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UNG student spends summer studying oysters in Savannah

UNG student spends summer studying oysters in Savannah
University of North Georgia (UNG) senior biology major Sharon Blackwell works as a summer intern at the Shellfish Research Lab in Savannah, Georgia.

University of North Georgia (UNG) senior biology major Sharon Blackwell found herself elbows-deep in water this summer during an internship at the Shellfish Research Lab in Savannah, Georgia.

The 30-year-old non-traditional student spent almost two months working in the University of Georgia's (UGA) oyster hatchery. Part of UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant, the lab focuses on reviving Georgia's oyster industry.

"I loved invertebrates, so I was excited to work with oysters," Blackwell said.

At the hatchery, baby oysters are grown and sold to oyster farmers who grow and sell them to the restaurant industry and individuals, she said.

Part of Blackwell's day-to-day tasks included cleaning tanks, feeding the oyster larvae, and monitoring water quality. She also assisted fieldwork for a living shoreline project, which involves using oyster shells to build up the shoreline and deter erosion.

At the end of her internship, Blackwell conducted her own research project, which was to determine the best diet to help oysters grow. She said she hopes to continue her research as a volunteer at the lab.

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