USCB was awarded a Community Foundation of the Lowcountry grant for $63,775 to expand and enhance monitoring of the impacts of water quality and climate change on local, natural resources.
This funding will enable Dr. Eric Montie, Associate Professor of Biology and director of the Marine Sensory and Neurobiology Lab and Lowcountry Dolphin Conservation at USCB to expand the research done by lab managers and lab assistants consisting of undergraduate students from USCB, interns from across the US and graduate students from the College of Charleston.
The grant funds will go to purchasing scientific equipment and a boat with a trailer that allow the researchers the ability to monitor the impacts of water quality and climate change in the May River and the surrounding area.
With these resources the lab can launch a long-term water quality program by collaborating with SCDHEC, the Towns of Bluffton and Hilton Head Island and SCDNR. This collaboration will allow the organizations to pair long-term datasets to identify changes in water quality and effects on natural resources. If poor water quality is detected, the team can work with local managers to adjust storm water runoff in order to dampen the effects of coastal development.
Another desired outcome of the grant is to monitor fish spawning in collaboration with SCDNR. The data can be provided to fish managers so they can adjust regulations as needed. The local population of fish effects the community because many businesses rely on the population like local fishing guides.
A bottlenose dolphin survey will be conducted in collaboration with NOAA. Through understanding their populations and health the health of Bluffton and Hilton Head Island estuaries can be determined. Dolphin injuries due to boating will be monitored and information provided to the public through educational exhibits at the Coastal Discovery Museum.
"We are honored to receive this generous grant from that enables our team of researchers to expand this very important work," said Dr. Montie. "The Community Foundation of the Lowcountry is supportive of local organizations seeking to improve the quality of life for residents of the Lowcountry, and I am pleased that we can help with this mission."
This article was originally published by USC Beaufort on April 2, 2018.