December 24, 2004
NOAA Responds to Oil Spill on Unalaska Island
NOAA and the Office of Response and Restoration responded to the oil spill created by the M/V SELENDANG AYU as it went aground and broke in two in the Bering Sea near Unalaska Island on December 8. The 730-foot vessel was loaded with soybeans, and contained 483,000 gallons of heavy bunker oil and 20,000 gallons of diesel fuel. A fuel tank holding approximately 40,000 gallons of fuel ruptured when the vessel broke apart. Other tanks are believed to be leaking but the actual amount of spilled fuel is unknown. Among other activities, NOAA is making aerial observations and mapping the spills impacts on the shoreline, providing on-scene weather information, preparing trajectory forecasts of the oil, and responding to requests from the U.S. Coast Guard. For more information, contact Doug Helton.
Humpback Whale Sanctuary Begins Whale Watch Season
The Hawaiian Island Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary research team kicked off the Structure of Populations, Level of Abundance and Status of Humpbacks (SPLASH) program for the 2005 winter season to assess the early arrival of the whales to their Hawaiian eating and wintering area. This is the second year of an international study of endangered North Pacific humpback whales. SPLASH involves hundreds of researchers around the world in both winter and summer assessments. Sanctuary staff have already taken photographs and biopsy samples of whales seen off the Kona Coast. For more information, contact Naomi Mcintosh.
Tropical Storm Gaston Upgraded to Hurricane
The National Hurricane Center recently upgraded this year's Tropical Storm Gaston to hurricane level, a decision based largely on data collected from a NOAA-sponsored coastal observation station in South Carolina. The station, located at Capers Island, was established by NOAA's Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services and the Carolinas Coastal Ocean Observing and Prediction System, a Coastal Observation Technology System partner. The information that this station recorded provided important supporting evidence to upgrade the storm. For more information, contact Geno Olmi.