Significant Impacts, 2019

Maryland Sea Grant is making a difference.

Maryland Sea Grant projects have produced significant results that aided fishers, businesses, policy makers, and conservation volunteers in Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay region.

Here are highlights of our program's impacts and accomplishments in 2019. These summaries describe scientific research; extension and public outreach; and education and communications efforts.

The highlights are grouped by these four broad focus areas in Maryland Sea Grant's strategic plan:

A cornerstone of our program is to continually evaluate and report on the real-world impacts of our projects. These projects are drawn from our annual report for 2019 to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (NOAA), one of our major funders. You can read our reports about our impacts and accomplishments in years before 2019 in a searchable database (scroll down) at NOAA's National Sea Grant College program.

 

Healthy Coastal Ecosystems

Winter Wonders: Research Finds Phytoplankton Thriving in Chesapeake Bay's Deep Water in Winter. Winter is typically considered a time of slower biological production in Chesapeake Bay, with its shorter days and colder water. But a Maryland Sea Grant-supported study of phytoplankton growth and activity in the Bay's deeper waters has proven otherwise, influencing decision-makers' interpretation of bay water quality models. To learn more...

First Marsh Resilience Summit Helps Direct Future Wetland Conservation in Chesapeake Bay. Maryland Sea Grant and the Chesapeake Bay Sentinel Site Cooperative organized the first-ever Marsh Resilience Summit in February 2019. Approximately 230 marsh-related professionals attended the event to learn the latest science on the current and anticipated status of marshes in Maryland and Virginia and engage in peer dialogue about regional next steps to improve marsh and coastal community resilience. To learn more...

New Funding Expands Chesapeake Bay Sentinel Site Cooperative's Focus on the Human Dimension of Coastal Resiliency. Historically, the Chesapeake Bay Sentinel Site Cooperative (CBSSC) has focused on marsh resiliency within its mission to address sea level rise impacts because of its excellent wetland monitoring data set. However, new funding such as NSF Coastlines and People (CoPe) conference grant and the National Sea Grant's office support for the Sentinel Site Cooperative/Coastal Resiliency has enabled the CBSSC to broaden its scope to include consideration of the human dimension of environmental transitions, especially their effect on underserved communities. To learn more...

Assessing the Anacostia River Tunnel's Impact and Enlisting Citizen Science. Maryland Sea Grant-supported researchers studied changes in the Anacostia River's phytoplankton and bacteria to assess the effectiveness of a new wastewater remediation system, while also mobilizing and training citizen scientists to monitor their river and garnering interest from District of Columbia decision-makers. To learn more...

Filter-feeding Oysters Clean the Bay's Water, but What About Their Feces? A Maryland Sea Grant-supported study of the effects of oyster biodeposits (feces and pseudofeces) in the water column and on the bottom uses a novel technology and provides new data that can improve ecosystem model accuracy, and inform oyster aquaculture siting and Best Management Practices. To learn more...

Aerating a Polluted Tributary Helps Combat the Effects of Too Many Nutrients. Maryland Sea Grant has supported a unique whole-ecosystem study of aeration in a highly polluted Chesapeake Bay tributary. The work yielded new data to inform discussions of whether aeration should be scaled up to improve Bay water quality, prompting decision makers in Maryland and Finland to consider application of this research to management of other impaired waterways. To learn more...

Shifting Sands: How Migrating Barrier Islands Affect Carbon Storage in Saltwater Marshes. Sea Grant-supported scientists analyzed blue carbon at four barrier islands and their back-barriers to better understand how island movement affects carbon storage in saltwater marshes. To learn more...

Top-Down Data: Drones and 3-D Photographic Mapping Provide a Novel Approach to Stream Restoration Monitoring. A Maryland Sea Grant research fellow developed a new way to monitor stream habitats and improve measurement of stream restoration project outcomes using drones and cutting-edge imagery technology to create precise 3-D models. To learn more...

 

Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture

From Local to Global: Fisheries Management Benefits from Maryland Sea Grant Economist's Expertise. Maryland Sea Grant Extension fisheries resource economist provided expertise and analysis to inform state, federal and international fisheries management organizations decisions. To learn more...

Cryptic Crustaceans: Getting to Know Mysids and Their Important Role in the Chesapeake. A Maryland Sea Grant-supported, first-of-its-kind study of mysids in the Chesapeake will develop key data on this important forage species and its ability to link food webs throughout the water column. To learn more...

Maryland Sea Grant Extension and Maryland Sea Grant College Partners with Morgan State University to Grow Capacity for Oyster Aquaculture. University of Maryland Sea Grant Extension and Maryland Sea Grant College have partnered with Morgan State University-a historically black university (HBCU) in Baltimore-to support the oyster industry through applied research and extension activities. To learn more...

Maryland Sea Grant Extension Specialists Assist Oyster Growers. Maryland Sea Grant Extension employs three specialists to assist oyster farmers in different aspects of their efforts to start, grow, and sustain a successful seafood business in Maryland's coastal areas. To learn more...

Protecting Native Fish by Developing Methods to Sterilize Farm-Raised Fish. A Maryland Sea Grant-supported project aims to improve finfish aquaculture by developing a method to systematically raise sterile domestic fish, rendering them incapable of breeding with native fish. To learn more...

 

Resilient Communities and Economies

Maryland Sea Grant Engages with Rural Church Communities to Improve Coastal Resilience. Maryland Sea Grant partnered with a team of anthropologists as well as climate scientists and government officials to work with church leaders on the Eastern Shore and help their communities build resilience to coming changes in the climate and related challenges - including flooding and land loss. To learn more...

Maryland Sea Grant Extension's Watershed Specialist Helps Arboretum Retrofit Parking Lot to Improve Water Quality. Maryland Sea Grant Extension watershed specialists have been working with both rural and urban communities to reduce stormwater runoff. A major redesign of the Adkins Arboretum parking lot helped collect runoff from the lot into rain gardens, reducing stormwater pollution and increasing habitat at the site. To learn more...

Watershed Specialists Team Tackles Stormwater Pollution. Maryland Sea Grant Extension's Watershed Specialists expanded the reach of Maryland Watershed Stewards Academy programs to solve local stormwater runoff problems. To learn more...

Maryland Sea Grant's Climate Team Helps Communities Become More Resilient. Maryland Sea Grant is building a climate resilience team to assist coastal communities in Maryland prepare for climate change effects through improved resiliency planning and adaptation. To learn more...

 

Effective Environmental Science Education

Maryland Sea Grant Begins Building Coastal Legal Capacity to Support Stakeholders Living and Working on Maryland's Coasts. Maryland Sea Grant worked with the Agriculture Law Education Initiative to explore the need for and feasibility of creating Maryland coastal law and policy resources for our stakeholders. A needs assessment and policy roundtable led to the creation of a new coastal law fellowship program. To learn more...

Aquaculture Education Summit Hosted by Maryland Sea Grant for the Sea Grant Educators Network. Maryland Sea Grant was awarded funding from the National Marine Sanctuaries Foundation (NMSF) in 2019 to support the expansion of the Aquaculture in Action (AinA) program into other Sea Grant programs. Funds helped bring together 12 Sea Grant educators from across the National Sea Grant College Program network to learn tools and techniques developed in the AinA program-most notably those developed in the Carroll County Public Schools system. The educators networked with Maryland teachers on aquaculture as a tool for teaching science and the construction of low-cost water quality monitoring techniques using microcomputing as an innovative instructional approach. The AinA model was also used to better understand how educators perceive their strengths related to project-based science in the classroom. The networking opportunity provided a solid foundation for assisting the development of aquaculture education programs in other Sea Grant programs. To learn more...

