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News & Notes – Summer 2016
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S.C.'s Working Waterfronts: Fishing Villages Evolve
VOLUME 29, NUMBER 3, SUMMER 2016            

By Joey Holleman                                                                       back to main story  

News and Notes

New resiliency grant addresses future flooding in Charleston region

A grant awarded to the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium on behalf of the Charleston Resilience Network (CRN) seeks to help communities plan for and adapt to the area’s increasing flood challenges.

The $510,319 Regional Coastal Resilience Grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to the Consortium “will support the development of more robust and localized flooding models that can be used to plan infrastructure improvements in the Charleston, S.C. region,” according to Rick DeVoe, executive director of the Consortium and program manager of the award.

Researchers from College of Charleston, University of South Carolina, and The Citadel will collaborate with the CRN and the Consortium on the three-year project. The non-federal match of $255,568 brings the total grant award to $765,887.

The mapping will examine the ability of fast-growing, low-lying neighborhoods to absorb flood impacts and build resiliency to flooding. The flood maps will focus down to the parcel level, factoring in new data on storm drains and sewer lines, the impacts of severe high tides and heavy bursts of rain, and on how the topography influences the movement of water, according to Norman Levine, Ph.D., who will lead the mapping effort.

NOAA’s Regional Coastal Resilience Grants emphasize regional-scale projects that enhance the resilience of coastal communities and economies. By leveraging the capabilities of CRN members and partners, this project will advance the collaborative approach necessary to understand vulnerabilities, educate stakeholders, and foster a unified strategy.

The resiliency grant’s lead investigators are Levine and Elizabeth Fly, Ph.D., coastal climate extension specialist with the Consortium.

The second component of the project will focus on engaging neighborhoods in discussions about the mapping information and its implications for planning and adapting to future flooding events.

The keys to this effort will be a series of CRN participatory workshops with stakeholders, to be led by Fly, and the expansion of the South Carolina Coastal Information Network web portal, created by the Consortium and local, state, and federal partners to provide a one-stop location to find coastal-related information of interest to local communities. The website is currently being updated to enhance simple navigation through the extensive library of flooding and resiliency information, tools, and resources, which will be available at To learn more about the CRN, visit

Horseshoe crab study finds genetically healthy population

Research on the genetic makeup of horseshoe crabs along the South Carolina coast indicates the population is large, diverse, and healthy.

The study, conducted by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) with a grant from S.C. Sea Grant Consortium and support from Charles River Laboratories, involved gathering genetic material from horseshoe crabs at 12 sites from Turtle Island south of Hilton Head to Marsh Island north of Charleston.

Researchers clipped tissue samples from the leg tips of more than 2,000 horseshoe crabs. In the lab, they came up with genotypes of 739 of those samples from seven of the beaches.

They found almost no inbreeding, no isolation of any one pattern of genes at any one location, and enough genetic diversity to indicate a large variety of parents producing offspring.

“We had green check marks all the way down the list,” said Tanya Darden, leader of the genetic research team at SCDNR’s Marine Resources Research Institute. “We found no conservation concerns based on genetic diversity.”

Potential overharvest of horseshoe crabs has been a concern along portions of the Atlantic coast, especially in the Northeast where they can be caught for use as bait in the fishing industry. South Carolina, however, allows the capture of horse-shoe crabs only for biomedical use.

A clotting agent in the horseshoe crab’s blood is widely used to determine whether vaccines, intravenous fluids, and artificial joints have been exposed to certain pathogens harmful to people.

Crabs caught by trawlers or by hand from spawning beaches are taken to biomedical labs, where up to 25 percent of their blood is removed before they are released back into their natural habitat. Most of the crabs, from 80-90 percent, survive the process.

Five students chosen for prestigious fellowships

Five graduate and post-graduate students have been selected for national and state fellowships in 2016 through applications submitted by the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium.

Sean Bath and Rebecca Derex were selected for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Sea Grant College Program’s Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship; Sumi Selvaraj and Alex Braud for the NOAA Coastal Management Fellowship; and Emily Asp for the Kathryn D. Sullivan Earth and Marine Science Fellowship supported by the S.C. Space Grant Consortium and the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium.

Sean BathBath is a Ph.D. student in the University of South Carolina School of Geography with dual Master’s degrees from the College of Charleston in environmental studies and public administration. He says he developed his interest in climate science and coastal uses as a graduate student intern with the Consortium. During his one-year Knauss fellowship, Bath is serving as an interagency policy liaison in the Office of the Oceanographer of the U.S. Navy. He has represented the Navy at meetings of national and international committees, and he supports the task force adapting naval operations and infrastructure to changing environmental conditions.

Rebecca DerexDerex earned her M.S. in Marine Biology at the College of Charleston and was the Brain Bank coordinator at the Medical University of South Carolina when she was selected as a Knauss fellow. She says she first grew interested in the intersection of coastal policy and marine science while working on a Marine Mammal Stranding Network project as an undergraduate at the College of Charleston. During her fellowship, she is serving in the policy office at the NOAA National Ocean Service headquarters. Her portfolio includes arctic policy and national ocean policy, and she assists with Congressional outreach and communication.

Sumi SelvarajSelvaraj has a M.S. in Geography from the University of South Carolina and served as a graduate research assistant with Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments (CISA). For her two-year Coastal Management fellowship, she was matched with the California Coastal Commission. Selvaraj will help analyze and prioritize the commission’s climate preparedness and adaptation planning efforts using maps and other tools. She says she grew interested in coastal issues while serving in AmeriCorps in Cape Cod, Mass., and she began to focus on sea-level rise issues while working at CISA.

Alex BraudBraud will complete his Master’s in environmental studies and public administration at the College of Charleston before beginning his Coastal Management fellowship. He also will be based in California for his fellowship, tasked with guiding the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission’s regional sediment management program beyond its pilot stage. Braud was a graduate student intern for the Consortium, and he says that helped him learn how to apply lessons from his academic work to community projects.

Emily AspAsp recently completed her first year in the Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies Master’s program at Coastal Carolina University. She also has volunteered for the Waties Island Sea Turtle Patrol, which fits well with her future Sullivan fellowship work studying the effect of artificial light pollution on the orientation of loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings. She said one of the highlights of her graduate work at Coastal Carolina was a trip to Costa Rica, where she got hands-on experience working with leatherback turtles as a teaching assistant in a biology class.

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Last updated: 10/3/2016 3:43:28 PM
News & Notes – Summer 2016


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