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South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium
FY05 Progress Report to
National Sea Grant College Program Office
"Science Serving South Carolina's Coast"
1 December 2005
South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium
287 Meeting Street
Charleston, SC 29401
South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium
Many of the Consortium’s research projects and extension efforts indirectly address the three new
Ecosystem Research Program (ERP) performance measures by which the National Sea Grant College
Program plans to report the contributions of Sea Grant programs to NOAA. The Consortium
incorporated a new component in its FY06-08 Sea Grant Request for Proposals that requires PIs to state
the specific outcomes they expect from their work on an annual basis, and provides a basis for further
modification so that the Consortium can report performance according to the three performance measures
outlined in the FY2006 NSGO Program Guidance document.
The S.C. Sea Grant Consortium secured more than $6 million in extramural funding, including a total of
$1.8 million from the National Sea Grant College Program, to support coastal and marine research,
education, and extension program activities that benefit South Carolina and the region.
The Consortium’s PAT results were reported in last year’s progress report document. In the major
category of “Producing Significant Results,” the assessment team rated the Consortium’s “Contributions
to Science and Technology” as ‘Meets Benchmark.’ The Consortium challenged the rating and
successfully documented that it has indeed made significant contributions to science and technology.
Upon further consideration, the National Sea Grant office upgraded the Consortium’s score in this subelement to ‘Exceeds Benchmark.’
The Consortium's overarching goal of maximizing the potential of the state's coastal and marine resources
is a broad one. The Consortium organizes its research, education, extension, and management activities
in nine programmatic areas tied to nine strategic goals in order to effectively direct its day-to-day
activities toward the overarching goal. They reflect the Consortium’s concern that we address the
relevant and pressing coastal and marine resource management and utilization needs of South Carolina.
The S.C. Sea Grant Consortium continues to explore ways to ensure that its research, education, and
outreach programs address critical coastal and marine resource needs as identified by the broad
constituencies it serves. At the same time, the Consortium must make difficult decisions when allocating
its limited resources on the many and diverse coastal and marine resource needs facing the state and
region. This issue was recently highlighted by an external National Sea Grant Program Assessment Team
evaluation of the Consortium in June 2004, which suggested that the addition of “strong program-wide
policy and scientific guidance” would benefit the Consortium. Therefore, the Consortium Board of
Directors endorsed the creation of a formal standing Program Advisory Board (PAB) at its meeting on
January 11, 2005.
The purpose of the Consortium PAB is to:
1. Provide the Consortium with a broad perspective on South Carolina’s critical coastal and marine
resource issues, needs and opportunities.
2. Review and evaluate input received from Consortium stakeholders for use in revising and focusing
the agency’s strategic and implementation plans.
3. Offer strategic guidance and advice to the Consortium as it develops and implements research,
education, and outreach programs and projects.
4. Advise the Consortium Executive Director regarding emerging trends in coastal and marine resource
policy and management.
5. Identify potential opportunities for funding support, new partnerships, and innovative ways of “doing
Membership on the Consortium PAB include representatives from a mix of academic, agency, business
and public interest organizations from South Carolina and adjacent coastal states. Some 30 individuals
have accepted invitations from the Consortium Board Chairman to serve on the Consortium PAB, and a
first meeting was held on August 31, 2005. A one-on-one survey is now being performed by a College of
Charleston faculty member to gather additional information in preparation for the next PAB meeting
scheduled for early 2006.
Listed below are accomplishments during the reporting period, which address the three new performance
measures. Currently, they are qualitative in nature, but, as stated above, we will begin a process of
quantifying the contributions the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium makes to the state’s coastal
communities and resources.
Measure 1: Return on investment from the discovery and application of new sustainable coastal,
ocean, and Great Lakes products.
South Carolina/Georgia Coastal Erosion Study. Investigators from five South Carolina and Georgia
research institutions and the U.S. Geological Survey, with funds provided through the USGS Coastal and
Marine Geology Program, are continuing work towards the development of a conceptual model of the
sediment budget for the South Carolina coast. Phase II of the Coastal Erosion Study is now in its fifth
year, providing funding for six discrete research and data management projects. Development of the
sediment budget has progressed significantly and the data and models being developed will have a
profound effect on South Carolina coastal communities that depend upon coastal tourism. Information
generated through the use of state-of-the-art mapping tools has been used in identifying potential sources
of beach nourishment sand of the South Carolina coast, which has been used by S.C. DHEC-Ocean and
Coastal Resource Management. In addition, geological framework studies have generated bathymetry
maps that have been used by the S.C. Department of natural resources in identifying hard bottoms and
other “essential fish habitat” environments. Various models have been customized by these researchers to
develop a sand budget for the coast, and a large volume of information has been placed in GIS databases.
Advanced mapping techniques (e.g., EDMAP) have also been refined for this study.
