NOS Assistant Administrator Weekly Update

Hi everyone,
May is Military Appreciation Month. I would like to thank the men and women of the National Ocean Service who have served in our military. We are also celebrating the NOAA Corps Centennial, so I invited Lieutenant (junior grade) (LTJG) Alisha Friel to take the pen this week. —Russell

Hi all,

The NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps is celebrating its 100th year of service this year, and I am celebrating my fourth. I became a commissioned officer in the NOAA Corps on August 8, 2013. I joined looking for a steady career and the opportunity to be trained as a mariner, as well as the chance to put my BS in marine biology to good use. In those short four years, I’ve learned the ins and outs of navigating a 273-foot research vessel through Alaska’s Inside Passage, mastered hydrographic survey basics, gained valuable leadership experience, and made many lifelong friends.

I’ve been stationed at Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary for the last year and a half as the Vessel Operations Coordinator. As the VOC, I maintain the sanctuary’s two small boats, a 38-foot aluminum work boat, R/V Tatoosh, and a 22-foot rigid hull inflatable used for nearshore work. From mid-May through September, I operate R/V Tatoosh out of La Push, Washington, along with a survey technician and help from volunteers and members of the Quileute Tribe.

Our main project involves deploying, maintaining, and recovering oceanographic moorings that measure dissolved oxygen, temperature, conductivity, turbidity, and currents. These parameters are used to assess and model climate change, larval dispersal, hypoxia, productivity, and harmful algal blooms throughout the sanctuary.

As officers current and past celebrate the NOAA Corps Centennial, I am proud to support a mission that impacts the lives of Americans every day.

Semper Serviens,
LTJG Alisha Friel
Vessel Operations Coordinator
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary

What is a tide gauge?

We explore the venerable tide gauge in our latest Ocean Fact: the old, the new, and the next generation.

Around NOS

Large-scale Oil Spill Drill in California

An industry-led oil spill drill was conducted involving the collision of a Chevron oil tanker and another ship 50 miles northwest of San Diego, CA. The drill simulated the release of 50,000 barrels (2.1 million gallons) of Arabian crude oil, which threatened coastal waters and shorelines from Oceanside to San Diego. OR&R provided oil fate and transport estimates, input on the potential use of Applied Response Technologies (dispersants and in-situ burning), salvage support, discussions on the use of drones, and other aspects of scientific support to the U.S. Coast Guard and others within the cooperative response. OR&R also participated with Chevron and state and federal trustees on drill scenarios for Natural Resource Damage Assessment.


Meeting with United Kingdom Hydrographic Office

OCS Director Rear Admiral (RDML) Shepard Smith met with the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO) in London. UKHO and NOAA are global leaders in charting standards and practices. Fostering this relationship is vital to continued international cooperation and global understanding of both agencies’ divergent markets and practices. While in London, RDML Smith also gave a presentation at the Unmanned Maritime Systems Technology Conference. He introduced NOAA’s autonomous systems strategy, which focuses on leveraging autonomy for more efficient and effective acquisition of environmental information. Conference participants included the Royal Navy UK, NATO Allied Maritime Command, and U.S. Office of Naval Research Global.


Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary Livestream Event

Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary, in collaboration with Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB), created a livestream virtual dive event using underwater footage of Gray’s Reef and featuring experts from the sanctuary and the University of Georgia. More than 35,000 people—mostly students—from as far away as Romania tuned in. The livestream included a Q&A session during which viewers submitted more than 1,000 questions. The event is archived on the GPB website, will be accessible for several years, and is accompanied by supplemental materials tailored to Georgia Department of Education K-12 standards. The joint project attracted a much larger audience than the 3,000 to 5,000 viewers originally expected.


New Water Levels Training Course for NOAA Sentinel Sites

Staff from NGS, CO-OPS, and OCM piloted a new water levels training course for the Chesapeake Bay Sentinel Site Cooperative at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, MD. The two-day course provided hands-on training on the computation of tidal inundation and tidal datums using a novel CO-OPS “Simplified Datum Calculator” tool, which can ingest a wide variety of water level data to provide various tidal datum products. 

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Washington State Coast Resilience Assessment Final Report

The Washington Coastal Management Program, in partnership with the Office of U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA 6th District) and Washington Sea Grant, contracted a comprehensive assessment and report for long-term resilience in coastal Washington. The Washington State Coast Resilience Assessment Final Report provides specific recommendations to help the state and partners improve resilience and protect coastal communities, infrastructure, and the natural environment from extreme weather hazards, rising sea levels, and potential earthquakes and tsunamis.


Microplastics Detected in Bottlenose Dolphins

NCCOS scientists and collaborators from the College of Charleston detected microplastics in gut samples of bottlenose dolphins for the first time. While microplastics have been visibly detected in other marine wildlife species, they had not been observed in bottlenose dolphins until now. The research, conducted in coordination with the NOAA Marine Debris Program, will expand knowledge of microplastics in key marine wildlife species. The discovery took place during filming of an upcoming BBC Blue Planet II documentary at the NCCOS lab in Charleston, SC. A portion of the documentary will emphasize plastics in the oceans, and the segment will explain the process of collecting samples to detect microplastics in dolphins. The documentary will air in October 2017.


Final Phase of Puget Sound Current Survey

CO-OPS recently embarked on the last phase of its Puget Sound Current Survey. For the past two summers, CO-OPS collected data that will be used to update tidal current predictions for commercial and recreational mariners who depend on the information for safe navigation, to validate hydrodynamic models, and for scientific understanding of the circulation of the sound. As the nation’s coasts and inlets age and change shape due to erosion, deposition, dredging, and sea level rise, NOAA periodically resurveys them to provide the most accurate predictions possible. 

Guest Author

LTJG Alisha Friel
Vessel Operations Coordinator
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary

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