Author: M. McKee

Quahog Bowl 2017 – The Results Are In!

quahog_bowlSaturday Feb. 4, 2017 at UConn Avery Point
Hosted by Connecticut Sea Grant

The National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) is an academic competition for high school students focusing on ocean-related topics. The competition combines a Jeapordy-style question and answer round with Team Challenge Questions, requiring analysis and synthesis of scientific data and/or concepts. The Quahog Bowl is a regional competition of the NOSB is composed of 16 Connecticut and Rhode Island teams and is held annually at the Avery Point campus of the University of Connecticut. Connecticut Sea Grant organizes and sponsors the competition. This year’s competition was a huge success and came down to a buzzer-beater question with only seconds remaining.

Congratulations to all of the winners and a big thank you to all who participated!

The Ledyard team will go on to compete in the National Ocean Sciences Bowl in Corvallis, OR. This year’s theme for the National Ocean Sciences Bowl: Blue Energy: Powering the Planet with our Ocean.

Check out their feature story in The Day (!


Collaborative Research to Improve Coastal Literacy in Connecticut

Collaborative research on teaching and learning practices in high schools could pay off by improving coastal literacy in Connecticut.

“All residents of the state of Connecticut are intimately linked with the coastal ecosystem. Our state’s coastal resources provide food, jobs, and recreational activities” says Michael Finiguerra, a coastal scientist at the University of Connecticut. Yet, he notes, these coasts, like others, are faced with threats from pollution, altered land use, and environmental changes.  A thorough knowledge about the processes that shape and change the coasts is necessary for making good decisions and policies, as well as for voter support.  Finiguerra is a believer in teaching practices that both enrich the teaching experience and keep students interested.  In the ecology classes he teaches, he’s taken students snorkeling, on numerous field trips, including a two-day camping trip to New Hampshire. “I love showing students that what they learn about in the textbooks surrounds them in their everyday lives.” In fact, some students have lamented that Finiguerra’s courses have transformed the outdoors from recreational to educational activities.

field tripFiniguerra and Rachael Gabriel, an educational researcher also from UConn, want to improve Connecticut’s level of coastal literacy–the ability to understand, communicate and make informed decisions based on coastal sciences.  But what factors most influence success in this task?  We really don’t know.  So, working with high school biology teachers, Finiguerra and Gabriel are implementing a Connecticut Sea Grant-funded educational research project designed to find out what factors are correlated with coastal literacy. They are focusing their efforts on high school biology classes, because classes at the high school level offer a broad opportunity to affect the overall future coastal literacy rates for the state.  They also plan on testing their hypotheses to determine if including certain factors in curriculum can increase coastal literacy. “We want to create a roadmap of how schools can maximize their resources to improve coastal literacy values among their students. More informed students are, after all, more likely to protect our valuable coastal resources,” Finiguerra says.

thumbnail_Finiguerra FlyerSo far the team has contacted many STEM teachers through a variety of ways and also set up a booth at the Connecticut High School Teachers 2016 meeting.  They want to attract science teachers interested in participating in the project and networking with peers. It is important that they get a wide range of participating schools, not just those that have marine science programs. Students in science classes taught by those teachers will be assessed on their knowledge of coastal processes. The teaching practices used and other information from surveys will be analyzed with the student assessment results to identify factors involved and approaches that may work best in the classroom. The project has another year to go, and the researchers expect to expand their efforts in 2017.  A web site for this project has been created, at which teachers can find out more and sign on to participate:

Cranston Herald features veteran high school team returning to 2017 Quahog Bowl

With 13 years experience, Cranston East will head to the 2017 Quahog Bowl, a regional competition of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl that is in its 16th year. The theme this year is “Blue Energy: Powering the Planet with Our Oceans” and Cranston East will be facing fifteen other teams from across Connecticut and Rhode Island.  Read more about this returning high school team in the Cranston Herald (,121584).

Modeling Vibrio Window of Concern Can Benefit Shellfish Industry and Consumers


Mike_Whitney_web Mike Whitney, a marine scientist at the University of Connecticut, is working to help control or prevent possible outbreaks of illness from Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a bacteria normally present in sea water. When Vibrio concentrations rise during warm summer conditions, the harmful bacteria can accumulate in shellfish and cause illness for human consumers.  Whitney leads a team that has been examining Vibrio samples taken in Connecticut oyster-growing locations, and incorporating their observations into a hydrodynamic computer model. Combining these observations with data on the physical properties of Long Island Sound waters, such as variations of temperature, salinity and flow, provides a good estimation of exactly when and where Vibrio might concentrate enough to become a threat.  UConn marine scientist, Evan Ward and Kristin DeRosia-Banick from the Connecticut Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Aquaculture are also part of the project team.


Living Treasures: Plants and Animals of Long Island Sound

Wrack Lines - no cover

Lisa Wahle and Nancy Balcom
Connecticut Sea Grant has revised its old favorite, “Living Treasures: Plants and Animals of Long Island Sound” has more beautiful line drawings and updated expanded text. Reading level: middle school. Also in Spanish translation: Tesoros Vivientes. Single copies are FREE! Shipping charges apply for bulk orders.