Improving the Red Drum Recreational Fishery. This project utilizes a multi-disciplinary approach (e.g.,
culturists, stock enhancement scientists, geneticists, extension specialists, resource economists) to address a
research issue of considerable importance: “How to restore declining recreational fisheries and maintain
coastal community health?” During 2004-2005, between 500,000 to 700,000 “marked” juvenile red drum
were stocked in Murrells Inlet as part of the fourth year of this six-year study. Research to-date indicates
that the stocking program is having a significant positive effect on the red drum population in the Murrells
Inlet area. Based in part on the results of this program, the states of Mississippi and Georgia are both in the
process of developing similar stocking experiments to test the utility of stocking in their own areas.
Involvement of the community, especially its recreational anglers and business owners, will allow education
of the importance of natural resource conservation and its role in community health and diversification. The
documentation of stock enhancement as a fishery restoration tool may provide new marketing opportunities
to the private aquaculture sector and allow various private/public partnerships to develop. The SC stocking
project received national acclaim by the American Fisheries Society as the 1997 Outstanding Sport Fish
Restoration Project and also received regional honors as the recipient of 2003 Palmetto Vision Award.
Measure 2. Cumulative number of coastal, marine, and Great Lakes issue-based forecast
capabilities developed and used for management.
Monitoring and Predicting Harmful Algae Blooms. The S.C. Sea Grant Consortium, with support from
NOAA and the Centers for Disease Control, is presently supporting HAB research in stormwater
management ponds [Note: there are close to 8,000 ponds associated with residential, commercial, and
golf course developments in the eight coastal counties of South Carolina.] that utilizes “Real-Time
Remote Monitoring” (RTRM) technology, which allows for rapid detection of and immediate response by
the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources
to potentially harmful algal bloom events. RTRM is now being tested as a predictive technology that
could be used by these agencies to rapidly respond to potentially toxic harmful algae bloom events.
Comparing Field Measured Pressures with Wind Tunnel Model Studies of Single-Family Homes in
Suburban Areas. The overriding aim of this work is develop wind pressure data from residential buildings
exposed to hurricane-force winds to provide a baseline for evaluating boundary layer wind tunnel
models. The specific scientific goal of the project is to generate and compare pressure coefficients from
full-scale prototype houses with the results of 1:50 scale models tested in Clemson’s atmospheric
boundary layer wind tunnel. Results of this study will benefit homeowners by providing information that
may be used to better secure the roofs of their homes, and it will benefit the insurance industry by
reducing hurricane-caused wind damage.
The Effectiveness of Vegetative Buffers in Reducing Nonpoint Source Pollution in Stormwater Detention
Ponds. This study examines the use of constructed wetlands as supplemental BMPs to detention ponds.
Goals of the study include retrofitting a typical BMP detention pond with a constructed wetland as a
supplemental BMP, and quantifying the effectiveness of nutrient attenuation to the detention pond. Two
detention ponds are being compared on Kiawah Island, SC. In one pond (treatment pond), stormwater will
be diverted to pass through restored terrestrial and wetland zones (i.e. a constructed wetland) before it
enters the detention pond. The other pond will not be manipulated (reference pond) but has been
similarly monitored, and is being used as an unmanipulated control and for model development. The
wetland construction will occur in December 2005. The two-year baseline study has led to establishment
of water and nutrient budgets of the watersheds and water quality of the ponds, estimation of
denitrification capacity of the watershed soils and pond sediments, design of the constructed wetland, and
development of an ecosystem process model (STELLA) to estimate retention time, seepage rate, and
quantity of spillover for water entering the proposed wetland, and effectiveness for nitrogen removal.
South Carolina/Georgia Coastal Erosion Study. As mentioned above, this study is providing the tools
necessary to predict coastal erosion, determine best “borrow sites,” and provide managers with other
modeling tools to effectively mitigate beach erosion, and as an additional benefit, identifying essential
fish habitat; information that is currently being used by the S.C. DHEC-Office of Ocean and Coastal
Resources Management and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.
The South Atlantic Bight Land Use - Coastal Ecosystem Study. The Land Use-Coastal Ecosystem Study
(LU-CES) is a regional, multi-year effort to determine how changing land use patterns, largely as
suburban development, that is being brought about by shifting demographic trends, will affect coastal
ecosystems in South Carolina and Georgia. This past year, LU-CES scientists completed a numerical
hydrodynamic model of the Okatee and its tidal creeks that was verified by field observations and the
creation of empirical models of hypsometry and elevation. The numerical model is now being used to
generate a water quality model for the system. LU-CES scientists have completed an urban growth
projection model for all eight coastal counties in South Carolina, and parcel-scale development and
scenario models describing local development trends and allowing one to predict the results of alternative
development strategies are nearing completion. In the future, we will also increase our interactions with
potential users of LU-CES information (planners, engineers), developing specific applications for our
models and data products.