Biofilms and Microplastics, a Collaboration with an NSF-funded Project to Bring Microplastics Isolation and Discovery to the Classroom. Eight teachers from the City of Baltimore and Baltimore and Carroll counties learned techniques to isolate microplastics from biofilm communities in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. These techniques, along with classroom supplies, helped teachers and students understand the issue of microplastics in aquatic environments. Teachers performed techniques with students and shared results with collaborative partners at Maryland Sea Grant and the Institute of Marine & Environmental Technology. To learn more...

Project Details

Healthy Coastal Ecosystems

Winter Wonders: Research Finds Phytoplankton Thriving in Chesapeake Bay's Deep Water in Winter

Summary: Winter is typically considered a time of slower biological production in Chesapeake Bay, with its shorter days and colder water. But a Maryland Sea Grant-supported study of phytoplankton growth and activity in the Bay's deeper waters has proven otherwise, influencing decision-makers' interpretation of bay water quality models.

Relevance: Phytoplankton form the base of Chesapeake Bay's food web, and single-celled dinoflagellates are among the most ubiquitous of the phytoplankton. Intense influxes of nutrients can cause a phytoplankton bloom, which can lead to hypoxic conditions. Typically, these influxes happen during spring rains and snow runoff, but scientists have identified high concentrations of chlorophyll-signifying the presence of phytoplankton-in the Bay's deeper waters in winter. Although winter is considered a time of slow biological productivity in the Bay, little is known about whether these dinoflagellates are sinking and dying, or whether they are surviving as mixotrophs-using photosynthesis to produce food, as well as eating other micro-organisms. Understanding what is happening in the Bay's deeper waters in winter and how these phytoplankton are growing, as well as their physiology and life cycles, will provide new data to better inform water quality models in the Bay.

Response: Sea Grant-supported scientists at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science conducted monthly winter surveys at three stations established by the Chesapeake Bay Water Quality Monitoring Program. They sampled the surface while also using an optical profiling package to determine phytoplankton density at specific depths, where they could then collect additional water samples. They used these data to measure basic physiology of the winter microbial community including growth rates, loss rates, and photosynthetic rates. They also determined that although mixotrophic dinoflagellates are present in the deeper layers of abundant chlorophyll, these areas are dominated by slow-growing, photosynthetic diatoms. Two Maryland Sea Grant-funded REU students and a PhD student helped conduct these lab analyses. 

Results: The new findings on winter microbial community growth and loss rates are being shared with scientists who are working with the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program so as to improve the representation of phytoplankton activity in the EPA's Chesapeake Bay water quality model. The researchers also developed a novel numerical approach to analyze certain data used to identify and classify microbial communities, which they are translating into an open-source statistical software package. Data from the research will be submitted to the open access PANGAEA data repository.

For more information on this project, please check out the project page.

 

Healthy Coastal Ecosystems

First Marsh Resilience Summit Helps Direct Future Wetland Conservation in Chesapeake Bay

Summary: Maryland Sea Grant and the Chesapeake Bay Sentinel Site Cooperative organized the first-ever Marsh Resilience Summit in February 2019. Approximately 230 marsh-related professionals attended the event to learn the latest science on the current and anticipated status of marshes in Maryland and Virginia and engage in peer dialogue about regional next steps to improve marsh and coastal community resilience.

Relevance: In coastal Maryland and Virginia over 1000 km2 of tidal wetlands are at risk of flooding and erosion due to sea level rise and other human-induced stresses. Research has shown that marshes can provide important ecological services including improved water quality, flood reduction through wave attenuation, erosion protection, and habitat for fish and wildlife. Marshes are dynamic systems, which creates some uncertainty about how they will react to accelerating sea level rise rates. This complicates determining what role they might play in adaptation planning for neighboring land or communities. While multiple symposia have addressed climate change adaptation and hazard mitigation or, more specific topics such as Hurricane Isabel and living shorelines, none have focused on marsh resiliency. The Chesapeake Bay Sentinel Site Cooperative (CBSSC) Management Team suggested that the larger marsh-management community would benefit from a scientist-practitioner dialogue about the primary threats against marshes, management strategies that may help them adapt, and the costs and benefits of marsh maintenance and restoration.

Response: 

Maryland Sea Grant and the CBSSC organized and hosted the Marsh Resilience Summit in February 2019. The Summit presented the latest science on the current and anticipated status of coastal Maryland and Virginia marshes and the associated human dimensions of marsh change and gathered input from attendees to identify priorities and next steps to improve marsh and coastal community resilience. The Summit also sought to strengthen the CBSSC network to improve collaboration and implementation of priority next steps identified at the Summit.

Approximately 230 professionals, representing 115 different agencies attended the two-day event. Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) and Secretary Ben Grumbles (Maryland Department of the Environment) provided opening remarks. Summit participants heard 50 presentations of marsh resilience issues spanning marsh migration, environmental markets, community resilience, restoration techniques, and impacts to agriculture and industry. The participants joined small group facilitated discussions to share feedback on barriers and opportunities to conserve marshlands. Additionally, an evening poster session included 24 posters and offered additional, unstructured networking. The Summit Proceedings summarized participant feedback during the discussion sessions and post-surveys. Over $60,000 in grants and sponsorships was raised to support the two-day event.

Results: Summit participants identified collaboration needs, information gaps, cost-benefit analyses, and points of action to be considered in future efforts to address in marsh resilience. These results were compiled in the Summit Proceedings. These proceedings have been well-received; for example, the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Maryland used the proceedings to inform their strategic management plan.  One important goal of the Summit was to use information from the meeting to help inform future CBSSC efforts such as research opportunities and making scientific information more accessible. For example, one takeaway was that extrapolating wetland condition and response to sea level rise from sentinel sites could benefit sites without rich datasets. With that in mind, the CBSSC's "SET" Working Group submitted a NERRS Science Collaborative Grant to run a statistical analysis that would project marsh elevation change based on the network's collection of Surface Elevation Tables. Impacts from the Summit include: the compilation of a special feature in the journal Wetlands that will share the status of Chesapeake Bay marshes with an international audience and result in expanded understanding of marsh resilience under changing climate; expanded partnerships with the CBSSC (including the addition of a new sentinel site) resulting in expanded monitoring and data sharing that impacts marsh management decisions; and inspired a new CBSSC workshop that informed marsh managers of the basics of surface elevation table installation, maintenance and study design resulting in more SET installations creating a larger network of SETs around the bay which will directly impact understanding of marsh accretion necessary to determine which marshes around the CB should be targeted for protection by management agencies.

 

Healthy Coastal Ecosystems

New Funding Expands Chesapeake Bay Sentinel Site Cooperative's Focus on the Human Dimension of Coastal Resiliency

Summary: Historically, the Chesapeake Bay Sentinel Site Cooperative (CBSSC) has focused on marsh resiliency within its mission to address sea level rise impacts because of its excellent wetland monitoring data set. However, new funding such as NSF Coastlines and People (CoPe) conference grant and the National Sea Grant's office support for the Sentinel Site Cooperative/Coastal Resiliency has enabled the CBSSC to broaden its scope to include consideration of the human dimension of environmental transitions, especially their effect on underserved communities.

