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Weekly News: August 2007
August 2007

August 31, 2007
August 24, 2007
August 17, 2007
August 10, 2007
August 3, 2007


August 31, 2007

NOAA Offices Join Forces to Aid Flood Map Study
Several NOAA line offices are contributing information and expertise to a National Research Council (NRC) study on flood map accuracy.  The NRC is undertaking this project to evaluate sources of error in flood maps for the National Flood Insurance Program.  As part of the study, NOAA’s Coastal Services Center (CSC), National Geodetic Survey, Office of Coast Survey, and National Weather Service are providing information on inundation modeling, mapping uncertainty, flood warning products, and other topics.  The two-year project, funded by CSC and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is designed to foster close coastal-resilience partnerships between NOAA and other agencies.  The project will also help NOAA gain a better understanding of FEMA’s map accuracy requirements and better integrate NOAA's data products and services into FEMA's mapping program.  For more information, contact

Scientists Record Sounds From Feeding Humpback Whales
For the first time, researchers have recorded “megapclicks” — a series of clicks and buzzes from humpback whales apparently associated with nighttime feeding behaviors — in and around NOAA’s Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.  As detailed in the most recent issue of the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, this study offers the first documentation that baleen whales produce this type of sound, normally associated with toothed whales and echolocation.  The research team from the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, University of New Hampshire, and NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program used multi-sensor acoustic tags attached with suction cups to study whale behavior.  To hear the megapclicks, visit  For more information, contact

Integrated Assessments to Improve Research Reserve Management
NOAA’s Environmental Cooperative Science Center (ECSC) researchers are making significant progress in developing methodologies for integrated resource management, risk assessment, and environmental decision making.  The new conceptual modeling approach better integrates human systems and interactions into assessment plans, central to an Integrated Assessment and Ecosystem Management Protocol (IAEMP).  IAEMPs allow National Estuarine Research Reserves (NERR) to move from conceptual model to risk assessment to management action. ECSC developed their model for use in integrated assessments at the Delaware NERR habitats and watershed, finding that climate, development, and agriculture are the most significant drivers affecting aquatic habitats. Further, ECSC's model indicates that resource managers can expect these stressors' effects to impact future development, land-use regulation, and habitat mitigation/restoration efforts. The IAEMP is now the focus of a demonstration project at Apalachicola NERR, Florida.  For more information, contact or



August 24, 2007


NOS Examines Rare Pygmy Killer Whale Stranding
National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) researchers responded to four live pygmy killer whales stranded in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to assess the possibility of human-induced mortality and advance understanding of the role of mass stranding in marine mammals.  Two of the rarely sighted whales were eventually euthanized and transported to the Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research in Charleston for necropsy.  Recent concerns over the potential role of viruses and biotoxins causing mortality in whales prompted NCCOS scientists to collect a suite of tissue samples and blood for various analyses.  For more information, contact

Elkhorn Slough Elevation Survey Conducted
Last week, employees from NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey (NGS) conducted a series of high accuracy elevation surveys at Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve in Moss Landing, California.  The survey work was part of a larger NOS COASTAL team effort to help researchers at Elkhorn Slough understand why some areas of the marsh are deteriorating and to aid in ecosystem restoration efforts to save wetlands.  Sea level rise and ground subsidence (sinking) are suspected as potential causes of the problems.  The NGS work was part of an effort to tie together tidal and land-based datums to help researchers determine if the sea is rising, or if the land is sinking, or if it is some combination of the two.  For more information, contact

Coast Survey Demonstrates Response Readiness with Hurricane Dean
In preparation for Hurricane Dean, the Office of Coast Survey (OCS) began holding a series of conference calls with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard, Navy, and industry as the storm moved closer to U.S. waters.  Though the storm moved west over Mexico, it provided a good "dry run" for Coast Survey Navigation Managers and Navigation Response Teams.  The storm track was monitored on an hourly basis and corresponding adjustments were factored into a possible response plan.  As the hurricane season progresses, OCS will continue to work with responding agencies to assess communications, locations, possible survey assets, and their readiness should a response be required.  For more information, contact



August 17, 2007


Final Water Level Stations Installed for NOAA Tsunami Program
The Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS) announces that it has installed the last of 16 new tidal stations at Port Alexander, Alaska, well in advance of the deadline for the NOAA Tsunami Program.  Of the 16 new stations, six are in Alaska, four are on the West Coast, and six are in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  CO-OPS also upgraded equipment at 107 coastal stations of the National Water Level Observation Network (NWLON), and anticipates that it will finish upgrading all 143 NWLON stations in U.S. waters by the end of the fiscal year.  Water-level data from the tidal stations are transmitted every six minutes via Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites.  The recent installations and upgrades have made the stations an integral part of the Pacific and Atlantic tsunami detection and warning network.  Tide data are reported in real-time to the National Weather Service’s Alaska and Pacific Tsunami Warning Centers, which monitor Alaskan waters, the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, and the Atlantic Ocean for seismic activity and potential tsunamis.  For more information, contact

