Shark Week is here! While we realize that this annual broadcasting event is for entertainment purposes, it is also an opportunity to encourage a greater understanding of sharks as a species. Did you know that many of our programs at the National Ocean Service actively support the understanding and protection of sharks? Here are a few examples:
1. Sharks are residents of several national marine sanctuaries. Great white sharks can be found in the Gulf of the Farallones NMS every fall. Whale sharks frequent the Flower Garden Banks NMS during the warmest months of the year. And basking sharks are common visitors to the Stellwagen Bank NMS. Learn more about sharks and sanctuaries here.
2. Estuaries are critical breeding grounds for some shark species as well as fish, birds, and other species. Visitors to the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, for example, often catch sight of shark fins in the muddy water. Learn more about sharks and estuaries here.
3. The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science conducts studies to better understand sharks and how they fit into ecosystems. In one study, researchers linked sharks and other top predators with benthic algae in pristine, healthy coral reef ecosystems. The study was conducted using samples from algae, invertebrates, fish, and sharks from the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Because the entire ecosystem was found to be heavily dependent on algae growing on the seafloor, any impacts to the reef and its algae—such as damage from bottom trawling, coral bleaching, or other threats—could influence the organisms like sharks higher on the food web. Read more about this study.
4. The Coral Reef Conservation Program works to protect coral reef ecosystems along our coasts where many species of sharks are apex predators.
5. The island of Maui in Hawaii has witnessed a higher number of unprovoked shark attacks than in previous years and local spear fishers are reporting an increased boldness of large sharks encountered in local waters. To better understand and more effectively manage responses to these events, the State of Hawaii provided funds to U.S. IOOS® program partners with the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) to fit tiger sharks with dorsal-fin mounted satellite transmitters and internally implanted acoustictransmitters to monitor their movements. Learn more about this effort and view animations of the tagged shark tracks here.
Let's end with a trivia question: do you know the name of the biggest fish in the ocean? Hint: it's a type of shark! You can get the answer here.
Holly A. Bamford, Ph.D.
Assistant Administrator for Ocean Services and Coastal
Zone Management, National Ocean Service
The three-dimensional nature of ocean space and data can be difficult to explain and grasp. A new Ocean Dimensions animation manages to accomplish this task in minutes, helping non-technical customers understand data coverage without the aid of a spatial analyst. The animation received top honors in the multimedia map category from attendees of the 2014 Esri User Conference's User Application Fair. The animation, published on MarineCadastre.gov, was a joint NOAA and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management initiative, providing authoritative data to meet the needs of the offshore energy and marine planning communities.
Last week, as part of an ongoing effort to prepare for an oil spill in the Arctic, OR&R joined a team of researchers in Barrow, Alaska to field test ephemeral data collection methods. These brand new Arctic data collection guidelines will improve the ability to conduct a Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) in the Arctic. The guidelines are aimed at assessing exposure and injury in a wide range of Arctic resources and habitats at risk of being impacted by a marine oil spill. In addition to the field work, this continued OR&R's conversation with the Barrow community and local researchers about Arctic spill response and damage assessment.
On August 8, NGS embarked on a two-month project to collect airborne topographic-bathymetric ("topo-bathy") light detection and ranging (LIDAR) data and imagery of the shoreline and waters from Dry Tortugas to Molasses Key, Florida. Approximately 2,147 square miles of data will be collected using a NOAA Twin Otter aircraft and NGS' topo-bathy LIDAR and aerial camera systems.
NOAA scientists are supporting the response to a bloom of cyanobacteria that contaminated drinking water in Lake Erie on August 2, leaving nearly 400,000 residents in Toledo, Ohio without drinking water for two days. NOAA's weekly Lake Erie Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) Bulletin tracks the size and location of blooms and predicts their movement until the bloom season ends in the fall. The August 1 bulletin caught the intensification of this bloom and enabled Toledo to prepare for a potential hazard. In response to requests from Ohio agencies, NOAA increased the frequency of the bulletins from once to twice a week. Scientists are working to forecast transport and mixing that could carry blooms to the bottom. Satellite data, monitoring, and incorporation of wind forecasts and observations from Cleveland Weather Forecast Office are critical to providing timely and accurate information. NOAA issued a seasonal HAB forecast for Lake Erie on July 10, predicting larger than average blooms that will peak in September. NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science and Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory produce the bulletins, using data from Ohio Sea Grant, Ohio State University, the University of Toledo, Ohio EPA, and regional partners.
Simulation is an important part of a sea level rise study. A team from the National Estuarine Research Reserve's Science Collaborative in Alabama and Mississippi has figured out how to manipulate sea level rise with minimal environmental disturbance. The method uses a low-cost device placed directly in coastal wetlands to simulate a wide range of sea level rise scenarios, while still allowing for natural tidal ebb and flow. The team submitted a full description of the device and its applications for publication in the peer-reviewed journal, Methods in Ecology and Evolution.
During a two day learning session, staff from CO-OPS and NOAA's National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) exchanged information as the two offices work together through NOAA's Tsunami Program. NGDC processes and archives CO-OPS 1-minute water level data and maintains the tsunami water level data archive for NOAA. To further enhance the technology transfer and collaborative partnership, a series of meetings covered background on CO-OPS as an organization, processes and procedures for collecting and processing water level, data dissemination and archival functions, and concluded with a discussion of continued and expanded partnership opportunities with NGDC.
NOS Assistant Administrator
Dr. Holly Bamford
Another excellent example of how life's unexpected changes can lead you in the right direction. Learn how Dr. Susan Baker took a career-ending injury and turned it into an opportunity to influence generations of young scientists.
How would we respond to an oil spill in the Arctic? Don't miss our interview with OR&R's Zachary Winters-Staszak, who is now heading to the Arctic aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy.
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NOS Communications & Education Division