Relevance: The coastal Chesapeake Bay region is home to millions of residents, yet these metropolises, rural towns, military centers, ports, farms, fisheries, parks, and innumerable historic locales are vulnerable to one of the highest rates of sea level rise in the United States - putting them increasingly at risk of chronic flooding and inundation. To plan for the future, stakeholders must understand their local relative rates of sea level rise (RSLR) and the factors contributing to these variations. Scientists, town planners and land managers, for example, must come together to discuss how vertical land motion (VLM) contributes to RSLR, how to monitor VLM rates across the region, and whether mitigation strategies exist to moderate VLM. Importantly, community stakeholders, including those who feel underrepresented in rural areas, should understand how RSLR and its accelerating rate, will have multiple impacts on different types of land uses, such as wetlands, agriculture, and residential communities. These stakeholders each have their own values, priorities, and restraints, which will influence the most desirable or feasible management options. Presenting the best available science on the causes of RSLR, anticipated land uses changes, and the cost-effectiveness of different management options will empower the Chesapeake Bay region to choose best investments for future adaptation.

Response: In June 2019, Fredrika Moser, Taryn Sudol (CBSSC Coordinator), and others submitted a proposal to NSF CoPe for conference funding to support two workshops to advance RSLR planning. The first, "Vertical Land Motion in the Chesapeake Bay," will explore the scientific understanding of the hydrodynamic geostatic drivers of VLM rates in the Chesapeake Bay region and identify research needs and areas where understanding VLM rates may be most critical for land use planning. The second workshop, "Evaluating Land Use Tradeoffs in the Chesapeake Bay," expands its reach to work with farmers to discuss the impacts of RSLR, the importance of understanding VLM rates, and how physical processes affect coastal land inundation and will drive land use changes on their properties.

Results: The primary result was the success of the NSF CoPe proposal which was funded; planning for the first workshop began in September 2019 and included biweekly calls among a 15-person steering committee, recruiting speakers, venue logistics, advertising the workshop and recruiting participants, administering and pre-survey, and creating a briefing document. The first workshop is planned for Winter 2020 in Hampton, VA and the second for Fall 2020 in Salisbury, MD.

 

Healthy Coastal Ecosystems

Assessing the Anacostia River Tunnel's Impact and Enlisting Citizen Science

Summary: Maryland Sea Grant-supported researchers studied changes in the Anacostia River's phytoplankton and bacteria to assess the effectiveness of a new wastewater remediation system, while also mobilizing and training citizen scientists to monitor their river and garnering interest from District of Columbia decision-makers.

Relevance: The Anacostia River, which flows through the nation's capital, is one of the Chesapeake Bay's most polluted tributaries. It has long been unhealthy for humans and aquatic organisms. Millions of gallons of urban sewage and stormwater runoff routinely flow into the river. Designed to reduce the combined sewer outflow by up to 80 percent, the 2.3-mile-long Anacostia River Tunnel began operating in March 2018. Studying changes in phytoplankton, bacteria, and the river's microbial community will help assess the tunnel's effectiveness in reducing algal blooms and bacterial contamination. Additionally, engaging citizen scientists to help continuously monitor the river will be critical to its ongoing restoration.

Response: Through a Sea Grant-supported project, two researchers, a Sea Grant fellow, and several undergraduate students from Gallaudet University synthesized four years of data on nutrients and phytoplankton collected biweekly and monthly before the tunnel's construction. They also conducted sampling after the tunnel began operating in spring 2018. Unrelenting rains made 2018 the wettest fall on record in Washington, D.C., leading to higher-than-normal stormwater runoff and nutrient loading from land and complicating efforts to accurately assess the tunnel's effectiveness. In 2019, 15 sampling trips were conducted, and two experiments were led by the MDSG fellow. The experiments manipulated water with various nutrient additions to understand which phytoplankton communities would develop under different nutrient regimes, helping to improve interpretation of the field data. 

Results: Working with the Anacostia Riverkeeper, the Sea Grant-supported project helped train 121 volunteers to sample for E. coli bacteria at multiple locations. Data from this new citizen-science effort is used weekly to update the SwimGuide, through which residents can evaluate the river's safety for swimming and other activities. At the 2019 Anacostia River Festival, more than 7,000 attendees interacted with the Sea Grant fellow and undergraduate students who presented a popular working model of a wastewater treatment plan to illustrate the tunnel's purpose. The researchers also shared the synthesis of the pre-tunnel monitoring data with the District of Columbia Department of Energy & Environment, which prompted it to encourage Gallaudet-a university for the education of the deaf and hard of hearing-to seek additional collaborative research opportunities and engagement with District officials.

For more information on this project, please check out the project page.

 

Healthy Coastal Ecosystems

Filter-feeding Oysters Clean the Bay's Water, but What About Their Feces?

Summary: A Maryland Sea Grant-supported study of the effects of oyster biodeposits (feces and pseudofeces) in the water column and on the bottom uses a novel technology and provides new data that can improve ecosystem model accuracy, and inform oyster aquaculture siting and Best Management Practices.

Relevance: Oyster aquaculture in the Chesapeake Bay helps to keep the fishery economically viable, allows the wild population to recover, and improves the Bay's water quality. However, scientists and managers know little about oyster biodeposits-oyster feces and pseudofeces-and how they behave both in the water column, where they can be resuspended due to tides, storms, and currents, and on the bottom, where they can potentially turn sediments anoxic and overwhelm macrofauna. Scientists do not know enough about their potential effects on the complex dynamics of light, benthic organisms, and water quality, including dissolved oxygen and nutrients. A better understanding of oyster biodeposits' effects in water and sediment will provide new data to more accurately evaluate the use of oysters as a water quality Best Management Practice as well as inform siting of aquaculture projects.

Response: A Maryland Sea Grant-supported scientist and five Maryland Sea Grant-funded undergraduate students conducted experiments over two summers using the Shear Turbulence Resuspension Mesocosm (STURM) facility at the Patuxent Environmental and Aquatic Research Laboratory to examine the effects of biodeposits in the water column and in sediment. In these experiments, they were able to accurately mimic current and bottom shear-which lifts biodeposits from the bottom and resuspends them in the water column-versus conditions where biodeposits settle in sediment, mimicking areas of low current and no resuspension. First they compared the effects of externally introduced biodeposits in both environments without oysters in the tanks, and then compared the same with oysters installed in rafts in the tanks. They analyzed sediment cores and water for multiple indicators including dissolved oxygen, nitrites, nitrates, and ammonia to see the effects of biodeposits.

Results: Analysis of the STURM results is ongoing, but the successful application of the system will allow researchers to include tidal and episodic sediment and biodeposit resuspension in whole ecosystem studies for what is believed to be the first time. This will provide new data on oyster biodeposits for resource managers and system models. Researchers in Germany and Korea are collaborating with the principal investigator to use the STURM system. The principal investigator has applied for U.S. and international patents for the STURM paddle design and is expanding her research this year to study the way that currents and erosion export biodeposits from aquaculture sites.

For more information on this project, please check out the project page.

