U.S. Secretary of Navy Hosts Town Hall Meeting

Navy’s Ray Mabus to hold town hall meeting on spill recovery for Gulf states, visit College of Marine Science



By Vickie Chachere

USF.edu News Manager


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Aug, 2, 2010) – U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus will hold a town hall meeting on the long-term recovery plan for the Gulf of Mexico and visit USF’s College of Marine Science, where multiple Navy-funded technologies have played key roles in the monitoring and research of the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon oil spill.


The town hall meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 3, in the Karen Steininger Auditorium at the Fish and Wildlife Research, 100 Eighth Ave S., in St. Petersburg.


The event is open to the public and doors open at 5 p.m.; seating is limited. The auditorium is located adjacent to USF’s College of Marine Science in the Bill Young Marine Science Complex.


The meeting is part of the Secretary’s tour of the Gulf Coast for a series of meetings in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. The meetings are designed to provide residents an opportunity to discuss long-term economic and environmental restoration ideas with the Secretary.


President Obama has charged Mabus with developing a long-term Gulf Coast Restoration plan that considers economic development, community planning, restoration of the ecosystem and environment, public health efforts and assistance to individuals and businesses impacted by the spill in the Gulf.


This will be the fourth trip Secretary Mabus – the former Mississippi governor – has made to the Gulf Coast to listen to stakeholders and assess the impacts the oil spill is having on the region and his first to Florida. He is coming to St. Petersburg at the invitation of Rep. C.W. "Bill" Young.


For USF’s College of Marine Science, the Secretary’s visit is an opportunity to highlight the important role that advanced technology - created with funding from the Office of Naval Research - has played in USF’s response to the oil spill.

The SIPPER – Shadowed Image Particle Profiling Evaluation Recorder – is a USF-created device which has allowed scientists to capture live images of microscopic plankton and oil droplets in the depths of the Gulf and analyze the potential toxicity of the spill at the base of the food web. Developed during more than a dozen years through funding through the Office of Naval Research, the SIPPER has been deployed almost continually in both USF and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research ventures during the duration of the spill.

The SIPPER is a high-tech light and camera system that captures images of what’s in the water as it moves through a metal tube – creating pictures of tiny particles in such detail that scientists can see the tiny tentacles on jellyfish larvae or inside the fragile structure of plankton without having to touch the delicate creatures or capture them with nets which would damage them. The SIPPER can be used at depths as great as 300 meters - about 1,000 feet of water – providing scientists with a view of the spill’s nearly invisible impact on the environment.

Another key technology developed through the Navy is the system being used to monitor the oil’s movement through the gulf.

The telemetering buoys used for wind and wave measurements offshore are supported by the Office of Navy Research, said Professor Robert Weisberg, director of USF’s Ocean Circulation Group. In addition, the Navy has provided continual support along with other federal agencies for the crucial West Florida Shelf Coastal Ocean Observing System, Weisberg said.

The Office of Navy Research also has administered program support for Southeast U.S. Atlantic Coastal Ocean Observing System, a system built along the Loop Current – whose importance as a key feature in the Gulf of Mexico became apparent during the spill.

And the sleek, bright yellow gliders which have become a familiar sight as part of the spill research also have their roots in Office of Naval Research support.

Vickie Chachere can be reached at 813-974-6251.