GSO exhibits at America’s Cup races open eyes to oceanography link to sailing
Todd McLeish, 401-874-7892
Tens of thousands of visitors to the America’s Cup World Series races at Fort Adams in Newport this week have been enthralled by the Graduate School of Oceanography’s exhibits about oceanography and its link to sailing.
“This is the biggest public outreach program the University has ever done in the space of a week,” said Dennis Nixon, GSO associate dean. “We’ve got people standing eight deep trying to see our exhibits. They can’t get enough.”
As the lead exhibitor in the event’s Exploration Zone, GSO has more than a dozen exhibits on display, including a 10-foot aquarium filled with live animals; microscopes so visitors may study what is in a drop of Narragansett Bay water; a sonic wind profiler, which measures wind speeds and wind turbulence at varying heights above the surface; oceanographic research equipment, like deep sea cameras, plankton nets, remotely operated vehicle arms, and other tools of the trade; and displays about Gulf Stream currents, chemical pollutants in the ocean, seaweed, the affect of low-oxygen levels in the Bay, and more.
In addition, GSO scientists are presenting three short talks every day to standing room crowds on such topics as ocean exploration, robots in the ocean, nautical charts, microscopic predators, hurricane forecasting, changing fish populations in the bay, scientific diving, the law of recreational boating, water circulation in the bay, and other topics.
Among the visitors have been Governor Lincoln Chafee, Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts, URI Provost Donald DeHayes, and GSO Interim Dean Steven D’Hondt, some of who participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the America’s Cup Village on June 23. A group of students from South Korea who were participating in the International Oceanography Explorers program at the Bay Campus were also in attendance.
The GSO exhibits are funded in part by the 11th Hour Racing, which aims to use sailboat racing to educate the public about the marine environment and the responsible use of natural resources.