 

Healthy Coastal Ecosystems

Aerating a Polluted Tributary Helps Combat the Effects of Too Many Nutrients

Summary: Maryland Sea Grant has supported a unique whole-ecosystem study of aeration in a highly polluted Chesapeake Bay tributary. The work yielded new data to inform discussions of whether aeration should be scaled up to improve Bay water quality, prompting decision makers in Maryland and Finland to consider application of this research to management of other impaired waterways.

Relevance: Since 1988, aerators have been operating in Rock Creek, a tributary of the highly polluted Patapsco River in Baltimore. The system pumps 15,000 liters of air per minute into the water, helping to oxygenate the water column and limit nutrients and algae growth. It also provides scientists an opportunity to study oxygen's impacts in eutrophic systems. Learning how aeration affects biogeochemistry and water quality parameters, rates of photosynthesis and oxygen consumption, phytoplankton growth, and low-oxygen nutrient recycling-the cycle in which nutrients recycle within the system rather than being eliminated-could help managers assess the effectiveness of aeration as a mitigation strategy for other Chesapeake waterways. It also helps them understand and quantify the cost of low oxygen in terms of reducing the natural ability of estuaries to remove nutrients when the water column is hypoxic.

Response: Over three years, Maryland Sea Grant-supported researchers, as well as two REU students, a fellow, and an intern, engaged in a whole-ecosystem experiment using the aeration system. By manipulating oxygen content, they quantified the system's benefits related to how nitrogen, phosphorous, and oxygen were recycled in the water column and in sediments. They learned that, within 24 hours after the system was turned off, oxygen disappeared almost entirely, impacting regions beyond the aerated area. This finding suggests that the aerators can improve oxygen far beyond their locations at the tidal creek's landward end. They determined that, while aeration does help diminish low-oxygen nutrient recycling, this process began much sooner for phosphorous than for nitrogen. They also developed a nitrogen mass balance budget for the creek, which quantified the impact of hypoxic conditions. It found an approximately 23% reduction in denitrification rates as well as enhanced nitrogen recycling. Using an estimate of $280 per pound of nitrogen removal, this means that Rock Creek aeration provides a benefit of approximately $27,353,480.

Results: The ability to quantify the cost of hypoxia to lost denitrification contributes to ongoing nutrient-trading discussions related to water quality best management practices. The researchers' work helped inform the decision to replace the $1 million aeration system in Rock Creek, and data on the creek's eutrophication has spurred Anne Arundel County and the Restore Rock Creek stewardship group to implement more restoration activities in the watershed. The research also led to the principal investigator serving as an advisor on a report to the government of Finland in its efforts to explore mitigation strategies in the Baltic Sea.

For more information on this project, please check out this project page and this project page.

 

Healthy Coastal Ecosystems

Shifting Sands: How Migrating Barrier Islands Affect Carbon Storage in Saltwater Marshes

Summary: Sea Grant-supported scientists analyzed blue carbon at four barrier islands and their back-barriers to better understand how island movement affects carbon storage in saltwater marshes.

Relevance: Salt marshes store far more carbon-called blue carbon when associated with these coastal environments-than nearly any other ecosystem, comparatively as much as 10 times what is stored in forests. But sea level rise and more powerful ocean storms are redistributing the sands of barrier islands, causing islands to migrate landward and in some cases rapidly reshaping the back-barrier marshes between the islands and the mainland. Understanding how this migration affects blue carbon storage in saltwater marshes will help reveal the interconnection between barrier islands and back-barrier environments and inform managers how to better restore and manage these habitats.

Response: From 2016 to 2019, a Sea Grant-funded scientist at George Washington University, collaborating with researchers at the University of Delaware, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and Montclair State University, studied blue carbon at four sites: Long Beach Island and Brigantine Island in New Jersey, and Parramore Island and Cedar Island in Virginia. The former are considered less mobile due to beach nourishment or because of their size and elevation, while the latter are relatively pristine regarding shoreline management, allowing unrestricted island movement. Researchers took 646 soil samples in these back-barrier marshes, as well as data on soil salinity, vegetation, and elevation. In all four, they found reduced carbon signatures due to sands that had moved up to two kilometers from the islands themselves. This sphere of influence of the islands on the marshes was greater than scientists expected. While lower carbon density in the back-barrier due to over-washing sand was detectable, it was dwarfed by the loss of carbon on the ocean side due to erosion of exposed peat. Geologic studies also determined that the back-barrier marsh plays a critical role in slowing the rate of barrier island migration by providing a platform for the island to move on to.

Results: The findings of this collaborative research contributed to a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant funding a marsh restoration plan to slow migration and create habitat in the Virginia islands' back-barriers. Researchers also sponsored two Coastal Change Workshops in Virginia and New Jersey for managers, the Army Corps of Engineers, local planning commission officials, and other stakeholders. Local officials in Chincoteague, Virginia, said this workshop helped reach community members who had been unable to understand the link between barrier island and back-barrier environments. The data are now archived and available to the public as part of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center's Coastal Carbon Atlas.

For more information on this project, please check out the project page.

 

Healthy Coastal Ecosystems

Top-Down Data: Drones and 3-D Photographic Mapping Provide a Novel Approach to Stream Restoration Monitoring

Summary: A Maryland Sea Grant research fellow developed a new way to monitor stream habitats and improve measurement of stream restoration project outcomes using drones and cutting-edge imagery technology to create precise 3-D models.

Relevance: Freshwater tributaries pour approximately 51 billion gallons of water daily into the Chesapeake Bay. Restoring streams will support more biological diversity, control storm flows, and better filter nutrients and runoff, which improves the Bay's water quality. Most stream restoration is based on the concept that modifying the physical habitat to create a range of water depths, velocities, and substrates supports biodiversity and ecosystem health. But it remains unclear how much physical change is required to achieve those outcomes. In part, this is due to gaps in the conventional methods of measuring aquatic habitat, which typically rely either on broad-scale summary of channel features or fine-scale measures of channel hydrology at specific locations. Developing habitat measures that provide precise detail across greater expanses of a waterway would improve habitat monitoring and help refine restoration strategies.

Response: Using wintertime drone flights to improve visibility, Haley Oakland, a Maryland Sea Grant research fellow and master's degree student at University of Maryland Baltimore County, photographically surveyed five Maryland sites and five southeastern Pennsylvania sites restored using concepts of Natural Channel Design-an established protocol that emulates natural river systems. At each site, she assessed stream characteristics both inside and outside of restored reaches using structure from motion (SfM), a novel technology that employs multiple images of an object from varying positions to create 3-D models. The computer models accurately and precisely mapped detailed patterns of habitat over broad, continuous stretches, providing vastly more data on habitat in both restored and unrestored areas. Her findings highlight the potential for bias in field assessments and suggest that some restoration goals may be incompatible with creating diverse stream habitat conditions. Both have the potential to alter stream habitat assessment standards and the best methods to identify restoration success.

Results: The fellow's research is among the first to apply emerging habitat mapping technologies to stream restoration, bringing new methods and perspectives to resource managers. She is collaborating with the Maryland Biological Stream Survey and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Appalachian Laboratory to communicate this technology to the Maryland monitoring community. In April 2020 she presented her research remotely to Maryland Department of Natural Resources staff and Maryland Sea Grant staff.

 

Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture

From Local to Global: Fisheries Management Benefits from Maryland Sea Grant Economist's Expertise

Summary: Maryland Sea Grant Extension fisheries resource economist provided expertise and analysis to inform state, federal and international fisheries management organizations decisions.

