May 25, 2019  

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Southern Miss Gulf Coast Research Lab to Host Free Earth Day Event on April 16

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Celebrate EARTH DAY at GCRL Saturday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. The last time GCRL hosted a free community event of this magnitude on lab grounds was in 2008 at its Ocean Connection Celebration. The day-long event drew crowds of more than 700. (Submitted photo)

The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL) will host a free Earth Day Celebration for the community from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday, April 16, at the lab, which is located at 703 East Beach Drive in Ocean Springs.    

Activities include boat trips aboard research vessels, kayaking, lectures by GCRL researchers, and tours of the lab's half-mile nature trail and the Marine Educations Center’s touch tanks and aquaria.

Individuals ages 12 and older will get “up-close-and-personal” with many species found in our coastal waters as they trawl aboard the R/V Tom McIlwain. Participants of all ages will enjoy the Davis Bayou tour aboard the R/V Sea Explorer. Due to limited boat seating, advance registration required; sign-up begins promptly at 9 a.m.

Hands-on educational activities include a marine debris puppet show, oil spill demonstration, fish printing, recycling activities and a “shark lab” demonstration by GCRL researchers.

New summer programs offered through the Marine Education Center will be introduced to the public and on-site registration will be available for them, as well as Sea Camp, the center’s annual summer camp for children ages 6-13.

GCRL researchers will be on-hand to discuss current topics of study throughout the day in the Caylor Auditorium. Lecture-format sessions will run 20-30 minutes each followed by a short question and answer period.

Lecture Sessions in GCRL’s Caylor Auditorium       

·         9:15 a.m.               Jennifer McKinney – Whale sharks in the Gulf

·         9:55 a.m.               Dr. Mark Peterson – Gulf sturgeon: a canary in the coal mine

·         10:35 a.m.             Dr. Joe Griffitt – Oil toxicity

·         11:15 a.m.             Dr. Paul Mickle – The rivers of Mississippi

·         11:55 a.m.             Mike Lowe – Human alterations to the coastal zone: past, present, and future                                     impacts to important fisheries habitats

·         12:35 p.m.             Read Hendon – Mississippi marine finfish studies

·         1:15 p.m.               Jim Franks - Pelagic fish and their habitats  

·         1:55 p.m.               Brett Nave – GREEN architecture

·         2:20 p.m.               Oil spill roundtable with GCRL researchers Dr. Jay Grimes, Dr. Richard Fulford,                                                  Dr. Bill Hawkins


Exhibitors include:

·         Marine Technology Societyfrom Stennis: ROV demonstration;

·         NOAA:  turtle hurdle featuring a replica of a 40 ft. shrimp trawl with turtle excluder device   (TED);

·         Historical Ocean Springs Saltwater Fly-fishing club: fly-fishing demonstration with kayak and rods;

·         Ocean Springs Fire Department: fire prevention trailer and wild fire program;

·         Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge: photographs; snakes & people;

·         Bring Your Own Brush: naturally inspired art and face painting;

·         Mississippi Power: efficiency tips and services; CFL light bulb give away; give away items for youth;

Other exhibitors include the Crosby Arboretum, the Land Trust for the MS Coastal Plain, Ocean Conservancy and Sierra Club.


Lunch will be available for a nominal fee; all proceeds benefit GCRL’s graduate student association.

The last time GCRL hosted a free community event of this magnitude on lab grounds was in 2008. The day-long event drew crowds of more than 700 individuals.

Located on the Gulf of Mexico, GCRL focuses on sustainable coastal and marine resources, development of new marine technologies and the education of future scientists and citizens. The GCRL is home to the Department of Coastal Sciences, the Marine Education Center, the Center for Fisheries Research and Development and the Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Center. More information can be found at