Weekly News: July 2005
Researchers sponsored by the Cooperative Institute for Coastal and Estuarine Environmental Technology (CICEET), a partnership between NOAA and the University of New Hampshire, have developed a new Salt Marsh Assessment and Restoration Tool (SMART). SMART is a free computer model that informs the design of restoration projects seeking to reestablish tidal flow and return an area to its native salt marsh habitat. Users can customize SMART with data specific to their proposed project, and then calculate whether their strategy will restore tidal flow to a level conducive to a healthy salt marsh. They can also predict what will happen if no action is taken. While SMART was designed using Gulf of Maine salt marsh vegetation, the range of some of these species may make SMART useful as far as the Mid-Atlantic region. Adaptations of the model based on different vegetative species could extend its applicability to other regions as well. A version of SMART on CD is available free of charge. For more information, contact .
On July 11, scientists from the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science’s (NCCOS) Marine Biotoxins Program trained NOS outreach specialists at the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary on the identification of phytoplankton (very small free-floating aquatic plants). The training will enable Sanctuary staff to incorporate information on phytoplankton and harmful algal blooms into their outreach programs directed to visitors and school groups interested in the North Pacific humpback whale population and Hawaiian Islands marine environment. Educational materials, equipment specifications, and identification methods used by the Southeastern Phytoplankton Monitoring Network (SEPMN) were provided to the Sanctuary staff, as well as ideas on how to incorporate these topics into their outreach programs. This training workshop was the first step in assisting the Sanctuary’s efforts to develop a Volunteer Phytoplankton Monitoring Network based on the SEPMN. For more information, contact .
NOAA Fisheries Service has reduced the recreational red grouper catch limit in the Gulf of Mexico from two fish per person per day to one fish per person per day and will close the recreational grouper fishery in November and December of this year. The federal agency took this action on June 25 to reduce overfishing and rebuild the species. The new regulations take effect August 9. In addition, NOAA temporarily has reduced the aggregate grouper retention limit for recreational fishermen to three groupers per person per day to prevent overfishing of the whole grouper complex. Groupers in the Gulf are rebuilding under a strict 10-year timeframe, which began in January 2003. In order for the rebuilding plan to be successful, total recreational and commercial fishing had to be reduced by 9.4 percent, based on average landings from 1999 through 2001. NOAA states that the historic, cultural and economic importance of red grouper to coastal communities in the Gulf of Mexico makes this action necessary, and that these important temporary restraints on fishing will lead to a more sustainable future for all Gulf grouper fishermen. For more information, contact .
A Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary biologist and a coral restoration monitoring team member extracted multiple cores from an unusually large, mushroom-shaped Montastrea annularis coral head identified on the Broward county reef tract. The colony was in approximately 27 feet of water, was approximately 8 feet tall, and measured approximately 50 feet at its base. The extracted cores approached 80 inches in length, and initial estimates based on observed growth rates in the area approximate the age of the colony at 400-500 years old. Two cores were provided to Nova Southeastern University for its analysis, and one was kept for analysis by Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary biologists. Results of the analysis may reveal several clues about South Florida's coastal water temperature and quality. Digital still and video images were captured to document the unusual coral colony and the coring process. For more information, contact .
The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) is studying how habitat conditions affect the physiology and behavior of cultured fish to help coastal managers improve habitat and stock restoration. Recent testing of feeding and shelter-seeking behaviors show that fish reared in culture systems with a structurally complex environment outperform fish reared in conventional, structurally simple rearing systems. Ongoing NCCOS experiments will determine if stress in response to crowding observed in simple systems affects neural development as well as behavioral development. The work is being conducted jointly with researchers at North Carolina State University. For more information, contact .
The Office of Coast Survey has installed faster technology to permit the public to quickly examine its large format, regional paper catalogs of nautical charts. In addition, Coast Survey has created page-sized state catalogs of its chart suite that anyone can use to examine online and print at home. The catalogs include locations where charts can be purchased or accessed free online at
Revised January 11, 2013
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