Healthy Coastal Ecosystems
Resource managers are faced with an array of environmental problems and issues, both natural and human-influenced. Delaware Sea Grant research informs environmental policy to help protect public health, economic stability and overall quality of life along Delaware’s coast.
Thermal infrared imagery
Collecting elevation data in a soft marshy environment is challenging for scientists. To overcome this challenge, DESG researchers have turned to using infrared imagery instead of traditional surveying methods by watercraft, walking or a land vehicle. The result is estimates of tidal-flat elevations that are accurate to within two centimeters of the ground truth elevations obtained using a sled-mounted global positioning survey system. The technology is being used to survey flow patterns within natural and man-made channels in the marsh.
Zooplankton in the Delaware Bay
Zooplankton contain the larvae of commercially important species, including oysters, crabs, shrimp and various finfish, and are considered an important measure of fishery sustainability. Despite their ecological importance, zooplankton have been understudied in the Delaware region. DESG researchers are using a new technology called Zooscan, a waterproof optical scanning system, to identify and characterize the zooplankton species present in the Delaware Bay. The work builds on an earlier study conducted in the 1950s by Joanne Daiber, UD’s first female marine biologist. The scientists plan to compare their results to Daiber’s original data in order to understand the biological changes that have occurred in Delaware Bay over the past half-century.
The Citizen Monitoring Program is a cornerstone for achieving Delaware Sea Grant’s mission of “Science Serving the Delaware Coast.” Through training in water quality sampling, analysis and data interpretation, DESG empowers local community volunteers with the skills and knowledge necessary to provide coastal water quality monitoring data for state regulatory and public notification purposes. Twenty five years of support for the program has resulted in strong and diverse volunteer pools, top ratings for water quality for Delaware beaches, and partnerships for harmful algal bloom research.
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