NOS Assistant Administrator Weekly Update
This week—from September 17 to 24—is National Estuaries Week. National Estuarine Research Reserves are hosting activities around the country to celebrate these important places. Even if you don’t have an opportunity to participate in one of the events, there are plenty of things you can do all year long to help protect estuaries, no matter where you live.
Healthy estuaries provide a wide range of benefits to coastal communities and ecosystems. These special places—where rivers meet the sea and Great Lakes—serve as natural filters for runoff and buffers for upland areas from storms. Estuaries are often the economic centers of coastal communities. They provide nurseries for small fish and shellfish and safe havens for migrating birds. At estuaries around the country, people sail, fish, hike, kayak, swim, and enjoy birdwatching.
I am proud of the work that we do in partnership with coastal states to study and protect vital coastal and estuarine resources through the National Estuarine Research Reserves.
W. Russell Callender, Ph.D.
Ocean Services and Coastal Zone Management,
National Ocean Service
What is coral spawning?
Once a year, on cues from the lunar cycle and the water temperature, entire colonies of coral reefs simultaneously release their tiny eggs and sperm, called gametes, into the ocean. The phenomenon brings to mind an underwater blizzard with billions of colorful flakes cascading in white, yellow, red, and orange. Read our latest Ocean Fact and see an amazing video from Ocean Today.
Establishing an Olympic Coast Sentinel Site for Ocean Acidification
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary recently brought together resource managers, educators, and leading experts on ocean acidification (OA), including representatives of three Coastal Treaty tribes. Efforts to establish an OA sentinel site on the Olympic Coast has catalyzed the interest and involvement of government, tribal, university, and nongovernmental partners to collectively address the increasing threat of OA in Washington's outer coastal waters and monitor impacts to marine ecosystems within and adjacent to the sanctuary. Expert panels discussed the concept of sentinel sites, existing science assets, and activities that could help address OA. Discussions also focused on habitat and species vulnerability; key functions, components, and applications of a sentinel site; and an OA education and awareness campaign for specific audiences. Ocean acidification has serious implications throughout the NOAA sanctuary system and is expected to adversely impact economic resources and activities across the nation.
Report on U.S. Caribbean Ocean Economies
A new report on NOAA’s Digital Coast, Describing the Ocean Economies of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, notes that more than 19 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands workforce are in ocean-related jobs, as are 7 percent of Puerto Rico’s workforce. The report reveals the true dependence of U.S. Caribbean economies on the ocean and the management of ocean resources. The report findings suggest ways to estimate small islands’ ocean economies. Economic reports on ocean-dependent employment often do not include informal economic activity, such as subsistence fishermen who routinely sell part of their catch by the roadside. This is particularly problematic in the Caribbean, as so many jobs fall into these informal categories. To provide a more accurate picture of the ocean’s importance to the economy, the report includes local data to capture these sectors.
Pacific Geodetic Advisor Supports Republic of the Marshall Islands
NGS’s Pacific Geodetic Advisor is working with the Division of Lands and Survey, Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), to upgrade the geodetic control of Majuro Atoll following NGS Height Modernization guidelines. The project will help RMI develop new models to delineate locations vulnerable to seawater inundation during extreme high tide events and adaption strategies for projected sea level rise scenarios. Additionally, the advisor will work with the U.S. Geological Survey, the Universities of Hawaii and Guam, and the Marshall Islands Conservation Society on coastal topographic and bathymetric mapping using unmanned aircraft systems to support inundation modeling in RMI. Other activities include training on project planning and GPS observations and processing, so that RMI surveyors can achieve accurate positions (latitude, longitude, and height) while complying with recognized standards for georeferenced data.
Training to Minimize Risk of Shellfish Toxins
NCCOS scientists instructed environmental personnel from the southeast Alaska tribes in toxic phytoplankton sampling and identification techniques during the Fourth Workshop of the Southeast Alaska Tribal Toxins (SEATT) Partnership in Sitka, Alaska. The NCCOS Phytoplankton Monitoring Network developed the techniques. At the workshop, NCCOS scientists provided technical and program development guidance to the Sitka Tribe of Alaska Environmental Research Laboratory. The lab recently implemented an NCCOS-developed shellfish toxin testing method to support monitoring conducted by SEATT members. Regulatory managers from Alaska and Washington present at the workshop received a demonstration of this testing method—approved by the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference—for their consideration as an alternative to the mouse bioassay, which uses live animal testing. SEATT was formed in 2013 to mitigate the threat of eating shellfish tainted with algal-based toxins during traditional subsistence shellfish harvests.
U.S.-Canada-Norway Spill Response Meeting
The U.S. Coast Guard, with participation by the Canadian Coast Guard and Norwegian Coastal Administration, recently held a spill response meeting under the auspices of agreements that the U.S. Coast Guard has with each nation relating to this issue. OR&R joined to participate in discussions on two topics: common operating pictures and spill response countermeasures. In the discussion on dispersant preparedness, OR&R presented the Arctic Dispersant State of the Science effort, which is coordinated by the Coastal Response Research Center. Also discussed were the scope of the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment and some specific work relating to dispersants and dispersed oil. As part of the exercise review, OR&R discussed the use of ERMA® as the common operational picture during the drill, which brought in public and sensitive data layers relevant to the spill scenario in Norway using several of Norway’s servers as data sources.