Relevance: Effective management of Maryland's commercial fisheries requires a basis in high-quality science. This includes economic analysis, which seeks to determine the net benefits of fisheries management decisions. For example, economic analysis provides an evidence-based method to allocate fisheries resources between competing interests. The Chesapeake Bay's fisheries have provided benefits to a variety of Marylanders, including watermen, seafood processors and consumers, and recreational and sport fishers.

Response: In 2019, Maryland Sea Grant Extension Program's (MDSGEP) fisheries resource economics specialist, Dr. Jorge Holzer, served as vice-chair of the Committee on Economics and Social Sciences (CESS) and as a member of the Striped Bass Plan Review Team (PRT) at the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), as Maryland Sea Grant representative on the EPA's Chesapeake Bay Program's Sustainable Fisheries Goal Implementation Team, and as US representative (chair-invited) member for the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) Working Group on Economics (WGECON). 

Results: Key results from the work of the MDSGEP fisheries economist in 2019 are as follows: 1) As vice-chair of the CESS and the Striped Bass PRT, Holzer drafted the economic impacts for Addendum VI to Amendment 6 to the Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan (which reduced striped bass quotas by 18%). The Addendum was approved by the Commission and determines the total striped bass quota available to the industry in the fifteen Atlantic coastal states; 2) He reviewed (and amended) the new ASMFC Risk and Uncertainty draft policy, which defines the methodology for setting determining precautionary buffers when setting quotas. The ASMFC Risk policy is scheduled for approval in late 2020 and will impact the calculation of harvest quotas for all the commercial species managed by the Commission; 3) Holzer and a graduate student advanced management strategy evaluations for Summer Flounder in the Atlantic Coast in response to needs expressed by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council who received the preliminary results in 2019 9. These findings were incorporated in the new risk policy approved by the Mid-Atlantic Council in 2019; 4) Holzer and staff economists at NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science Center developed empirical strategies for identifying non-compliance of quota restrictions in the multispecies fishery in response to needs expressed by the New England Fishery Management Council. Holzer and colleagues are currently working with the New England Fishery Management Council staff to implement the methodology in the monitoring of groundfish quotas; and 5) Holzer provided scientific advice to the ICES WGECON by identifying US case studies where economic analysis informed the design of fisheries management. This information is part of ICES WGECON's second report, to be released in 2020. In summary, the MDSGEP fisheries economist significantly contributed to tangible advancements in fisheries management decisions affecting state, national and international fishing regulations and quota decisions to advance U.S. and international commercial fish harvest decision making. 

 

Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture

Cryptic Crustaceans: Getting to Know Mysids and Their Important Role in the Chesapeake

Summary: A Maryland Sea Grant-supported, first-of-its-kind study of mysids in the Chesapeake will develop key data on this important forage species and its ability to link food webs throughout the water column.

Relevance: Mysids, also known as opossum shrimp, are small crustaceans that play a big role in coastal food webs. They are important food sources for species including weakfish, summer flounder, and American shad. Because they migrate through the water column-clustering near the bottom during the day and spreading out near the surface at night-they act as biological transfer mechanisms in food webs within the water's layers. However, scientists know little about mysids in the Chesapeake. Understanding their distribution, behavior, and abundance will provide resource managers critical baseline data about these important species to improve the accuracy and effectiveness of ecosystem-based models. In addition, learning how they respond to hypoxic conditions, which frequently occur in the benthic levels of the Bay and its tributaries, will help link biological responses to water quality. 

Response: Through a Maryland Sea Grant-supported project, researchers at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science worked with two graduate students, an undergraduate, and three community college undergraduate interns to undertake a first-of-its-kind study of mysids in the Bay. Over two years they completed 40 research cruises in the Choptank and Patuxent rivers from May through September. At seven stations in each, encompassing different levels of salinity and bottom topography, researchers sampled mysids using zooplankton nets at night, and for the first time used a high-resolution ARIS sonar system for daytime mysid swarm sampling. They also monitored salinity, temperature, and water quality throughout the water column, and used carbon and nitrogen isotopes to investigate what and where the mysids were eating. Sample analysis is ongoing, but preliminary results suggest females in the Choptank carried more eggs than those in the Patuxent, though the rivers' populations are not genetically distinct. As the Patuxent River samples showed higher stratification and lower dissolved oxygen than the Choptank, this indicates that water quality may affect fecundity.  

Results: Researchers engaged about 30 advanced computer game design students at University of Baltimore at the Universities at Shady Grove, who developed five prototype computer games and one board game based on mysids. The games emphasize the role of water quality, small forage species like mysids, and the lower trophic levels in sustaining the Bay's ecosystems. These unusual outreach tools can be used in other educational settings and at laboratory open house events. Researchers have also begun distributing preliminary results to regional management groups, providing baseline data on mysids to improve ecosystem-based models for resource management in the Bay. Additional analysis of mysid distribution relative to water quality will provide data on the relationship between mysid distribution and bottom water oxygenation.

For more information on this project, please check out the project page.

 

Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture

Maryland Sea Grant Extension and Maryland Sea Grant College Partners with Morgan State University to Grow Capacity for Oyster Aquaculture

Summary: University of Maryland Sea Grant Extension and Maryland Sea Grant College have partnered with Morgan State University-a historically black university (HBCU) in Baltimore-to support the oyster industry through applied research and extension activities.

Relevance: While Morgan State University's base of operations is in Baltimore, the university also operates the Morgan State University Patuxent Environmental and Aquatic Research Laboratory (MSU PEARL) 80 miles south of the city in Southern Maryland. MSU PEARL has a history of working with area watermen and has broadened that relationship to include oyster aquaculturalists, which now number more than 18 in the region. While aquaculture has grown in Southern Maryland, not all residents and local government officials have been supportive; oyster farmers have had to address local restrictions on aquaculture facilities and several bills introduced in the Maryland legislature aimed at restricting aquaculture operations in the region. Maryland Sea Grant's current shellfish and seafood processing extension specialists are primarily located on Maryland's Eastern Shore, across the Chesapeake Bay and about a three-hour drive away from Southern Maryland, yet this team also has outreach responsibility for industry in the region. Maryland Sea Grant acknowledged limited extension capacity to comprehensively assist the aquaculture and commercial industry in Southern Maryland and engaged with research facilities in the area at the PEARL facility and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science's Chesapeake Biological Laboratory.

Response: MSU PEARL recruited a shellfish genomics researcher in 2019 to better support the growing aquaculture industry and approached Maryland Sea Grant to explore the possibility of a shared aquaculture extension specialist position to provide regional support to the Southern Maryland geographic area. This position would both work within the PEARL research hatchery and interact with the wild harvest and aquaculture oyster industries in Southern Maryland. Funding for the extension component of this program is through Maryland Sea Grant and University of Maryland Extension. This three-year pilot project will explore regional industry needs and build regional partnerships to determine the value of seeking a permanent aquaculture extension position in Southern Maryland. This newly created position is responsible for managing the PEARL research hatchery to support their genomics research, serving as an extension specialist to assist area oyster farmers, and connecting the research community with the industry.

