RELEASE: Flooding Survey Released

Contact: Meaghan Walsh Gerard
Communications and Administrative Director

Organizations are trying to collect data on changing water patterns 

Ogeechee Riverkeeper (ORK) has developed a survey tool for citizens to report flooding connected to increased development in coastal Georgia counties. The tool will help area organizations track changes in water incursion in the area. These changes include tidal flooding, overflowing canals, non-draining rainwater or stormwater, and more. The survey also includes prompts for site photos as well as a map to pinpoint the problem location. Citizens can report issues at public, private, residential, or commercial property. 

ORK and Savannah Riverkeeper (SRK) are leading the data collection of the survey. One Hundred Miles (OHM) is also interested in tracking patterns of flooding incidents. A shared concern of all the advocacy groups involved is the amount of concrete that accompanies such rapid development and the resultant flooding experienced by neighboring communities. 

Riverkeepers work to protect water quality at all stages of the water cycle. When water washes over roadways or parking lots, for example, it can compromise water quality. Salt water from higher tides can affect the ecology of freshwater habitats. Overflowing canals can carry water, nutrients, and contaminants from new areas. All of these scenarios are ones to monitor. 

This survey will use crowdsourced reports to monitor localized flooding after rain events. The goal is to document flood events to aid in public comments and improve developmental planning.

View the survey:

About Ogeechee Riverkeeper: Ogeechee Riverkeeper 501(c)(3) works to protect, preserve, and improve the water quality of the Ogeechee River basin, which includes all of the streams flowing out to Ossabaw Sound and St. Catherine’s Sound. The Canoochee River is about 108 miles long and the Ogeechee River itself is approximately 245 miles long. The Ogeechee River system drains more than 5,500 square miles across 21 counties in Georgia. More at


September has been a very eventful month for my research. This month we began the fish community assessment for my study! The location near Highway 301 posed an accessabilty issue for the our electrofishing boat, so we adjusted to the Oliver boat ramp. Electrofishing and the process is less scary than it sounds.

Electrofishing is a process that uses electrotaxis, which is a method that temporarily stuns the fish for capture. This process and recovery is easy for the fish. Researchers follow strict safety procedures when on the boat because there is an electrical current. The fish are netted and put in to an aerated live well and observed closely for recovery. Most fish recover within seconds of being put in to the live well. The fish are later identified, measured, and counted for the study. No fish are harmed or kept during this study.

For this project, we collected a wide variety of fishes. One common fish we caught was Bowfin. Bowfin are obligate air breathers, meaning that they can also breath oxygen from the surface when needed. They have a large gular plate on their chin that looks like a triangle-shape. Many of these characteristics are considered “primitive” because they are characteristics that closely relate to ancestor fishes that are long extinct. Bowfin are paired nesters and the male helps by building and guarding the eggs and young. These fish are only found in North America.

Another group of fish only found in North and upper South America are the gar. We found two different gar species on our survey, Longnose Gar and Florida Gar. Gar are also considered “primitive” fishes. Gar are one of my favorite fishes in this area because of their curiosity and relaxed nature. We often find gar watching near the surface while in the boat. They do have long, sharp teeth that can cause lacerations if improperly handled.

Molly holds an eel

Another special fish I found while traversing the Ogeechee River was the American Eel. Yes, eels are also fish! The American Eel is a catadromous fish, which means it lives in rivers as adults, but heads out to the sea to spawn. American Eels only spawn in the Sargasso Sea. The IUCN Red List marks American Eels as endangered and these species should be treated with care. Eels can easily get trapped in crayfish traps and other lines that stay in the water for extended periods of time.

Molly holds a gar

Meet Kris

Kris Howard describes his job as the Ogeechee River watchdog. “Much of what I do is based on sampling and monitoring the river and its tributaries to ensure the water quality is where it needs to be.” And if it’s not, he follows the proper channels to find out why and does what he can to get it resolved.

Diving in Belize

Kris is originally from Augusta, Georgia. As a kid, he spent time outdoors and fostered a natural curiosity that led him pursuing a career in science. With fishing being his favorite pastime he was always interested in why fish do the things they do.  His interest in fish and science came to a head in his first science fair in 3rd grade where he did a project on which bait caught the most catfish. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology with a concentration in marine science from Thomas More University in Kentucky. After graduation he accepted a position as a biologist for a pollution control agency in Ohio. Never one to shy away from an adventure, he also spent some time in the Bering Sea as a fisheries observer in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. 

As an observer, Kris lived aboard a commercial fishing vessel for 3-month segments sampling the catch and conducting research projects.  When sampling catch, Kris would take random samples from the main net weighing, sexing, counting, and identifying fish.  The time he spent in the Bering Sea was an exciting experience where he was able to see so much wildlife like Orcas, bald eagles, seals, and sea lions.

