June 29, 2007
Survey Seeks to Minimize Right Whale Ship Strikes
NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey (OCS) and University of New Hampshire are assisting the National Marine Fisheries Service on a survey intended to help mitigate ship strikes on North Atlantic Right Whales. As part of the NOAA Integrated Ocean and Coastal Mapping initiative, NOAA Fisheries asked OCS to chart two-way shipping routes and two-way recommended shipping tracks within the mandatory North Atlantic Right Whale reporting areas. OCS’s hydrographic multibeam sonar data of Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts, will be used to update NOAA’s nautical charts with the recommended vessel routes. For more information, contact Doug.Baird@noaa.gov.
New Online Sea Floor Mapping Activity For Kids
In celebration of World Hydrography Day, NOAA's Ocean Service Communications and Education Division, in cooperation with NOAA's Office of Coast Survey, launched a new educational offering — Sea Floor Mapping — on the National Ocean Service Education Web site. Designed for students at the 3rd through 5th grade level, the media-rich activity teaches young people about mapping the seafloor and why it is important. This activity also conveys information about NOAA's missions of discovery and service. The Sea Floor Mapping Activity is available online at: http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education_new/seafloor-mapping. For more information, contact Peg.Steffen@noaa.gov or Bruce.Moravchik@noaa.gov.
Dolphin Stranding Report Analyzes Land Use and Human Population Influences
National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science scientists produced a CD-Rom of 41 maps analyzing spatial and temporal trends of bottlenose dolphin strandings with land resource use and human population density in the coastal counties of South Carolina. This CD will provide managers with important information on how land use and human population densities may affect stranding rates and will also be useful in assessing key stressors that may affect dolphin pathology. The maps were created using a Geographic Information System depicting densities of dolphin strandings overlaid with information on land-use parameters such as agriculture, urban areas, etc., and with human population densities. For more information, contact Wayne.McFee@noaa.gov.
June 22, 2007
Update on South Louisiana Elevation Surveys
On June 16th, the South Lafourche, Louisiana Levee District hosted an event for NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey (NGS), the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Louisiana Spatial Reference Center of Louisiana State University to unveil the results of a recent elevation survey in Southern Louisiana. The ceremony was held to commemorate the latest efforts in supporting restoration and protection efforts of coastal Louisiana and the release of new heights for the southern 27 Parishes. In addition, there was a dedication of the newest of Louisiana’s Continuously Operating Reference Stations, part of a national network of Global Positioning System stations managed by NGS. This new network of vertical control for Southern Louisiana is critical for recovery and construction projects, as well as future activities such as evacuation route planning and levee projects. For more information, contact Ronnie.Taylor@noaa.gov.
Three More African Countries Adopt NOAA Seafood-testing Tool
The governments of Kenya, Tanzania, and Tunisia recently announced that they will join Angola, Namibia, and South Africa in implementing an algal toxin-detecting tool developed by the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science. The tool, called receptor assay technology, allows seafood regulators to test shellfish for paralytic shellfish poisoning and determine whether they are safe for domestic or export sale. This technology transfer effort, sponsored by the International Atomic Energy Agency, responds to formal requests from international government agencies with seafood safety concerns. The method will undergo an international collaborative trial this fall as a final step toward validation for regulatory use. For more information, contact Greg.Doucette@noaa.gov.
New Report Addresses At-Sea Data Collection Standards
The National Marine Sanctuary Program has released a new report to help scientists better integrate monitoring data collected while at sea. The report, entitled “Standardizing At-Sea Monitoring Programs for Marine Birds, Mammals, Other Organisms, Debris, and Vessels, Including Recommendations for West Coast National Marine Sanctuaries,” provides guidance to researchers conducting long-term monitoring of seabird and marine mammal populations, taking into account variable funding levels, logistics, vessel platforms, and management issues. The report is now available on the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Web site at http://farallones.noaa.gov/research/pelagichabitat.html. For more information, contact JanRoletto@noaa.gov.
June 15, 2007
NOAA Restoration Day 2007
On June 12, hundreds of NOAA employees and partners participated in the 4th annual NOAA Restoration Day in Maryland and Virginia. NOAA Restoration Day is one of the largest voluntary federal employee-sponsored environmental stewardship events in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The Maryland event was held at the Jug Bay component of the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Maryland, and the Virginia event was held at the Virginia Commonwealth University Rice Center in Charles City, Virginia. At Jug Bay, more than 150 NOAA volunteers joined staff from partner agencies to restore a portion of the Patuxent River. Volunteers planted underwater grasses grown in 22 tanks in NOAA offices, transplanted wild rice, performed fish seining and sampling, mapped and removed invasive plants, completed digital elevation mapping, and more. In Virginia, more than 40 NOAA employees joined Virginia's Secretary of Natural Resources, L. Preston Bryant, Jr., and more than 40 staff from several local organizations to restore a portion of the James River. Volunteers planted native marsh grasses, cleared debris from the James River shoreline, and participated in the release of an Atlantic sturgeon. For more information, contact Alison.Hammer@noaa.gov.
From Sea to Shining Sea Exhibit Opens June 21st
NOAA and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service have created the exhibit, “From Sea to Shining Sea: 200 Years of Charting America’s Coasts.” The exhibit is a set of 20 posters celebrating the history, accomplishments, and scientific contributions of the nation’s first federally funded science agency, the Survey of the Coast, which was established by President Thomas Jefferson in 1807. This exhibit opens nationally on World Hydrography Day, June 21, in 200 selected venues around the country including maritime heritage museums, ports, nature centers, schools, libraries, lighthouses, and NOAA facilities. For more information, contact Katie.Ries@noaa.gov.
