University of Delaware
Aaliyah Waters and Hannah Davidson learn about bioluminescence at the “Check It Out!” exhibit at Coast Day 2012.

Coast Day 2012

Thousands come out to celebrate the sea at Coast Day


2:58 p.m., Oct. 11, 2012--A little drizzle did not dampen spirits at the 36th annual Coast Day on Sunday, Oct. 7, at which thousands of attendees enthusiastically explored ocean resources through engaging, family-friendly activities.

Organized by the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE) and Delaware Sea Grant at the Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes, the event showcased marine and environmental initiatives underway by UD scientists and their many partners.

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A special exhibit titled “Check It Out!” inside the Cannon Laboratory delved into life in the deep sea as well as research happening along the coast. Young visitors imagined what it might be like to work around the ocean by trying on scientists’ gear and following their personal interests along a marine career decision tree.

Plenty of UD researchers were on hand to explain what they do through hands-on displays, poster presentations and demonstrations in labs and outdoor tents. Wind energy, climate change, microbial scales, algal blooms, ocean sounds and crab ecology were just a few of the many topics covered.

“Coast Day is a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to the First State and the citizens of our nation,” CEOE Dean Nancy Targett said.

Targett was joined by Gov. Jack Markell, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper and UD President Patrick Harker at the kickoff ceremony. Harker summarized some of the college’s recent research both locally and around the world to assist Delaware communities and benefit the environment.

“Every day, the faculty and students of this college truly lead the way in helping us understand this amazing environment of ours and how to best protect and preserve it,” Harker said.

The officials honored the winners of the Coast Day Essay Contest, in which fifth-grade students were asked to describe their favorite aquatic place in Delaware and how they can help care for it. Sky Dunmyer of Shields Elementary School in Lewes won first place, followed by Joshua Miller and Oliver Conaty of St. Ann School in Wilmington for second and third places, respectively.

Attendees of all ages traversed the campus to visit research facilities, meet faculty and students and tour research ships. The perennially popular Touch Tanks contained fish, horseshoe crabs and other critters from nearby waters for visitors to learn about and feel. A Treasure Hunt sent families throughout Coast Day’s many exhibits to answer questions in pursuit of a prize. The dazzling Chemical Magic Show displayed the wonders of marine chemistry as demonstrated by George Luther, Maxwell P. and Mildred H. Harrington Professor of Oceanography, and his graduate students.

Numerous exhibitors from various organizations shared information about their focus areas, from flycasting to a boat show and environmental advocacy. Three “Checking in on Our Coast” lectures described Delaware Bay trawl surveys, a Cape Henlopen shipwreck and marine mammals.

At the Food Festival, Crab Cake Cook-Off contenders sizzled away preparing their creations. This year’s winner was Bonnie Robinson of Seaford, Del., for her “Bonnie’s Delaware Crab Cakes.”

The Chowder Challenge offered samples of competing recipes, with attendees selecting the ACF First State Chefs Association’s “Chowdah Head Chowder” by Eric Aber of Home Grown Café as the tastiest.

Nearby, crab cakes, Maryland clam chowder, oyster fritters and other favorites were sold to hungry visitors, and local cooks showed how to prepare mouthwatering seafood at the Virden Center, including pan-seared rockfish, sushi-style crescent crab rolls and fish tacos.

Coast Day was sponsored by DuPont Clear into the Future, Overseas Shipholding Group, Inc., UTEC Survey Inc., WMDT—CW-3, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Coast Day 2013 is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 6, and more information will be available at

Article by Teresa Messmore

Photos by Sara Ohrel and Evan Krape

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