USCB’s Montie wins Governor’s Award for his researchers


From staff reports

Eric W. Montie, PhD., a member of the Department of Natural Sciences at the University of South Carolina Beaufort, received a 2021 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Scientific Research at a Predominately Undergraduate Institution.

This statewide award recognizes Montie’s strong research program in soundscape ecology, which focuses on estuaries. He helps to develop the next generation of scientists by involving undergraduate students in his research.

Since 2013, Montie’s lab has been recording the underwater soundscape of the May River in Bluffton. From 2017 to 2019, his team expanded soundscape monitoring to Charleston Harbor, Chechessee Creek, Colleton River, and the North Inlet-Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.

In 2020, NOAA Integrated Ocean Observing Systems (IOOS) and the Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association (SECOORA) invested in his lab, and he founded the “Estuarine Soundscape Observatory Network in the Southeast” (ESONS). The Spring Island Trust also supports his research.

Montie and his students use acoustic recorders to capture the underwater soundscape. Their recordings provide information on the behavior of snapping shrimp, spawning patterns of fish, foraging patterns and communication of bottlenose dolphins, and noise levels associated with human activity. The long-term goal is to ‘eavesdrop’ on key behaviors of marine animals that can change rapidly or gradually in response to environmental changes and human impacts, thus providing a measure of resilience or shifting baselines in a globally changing environment.

Montie’s doctorate is from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program in Biological Oceanography. He has taught at USC Beaufort since 2011.

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