Paul Palmer Listed on National Register of Historic Places
NOAA announced last week that the shipwreck of the schooner Paul Palmer in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. Paul Palmer’s historical, architectural, and archaeological significance contributed to its listing. “The schooner’s involvement in the coal trade connected it to Americans throughout the East Coast,” said Sanctuary Superintendent Craig McDonald. Sailing south in June 1913, the schooner caught fire off Cape Cod, burned to its waterline, and then sank. Since NOAA’s discovery of the then-unknown shipwreck in 2000, the sanctuary has investigated the site with divers, remotely operated vehicles, and autonomous underwater vehicles, capturing detailed video and still imagery to document the vessel’s construction and artifacts. This research led to the schooner’s identification in 2002. The Paul Palmer’s partially buried remains lie on the flat, sandy seafloor atop Stellwagen Bank. For more information, contact Matthew.Lawrence@noaa.gov.
June 8, 2007
NOAA Surveys Northern Mariana Harbors
The NOAA Ship Hi’Ialakai, at sea in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, recently hosted three Office of Coast Survey (OCS) physical scientists who were conducting hydrographic surveys of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota Harbors. This collaborative project between OCS, the National Marine Sanctuary Program, and the NOAA Corals Program supports the Integrated Ocean and Coastal Mapping concept. NOAA conducted the harbor surveys to meet a critical request from the U.S. Navy to update the area’s nautical charts. The chart updates are necessary to enable naval surface and submarine vessels to use Saipan Harbor as their primary port-of-call in the region while Apra Harbor (on Guam) awaits necessary dredge work. The high-priority data will be processed to meet the Navy’s heightened need and provide a sample dataset to illustrate NOAA’s “90-day ping-to-chart” paradigm capability. For more information, contact Corey.Allen@noaa.gov or Caleb.Gostnell@noaa.gov.
NOS Supports Coastal States at the Local Level
At the request of the Georgia Coastal Program, the director of the Hollings Marine Laboratory, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) recently discussed research on tidal creeks with the county council, planners, and staff of McIntosh County, Georgia. The research focuses on the environmental health of tidal creeks in different types of development zones, such as forested, suburban, and urban areas. The Tidal Creeks model, which has been validated in the southeastern United States, is a tool to assist planners. The model views tidal creeks as sentinel habitats indicative of environmental, and, possibly, human health. Meanwhile, in Alaska, NCCOS scientists met with a wide variety of the state’s residents and organizations to present information on marine life and environmental contamination and potential contamination in subsistence foods. They also met with their counterparts at the Alaska Sea Life Center and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and began or furthered partnerships with a shellfish hatchery and several Alaska native organizations. For more information on Georgia’s tidal creeks, contact Fred.Holland@noaa.gov. For more information on Alaska activities, contact Kimani.Kimbrough@noaa.gov or Gunnar.Lauenstein@noaa.gov.
NOAA Team Trains Chinese on Marine Protected Areas
The National Ocean Service (NOS) recently led a workshop in Xiamen, China, to provide training for 60 Chinese professionals on marine protected area (MPA) management and capacity-building. The international team included NOS’s International Program Office, Office of Coastal and Ocean Resource Management, National Marine Sanctuary Program, NOAA Fisheries, NOAA Coastal Services Center- Pacific Science Center, and representatives from ESRI, The Nature Conservancy, the Johns Hopkins University, the Pakistan Wetlands Programme, and Australia. Workshop topics included watershed management, land-use impacts, site-level management, plan development, performance indicators and evaluation criteria, MPA network development, and geographic information systems in decision support and data analysis. The Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Management Training and Education Center, recently established by the Chinese government, the United Nations Development Program, and NOAA, hosted the workshop. For more information, contact Jonathan.Justi@noaa.gov.
June 1, 2007
Investigating Deep-Sea Coral Habitat
Habitat mapping and characterization has been defined as a high-priority management issue for the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, especially for poorly known deep-sea habitats that may be sensitive to disturbance from human activities. As a result, a team of scientists from the National Marine Sanctuary Program, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, and other partnering institutions initiated a series of surveys to assess the distribution of deep-sea coral and sponge assemblages within the sanctuary and to look for evidence of potential human impacts. Side-scan sonar surveys were conducted in May 2004, June 2005, and April 2006 aboard the NOAA ship McArthur II to create maps of the seafloor and provide scientists with a clearer picture of these deepwater habitats. The results of the surveys are summarized in the latest report to be added to the Marine Sanctuaries Conservation Series, which can be found online at http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/science/conservation/welcome.html. For more information, contact Kathy.Broughton@noaa.gov.
President Seeks Increased Protection of Marine National Monument
President George W. Bush has instructed the U.S. delegation to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to submit a proposal for international measures that would enhance protection of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in Hawaii. He proposed that the IMO designate the entire area as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area, similar to areas such as the Florida Keys, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Galapagos Archipelago. This designation will alert mariners to exercise caution in the ecologically important, sensitive, and hazardous area they are entering. For more information, contact Sarah.Marquis@noaa.gov.
Adopting an Integrated Ecosystem Approach to Reverse Coral Reef Degradation
The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science-sponsored Hawaii Coral Reef Initiative Research Program (HCRI) is adopting an integrated ecosystem focus for research activities to improve the management and sustainability of Hawaii’s coral reef ecosystems. Pending support in fiscal year 2007, HCRI will address coral reef degradation issues at selected locations by bringing together multiple agencies and stakeholders to collectively work on the suite of stressors affecting those ecosystems. The adoption of this approach builds on the strong working partnership that HCRI has developed over the last decade with the State, non-government organizations, federal agencies in Hawaii, and other stakeholders to develop more effective integrated management strategies that include community support. For more information, contact Felix.Martinez@noaa.gov.