Results: The primary result was the first ever Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by Morgan State University, the University of Maryland Extension, and Maryland Sea Grant. This MOU codifies collaborative support for a three-year combined shellfish hatchery manager and extension specialist position in Southern Maryland. The position is expected to be filled in spring 2020 and will report to PEARL. An important result was to establish an advisory committee consisting of the funders, industry representatives, and academic institutions in the region to assist with program planning and evaluation. The goal is to maximize the value of this pilot project and assess the value of creating a permanent position at the end of three years.

 

Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture

Maryland Sea Grant Extension Specialists Assist Oyster Growers

Summary: Maryland Sea Grant Extension employs three specialists to assist oyster farmers in different aspects of their efforts to start, grow, and sustain a successful seafood business in Maryland's coastal areas.

Relevance: Oysters help filter the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, improving its water quality, and their reefs create habitat for a variety of fish, crabs, and worms. As the wild oyster fishery has declined in Maryland, the state has endorsed the development of private aquaculture efforts, and oyster farmers are investing their own capital to start and maintain oyster aquaculture facilities. Maryland Sea Grant Extension's aquaculture specialists have been involved in oyster aquaculture for decades, and in recent years they have become an increasingly valuable component of a healthy and sustainable industry as it has expanded and changed. They helped pass legislation ten years ago that has led to an aquaculture industry that's growing about 20 percent a year in the state, with 464 leases covering 7,400 acres in active production and 120 applications in process.

Response: In 2019, Maryland Sea Grant Extension promoted Shannon Hood to associate agent, with a focus on shellfish aquaculture. Hood is completing a doctorate with the University of Maryland. She operates an oyster demonstration farm at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science's Horn Point Oyster Hatchery and led tours, scheduled workshops, and conducted one-on-one consultations with oyster farmers who are interested in more effective techniques and equipment to grow oysters. Matt Parker, an aquaculture business specialist, continues to support oyster farmers who seek financial assistance from the state to grow their business through the Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation, or MARBIDCO. This low-interest loan program is designed with a partial loan forgiveness element for borrowers meeting certain performance conditions. Rounding out the team is Donald Webster, longtime regional specialist in aquaculture, who has been teaching watermen how to set oysters in tanks so they can place the bivalves on leased beds. Webster also serves on the Aquaculture Coordinating Council and works as a liaison between oyster farmers and state officials to assist with permitting. He has authored scholarly papers, mentored students, and run aquaculture workshops. 

Results: Parker assisted two applicants secure loan commitments of $134,000 in 2019 from MARBIDCO, which received four applications. At the demonstration farm, Hood tested several different grow-out systems to determine effectiveness of the gear for oyster production and also experimented with techniques to reduce fouling and pests such as mud worms. Through the remote-setting program, Webster worked with 45 oyster growers at eight locations to produce 250 million seed that will grow into oysters. Ten growers installed remote setting systems on their own operations. Collectively, these efforts have helped Maryland develop a robust oyster aquaculture industry that evolves with the growers' needs.

 

Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture

Protecting Native Fish by Developing Methods to Sterilize Farm-Raised Fish

Summary: A Maryland Sea Grant-supported project aims to improve finfish aquaculture by developing a method to systematically raise sterile domestic fish, rendering them incapable of breeding with native fish.

Relevance: The world's human population is projected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, and aquaculture is a viable way to produce protein to feed that population while also reducing pressures on wild fisheries. In 2016, the United States produced $1.5 billion worth of seafood by aquaculture, much of it oysters ($192 million) and Atlantic salmon ($68 million). A particular problem with aquaculture is the potential for domestically bred fish to escape confinement and possibly breed with wild populations, threatening their very survival. Farmed fish, which are genetically less diverse than native fish, can mate with wild stock and wreak havoc on the gene pool, potentially leading to the displacement or disappearance of native stocks. A method to systematically raise sterile farmed fish that minimizes this threat would benefit local and global aquaculture.

Response: Two researchers at University of Maryland Baltimore County have developed a technology that disrupts the formation of germ cells that would otherwise become an egg and sperm in fish. The scientists use a gene silencer, Morpholino oligomer (MO), to block a key protein called deadend. The team successfully tested the process on zebrafish and have expanded the testing to sablefish, a marine aquaculture species. Building on earlier work that used microinjections for the sterilization, they have developed a "bath" treatment to treat more fish embryos with the sterilization solution simultaneously.

Results: The researchers successfully cloned the sablefish deadend cDNA and applied it to design the MO silencer to use via microinjection and bath immersion. In the first large-scale immersion trial, 10 to 15 percent of the sample were sterile. Protocol parameters are being refined to elevate those numbers; however, the federal shutdown in January 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic of early 2020 have interfered with access to the broodstocks, located at a NOAA facility in Washington. Thus, the team was unable to repeat the experiment during the optimal months of January through March. They presented their results to wide audiences at Aquaculture America 2020, the World Aquaculture Society's 2019 meeting, and the Korea Federation Fisheries Science and Technology Association conference in 2018.

For more information on this project, please check out the project page.

 

Resilient Communities and Economies

Maryland Sea Grant Engages with Rural Church Communities to Improve Coastal Resilience

Summary: Maryland Sea Grant partnered with a team of anthropologists as well as climate scientists and government officials to work with church leaders on the Eastern Shore and help their communities build resilience to coming changes in the climate and related challenges - including flooding and land loss.

Relevance: Among the many areas in the country affected by climate change, Maryland's Eastern Shore is one of the most vulnerable. Many of its small communities lack adaptation resources and planning organizations, including local-level governments, as they are unincorporated. Church leaders act as liaisons with governments and nonprofits to bring communities the information and assistance they need and to raise local concerns to regional decision-makers. The anthropologists who led this effort aimed to create a resilience network where members of the communities could engage with scientists, county and state government officials, and federal partners to determine what kind of assistance they could receive.

Response: Dozens of community members turned out for several meetings with their government leaders. These sessions included conversations with climate scientists and modelers who presented graphic and visual information on maps to clearly show the magnitude of climate change and the location of vulnerable areas. Maryland Sea Grant Extension collaborated with anthropologists to help facilitate these conversations, which helped lead to state funding for a living shoreline project in one of the communities, Deal Island, and a push for the state to be more proactive in cleaning out the Shore's miles of drainage ditches to help prevent clogging and more flooding. Maryland Sea Grant also produced a film highlighting the collaborative learning process so that other communities could use the approach.

Results: Participants said they felt more connected to government officials and assistance when the project ended in 2019, and they understood better how climate change was threatening their communities. A key result was a Maryland Sea Grant produced collaborative learning film which showcased the project's outcomes and documented how discussions among scientists, government officials, church leaders, and community residents can increase stakeholder knowledge and advance local and regional goals for resilience. The film, available on Maryland Sea Grant's YouTube channel, is an important resource for any community working to bridge diverse perspectives in response to climate change or other environmental challenges. The film has been used by Maryland Sea Grant to highlight the process of collaborative learning in grant proposals and to inform an on-going NSF CoPe project using collaborative learning with farmers whose land is being innundated by saltwater intrusion. It has had 640 views on the Maryland Sea Grant YouTube channel.

 

Resilient Communities and Economies

Maryland Sea Grant Extension's Watershed Specialist Helps Arboretum Retrofit Parking Lot to Improve Water Quality

Summary: Maryland Sea Grant Extension watershed specialists have been working with both rural and urban communities to reduce stormwater runoff. A major redesign of the Adkins Arboretum parking lot helped collect runoff from the lot into rain gardens, reducing stormwater pollution and increasing habitat at the site.

