March 14, 2013
Last week marked a unique moment in the history of our nation and the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.
More than 150 years ago, the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor sank off the coast of North Carolina, taking the ship's 16 crew members with her. In 1975, the area around the shipwreck became the country's first ever national marine sanctuary. In 2002, the remains of two sailors were recovered when the ship's gun turret was raised in an operation conducted with the U.S. Navy. For the next ten years, Sanctuaries staff worked with the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command to identify the sailors. In 2012, forensic reconstructions of the sailors' faces were released. Efforts to identify the remains are ongoing.
Last Friday, these two unknown sailors were buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. I was proud to join Acting NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathy Sullivan, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Director Dan Basta, descendants of the original Monitor crew members, and many others at this solemn event. Office of Coast Survey Director Rear Admiral Gerd Glang served as the NOAA Corps escort officer, accompanying the caisson carriage procession to the grave site.
The event was a moving tribute to the sailors who served on the Monitor and a rich addition to our country's history. I would like to thank all of those involved in planning this occasion for their substantial commitment and unrelenting enthusiasm. I would like to especially acknowledge Dan Basta and the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent David Alberg for their superior leadership in making this event such a success. The sailors who perished when the USS Monitor sank received a sendoff worthy of their service and sacrifice.
Holly A. Bamford, Ph.D.
National Ocean Service
The remains of two unknown sailors from the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor, recovered by NOAA and the U.S. Navy in 2002 from the ship's gun turret, were buried with full military honors on March 8 at Arlington National Cemetery. The USS Monitor sank in a New Year's Eve storm just over 150 years ago, carrying 16 crewmembers to their deaths. Hundreds gathered at Arlington to watch as horse-drawn caissons carried two flag-draped caskets from the chapel to the graveside ceremony, which included a military band and a rifle salute. Those present at the historic event—held on the day before the 151st anniversary of the Monitor's famous clash with the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia at the Battle of Hampton Roads—included Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Acting NOAA Administrator Kathryn D. Sullivan, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, and descendants of USS Monitor crew members. For more information, contact Vernon Smith.
An independent scientific panel reported today that Mississippi River freshwater diversions have not slowed the ongoing loss of Louisiana's wetlands. Restoration of Louisiana wetlands may only be possible through significant inputs of sediment via large-scale river diversions. The panel concludes that existing freshwater diversions have both helped and hindered wetland restoration. Sediment delivery alone is insufficient to tackle the problem of coastal land loss facing Louisiana. National experts of academic and government scientists with broad backgrounds in wetland science produced the report. The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Louisiana Coastal Area program convened the panel. For more information, contact Alan Lewitus.
The United States Interagency Elevation Inventory, a nationwide listing of known high-accuracy topographic and bathymetric data, is now current through November 2012. This online application includes Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) and Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (IFSAR) data, as well as bathymetric data such as NOAA hydrographic surveys, multibeam data, and bathymetric LIDAR. Entries include information about each data set's geographic extent, vertical accuracy, point spacing, date of collection, and often a direct link to download the data. This project is an ongoing collaborative effort between NOAA and the U.S. Geological Survey, with contributions from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The annually-updated online tool, map service, and downloadable geodatabase can be found on the Digital Coast. For more information, contact Lindy Betzhold.
Representatives from the National Geodetic Survey and the Office of Coast Survey will travel to Saudi Arabia on March 13 to participate in week-long collaborative meetings with the General Commission for Survey (GCS), a Saudi organization involved in surveying, mapping, geographical information, and hydrography. The trip—the second meeting with NOS and GCS—will promote information sharing and an exchange of expertise in the areas of hydrography and geodesy and will provide NOS with access to GCS' current research and production programs. For more information, contact Neil Weston.
The Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) is the locale for Lely High School students in Naples, Florida, to create films for Discovery Education on issues affecting their coastline, such as saltwater intrusion, coral reefs, pollution, water quality, red tide, and beach erosion. This opportunity started from a long-standing partnership between Collier County School District and Discovery Education, a division of the Discovery Channel's parent company. NERR staff and school faculty are working with the students. Once filming wraps, the top five videos will be selected by the teachers and submitted to the Discovery Channel for final selection. The best projects will be featured on the Discovery website and will serve as educational tools. For more information, contact Erica Seiden.
The Office of Coast Survey and the National Weather Service gave a joint presentation to the Ports Association of Louisiana (PAL) annual meeting last week. The conference, attended by representatives from most of the state's 32 ports, was an important venue to discuss the 2013 hurricane season's navigation response. OCS and NWS also discussed the continued support and operation of the state's two Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System (PORTS®) systems, reviewed charting and navigation issues, and updated the port representatives on weather and hurricane season forecasting and resources. For more information, contact Tim Osborn.
In late summer of 2010, an underground pipeline in Michigan began spilling more than 800,000 gallons of crude oil. The oil seeped through wetlands before washing into the Kalamazoo River, one of the largest rivers in Michigan. The Office of Response and Restoration ORR) joined with other trustee agencies to assess damages that the spill caused to natural resources. The trustees conducted a variety of studies to collect information on the impacts of the spill and to determine how the environment is recovering. Trustees continue to plan and implement studies to assess damages from the 2010 Enbridge oil spill. For more information, contact Jessica Winter.