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April 11, 2008

Marine Center Open House May 3-seminar schedule

Lectures on S.C.'s sea turtles, artificial reefs and the history of Ft. Johnson will be among the variety of free educational opportunities taking place during the Marine Center Open House on Saturday, May 3rd from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Ft. Johnson in Charleston.

The lectures will be hosted in the Marine Center's Auditorium during mid-morning to early afternoon during Open House, and will provide the public with another opportunity to learn about ongoing projects underway at the Marine Resources Center. All of the events offered during Open House are free to the public, and everyone is welcome to attend. Parking and transportation will be provided from James Island Charter High School.

At 10 a.m. S.C. Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) Sea Turtle Conservation Program Coordinator DuBose Griffin will talk about the efforts to protect sea turtles in the state.  Participants will learn about sea turtles in S.C., which includes our state reptile the Loggerhead sea turtle, as well as what can be done to ensure these turtles continue to nest on our beaches and inhabit our coastal waters.

DNR Artificial Reef Program Coordinator Bob Martore will provide a lecture at 11 a.m. on the thriving program that now includes management of 45 offshore and inshore marine reefs. Participants will have the opportunity to view underwater footage taken by DNR biologists at local offshore artificial reef sites. Martore will discuss the variety of designed and recycled materials used in creating a functioning artificial reef and the types of marine life and habitats that they house. A recent survey compiled from data collected during 2006 from the primary users of artificial reefs, private boat anglers and charter divers, determined these user groups had an impact of $83 million in total sales (including trip expenditures) during the course of the study year, a significant component of the coastal economy.

At 1 p.m., local historian Russell Horres will provide a lecture on the "History of Ft. Johnson; Roles in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars." This presentation will highlight significant historical events that have occurred at the Ft. Johnson location. Noteworthy events included the firing of the first shots of the Civil War from a location overlooking the Charleston Harbor and visits from George Washington, as well as many others. Following the lecture, participants will have the option to take a walking tour of the campus to view remaining historical sites.

During the Marine Resources' Center Open House, exhibits, displays, hands-on activities and seminars will showcase the efforts of DNR to protect, conserve and manage the state's woods and waters, especially marine resources. The DNR will be joined by its partners on the Ft. Johnson campus: Hollings Marine Laboratory, NOAA, College of Charleston, and the Medical University of South Carolina.

For information about Open House and directions to the Marine Resources Center call (843) 953-9300.

In addition to the Open House, Fort Johnson will also host "A Saltwater Soiree," the 2008 Harry Hampton Marine Conservation Banquet and Auction, to be held the night before, from 6 p.m.-10 p.m. on Friday, May 2. Attendees will be able to preview some of the Open House displays, exhibits and activities, as they enjoy heavy hors d'oeuvres, beverages and live and silent auctions.

Tickets are $25 per person or $40 per couple. For information and tickets, call (843) 953-9103.

DNR protects and manages South Carolina's natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state's natural resources and its people.

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