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Weekly News: February 2005

February 4, 2005

February 4, 2005


Maps of Pacific Coral Reefs Released

Scientists from NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science have developed a website and CD-ROM that provides maps, imagery, and digital geographic baseline information about the location and distribution of shallow-water seafloor habitats for American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Completing this project represents a major milestone towards meeting the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force recommendation to develop shallow-water coral reef ecosystem maps for all U.S. waters by 2007. This product provides the first comprehensive assessment of benthic habitat data of the shallow-water environments surrounding twenty islands in the U.S. Pacific territories with unprecedented thematic accuracy and detail. For more information, visit the website or contact Tim Battista.

Coastal Storms Program Moving Forward

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Coastal Storms Program is a nationwide effort to reduce storm impacts on life, the economy, and the environment by marshaling resources from across NOAA. The program is implemented through pilot projects in various regions of the country, including Northeast Florida, the Pacific Northwest, and Southern California. The program wrapped up its Florida pilot effort in January with workshops in Jacksonville and Daytona Beach. Eighty-nine emergency managers, safety officers, harbor pilots, planners, and city, state, and federal officials from throughout the St. Johns River watershed attended the all-day workshops. NOAA staff demonstrated the products and tools developed through this program to help communities better prepare for, respond to, and recover from storms. Some of these were oil spill models, environmental sensitivity index maps, and databases on contaminants in the region. For more information, visit the program’s website or contact Keelin Kuipers.

Shellfish Toxicity Differences Modeled in Gulf of Maine

In a study funded by NOAA's Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms (ECOHAB) program, data from ship surveys, moored instruments and satellites were used in a physical-biological model to explain why shellfish toxicity varied in the western Gulf of Maine between 1993 and 1994, years of very different shellfish toxicity. Shellfish in the Gulf of Maine accumulate toxins as they feed on blooms of the alga known as Alexandrium fundyense. This species appears to grow in or on the edge of plumes created by coastal rivers mixing with the Maine Coastal Current. Downwelling or upwelling conditions determine whether toxic cells of this species are abundant enough in nearshore regions to cause toxin buildup in shellfish. Although this model represents significant progress in predicting how A. fundyense is distributed, the source of the toxic cells at the beginning of the harmful algal bloom remains a major unknown. For further information, contact Quay Dortch.


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