Establishing the Southeast Regional Association for IOOS. The United States is embarking on a
nationwide initiative, implemented on a regional basis, through the Integrated Ocean Observations
System (IOOS) to improve understanding and predictive (forecast) capabilities in its coastal and ocean
environments. The Consortium was selected by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, USDOC), to develop and manage the regional effort to develop a stakeholder-driven
coastal ocean observing system for the southeastern United States. Dubbed SECOORA (SouthEast
Coastal Ocean Observations Regional Association), this system is being designed to provide real-time
and archived oceanographic data, information and products on marine and estuarine systems by
integrating data and information being generated by the existing sub-regional observation systems in the
southeast. By establishing partnerships of data providers and users from state and federal agencies,
private industry and academia, SECOORA will ensure continued and routine flow of coastal ocean data
and information to the wide range of coastal ocean interests.
Functional Relationships between Epiphytic Microalgae and Foodwebs in a Salt Marsh Estuarine System
and their Management Implications. Salt marshes are among the most productive of earth’s ecosystems
and provide shelter and food for many important coastal fisheries. However, little is known about the
functional significance of the epiphytic community, and how much epiphytes on salt marsh contribute to
primary production. Therefore, one of the major objectives of this work is to strengthen the scientific
basis of the management strategy of protecting Spartina alterniflora marshes based on the demonstration
that they play a key functional role by harboring a productive epiphytic algal community that is
trophically coupled to the production of economically and recreationally important fish and shellfish
species. The development of predictive models will also be an outcome of this work.
Measure 3. Percentage/number of tools, technologies, and information services that are used by
NOAA partners/customers to improve ecosystem-based management.
Managing the Blue Crab Fishery in South Carolina. Carolina’s blue crab, which supports a $5-milliondollar commercial fishery, can be one of the most difficult species to manage. Now, Sea Grant
researchers at Clemson University and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources are completing
development of an innovative computer model to help manage the blue crab fishery in South Carolina.
Their computer model is a new tool that uses a scenario-planning framework to evaluate risks to blue crab
populations and make recommendations to fishery managers. Interest in this initiative has been expressed
by a number of Mid-Atlantic States, and we are now exploring the development of a regional research and
outreach initiative on blue crab recruitment dynamics and fisheries management. More about South
Carolina Blue Crab Regional Abundance Biotic Simulation (SCBCRABS) project and the model itself
can be viewed at
Developing Approaches and Associated Metrics for Restoration Success: Determining Intertidal Oyster
Matching Goals Using Small and Large-Scale Reefs. During the reporting period, new reefs were
constructed at Fort Johnson to test several reef design concepts. In addition, in 2005 seven newly
constructed sites across the state were planted and are now being monitored. The evaluation of metrics
for large-scale DNR-planted areas within public shellfish grounds (PSGs, total of 20) continues. The
investigators have completed preliminary data processing from over 40 restoration sites last fall/winter;
and samples from 27 SCECAP sites are being analyzed to evaluate potential success metrics. Specific
metrics identified at the 2004 East Coast Oyster Restoration Workshop as potentially useful in
determining restoration success were applied to the associated resident fauna portion of the new and
existing Oyster Restoration data set. Analyses indicated that while oyster metrics (oyster density and
maximum size) are still significantly different six years after reef construction, there is considerable
convergence in the resident reef community (crabs, mussels and Boonea). These results indicate the
return of habitat functions long before fishery-related metrics would indicate restoration success. The
metrics and models which result from this research will prove useful to resource managers as they seek to
restore what was once a viable industry in South Carolina, and in addition, provide insights about habitat
restoration in general.
Succession of Tidal Freshwater Wetlands on the Cooper River, South Carolina: Ecological Functions
and Management Alternatives. This project builds on previous work to enhance understanding of the
ecological functioning of former rice field (wetland) impoundments along the Cooper River. This
knowledge is being incorporated into simulation models of the marshes to serve as an aid for basin
resource management and planning. Objectives of this project include a year of field work to quantify
dissolved oxygen and sediment dynamics between the impoundments and the river, along with a year of
simulation model enhancements. Enhancements will incorporate field results and responses from
resource managers and stakeholders concerning analyses of various management scenarios. The water
quality field and laboratory component of this project was completed in early summer. Data analysis and
preliminary work on model enhancements are in progress.
Using Diamondback Terrapins as a Sentinel Species for Monitoring Mercury Contamination in Estuarine
Systems. The investigator has made progress toward the goal of determining if the diamondback can be of
use in understanding and monitoring mercury contamination in coastal estuaries. The levels of mercury
found in South Carolina terrapins is not unusually high at about 45 parts per billion in blood and 287 and
217 ppb in females and males respectively. The larger females do have significantly higher Hg levels
than the males which most likely relates to their prey items since females eat larger periwinkles
(Littorina) than males do and larger periwinkles also have significantly higher Hg (121 ppb vs. 19 ppb).
