Institute for Coastal Science and Policy

Lake Mattamuskeet, home to the ECU Field Station for Coastal Studies.

The work of the institute reaches across many disciplines, locations and even time. Through a partnership with ECU’s maritime studies program, the institute helps identify the cultural and historical dimensions of coastal resources with an emphasis on maritime history, nautical archeology, and the role of maritime cultural heritage in coastal use and development.


Diving Safety Officer, Mark Keusenkothen instructs a class in diving and under water safety in the pool at Minges Coliseum.

“Maritime archaeology gives us a window into the world the way it used to be, which goes beyond just the measurement of sea level, but back to what people did, and how they interacted with the coast over long periods of time,” said Rummel.

Another facet of ICSP is the research it does expressly for industry. One institute project is helping Potash Corp. monitor the water quality around their phosphate mine on the banks of the Pamlico River to ensure that the mine is not polluting the river and sound. The institute is also developing a Coastal Water Resources Center to address groundwater aquifer depletion in eastern North Carolina and its affect on communities.

The institute also has two North Carolina Sea Grant agents who are permanently stationed in Manteo, North Carolina. One of them is a fisheries specialist who works to advance the involvement of commercial and recreational fishing communities in shaping fisheries management policies. The other is a marine education specialist who is active in teaching environmental concern in classrooms throughout the state and frequently organizes workshops for teachers.

Elsewhere, ICSP’s Roger Rulifson directs the ECU Field Station for Coastal Studies at Mattamuskeet, which provides a unique research setting and accommodations 87 miles east of Greenville.

In addition to the work they do in coastal North Carolina, ICSP scientists also conduct research in the mid-Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Alaska, Puerto Rico, Nova Scotia, Mexico, Honduras, and Malaysia. Two of their scientists recently returned from a three-week trip aboard a research vessel off the coast of New Zealand.

While ICSP’s work is nearly as vast as the oceans they study, at the institute’s heart is education. As Rummel emphasizes, there is much to learn and not much time in which to learn it. By bringing the natural and social sciences together, the institute strives to educate the public about the dangers of climate change and over-development of barrier islands, to work with commercial fishermen to develop more sustainable practices, to teach environmental responsibility to school children, and to prepare the next generation of coastal resource managers through the nation’s only PhD program of its kind. ICSP is sharing vital knowledge about the coasts, the oceans, the creatures, and the complex systems that rely on them, with those who affect these precious resources the most—human beings.

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