University of South Carolina Beaufort students soon will be conducting research in Calibogue Sound.
The university announced Friday it is partnering with Vagabond Cruise, a sightseeing and excursion company that offers a variety of cruises from Harbour Town on Hilton Head Island. The partnership will give students better access to study marine life. The school recently added a field of study in coastal ecology and conservation.
Students have already planned research projects. According to a news release from the college, Brandon Hughes and USCB researcher Steve Borgianini plan to study fiddler crabs.
Dense populations inhabit coastal marshes and extend far inland to freshwater areas. The crabs are an important link in the food chain of salt marshes, according to the release.
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Assistant professor Eric Montie and student Rebecca Rawson will analyze the ecology of sound in the salt marsh. Dolphins use sound to locate prey, and some fish species use sound to locate and court their mates.
Montie and Rawson previously have conducted research on dolphins in the May River. Montie is gathering long-term data to investigate the effects of ecological and manmade stressors on fish and dolphin reproduction.
Tourists on the Vagabond also will participate in the research, according to the release, by helping to collect acoustic and plankton samples. The student researchers will be onboard to discuss their findings, too, so that visitors can learn more about Hilton Head's coastal ecology.