Relevance: Adkins Arboretum on Maryland's Eastern Shore includes more than 400 acres of native tulip poplar, birch, and paw paw trees nestled next to a pond-like wetland. It welcomes more than 18,000 visitors a year, many for educational programming, and until 2019 its uninviting asphalt lot was the first thing they saw. Also, runoff from heavy rains drained off the lot into a nearby stream that is a major tributary of the Choptank River. The arboretum is also a well-known site in the county, and having a demonstration project there to show the value of reducing runoff while beautifying a property could inspire others to pursue similar projects and amplify the local impact in the watershed.

Response: Adkins Arboretum's director reached out to Maryland Sea Grant Extension for assistance in planning and funding the parking lot project. Extension Specialist Eric Buehl helped the arboretum secure a $328,750 grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to slow the flow of stormwater and retain it on site. Buehl was involved throughout all aspects of the planning, design, and implementation of the project, which took about two years to complete. The team worked closely with Caroline County staff, including their assistant planning director, to ensure that they accounted for all reductions in the county's Watershed Implementation Plan, which lays out a strategy for local governments to reduce pollution entering the Chesapeake Bay.

Results: The project, called Parking Lot Alive!, now includes seven stormwater retention and pollinator gardens. The former flat lot includes three bioretention areas totaling 3,178 square feet, as well as 3,083 square feet of permeable pavers that let water soak into the ground on site instead of draining off into waterways. The lot also gained numerous native trees and plants spread across the seven small gardens while removing a total of 4,987 square feet of asphalt. The project engineer estimates the annual load reductions to the local tributary, Tuckahoe Creek, at approximately 10.3 pounds of nitrogen, 1.1 pounds of phosphorus, and 660 pounds of suspended sediment. Since its debut, Parking Lot Alive! has attracted visitors, including landscape architects, who are interested in doing similar projects in their communities.

 

Resilient Communities and Economies 

Watershed Specialists Team Tackles Stormwater Pollution

Summary: Maryland Sea Grant Extension's Watershed Specialists expanded the reach of Maryland Watershed Stewards Academy programs to solve local stormwater runoff problems.

Relevance: The Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries bring significant economic, cultural, and ecological value to Maryland. Yet despite signs of improvement, the Bay remain polluted, and stormwater runoff is a leading cause. Controlling stormwater requires buy-in from private citizens on private property as well as volunteers willing to assist in identifying solutions to local runoff problems. Municipalities can influence large stormwater reduction efforts, but often these efforts do not reach homeowners or renters to encourage installation of smaller practices to control runoff such as rain gardens and rain barrels. Many residents do not undertake these home improvements because they do not know how to install them, or why it's important to do so.

Response: In 2008, Anne Arundel County Public Schools and the Department of Public Works formed a partnership that created the Watershed Stewards Academy (WSA) to train and support a diverse group of volunteers ("stewards") to educate communities and to design, implement, maintain, and promote restoration projects focused on stormwater management and improving local water quality.  Collaborating with the Anne Arundel program, Maryland Sea Grant Extension built upon its model to create a statewide WSA program in 2012. Maryland Sea Grant's extension specialists have formed and run academies in Howard, Cecil, St. Mary's, and Harford counties, and the DC Metro area. Stewards enroll in a 12- to 18-month program and receive over 40 hours of classroom and field training and project implementation experience. They also complete a capstone project that includes a site assessment, community engagement, implementation activities, and a maintenance plan. 

Results: In 2019, this effort resulted in 42 new projects that total 7,390 square feet of best management practices treating 33,345 square feet of impervious surfaces. In all, the stewards planted 1,812 native plants, held 70 educational events, educated 1,810 individuals, and engaged 1,184 volunteers to complete nine rain gardens, 130 rain barrels, individual and community site assessments, conservation landscapes, storm drain stenciling, tree plantings, and trash clean-up events. Volunteer hours in 2019 totaled 3,556, resulting in an estimated value of $90,429.08 if assuming an hourly rate of $25.43, the rate cited in Independent Sector as standard for such work.

 

Resilient Communities and Economies

Maryland Sea Grant's Climate Team Helps Communities Become More Resilient

Summary: Maryland Sea Grant is building a climate resilience team to assist coastal communities in Maryland prepare for climate change effects through improved resiliency planning and adaptation.

Relevance: About 70% of Maryland's population - more than four million people - live in a coastal county. However, Maryland's coastal communities face challenges due to a changing climate, including warmer air and ocean temperatures, more frequent storm events, and flooding from rising sea levels and increased precipitation. Sea level in Maryland is rising at a rate that exceeds the global average. Maryland residents in low-lying coastal areas are exceptionally vulnerable to flooding. Communities need a way to plan for the future and learn from each other.

Response: Maryland Sea Grant is building a coastal climate resilience program to help coastal residents and decision-makers understand and prepare for the effects of climate change. Maryland Sea Grant's coastal climate team with includes extension faculty, Jennifer Dindinger, Chesapeake Bay Sentinel Site Cooperative coordinator, Taryn Sudol, and research manager and design specialist, Jenna Clark. The team's newest member, climate specialist Kate McClure, participates in multiple state and regional workgroups and partnerships that address climate adaptation, specifically with regard to sea level rise planning and coastal resilience. McClure and Maryland Sea Grant director Fredrika Moser, contributed to a Maryland state plan to adapt to saltwater intrusion and salinization. McClure also assisted with a nuisance flooding plan for Kent County on the Eastern Shore. The climate team contributes to community meetings about coastal flooding and gives presentations to stakeholders on climate impacts in Maryland. The team is an important resource for government leaders, scientists, and residents concerned with coastal communities and climate adaptation. Highlighted efforts by McClure included two site visits with residents in Dorchester County on Maryland's Eastern Shore to address flooding and erosion issues, and development of an educational module on climate change for the Municipal Online Stormwater Training Center's online course, entitled Landscaping for Resilience in a Changing Climate.

Results: In 2019, coastal climate specialist McClure gave four presentations to a total of 87 individuals about climate change and sea level rise. Based on survey responses from 47 participants, 89% agreed or strongly agreed that the presentation improved their understanding of the topic. McClure and Sudol both improved and expanded content on coastal resilience on the MDSG's website. The key result is improved information delivery to coastal residents and government officials, and better understanding and responses by stakeholders to local climate change affects.

 

Effective Environmental Science Education

Maryland Sea Grant Begins Building Coastal Legal Capacity to Support Stakeholders Living and Working on Maryland's Coasts

Summary: Maryland Sea Grant worked with the Agriculture Law Education Initiative to explore the need for and feasibility of creating Maryland coastal law and policy resources for our stakeholders. A needs assessment and policy roundtable led to the creation of a new coastal law fellowship program.

Relevance: One of the National Sea Grant College Program's primary goals is ensuring that stakeholders have a thorough understanding of coastal issues. While other Sea Grant programs have legal education resources in place, Maryland Sea Grant (MDSG) currently lacks this capacity. As topics such as resilience and aquaculture regulations become increasingly salient for coastal homeowners and workers, it is important they have access to law and policy information that will help them make better informed decisions.

