Sustainability, Environmental, and Economics (SEE) of Oysters
This post was written by Thomas Bliss, director of Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant’s Shellfish Research Laboratory and Dodie Sanders, marine educator at Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant.
Project partners include the University of Georgia Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant and Georgia Aquarium.
Oyster aquaculture is a growing industry and is new to the state of Georgia. In 2019, new legislation was passed that allowed oyster aquaculture leases to become established. To help increase awareness of this new industry throughout the state, the University of Georgia Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant partnered with the Georgia Aquarium and Oyster South to develop a mobile display to be used to teach on-site and off-site groups. The display is a hands-on teaching tool that educates participants on three important components of aquaculture: Sustainability, Environmental, and Economics (SEE).
The project is progressing and a virtual learning platform focusing on oysters and aquaculture, LearnDash, has been developed. Composed of content material, videos, images, and resource links, the learning platform is a tool to train educators and volunteers on topics such as the life cycle of oysters, the external and internal features of oysters, oyster spawning, algal culture production, and a virtual tour of the Shellfish Research Laboratory’s oyster hatchery. Working in tandem, the LearnDash platform and the mobile cart display containing models of aquaculture gear and hands-on interactive activities, will allow the participants to learn about aquaculture firsthand.
The production of the display has taken much longer than anticipated, which has caused delays in implementing the programming for groups at both the Georgia Aquarium and the Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant Aquarium. With changes in cost occurring over time, we have had to learn to be adaptable as we work with the display company to bring our vision to fruition. We look forward to the final phases of the mobile cart production so that we can begin to teach community members about the importance of aquaculture.
Through the NOAA-NAAEE Collaborative Aquaculture Literacy mini-grants program, NAAEE supports partnerships sharing the mutual aquaculture literacy goals of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of Education, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and National Sea Grant Office. These mini-grants provide informal learning institutions (e.g., aquariums), aquaculture industry (e.g., shellfish, finfish, seaweed farmers), and NOAA partners with support for the co-development of innovative educational experiences that explore aquaculture topics and support the engagement and advancement of public aquaculture literacy.