high school students in Lynn, Mass., who are passionate about the marine environment.  They teach weekly marine science lessons to elementary and middle school girls at Girls Inc., an organization that provides educational programs to girls particularly those in high-risk, underserved areas, and they work to keep trash out of the coastal zone.

Troubled by the number of single-use plastic bags they saw littering their community, the Beach Sisters were motivated to help their community transition away from plastic. This summer, the group decided to create the Beach Sisters reusable bag. With support from Woods Hole Sea Grant and others, the Beach Sisters designed, made and distributed 750 reusable bags, handing them out at soup kitchens and food pantries in Lynn.
Beach Sisters is a collaborative program between Northeastern University’s Marine Science Center & Girls Inc of Lynn. You can learn more about the program at https://cos.northeastern.edu/marinescience/outreach/beach-sisters-program/.
Society for Women in Marine Science (SWMS) Symposium
On Saturday, September 22, over 150 people gathered in Woods Hole for the 5th annual meeting of the Society for Women in Marine Science (SWMS). This year the conference, which was supported by 35 speakers and volunteers, as well as generous sponsorship by Woods Hole SeaGrant, was themed “Swimming in Diversity: Exploring the Seas Together.” The theme reflects SWMS’ desire to broaden the conversation about women in science to include other axes of identity, such as race, ethnicity, and dimensions of health and ability. The morning session focused on diversity in career paths and experiences in science, and the afternoon session focused on the diversity of identities held by marine scientists. After keynote lectures by Dr. Kelly Kryc and Dr. Robyn Hannigan, discussions ranged from changing careers to allyship and the importance of supporting everyone interested in marine science. If you missed the symposium, the two keynote talks were live-streamed on the SWMS Facebook page and much of the day was documented on Twitter with #SWMS18. If you’d like to hear about future SWMS events, you can become a member on the SWMS website.
Woods Hole Oil Spill: Community Update
When an oil slick approximately 100 by 100 yards was spotted in Woods Hole’s Great Harbor in January 2018, word spread quickly through the community. As the U.S. Coast Guard, Mass. Department of Environmental Protection and others began an investigation and clean up, the Woods Hole community wanted answers. How much oil was there? What was the short- and long-term impact on the environment likely to be? Who was responsible?

Four days after the spill, Woods Hole Sea Grant sponsored a forum that brought representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard and Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the Town of Falmouth together to provide the community up-to-the-moment information on the spill, response efforts, and remediation activities. WHOI marine chemist Chris Reddy was also on the panel to provide scientific information about the oil, which identified as a mix of lubricating oil and diesel, and its fate in the environment. About 100 people -- residents, business owners, reporters and those who work in Woods Hole village – filled WHOI’s Redfield Auditorium, listening to the updates and asking questions.  The forum fulfilled an important and timely community service.

The Coast Guard investigation later determined the spill was caused a 95-foot tugboat Ocean King owned by Patriot Marine. The company faces charges for the rescue and clean up efforts, as well as possible penalties and fines for not self-reporting the spill.
Woods Hole Sea Grant in the News

The Changing Shape of the Cape & Islands: The Atlantic Shoreline

Cape Cod Life, July 2018

Towns Look to Oysters to Clean Waterways

WCAI, June 19, 2018

Making a splash with Cape Cod grown oysters

Cape Cod Times, July 6, 2018

Flood Insurance Is Flawed, But Needed

WGBH Radio, July 12, 2018

Experts: Cape Cod should prepare for the worst hurricanes

Cape Cod Times, August 4, 2018

Many Cape homeowners may be underwater, underinsured

Cape Cod Times, August 5, 2018

Hurricane Bob Was 'Not Much of a Test'

WCAI, August 5, 2018

Research: Shellfish Are Helping To Clean Mashpee Estuaries

The Mashpee Enterprise, August 9, 2018

The Changing Sea Level

Flotsam and Jetsam, Mass. Marine Educators, fall 2018

Questions? Please contact seagrant@whoi.edu
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