Long Island Sound Mentor Teacher (LISMT) Program

LISSMT Program
Long Island Sound Mentor Teachers (LISMT) assist their peers in incorporating Long Island Sound content into curricula within the scope of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Connecticut educators are strongly influenced by standards in multiple subjects in terms of curriculum, instruction and assessment. With the release of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), there is a significant change in the way science is taught and assessed. Since the release, states across the country are considering adoption, in whole or in part, of the NGSS. Connecticut officially adopted NGSS on November 4, 2015 with a unanimous vote of the Connecticut State Board of Education. A four year implementation plan to transition to NGSS is in development. An online short course (Next-Gen Science CT) has been developed to assist Connecticut educators with the transition.

Since its inception in FY02, the Long Island Sound Mentor Teacher (LISMT) program in Connecticut has consistently recruited high quality, creative and respected teachers to assist their peers in incorporating Long Island Sound content into curricula within the scope of the NGSS.

To date, 33 LISMT workshops in Connecticut have utilized 27 LIS mentor teachers to reach 445 formal and informal K-12 educators, and through them, a self-reported 24,992 students in 96 Connecticut cities, towns and regional school districts. With the release of the NGSS, the successful LISMT program is even more relevant. Educators are incorporating Earth systems science, which includes ocean, coastal and climate change topics, into the K-12 curriculum. The LISMT program will ensure that current science-based content will be utilized by mentor teachers and participants during the transition to the new standards. To help with this transition and with LISS support, Sea Grant hosted a three-day summer institute for middle and high school educators in 2014. The institute reached 22 teachers and through them, 2,749 students. The format of the institute was scientific presentations and related hands-on activities that linked current and relevant Long Island Sound science to NGSS Frameworks. The total number of Connecticut cities, towns and regional school districts reached through 2016 via both these programs is 96 or 57%.

Partnered with

Long Island Sound Study

Project number: ET-11

For more information, contact:

Diana Payne, CTSG Education Coordinator

Mentor Teacher Program

Seafood Savvy Newsletter

Wrack Lines - no coverNancy Balcom and Lori Pivarnik
Newsletter published by Connecticut and Rhode Island Sea Grant concerning seafood safety issues. Please contact us if you would like to be added to our mailing list! Published Bi-annually.

Most recent issue: January 2017

January 2016

January 2015
December 2013
January 2013
September 2011
December 2009
December 2007
August 2006
December 2005
March 2005
June 2004
November 2003
June 2003
October 2002
May 2002
June 2001
August 2000
December 1999
May 1999

Wrack Lines – Fall/Winter 2016 (Vol. 16, No. 2)

Connecticut Beaches and Dunes: A Hazard Guide for Coastal Property Owners

Dune loss at Harkness Beach. Photo: Micheal P. Grzywinski, CT DEEP

Storms and associated hazards such as flooding and erosion can damage coastal property and affect beaches and dunes that provide valuable habitat for uniquely adapted species of plants and animals. This website will help you evaluate threats and identify what you can do to protect your coastal property and the natural environment.

While beaches occupy only about 14 percent, or 87 miles, of Connecticut’s coastline, the shoreline is densely populated. Hazards of living near a beach or dune system include hurricanes and nor’easters, erosion, storm surge, and flooding. Learn more about Connecticut’s beaches and dunes and determine if your beach property is eroding.

Checklist to ID coastal hazards on your property

A checklist has been developed to help you identify and rank beach and dune hazards using the resources in this guide and by conducting a field inventory of your property.

Download Beach, Dune & Coastal Flooding checklist


Beach Hazard Response Actions at a Glance

Actions Pros Cons Effort Cost
Do nothing Low cost, easy to implement Unexpected results; uncertain future Low $
Move landward Reduces hazard to structures Expense, site constraints; may not address erosion Low-High  $$-$$$
Elevate structure Reduces hazard Expense, site constraints; may not address erosion Low-Med $-$$
Design appropriately Reduces hazard Expense, site constraints Low-High $$-$$$
Construct a Living Shoreline Reduces wave energy, increases natural processes and wildlife/fish habitat, protects uplands, improves water quality Expense, site constraints, regular maintenance Low-Med $-$$
Protect, enhance, construct dunes Protects uplands, adds sand Expense, site constraints, regular maintenance Low-Med $-$$
Erect sand fencing Fencing helps to trap sand Temporary, easily knocked down by storms, restricts bird habitat Low $
Nourish the beach Reuses or adds sediment, creates habitat Expense, site constraints Med-High $$$
Repair a seawall Repairs may be covered by general permit Emergency, temporary, expensive; leads to false sense of security; can cause erosion, scouring, undermining of wall, potentially damaging to adjacent and alongshore property and habitats Low-Med $$-$$$

Connecticut Sea Grant Arts Funding Program

Deadline April 17, 2017

The Connecticut Sea Grant Arts Funding Program awards up to $1000 to an artist through this competitive funding program. The winning submission will be selected on the basis of its aesthetic quality, relevance to coastal and marine environments and Connecticut Sea Grant themes, as well as its potential impact on non-traditional audiences.

Eligibility: Artists who live in Connecticut, or whose work relates to the Connecticut coast or is Long Island Sound-based.

For more information contact Dr. Syma A. Ebbin, Research Coordinator, Connecticut Sea Grant, at (860) 405-9278 or e-mail