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Science Café connects you to your surroundings

By: Melissa Schneider / Published: Jan 21,  2015

There’s a Science Café on Mississippi wildlife coming up next week. Alison Sharpe, the director of the Wildlife Care and Rescue Center, will talk about local wildlife, how each season brings different challenges for animals in the wild and how the Wildlife Care and Rescue Center rescues and rehabilitates injured wildlife.

What’s a Science Café? Science Cafés are held throughout the world and give people with a minimal science background the chance to learn about and discuss scientific issues.

In Ocean Springs, a Science Café is a guest speaker (typically a scientist-type or someone with knowledge of stewardship programs, cybersecurity, alpacas -- you name it!) who gives a presentation and talks with people in a casual setting. The informal meetings take place in the cafeteria at the Gulf Coast Research Lab on East Beach Drive on Tuesday nights once a month. You can learn more about the world around you, but you don’t need a degree in science to join in the conversation.

The last Science Café I went to was about invasive species. Mike Pursley of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources talked about what they do at the DMR to try and prevent invasive species (such as giant apple snails, popcorn trees and tiger shrimp) from spreading and how they monitor them. A lot of what they are able to do depends on residents picking up the phone or sending an email to report what they are seeing.

Mike was able to paint a pretty good picture of DMR employees working to locate and crush bright pink apple snail eggs. The giant apple snails apparently have shown up only in one area on the coast, and they are hoping to keep them from spreading. It was also interesting to listen to him talk about specific places on the coast and what’s going on in those areas. The people who attended the café seemed to have a real interest in the local aspects of the bigger invasive species issue.

Joyce Shaw, a librarian at the Gulf Coast Research Lab, puts on the events (which Sea Grant helps sponsor). Coffee Fusion provides coffee, and Joyce gives away quite a few door prizes at the end of the evening! The Science Café typically lasts an hour and a half and starts at 6 p.m. The next one is Tuesday, Jan. 27, at the Gulf Coast Research Lab, 703 East Beach Drive, Ocean Springs, Miss. You should attend.

Check for future Science Cafe topics here.

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