“Let’s Treasure Our Marine Resources” is this year’s theme for the University of Delaware Sea Grant College Program and Graduate College of Marine Studies’ annual Coast Day celebration. Coast Day will be held Sunday, October 6, from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m., at UD’s Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes.
“Coast Day has given us a wonderful opportunity to educate thousands of people about the importance of our marine and coastal environment,” says Dr. Carolyn Thoroughgood, dean of the college and Sea Grant director. “This year, a special ceremony has been planned with state and federal dignitaries to mark the 30th anniversary of the federal Coastal Zone Management Act.”
The Coastal Zone Management Act has been instrumental in protecting and preserving the natural resources of the coast such as wetlands, floodplains, estuaries, beaches and dunes, and barrier islands, as well as the fish and wildlife that inhabit these areas. In Delaware, this act has led to the establishment of the Delaware Coastal Management Program and the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve.
This year, Hepsi Zsoldos, an eighth-grade Earth science teacher science teacher at Talley Middle School in Wilmington, will be honored as the winner of the first annual Governor’s Marine Science Teacher-of-the-Year Award. In addition, awards will be presented to the winners of the annual fifth-grade student essay contest and their teachers. The essay contest, with “Delaware’s Horseshoe Crab” as this year’s theme, is designed to create ocean awareness in students throughout the state. The winning essays will be on display in the Education Tent.
The Education Tent, which is being supported by a generous donation from the MBNA Foundation, will be located in the mall between Cannon and Smith Labs. In addition to the winning Coast Day essays, scale models of hydrothermal vents created by Zsoldos’s 9th- and 10th-grade students in UD’s Upward Bound Summer Program will be on display. Educators also can obtain ideas for new science projects as well as teaching techniques from Zsoldos and the Delaware Teachers of Science. In addition, Rob Adams and his students from Polytech High School in Woodside will lead hands-on activities that will educate participants about the physics of the ocean.
A highlight of Coast Day will be two magic shows by UD oceanographer George Luther. He will use his bag of glowing and exploding chemical magic tricks to amaze visitors and explain various marine-related phenomena. Also returning this year is a treasure hunt for children. Prizes will be awarded to children who successfully answer a variety of questions about the marine environment. The answers can be found in the many displays and exhibits.
UD scientists and graduate students will have the opportunity to showcase their research on a large variety of marine topics through posters, laboratory tours, dozens of research demonstrations, and hands-on activities. There will be exhibits on remote sensing, marine transportation, global observing systems, fisheries, jellyfish, other unusual organisms from the sea, and much more.
A special exhibit focusing on Delaware’s official state marine animal — the horseshoe crab — will highlight the importance of this critter to the ecology of the Delaware Bay. Visitors will learn how migrating shorebirds arrive on the beaches of the Delaware Bay just as the horseshoe crabs come ashore to spawn. The shorebirds feast on these eggs before continuing their journey to their breeding grounds in the Arctic. Visitors also will learn how there is a compound in the crab’s blood that can be safely extracted and then used to test intravenous drugs for infectious bacteria. Other displays and presentations, with question-and-answer periods, will continue throughout the day.
Another exhibit will focus on UD’s upcoming deep-sea expedition — Extreme 2002: Mission to the Abyss. During Extreme 2002, from October 20 to November 12, marine scientists from the University of Delaware will use Alvin, the famous submersible that was used to investigate the wreck of the Titanic, to descend over a mile deep to explore hydrothermal vents on the floor of the Pacific Ocean. Visitors will learn how they can travel along with the scientists through an interactive Web site and about an educational project involving schoolchildren worldwide.
Many activities are specially designed to capture the interest of children. Budding scientists will have the opportunity to visit a lab that is used on board UD’s 120-foot research vessel, Cape Henlopen, and see how water is tested while at sea. And everybody will have fun testing their crab bait against that of the UD scientists in the ever-popular “Great Crab Race,” an activity that educates visitors about the region’s most treasured crustacean — the blue crab. Fish printing, recycling bottles to make a marine critter, designing an oyster-shell necklace to wear, and creating a book to take home are just some of the many marine-related crafts that kids will enjoy.
Many favorite activities from years past are also on the schedule. This year marks the thirteenth year that contestants in the crab cake cook-off will use their “special” recipe in hopes of making “Delaware’s Best Crab Cakes.” Seafood-chowder lovers will get the chance to vote for their favorite in the annual Seafood Chowder Challenge — a friendly competition between two local chefs’ associations. A variety of seafood culinary presentations will be given, featuring clams to diver scallops.
Special thanks go to Delaware Electric Cooperative, MBNA Foundation, Motiva, and Oceanport Industries who are sponsoring special exhibits and events at Coast Day this year. Admission to this educational and fun-filled event is free; parking is $2. For more information, contact the UD Marine Public Education Office at (302) 831-8083 or visit the Coast Day Web site at www.ocean.udel.edu/seagrant/CoastDay. Be sure to check out this year's Coast Day highlights and the full program of events!