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July 25, 2003

NOS Funds Award-winning Crab Trap Removal Program

A Mississippi project supported by NOS that successfully removes derelict crab traps recently won the Gulf Guardian Award. NOS's Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP) contributed $140,000 toward the Derelict Crab Trap Removal Program, a project of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources. Between January and April 2003, the program had already removed more than 2,000 of these traps, which can harm marine life and create navigational hazards. Trap removal continues. CIAP provides one-year funding to states that are affected by offshore oil and gas exploration. Funds are used to help states mitigate any detrimental effects of these activities. CIAP is implemented by NOS’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management. For more information, contact Josh Lott.

Bottlenose Dolphins Get Physicals for New Environmental Study

A new study is providing the first glimpse into how dolphins' health relates to their habitat conditions. Scientists at NOS's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science and Florida’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution (HBOI), along with other experts, recently captured and safely released 42 bottlenose dolphins from the Titusville and Stuart areas of the Indian River Lagoon during a two-week study period. Examinations of the dolphins included clinical health measurements, immunological profiles and contaminant measurements. Concern for the dolphins was prompted by a high level of strandings, and the fact that about one-third of the area’s 500 dolphins have unexplained skin problems. A similar study period will take place in Charleston, SC, in August. Data from this five-year study will allow scientists to identify serious health threats, make comparisons between two distinct populations, and develop links to environmental factors that may influence the dolphins’ health. For more information, contact Dr. Pat Fair at (843) 762-8533.

July 18, 2003

Coastal Zone ‘03 a Success, Garners Media Attention

The world’s largest conference series devoted to coastal zone management concluded its biennial gathering this week. The week-long Coastal Zone ‘03 conference, organized by the NOAA Coastal Services Center, was held in Baltimore, Md., and attracted more than 800 coastal management professionals. A field trip to Fort McHenry during the conference drew local media attention. The field trip featured NOAA’s restoration and stewardship activities in the upper Chesapeake Bay, and Baltimore’s Channel 11 and Channel 2 were there to cover the event. The Channel 11 crew spent 90 minutes at the Fort learning about the monitoring equipment used and the activities at the wetland grow-out station. The crew also boarded the NOAA Vessel BAY HYDROGRAPHER, and interviewed NOS employees from who are working with the National Aquarium in Baltimore to restore the Fort McHenry wetlands. For more information, contact Kristen Tronvig.

Sanctuary Program Hosts Delegates from Korea

Four delegates from the Korean Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MOMAF) met with Channel Islands sanctuary staff before arriving at National Marine Sanctuary Program (NMSP) headquarters on July 11. The delegates discussed various aspects of marine resource management with sanctuary and sanctuary program staff. They exchanged ideas on developing a management plan for a recently designated marine protected area off of Jeju Island in Korea. They also discussed next steps for implementing the plan and possible additional meetings in Korea. The Korean Broadcasting Service (KBS) plans to visit Sanctuary headquarters and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in late July to shoot a 50-minutes documentary on NOAA, the Sanctuary Program, and relations between NMSP and MOMAF. KBS staff will interview Sanctuary Program Director Dan Basta and other sanctuary staff. For more information, contact Matt Brookhart.

NOS Funding Opportunities Announced

NOS’s Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research is soliciting proposals for projects that aim to develop an ecological forecasting capability that balances conservation and wise use of coastal resources. The proposals should be for two to five years and can cover the coastal environment, the Great Lakes, estuaries, or coral reef ecosystems. The center will make final funding decisions in early FY2004. The Federal Register notice of the announcement is available on the center’s Web site. For more information, contact Beth Turner.

