Educational efforts at the Scott Aquarium, the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, and the Environmental Studies

End Date: 02/1/08


The inland food shrimp industry and coastal bait-shrimp industry are both promising new aquaculture industries in Alabama. West Alabama has an abundance of low salinity artesian groundwater that is not suitable for traditional agriculture. This low salinity well water (LSWW) has been used for decades to culture channel catfish, and more recently, marine shrimp. The coastal bait-shrimp industry also has room for growth, due to the increased population in Alabama coastal regions and a reduced supply of native bait shrimp for recreational anglers. The development of these industries, however, are faced with similar problems, mainly the lack of information pertaining to salinity and temperature interactions in post-larval and juvenile stages of production.

Last year west Alabama farmers utilizing inland LSWW to produce shrimp reported poor survivals and lower production, presumably due to cold fronts that occurred as shrimp were being stocked. Lower salinities and suboptimal ionic ratios further complicate the problem. Similar problems have been reported by the coastal bait shrimp industry. Both salinity and temperature can have direct effects on several physiological responses in shrimp, including metabolism, survival, growth, and osmotic/ionic regulation.

Research outlined in this proposal is targeted at addressing salinity and temperature interactions in post-larval and juvenile native and non-native shrimp. The methodologies outlined are designed to address problems experienced by inland low salinity shrimp farmers as well as well as future coastal bait shrimp producers. As such, research will be carried out at two separate locations with native and non-native shrimp species. Facilities at the E.W. Shell Fisheries Research Station in Auburn, Alabama, will be utilized to address salinity and temperature interactions in post-larval and juvenile Pacific white shrimp, the species of choice for culture in LSWW of west Alabama. On the other hand, the Claude Peteet Mariculture Center in Gulf Shores, Alabama, will serve as the study site for native shrimp.

The objectives of this proposed research are four-fold. First, we will provide west Alabama shrimp farmers with much needed information pertaining to salinity and temperature tolerance of post-larval and early juvenile stage shrimp in order to make stocking recommendation that will increase survival, growth, and thus production of inland low salinity farms. Secondly, we will develop much needed information pertaining to temperature and salinity tolerances of post-larval and juvenile stages of native shrimp to facilitate the protocols for bait shrimp producers. Thirdly, we will determine growth rates and survival for juvenile native shrimp at various salinities and temperatures. Finally, we will demonstrate the production potential and determine growth rates of native shrimp under intensive culture conditions under two brackish water conditions.

We hypothesize that a complex relationship between salinity and temperature which is further compounded by suboptimal ionic ratios in shrimp reared in inland LSWW. A systematic approach involving growth trials at a range of salinity and temperature regimes is the best method to provide farmers with answers for both native and non-native shrimp.


  1. To provide a more focused and coordinated mission between these three facilities, (to include 2.4 man-month FTE involvement by the MS Co-PI to coordinate the MASGC educational programs and work with other Sea Grant Network educators) in MS and AL and other coastal and Great Lakes states.
  2. To implement formal and informal professional development and/or educational programs for precollege teachers, precollege students, and the general public with additional personnel.
  3. To develop and maintain instructional resources for implementation of study activities and interactive learning experiences for the targeted audiences.

Each of these partners will be involved in the following specific annual, complementary programmatic strategies:

  1. Staff at the MEC&A will coordinate the National Ocean Sciences Bowl for high school students at the regional level through the Hurricane Bowl (18-20, five-person teams from MS, AL, LA, FL, and TN.
  2. The MEC&A will collaboratively sponsor the Region VI Science and Engineering Fair in MS with four other sponsors and provide one precollege award at the MS and AL State Science and Engineering Fairs
  3. The MEC&A will provide partial travel fees for “up to” four Project Marine Discovery (PMD) – Evening At The Aquarium Series presenters.
  4. Staff at the DISL will evaluate and provide one scholarship, based on the “best of the best” AL State Science and Engineering Fair projects to the summer, Discovery Hall Program (DHP).
  5. And, staff at the ESC will routinely maintain and care for living exhibitry, i.e., habitats and inhabitants, as well as maintaining its nature trails and outdoor study stations.
  6. Select MEC&A exhibits will be enhanced to depict MASGC scientists’ research efforts.
  7. To form a unique collaborative by the MEC&A, the DISL, and the ESC for improved formal and informal programmatic education within the two-state region. Partnerships which have existed for nearly two decades will be enriched through shared marketing and recruitment efforts among precollege teachers and students, as well as the general public


Implementation will encompass formal and informal education programs which include: 1) professional development efforts for precollege teachers, precollege students, and the general public; 2)exciting and engaging lectures to increase content knowledge for teachers and students; 3) augmented teaching strategies for use by participating teachers in their own classrooms; and 4) hands-on activities involving: a) collecting and sampling, through seining, sieving, making plankton tows; b) testing water quality; c) sampling the soil; and/or d) collecting plants. A combination of these informal lectures and the
re-enforcement of these lectures through informal field activities – should empower these audiences to better understand research data, measurements, analyses, prediction, and the interpretation of data. Formative and summative evaluations, i.e. cognitive achievement pre- and posttests and attitudinal achievement through Likert-scale surveys will be administered by all three facilities for professional development program participants. Precollege students will only be given pre- and posttests at the 4th, 8th, and 11th grade levels. Teachers will be mailed pretests to “bring with them” for their scheduled precollege student field trips. Posttests will be given to these same 4th, 8th, and 11th grade teachers to administer to their students within two to three days after returning to their respective schools. Franked envelopes will be given to these participating 4th, 8th, and 11th grade teachers for the return of these posttests to the MEC&A, the DHP, and the ESC for data analyses and comparisons to the correctly “matched” pretests. For informal education field trips, Likert-scale evaluations will be completed only by the participating teachers relative to their perceptions and grade-level content appropriateness concerning to programmatic value.


The rationale being proposed for this unique, bi-state collaborative will enhance the awareness and understanding of coastal ecosystems by precollege teachers and students, as well as the general public through inquiry-based programs that encourage and promote hands-on experimentation, observation, discovery, prediction, problem solving, and appreciation of the natural world... to “bridge the gap” between research data and the interpretation of those data concerning the relevance of the oceans, coasts, and watersheds to our everyday lives.

For More Information Contact: the MASGC Research Coordinator, Loretta Leist (
Please reference the project number ED-12.