ENVIRONMENT

Monmouth University gets a new marine research vessel

BY Michael Hill, Correspondent |

The 49-foot Nauvoo is the Monmouth University Urban Coast Institute’s newest acquisition. It’s a donation from one of the institute’s collaborators, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA.

“We are really thrilled to be able to support Monmouth University and their expanding marine research science program,” said Beth Phelan, lab director at the NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Sandy Hook.

The Nauvoo has undergone major maintenance and improvement. It now has state-of-art technologies enabling highly detailed views of underwater terrains, overnight research on the water, and research much farther from shore than the school’s two other smaller vessels.

“We like to say part of the reason the Monmouth Urban Coast Institute was founded is that we have an ideal laboratory in this region to study any number of issues: coastal pollution, issues having to do with beach management, issues having to do with sighting offshore wind farms, navigation, any number of issues, so this is your laboratory. As we like to say at Monmouth, this is our coast but this is your horizon. We all share this in common, and now with this vessel we’ll be able to explore that, research that,” said Tony MacDonald, director of the Urban Coast Institute.

The one phrase used over and over is how this vessel will expand the university’s research in the water and on the water.

“We can actually do oceanographic cruise work and hands-on, authentic science with students in a format that we couldn’t do before, so this vessel opens up tremendous opportunities,” said John Tiedemann, assistant dean for the Monmouth University School of Science.

“In previous years, we had to split up the classes to go out, but now we really take advantage of our full class periods. We’ll be able to do more substantial sampling and we can probably also be able to analyze our samples on the boat with our endowed professor, Jason Adolf, when he’s doing the phytoplankton. We won’t have to take it back the lab. We now have the space and the equipment to analyze it in the field,” said Monmouth University marine and environmental biology senior Taylor Donovan.

Marine science professor Jason Adolf demonstrated some of his research, collecting samples to measure water quality and find out what’s in the Navesink. The students and marine scientists examined what they captured.

The Nauvoo will enable biology professor Keith Dunton to expand his research and tracking of coastal sharks and the endangered Atlantic sturgeon through acoustic tagging.

“This is an EZ Pass system for fish. So as the fish swims by this receiver, its time and date gets stamped. These tags can also be coded to tell us what depth the fish is at, what temperature the fish is at,” Dunton said.

Dunton says it’s information to help set policy that protects marine life. The university says what the Nauvoo will allow researchers to do seems almost limitless.

“This boast is such a game changer that we already have other universities in the area who are asking to be able to utilize the boat for their research and we certainly plan on partnering with them to do so,” said Monmouth University President Grey Dimenna.

Generosity spawning generosity.