July 11, 2003

NOS Launches Official Electronic Navigation Charts

After two years of provisional use, NOS’s Office of Coast Survey recently released electronic navigation charts (ENC®s) for official navigational use. NOAA ENC®s support all types of marine navigation by providing official data to be used by electronic charting systems, including the commonly used Electronic Chart Display and Information System. ENC®s support real-time navigation and help the mariner avoid groundings and potential collisions. ENC®s also accommodate real-time tide and current display capabilities that are essential to large vessel navigation. ENC®s also provide fully integrated vector base maps for use in geographic information systems that are used for coastal management efforts and for other purposes. The NOAA ENC®s are in the International Hydrographic Office (IHO) S-57 international exchange format and comply with the NOAA ENC® Product Specification. They are free of charge and available online for download. For more information, contact Mike Brown.

Likely Cause for California Sea Lion Deaths Identified

Scientists from NOS’s Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research recently collaborated with the Marine Mammal Center and SeaWorld San Diego to confirm that domoic acid blooms have been causing sea lion fetal deaths along the California coast. The acid, Psuedo-nitzchia, is the product of toxic algal blooms and causes brain seizures and permanent brain damage. It has been detected in the area for the past several decades, and significant sea lion fetal deaths were reported in 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2003. Scientists are unsure of the long-term effects of domoic acid on the reproductive health of sea lions. For more information, contact Fran Van Dolah at (843) 762-8529.

NOS Works with Local Citizens to Survey Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Site

For the 14th year in a row, scientists from NOS’s Office of Response and Restoration (OR&R) surveyed western Prince William Sound in Alaska to monitor long-term effects of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. The June 27-July 1 photo survey mission included Alaskan archaeologists and local volunteers from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. These volunteers helped OR&R dig trenches, look for buried and residual oil, and document any wildlife. Such qualitative observations have been conduced since 2001, after 11 years of more inclusive quantitative surveys to monitor the health and recovery of the area. These surveys will provide a rich archive of information about the constantly changing shorelines of Prince William Sound. OR&R is encouraging local citizens to continue the observation process and further stewardship goals. For more information, contact Alan Mearns at (206) 526-6336 or John Whitney at (907) 271-3593.

July 3, 2003

NOS’s Water Level Stations Help Louisiana Cope with Tropical Storm Bill

Timing is everything! Established by NOS’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services on June 1, the St. Charles Parish, La., Water Level Monitoring System helped the local community make good decisions during this week’s Tropical Storm Bill. Emergency managers from St. Charles Parish decided not to evacuate residents because the new water level stations provided accurate, real-time information that indicated it was not necessary. To confirm the data that the stations provided, the Parish sent a police car to a station site to make sure that the road was indeed not flooded. Parish representatives expressed satisfaction with the newly installed water level stations, which provided time- and money-saving information to the community. For more information, contact Kristen Tronvig at (301) 713-2981 x200.

Florida Keys Sanctuary Temporarily Closes Diseased Coral Areas

A portion of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary will be closed temporarily so that scientists can study the disease outbreak currently affecting the area’s coral reef. Since the beginning of June, observers have noted disease outbreaks in Key Largo, Looe Key, Key West and in the Dry Tortugas affecting the staghorn coral. Research teams from NOS and NOAA Fisheries have been collecting samples and data to try to identify the new disease. The closure, which took effect June 26, will remain in effect until Aug. 25, with a possible 60-day extension. Notice of the temporary no-entry zone in the White Bank Dry Rocks area was announced in the Federal Register on July 1. For more information, contact Billy Causey at (305) 743-2437.

NOS Scientists Studying How Aquacultured Shrimp Metabolize Antibiotics

Scientists from NOS’s Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research are studying the effects of antibiotic use on aquacultured shrimp, which can be susceptible to disease. Their research, which focuses on how the shrimp absorb and metabolize the antibiotic, will help shrimp farmers determine how to keep shrimp healthy while minimizing antibiotic use. This is important because the antibiotics can damage the aquatic environment. An article on the research will be publishing in the journal Aquaculture. For more information, contact Lou Ann Reed at (843) 762-8587, Tom Siewicki at (843) 762-8534 or Mike Fulton at (843) 762-8576.

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