August 29, 2013
Earlier in the summer, NOAA commemorated—for the first time ever—the 20 crewmembers who lost their lives when the U.S. Coast Survey Steamer Robert J. Walker was hit by a commercial vessel and sank off the coast of New Jersey. Now, more than 150 years after the vessel was lost, the wreck has been positively identified.
Identifying this site resulted from a private-public collaboration that included key contributions from NOS's Offices of National Marine Sanctuaries and Coast Survey. I would like to extend my thanks to all of the men and women who supported the mission to find the Walker.
I invite you to learn more about how the Walker was found in our latest podcast, which features interviews with the Office of Coast Survey's Vitad Pradith and the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries' James Delgado. For more resources on the Walker, I hope you take the time to explore this Coast Survey feature, videos of the dive to the shipwreck from Sanctuaries, and our story on the NOS website.
Holly A. Bamford, Ph.D.
National Ocean Service
Shipwreck identified as 19th century U.S. Coast Survey Steamer Robert J. Walker. Don't miss our story, video, and podcast.
NOAA's newest survey ship, the Ferdinand R. Hassler, arrived at her new homeport of New Castle, N.H., earlier this month, and began her first New Hampshire survey project last week. Hassler's arrival is the impetus for improving the already dynamic synergies between NOAA's hydrographic program and the Joint Hydrographic Center/Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire (UNH). For the first cooperative project, Hassler will be charting approaches to New Hampshire while providing a testing platform for a new autonomous underwater vehicle currently being analyzed by the Office of Coast Survey and UNH researchers. For more information, contact Jeffrey Ferguson.
Recently, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder paid a visit to NOAA's Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. After a tour of NOAA's Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center in Alpena, Mich., Governor Snyder boarded the private vessel Pride of Michigan for a scuba diving cruise in Thunder Bay. The governor experienced the sanctuary's cultural resources firsthand with a dive on the sanctuary shipwreck Monohansett. Sanctuary staff accompanied Governor Snyder on the cruise, acting as historical guides and interpreters. The sanctuary was one of several stops made by the Governor throughout the state as part of the "Pure Michigan" campaign. For more information, contact Jean Bauer.
Recently, scientists from NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science and Southeast Fisheries Science Center joined researchers from the National Park Service, the University of the Virgin Islands, the University of Miami, and the Nature Conservancy to conduct the first National Coral Reef Monitoring Plan biological surveys of fish and sea floor communities in the Caribbean. The field mission, initiated by NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program, focused on coral reefs and other hard bottom habitats in the waters surrounding St. Thomas and St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. This is part of a larger, national effort to conduct surveys in Puerto Rico, the Florida Keys, Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, the main and northwestern Hawaiian Islands, American Samoa, and the Mariana Islands to provide information on fish and coral populations and habitat conditions within and outside managed areas. For more information, contact Randy Clark.
Officials and coastal managers in American Samoa now have access to high resolution land cover data from 2010. These updated data provide local users with a detailed characterization of current landscape conditions, and the accompanying change map shows how the landscape has changed over a five-year period. Documented land cover characteristics include impervious surfaces, cultivated lands, forests, and emergent wetlands. The data were developed as part of NOAA's Coastal Change Analysis Program (C-CAP) and are freely available through the Digital Coast website. For more information, contact Nate Herold.
The Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS) recently installed a test microwave radar water level (MWWL) system at the National Water Level Observation Network (NWLON) station at Lake Worth, Fla. This installation is part of an effort to evaluate the viability of using MWWL sensor technology in intermediate to high wave energy environments. Since measurements of surface waves will be very important in supporting analysis of MWWL sensor's performance during this particular field experiment, CO-OPS also installed an Acoustic Waves and Current sensor at the test site. Results from this test will provide critical decision-making support for planning operational use of MWWL sensors across NWLON. Similar test installations will be completed in September in Monterey and La Jolla, Calif. For more information, contact Robert Heitsenrether.
NOAA Marine Debris Program's California Regional Coordinator presented to a group of visiting high-school students from Hitachi Dai-1 High School in Japan and a representative from the Japanese Consulate in San Francisco. The students, who were on a week-long visit to San Francisco, learned about marine debris and the U.S. response to debris generated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan. As a result of the March 2011 disaster, NOAA expected a portion of the debris that the tsunami washed into the ocean to reach U.S. and Canadian shores over the next several years. During their stay, the students blogged about their experience that included an astronomy lecture at Stanford University and visits to numerous local landmarks. For more information, contact Sherry Lippiatt.
The National Geodetic Survey (NGS) presented training to the general public covering the use of its Web-based Online Positioning User Service (OPUS Projects) for processing, adjusting, and analyzing Global Navigation Satellite System data for height modernization projects and other applications. Attendees from the private sector and other federal agencies included representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Training was held at NGS' Corbin Training Facility in Virginia. OPUS Projects enable NOAA's customers to use its tools to obtain high-quality positions of survey points and to manage the overall data flow of their survey projects. For more information, contact Dave Zenk.
This week, the Director of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) met with Alaskan local, tribal, and state lawmakers and industry members in meetings that are expected to influence policy in the Arctic. The U.S. Arctic Research Commission meeting, in the city of Unalaska, focused on Arctic research activities, oil spill prevention and response, and fisheries. The Alaska Arctic Policy Commission meeting outlined issues related to national and homeland security, U.S. Coast Guard operations, marine transportation, and fisheries. IOOS remarks focused on future needs and plans for ocean observing in the Arctic. For more information, contact Jennie Lyons.
This week, NOS hosted the NOAA-Environment Canada bilateral preparation meeting to highlight collaborative success stories and lay the groundwork for the 2014 strategic plan. The chairs discussed and heard from internal NOAA offices about how their collaborative work with Canada supports strategic NOAA goals where work is not already ongoing. NOS chairs the NOAA-Environment Canada bilateral agreement whose purpose is to focus on emerging areas for collaboration. The partnership goals include hydrology, Arctic collaboration including oil spill preparedness, marine weather forecasting, and climate. For more information, contact Arthur Paterson.