Editor's Note: Due to severe weather forecasts on Saturday, Oct. 19, the Skidaway Marine Science Day has been cancelled. No re-schedule week has been made, according to spokesman Michael Sullivan.
Who lives in the bottom under the sea? Well, if you had kids, you know who that is: Spongebob Squarepants.
Luckily for non-Bikini Bottom residents, the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography is here to study marine life and share their love of science with the public. Events like the Skidaway Marine Science Day on Saturday offer a “great opportunity for all ages to get out in the beautiful fall weather and experience an event that is both fun and informative,” said external affairs manager Michael Sullivan.
Get Savannah arts and culture news delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our Dine Savannah and Do update newsletters Established in 1968, the marine research laboratory is located on the north end of Skidaway Island. The faculty teach through UGA’s Department of Marine Sciences and offer students the opportunity to conduct hands-on research in marine environments. “Our scientists conduct research in all the major disciplines, biology, chemistry, physics, and geology, in locations ranging from our own back yard to anywhere in the world. We have also had an educational component our mission,” said Sullivan.
The Marine Science day will be chock full of activities for the entire family, including critters in touch tanks, behind-the-scenes tours of the research labs, a reptile encounter and crabbing lessons. Next door, the Skidaway Institute will have a green screen photo booth, tours of their research vessel, the R/V Savannah, and Plankton World, a space for visitors to learn about the microscopic plants and animals that drive the ocean.
“We will have a Microbe Hunt, where children and adults can swab objects or even people,” said Sullivan. “We will culture the result and they can see how much bacteria is on a plant, their shoe or even their mother's cheek. Another popular event is the Plankton Sink Off. Their children build model plankton using things like pipe cleaners and beads. The Sink Off is like a race. The models are placed in one of several clear cylinders filled with water. However, in this case, slow is good. The last plankton to reach the bottom wins.“
In addition, they will have two dozen environmental and educational groups who will have information booths, activities critters, and food trucks. Not all in that same order, necessarily.
Sullivan said he is amazed at how much the oceans affect everything on the planet.
“It affects our food supply. It affects our climate. It even affects the air we breathe,” he said. “Did you know that microscopic marine plants known as phytoplankton produce approximately half the oxygen in our atmosphere? Then you have negative effects like hurricanes, tsunamis and oil spills. In all cases, the ocean is a major player, yet we still know only a tiny bit of how the ocean operates. “
He added events like this give the community a chance to interact and spark interest in oceanography.
“It is vitally important that we learn how the world works," he said. "The planet is changing and we are facing new challenges every day. In order to meet these challenges, we need to understand the forces and processes that make the world what it is."