Coastal Current - Coastal Carolina University
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Vol. 1 Issue 3 - Spring 2019

The Coastal Current

The School of the Coastal Environment Newsletter

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Calling all shark lovers!

The Elasmobranch Society at CCU was founded on campus in 2015 to raise awareness about sharks and rays and to connect students with a passion for these animals across the SCE. Rachel Hildebrand and Rachel Salinas, current president and vice president, respectively, work under the guidance of CCU’s resident shark expert, professor Dan Abel.

According to Hildebrand and Salinas, the Elasmobranch Society has been instrumental in enriching the Coastal Carolina experience for its members, who all get the opportunity to pursue experiences that they may not have had otherwise, such as their annual trip to the Georgia Aquarium or participation on graduate student field surveys.

Public outreach is a critical mission for the club, such as the beach clean-ups that are performed on Sundays throughout the year. Society members meet at a beach and pick up trash for a few hours. Speaking at elementary schools is another way the club creates ties to the local community. Members teach children about the marine environment and how sharks and rays fit into the ocean as apex predators.

The society also helps students become more involved on campus. Members are given the chance to meet with undergraduate and graduate students alike through various events and meetings, forming valuable friendships and connections. Students also have the opportunity to network with professors and professionals within the field of coastal and marine science.

As Hildebrand and Salinas look toward the future, they wish to expand membership and add to the society’s event list. Together, they hope to continue building upon the foundation laid by former members and mentoring upcoming students within the club, giving them insight into how to succeed as a marine science major.

Anyone who is interested to know more can check out the society’s social media handle:

@CoastalCES. The society can also be reached at

Living with intention:

Lisa Swanger’s mission to educate community on environmental impacts

Lisa Swanger first came to Coastal Carolina University in 2014 after earning her master’s degree in marine resource man­agement from the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sci­ences at Oregon State University. Swanger is interested in the hu­man dimension of coastal and marine conservation, particularly outreach and education. When she learned about an opening with the Coastal Waccamaw Stormwater Education Consortium (CWSEC), it seemed like the perfect next step for her career. She now works as the Coastal Waccamaw Watershed Education pro­gram coordinator.

The CWSEC was established in 2004 to assist local govern­ments in meeting permit requirements for stormwater education and public involvement under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Phase II permit program. Part of what the consortium does is bring together local government members and core education providers to develop and implement activi­ty plans for the upcoming calendar year. Activities include K-12 stormwater presentations, media and outreach materials, volun­teer water quality monitoring, cleanups of rivers and beaches, and more.

An important part of Swanger’s job is ceating successful outreach programs that reach audiences concerned about our coastal environment. She also collaborates with other programs, members of the public and members of the scientific community to put on public engagement events. A successful event builds connections with the audience to the topic as it relates to them and promotes further engagement.

One such event is the annual Waccamaw Conference. Re­cently, the Waccamaw Conference titled “The Journey of Trash: Pollution to Solution” was held on Feb. 9, 2019, at the Horry County Museum in Conway, S.C. It was put on in collaboration with the Waccamaw RiverKeeper®, North Inlet-Winyah Bay Na­tional Estuarine Research Reserve and Horry County Museum. Audience members listened to experts speak about the dan­gers of pollution and how it relates to them. Stefanie Whitmire, Ph.D., of the Clemson Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science, led a particularly impactful talk on microplas­tics. Attendees were shocked to hear how pervasive microplas­tics have become in our local fresh and marine ecosystems. Swanger says that she tries to live with intention, continuously striving to make a positive impact on her community in both her professional and personal choices. This allows her to reach more people on a genuine level when doing outreach. She looks forward to advancing the mission of the CWSEC and helping further educate the public about stormwater issues.

Notes from the Editors

It’s been an incredible year within the CMWS pro­gram. I’ve been lucky enough to go out to sea three times and then bring those experiences back here to share with our readers. In the last issue, I told our readers about nat­ural hydrocarbon seeps in the Gulf of Mexico, but for this issue I really wanted to impress upon them the alarming amount of trash piling deep within the oceans. The stu­dents graduating from the SCE have a real chance to effect change as they take on roles in everything from hard sci­ence to policy making, and I’m excited to see that change take shape.

I’m always blown away by the students and profes­sors at CCU, and learning about their research and lives has been an incredible opportunity. Next semester, Kaitlin will take over, but I hope that what I’ve been able to ac­complish in my time here, on such a young publication, reflects my appreciation to both the school and to the en­vironment that has allowed me to grow as a scientist and person.

Charlotte Kollman, Co-Editor

I was excited to join “The Coastal Current” for the Spring 2019 semester. It has been a pleasure working on the newsletter with Charlotte. During my time in the SCE, I have seen major changes, including the departure of Karen Fuss, take place. As I continue my studies, I look forward to seeing how the SCE evolves.

To everyone who graciously agreed to interviews, I would like to thank you. It was exciting to see all that our CCU community is doing for the environment and our area. It makes me proud to be a part of CCU. As I went through the interview process, it became clear that because of the education they received here at CCU, they were able to do impactful things.

I am pleased for the opportunity to work on “The Coastal Current.” I look forward to next semester and to see its progress and development.

With each issue, we look to grow and move for­ward, and I am excited to see how the upcoming issues will continue to evolve.

- Kaitlin Dick, Co-Editor