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Watson College News

MarineQuest’s ‘Ghost Busters’ Program Receives NFWF Grant

Friday, January 06, 2017


UNCW’s MarineQuest has received a $71,000 Fishing for Energy grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, with funding provided by Covanta. Funds will be used for a new “Ghost Busters” program that aims to educate middle school students about the problem of ghost nets, a harmful form of marine debris.

The “Ghost Busters” program follows MarineQuest’s successful “Traveling Through Trash” program offered in partnership with NOAA. As part of the “3T” program, MarineQuest created a massive, inflatable right whale “classroom” named Watson. MarineQuest staff traveled the state with Watson during the 2015-16 school year, teaching 10,200 North Carolina students about the effects of marine debris on the environment.

The new “Ghost Busters” program focuses specifically on the problem of a very harmful form of marine debris called ghost nets that comes from derelict fishing gear, said Sue Kezios, director of UNCW’s Youth Programs.

This spring, MarineQuest staff will bring Watson the Whale and the “Ghost Busters” program to coastal schools in Brunswick, Carteret, New Hanover, Onslow and Pender counties. In addition to learning about ghost nets, students will be challenged to engineer solutions to this problem by designing new types of nets and harvesting equipment. At the end of the school year MarineQuest will host a regional engineering competition where students can showcase their designs.

“The ‘Ghost Busters’ curriculum has been designed to inform and inspire students,” Kezios said. “We intend to increase their awareness and knowledge of ghost nets and derelict fishing gear by engaging the students with interactive STEM learning materials, historical documents, expert videos, debates and the engineering competition.”

Middle schools in the designated service area who are interested in learning more about this opportunity or scheduling a program should contact project staff at MarineQuest@uncw.edu and include “Ghost Busters” in the subject line.