Response: Our team, consisting of two MDSG staff, a MDSG watershed extension specialist, and two lawyers from the University of Maryland's Agriculture Law Education Initiative, conducted a legal needs assessment through a targeted survey to over 300 Marylanders. It sought to determine if constituents were satisfied with their coastal legal knowledge and if they would use Sea Grant legal resources to get more information about specific coastal issues. Concurrently, MDSG held in-person visits and discussions with existing Sea Grant legal programs to better understand methods for developing and delivering resources for citizens. MDSG then organized a roundtable where constituents discussed potential program structures, partnerships, funding opportunities, and deliverables based on the stakeholder needs identified in the survey.

Results: In December 2019, fifty constituents from multiple sectors gathered for the Maryland Coastal Law and Policy Roundtable. Participants shared their ideas for a legal resource structure, deliverables, and partnerships and their commitments to future engagement in the project. The key result of this effort was the creation of an MDSG legal fellowship program to start developing a full-fledged MDSG legal resource. This fellowship will address several needs and provide resources identified during the project. In 2020, several sources of funding, including a Phase II grant from the National Sea Grant Law Center, will be sought to hire the inaugural fellow.

 

Effective Environmental Science Education

Aquaculture Education Summit Hosted by Maryland Sea Grant for the Sea Grant Educators Network

Summary: Maryland Sea Grant was awarded funding from the National Marine Sanctuaries Foundation (NMSF) in 2019 to support the expansion of the Aquaculture in Action (AinA) program into other Sea Grant programs. Funds helped bring together 12 Sea Grant educators from across the National Sea Grant College Program network to learn tools and techniques developed in the AinA program-most notably those developed in the Carroll County Public Schools system. The educators networked with Maryland teachers on aquaculture as a tool for teaching science and the construction of low-cost water quality monitoring techniques using microcomputing as an innovative instructional approach. The AinA model was also used to better understand how educators perceive their strengths related to project-based science in the classroom. The networking opportunity provided a solid foundation for assisting the development of aquaculture education programs in other Sea Grant programs.

Relevance: The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) encourage teaching approaches that emphasize crosscutting themes and provide students opportunities to conduct hands-on, project-based research, through which students learn scientific content and methods. Science educators, including Sea Grant educators, face considerable challenges providing these learning opportunities and promoting science literacy and competency among students. In an ongoing project called Aquaculture in Action (AinA), Maryland Sea Grant supports the use of aquaculture and aquaponics projects to provide teachers and students with these learning opportunities. The projects involve building and maintaining recirculating tank systems in classrooms for raising fish and plants and developing low-cost water quality monitoring systems using microcomputing tools.

Microcomputing addresses one of the major challenges for successful recirculating aquaculture and aquaponics systems in the classroom: reliable water quality monitoring.  Traditional chemical testing for this purpose has limitations, including inaccuracy, relatively high expense, disposing test chemicals and packaging, and infrequent testing. The microcomputing systems help develop a constant water quality picture based on continuously generated data. The system, known as BPI-PolyPonics (BPI-PP), delivers a continuous data stream from water quality probes to a computer so water quality parameters can be assessed in seconds and potential problems can be detected well in advance.

Response: With support from Maryland Sea Grant, NOAA, NMSF, and the participation of Sea Grant educators, a successful Aquaculture Education Summit professional development workshop was held in the summer of 2019.  Twelve Sea Grant educators from the United States and Puerto Rico attended the workshop and networked with a dozen Maryland and Washington, DC, teachers and administrators. Attendees learned from experts at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET) about aquaculture technology and future trends and were able to observe the research being performed in IMET's Aquaculture Research Center facility. Attendees also gained hands-on experience using microcomputing as a tool for measuring water quality, led by the designer, Harry Berman, a retired NASA scientist and educator. 

Results: In 2019, Maryland Sea Grant's assistant director for education continued as a collaborator in the AinA program in partnership with IMET and schools around Maryland. Sea Grant educators were able to attend the AinA workshop that focused on current aquaculture technologies and microcomputing tools for water quality analysis. The work on the inclusion of other Sea Grant educators was developed in collaboration with Jackie Takacs (University of Maryland Extension), Christos Michalopoulus and Maggie Allen (NOAA Education), John Stubblefield and Yonathan Zohar (IMET), and other Maryland Sea Grant staff. The workshop was attended by a total of 24 educators, including teachers and administrators from Maryland, and all participants were given equipment and supplies to construct a microcomputing system for water quality monitoring. A successful test of a user guide developed in 2019 for the construction and operation of these monitoring systems was also run. In addition, a blog post and video on the workshop were published in collaboration with Maryland Sea Grant communications staff. Images produced from this work will be shared with the participating educators and schools and the techniques will be repeated and refined in 2020.

 

Effective Environmental Science Education

Biofilms and Microplastics, a Collaboration with an NSF-funded Project to Bring Microplastics Isolation and Discovery to the Classroom

Summary: Eight teachers from the City of Baltimore and Baltimore and Carroll counties learned techniques to isolate microplastics from biofilm communities in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. These techniques, along with classroom supplies, helped teachers and students understand the issue of microplastics in aquatic environments. Teachers performed techniques with students and shared results with collaborative partners at Maryland Sea Grant and the Institute of Marine & Environmental Technology.

Relevance: There is heightened interest in K12 education strategies that promote science literacy and teach research skills-both in the United States and globally. Science educators seek opportunities to provide middle and high school students experiential, project-based science training. By adopting Next Generation Science Standards, Maryland increased demand for high-quality professional development to strengthen teacher content knowledge and pedagogical skills. These objectives align well with NSF guidelines on outreach and education priorities that link research directly to the classroom and engage teachers in high quality professional development opportunities. Further, the issue of microplastics in our environment has become a focal point for research and education that are striving to understand the impact and relay important information to the public on measures to control our waste stream.

Response: In 2018 the Maryland Sea Grant education program began working with collaborators at the Institute of Marine & Environmental Technology (IMET) to better understand the issue of microplastics in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Techniques to extract microplastics from biofilm communities were developed along with a content primer on plastics and microplastics written for the general public and for use in secondary education. Additionally, Maryland Sea Grant partnered with research scientists at the University of Maryland, College Park in a successfully funded National Science Foundation project (PI, Paul Leisnham) that enables these techniques to be used with secondary educators in Maryland and Washington, DC.

Results: In 2019, Maryland Sea Grant's assistant director for education continued as a collaborator on the NSF-funded project, completed the development of a content primer on biofilms and microplastics, and conducted a workshop to demonstrate techniques to teachers from the City of Baltimore and Baltimore and Carroll counties. The work on microplastics isolation from biofilm discs and the content primer was developed in collaboration with Dr. Jesse Meiller (American University), Ms. Ana Sosa (IMET/Sea Grant Fellow) and Ms. Eva May (Maryland Sea Grant Marine Science and Policy Fellow). These methods were tested in schools in Maryland, internationally in Spain and Sweden, and revised for a summer workshop in 2019. The workshop was attended by eight teachers and each were given equipment and supplies to perform extraction of microplastics from biofilm communities grown in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Each participant received a copy of the content primer and follow-up plans were developed for classroom visits to coordinate biofilm disc distribution in the fall. Microplastic-filtered samples were collected, observed, and photographed in collaboration with Maryland Sea Grant communications staff.  Images produced from this work will be shared with the participating schools and the techniques will be repeated in 2020.

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