Fairbanks, Alaska

I feel like it’s cliche, but being a marine biologist is something that I’ve wanted to be as long as I can remember,” Kris recalls. “ I’ve always loved the water and was interested in science growing up, so it has always been something I wanted to do.”

Kris returned home to Georgia to earn his master’s degree in marine sciences from Savannah State University, and he started working with ORK shortly after graduating. He was surprised by the number of issues in the basin. “There are so many relatively small things taking place that lead to larger environmental issues.”

In spite of that, he is heartened by ORK’s effectiveness. “We are not a regulatory agency. People often ask when dealing with issues if ORK will place any fines and are surprised to hear we can’t do that. But my favorite thing to tell people about ORK’s work is all the successes we’ve had protecting the river.  No matter how small all of the victories we have, work towards better water quality for the basin.”

What is your idea of happiness? Enjoying a day on the water! 

Who are your favorite painters and composers? Jeff Koons

What is your favorite bird? Probably a raven 

What is your most treasured possession?  A tie between my Pikachu Nintendo 64 and my binder with the original 151 Pokemon cards.

What is the dumbest way you’ve been hurt? Diving in the ocean after a fish and hitting my head on the ground

What’s the best type of cheese for you? Mozzarella 

What’s the worst color that was ever invented? Maroon because people try to convince me it’s different from burgundy.

Which talent would you most like to have? I would love to be able to play the piano.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Fairness. The fair is only a place they judge pigs.

What takes a lot of time but is totally worth it? Woodworking 

What topic could you give a 20-minute presentation on without any preparation? Fish, whether it be about fishing or just fish in general.

What’s the most amazing natural occurrence you’ve witnessed? Diving in the blue hole in Belize 

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Let’s do it/Let’s get after it.”

What is your motto? What’s the worst that can happen? 

RELEASE: ORK accepting entries for annual photo contest


Ogeechee Riverkeeper
Contact: Meaghan Gerard
Communications and Administrative Director

Multiple categories will put on a spotlight the beauty of the area

Ogeechee Riverkeeper (ORK) is soliciting the best photographs from across the 5,500 square mile watershed. ORK’s watershed is home to an incredible diversity of ecological features, and it provides an important habitat for more than 160 rare species of plants and animals.  Judges will be looking for images that highlight what makes the Ogeechee and Canoochee Rivers, and the surrounding areas, remarkable. This is the fourth year for the contest. 

“We’ve been thrilled with the past entries,” said Meaghan Walsh Gerard, communications and administrative director. “The variety of subjects has been inspiring.”

Photographers can enter in multiple categories: Landscape, portrait, wildlife, plant life, underwater, aerial, black and white, and funny wildlife. Since this will be an annual event each December, ORK requests that any images submitted be taken within the same calendar year. ORK hopes to see entries from across the 21 counties encompassing the watershed. 

Gerard also notes that this will be the first year ORK will consider sponsorships. “As always, winners will receive a household membership and ORK merchandise, but we are also looking for a business or two to partner with so we can offer even more prizes.”  Interested companies are invited to contact Gerard.

Submissions are due by November 6, 2023. Winners receive a free membership to the organization and ORK merchandise. Winners will be announced early December 2023. Complete rules and submission guidelines at:

About Ogeechee Riverkeeper: Ogeechee Riverkeeper 501(c)(3) works to protect, preserve, and improve the water quality of the Ogeechee River basin, which includes all of the streams flowing out to Ossabaw Sound and St. Catherine’s Sound. The Canoochee River is about 108 miles long and the Ogeechee River itself is approximately 245 miles long. The Ogeechee River system drains more than 5,500 square miles across 21 counties in Georgia. More at

***See previous entries
2022 Annual Photography Contest

Dog Days of Summer

The month of August is historically known as the Dog Days of Summer which “refers to a period of particularly hot and humid weather occurring during the summer months of July and August in the Northern Hemisphere” ( and dates back to ancient Greek, Roman & Egyptian traditional beliefs.

Sammy, Mel’s dog

Astronomy even plays a role in deciphering when the “dog days” will be each year. Sirius the Dog Star, is a part of the constellation known as Canis Majoris and is associated with nearby Orion the Hunter.

Kali, Kris’s dog

Other than our solar system’s Sun, Sirius is the brightest star that we can see. When Sirius rises at dawn, that signals the beginning of the “dog days,” which were believed to be higher temps and more humidity.

Pangu, Ben’s dog

(If you’ve read/seen Harry Potter, you might learn something about the character Sirius as well!)

As a part of this activity, we ask that you do several things:

  1. Take a picture of your dog in an ORK pet bandana, share with us or tag us on social media. 
  2. See what else you can research and learn about the history of the Dog Days of Summer.
  3. Try to find Sirius the Dog Star in the night sky (If you need help locating it, there are several free apps to learn about stars and constellations).

Throughout month of August only, our pet bandanas will be on sale for $7!

Dexter, Victoria’s dog
Maisie, Meaghan’s dog