There is also a clear and significant seasonal drop in blood Hg in terrapins (both sexes) during August
when they are maximally active metabolically. Our sampling in Georgia at the Purvis Creek super fund
site (location of a former chlorine manufacturing plant) showed significantly elevated blood (746 ppb)
and scute (3810 ppb) Hg at 10X or higher levels than our sites in South Carolina. The female terrapins at
Purvis Creek were also significantly smaller and showed indications of immunological deficiencies so
they may have been directly impacted by the mercury. The research to-date indicates that the
diamondback may serve as a useful biomonitor of mercury.
Control of Saltmarsh Cordgrass by Blue Crab Predation on Periwinkle Snails: An Immunological Gut
Check. That blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) predation on periwinkle (Littoraria irrorata) snails is of
sufficient strength to keep periwinkles from grazing saltmarsh cordgrass, Spartina alterniflora, to a
significant extent is the hypothesis for this research. The investigators have tested the sensitivity of
polyclonal antibodies used to detect solubilized periwinkle proteins in the guts of blue crabs. The
experiments suggest periwinkle opercula are visually identifiable in blue crab stomachs in both fieldcollected animals and in controlled lab feeding studies for up to 12 hours. To date, fewer than 10% of the
crabs have been found to contain evidence of a periwinkle meal, but there are still several more crabs left
to process. We cannot conclude at this time whether this reduced snail abundance is due to predation by
blue crabs or some other predators capable of eating snails (e.g., birds and fish).
Planning for a Regulatory System to Implement Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management. This project
involves an in-depth legal analysis to examine possible regulatory approaches to ecosystem-based
fisheries management, and will culminate in two reports, a detailed legal/policy analysis and a summary
targeted to all stakeholders with interest in this issue. The principal investigator has reviewed and
compiled complete histories of the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act with
respect to their ecosystem components. Likewise, an assessment of the existing Essential Fish Habitat
statutes and guidance is well underway.
Addressing the Challenges of Coastal Growth in South Carolina: A S.C. Sea Grant Consortium Initiative.
A Coastal Communities Advisory Committee was convened to provide advice, recommendations,
expertise, and direction for coastal community programming. Throughout the grant period, presentations
focusing on natural resource-based planning, open space planning, and alternative site design principles
were developed and delivered to council and planning commission members, engineers, planners, and
citizens groups in a number of S.C. coastal communities. The program was expanded by establishing a
matching grant incentive program to engage local governments in the development and implementation of
“quality growth” land management policies and practices. Recipients of the most recent grant cycle are
coastal communities located in Colleton County and Horry County. Local government comprehensive
land use plans for the target coastal communities were reviewed and analyzed, including those from eight
(8) counties and thirty-one (31) municipalities and a framework and recommendations are being
completed to serve as guidance for local communities in their comprehensive plan revision process.
Beach Clean-up Saving South Carolina Taxpayers Money. The annual Beach Sweep/River Sweep
(BS/RS) litter cleanup program has saved taxpayers more than $3 million over the last 16 years. BS/RS is
funded entirely by private donations, and citizen volunteers do the actual work. Over the past 16 years,
more than 82,000 volunteers have collected 760 tons of trash in South Carolina’s diverse waterways.
S.C. Sea Grant Consortium Web site. The Consortium’s staff continues to enhance the SCSGC Web site
( by expanding its interactive features, making the site more assessable to people
with disabilities, and keeping the information current. The site serves as a tool and information service to
foster better understanding of coastal ecosystem issues and how they can be best managed. From July 1,
2001 through the reporting period, the Consortium’s total hits have increased more than five-fold. During
the same period, unique visits have increased approximately 4-fold. The following chart depicts usage of
the Consortium’s Web site.
S.C. Sea Grant Consortium Web Activity – 2001-2005
S.C. Sea Grant Consortium
No. Unique Visits
No. Total Hits
Web Activity Trends
Total Hits
Unique Visits
Expanding the Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence SouthEast. COSEE SouthEast, which
serves South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia and is based at the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium, is
completing its third year of operation. COSEE SouthEast, together with the Consortium and the USC
Belle W. Baruch Marine Institute, hosted its third Ocean Sciences Education Leadership Institute June 1925 at Georgetown. Twenty-six teachers from SC, NC and GA got first hand experience with South
Carolina's salt marshes, estuaries and coastal waters, and they spent time interacting with scientists from
the University of South Carolina, Coastal Carolina University, and SCDHEC-Ocean and Coastal
Resources Management. The ultimate goal of this program is to provide the workplace with
knowledgeable individuals who understand the value and mechanisms of coastal ecosystems.