NOAA-funded Alternative to Animal Testing Proposed for Shellfish Safety
Next week, a new method to detect harmful algal bloom toxins will be proposed to the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference.  The method—called ELISA, for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay—could serve as an alternative to the current regulatory method of using live mice to test shellfish for the toxins that cause neurotoxic shellfish poisoning (NSP).  The research, funded by the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, was performed at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Neurotoxic shellfish poisoning is one of several extremely harmful food poisonings of global distribution caused by the ingestion of algal toxins that can accumulate in shellfish.  The mouse bioassay is currently the National Shellfish Sanitation Program’s approved regulatory method for detecting NSP-causing toxins in mollusks.  The proposed ELISA is a more accurate, efficient, and sensitive test.  For more information, contact

Maritime Heritage Program Launches Hassler Expedition Web Site
The National Marine Sanctuaries Program (NMSP) announces that it has launched the 2007 Hassler Expedition Web site.  The Hassler, an iron ship built in 1871, was, in its day, the most technologically advanced science and survey vessel in the U.S. Coast Survey fleet.  Today, broken by water, wind, and unforgiving rocks, the wreck of the iron steamer Hassler rests in shallow waters next the Eldred Rock Lighthouse in Southeastern Alaska.  Researchers documented the ship’s architectural details through still photography, video, and sketches; studied the wreck as a feature of a larger maritime cultural landscape; and compiled sufficient data to support the nomination of the wreck to the National Register of Historic Places.  The expedition was a joint project between NMSP, the Alaska Office of History and Archaeology, the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration, NOAA Office of Coast Survey, and the Sea Education Association of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.  The study of the wreck provides an important look at a transitional era in American shipbuilding and illuminates the role of the U.S. Coast Survey in furthering knowledge of U.S. geography.  For more information, contact



August 10, 2007


Pollution Report Forecasts Worsening Health for Estuaries
Scientists from the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Program Office, and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, released the most comprehensive assessment of estuarine eutrophication (an increase in chemical nutrients) to date.  The report, entitled “Effects of Nutrient Enrichment in the Nation’s Estuaries: A Decade of Change,” identifies linkages between upstream activities and coastal ecosystem health.  According to the study, the majority of U.S. estuaries that were assessed are highly influenced by human-related activities and most are expected to worsen in the future.  The National Estuarine Eutrophication Assessment Update also offers recommendations to reduce future problems.  The report can be accessed at or, for more information, contact

NOAA Meets with Army Corps to Improve Coastal Mapping Efforts
National Geodetic Survey and the Coastal Services Center employees traveled to Stennis, Mississippi, to discuss how to increase the efficiency of coastal mapping activities with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).  NOAA and USACE are working together to effectively execute the Integrated Ocean and Coastal Mapping program through joint coordination, collaboration, and adaptation of their existing coastal mapping frameworks.  For more information, contact or

NOAA Helps to Remove Marine Debris from Florida Waters
NOAA’s Restoration Center, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and the Southeast Fisheries Science Center, partnered with the State of Florida and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to locate and remove illegal lobster condos or “casitas” from the sanctuary.  Casitas are sheets of waterproof material (steel, cement, tin, etc.) propped four to six inches above the sea floor on cement blocks or similar structures, creating an ideal habitat for spiny lobsters.  The casitas smother the sea floor and concentrate lobsters for increased harvest through illegal fishing.  Florida prohibits harvesting spiny lobsters on non-permitted artificial structures.  NOAA conducted side scan sonar surveys over 12 square miles to locate the casitas.  Over 60 of the illegal structures were removed from the sea floor.  This multi-agency effort was a first step in addressing this issue. For more information, visit, or contact



August 3 , 2007


All Connecticut Coastal Waters Deemed “No Discharge Areas”
On July 28, during a ceremony in Norwalk, Connecticut, Governor M. Jodi Rell announced all of Connecticut’s Long Island Sound waters are now “No Discharge Areas” (NDAs).  It is now illegal for boaters to discharge sewage from vessels within the NDA.  Connecticut’s Coastal Management Program spearheaded the application process to receive the NDA designation from the Environmental Protection Agency.  The multi-year project, supported by the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, was conducted as a Coastal Zone Management Act Section 309 Program Enhancement to address the cumulative and secondary impacts of boat sewage discharge to Long Island Sound.  For more information, contact

Latest Sanctuary Conservation Series Report Released
The National Marine Sanctuary Program (NMSP) announced a new addition to the NMSP Conservation Series.  In their manuscript, A Bioregional Classification for the Continental Shelf of Northeastern North America for Conservation Analysis and Planning Based on Representation, Drs. Rosamonde R. Cook and Peter J. Auster propose a set of boundaries for the continental shelf of northeastern North America as defined by subdivisions of the Eastern Temperate Province, based on a review and synthesis of scientific literature.  The report can be downloaded from the NMSP Conservation Series Website at:  For more information, contact

Release of Centennial New York Harbor Chart
The Office of Coast Survey recently issued the first 100th-edition chart of the New York Harbor (chart 12327).  The centennial edition features a current chart on one side and a 19th century historical version of the chart of the Harbor reprinted on the reverse side.  The chart is available as a NOAA raster and OceanGrafix Chart at:   A traditional paper chart will be released in early August.  For more information, contact


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