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Weekly News: June 2008
June 2008

June 27, 2008
June 20, 2008
June 13, 2008
June 6, 2008


June 27, 2008

Height Modernization Effort on Island of Maui
Accurate and up-to-date referencing of Earth’s position points and other spatial information—otherwise known as geodetic positioning—is critically important in supporting NOAA’s mission goals.  NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey (NGS), the Pacific Services Center, and the NOAA Educational Partnership Program are working with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to further this aim by increasing the density of Maui’s vertical geodetic control network.  The network is composed of benchmarks—such as small bronze plates anchored in the ground—that have known geographic coordinates.  In addition to meeting the programmatic goals of NGS’s Height Modernization Program, this project directly supports the USGS Pacific Islands Water Science Center in its effort to accurately monitor water levels in Maui’s aquifers.  Increased accuracy of water-level measurements in Maui’s long-term monitoring wells will allow the water resources community to address concerns over the impacts of climate change.  For more information, contact Jamie Carter or Ed Carlson.

Ocean Guardian Activity Book A Big Hit!
The Ocean Guardian Activity Book created by the National Marine Sanctuaries Program and Marine Debris Program targets children in grades kindergarten through third.  Using the book, children learn about the ocean and why it is important through word searches, games, and coloring pages, and they are encouraged to sign the Ocean Guardian Pledge to protect the ocean and all the creatures that live in it.  In the past three months, the activity book has been downloaded more than 6,000 times.  You can download the book for your child(ren) at  For more information, contact Claire Fackler.

Coral Reef Report Delivered to Congress
The NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program recently delivered the Coral Implementation of the National Coral Reef Action Strategy: Report on U.S. Coral Reef Task Force Agency Activities from 2004 – 2006 to Congress.  The report highlights the activities of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force (USCRTF) in 2004 to 2006 to promote understanding of coral reefs and to reduce the threats to these valuable marine ecosystems.  The report provides summaries and examples of the activities conducted by USCRTF members and their extramural partners to fulfill the goals and objectives of the National Action Plan to Conserve Coral Reefs (2000) and the U.S. National Coral Reef Action Strategy (2002).  The report addresses each of the 13 goals detailed in the National Coral Reef Action Strategy and charts annual funding by federal agencies for activities directly related to the National Coral Reef Action Strategy.  It also presents a brief analysis of the future opportunities and challenges facing coral reef ecosystems and the communities that depend on them.  For more information, contact Beth Dieveney.




June 20, 2008

Announcement of PORTS at Gulfport, Mississippi
On June 21, NOAA’s Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System (PORTS®) became operational in Gulfport, MS, as the 16th PORTS® location in the United States.  The Port of Gulfport, which is the third busiest container port on the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, handled more than 1.6 million tons of cargo and shipped 198,000 containers in 2006.  PORTS®, developed by the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services, provides accurate real-time oceanographic and meteorological data to mariners to help reduce the risk of vessel groundings as well as increase the amount of cargo moved through a port.  For more information, contact Darren Wright or Kate Bosley.

NOAA Data Used to Support Oil Spill Response Drill
Last week, responders used High Frequency Radar (HFR) data from the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) to support an oil spill response drill near San Diego, CA.  HFR is a technology for measuring ocean surface current speed and direction, as well as surface current waves in near real time.  Crews dumped dye (instead of oil ) over the side of a boat and then used ocean and coastal observations to track the dye’s movement.  Response boats transported cleanup equipment to the site and completed a test of that equipment.  IOOS regional partners at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography worked with Office of Response and Restoration spill trajectory analysts, NOAA’s San Diego Weather Forecast office, the U.S. Coast Guard, the State of California’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response, and Chevron Oil Company.  For more information, contact Jack Harlan or Jennie Lyons.

NOAA Hosts Workshop to Address Watershed Pollutants in China
From June 15-20, NOAA hosted a workshop to address land-based sources of pollution in China’s Xiamen Bay and Juilong River.  These important ecosystems are impacted by pollutant loading from excessive application of agricultural nutrients and pesticides, sedimentation and soil erosion, and domestic waste-disposal practices.  NOAA led U.S. experts from academia, private industry, and state governments to help the Chinese Government develop a plan of action to address these problems.  The United Nations (UN) Development Programme is considering funding the initiative.  This activity is part of a multiyear partnership between the NOS International Program Office and the UN Environment Programme to implement the Global Program of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities.  For more information, contact Clement Lewsey.




June 13, 2008

Wisconsin Governor Nominates Site for 28th Estuarine Research Reserve
In a press conference on May 30, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle nominated a 15,000-acre site along the St. Louis River in northwest Wisconsin to become the 28th National Estuarine Research Reserve.  If NOAA approves the designation, the site will become the second reserve in the Great Lakes, strengthening NOAA’s research, education, and resource protection efforts in the region.  The St. Louis River, which flows between the cities of Superior, Wisconsin, and Duluth, Minnesota, is one of the largest freshwater estuaries on Lake Superior.  The nomination paves the way for a federal designation that will raise the national profile of Wisconsin’s Great Lakes resources and capture additional federal funds to study and provide community outreach.  For more information, contact Matt Chasse.

Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary Receives Award
The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary (NMS) has been selected as the 2008 recipient of the Merit Network's Award for Innovation in Networking and Information Technology.  Thunder Bay NMS has consistently sought opportunities to enhance its educational programs using telepresence, connecting to other marine sanctuaries and research organizations to bring in remote programs and share its own resources.  The Sanctuary has embraced remotely operated vehicle technology both as a scientific instrument and as an educational tool.  As a further indication of the commitment to network-based interaction, the Sanctuary has helped ensure its long-term access to plentiful bandwidth by participating in the Alpena Regional Fiber Consortium, a forward-looking community networking project.  For more information, contact Cathy Green.

Analytical Methods Help Assess the Role of Algal Toxins in Mortality Events
Researchers from the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) provided the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) with detailed protocols for the collection of marine mammal samples and their analysis by mass spectrometry for detection of diarrhetic shellfish poisoning toxins.  The request for this information stems from a recent dolphin mortality associated with an unusual bloom along the Texas coast, and a need by TPWD to assess the possible involvement of harmful algal bloom (HAB) toxins in such events.  These sample collection and analysis methods developed by NCCOS for research and response applications have proven effective for a wide range of marine animals.  By transferring proven sample collection and analysis capabilities, NCCOS supports state agencies to enhance their ability to respond quickly and effectively to suspected HAB-associated mortality events.  For more information, contact Greg Doucette.



June 6, 2008

NOAA Volunteers to Help Restore Coastal Areas
On June 2, 200 NOAA employees and partners participated in the 5th annual NOAA Restoration Day in two different states – one Maryland and the other in Virginia.  The Maryland event took place at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center on the eastern shore of Maryland, the site of the first Restoration Day event in 2004.  The Virginia event took place at York River State Park.  Restoration activities included planting underwater Bay grasses grown previously within 22 NOAA office tanks, native oyster seeding on an offshore reef, planting over 2,000 wetland plants, performing coastal bottom mapping via boat, removing marine debris from the shoreline, and fish seining.  This is a true “one-NOAA” event, jointly organized by NOS and the National Marine Fisheries Service.  For more information, contact Alison Hammer or Andrew Larkin.

Guam Height Modernization Effort Will Enhance Geospatial Accuracy
Accurate and up-to-date referencing of Earth’s position points and other spatial information—otherwise known as geodetic positioning—is critically important in supporting NOAA’s mission goals.  NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey and the Pacific Services Center are furthering this aim by increasing the density of Guam’s vertical geodetic control network.  The network is composed of benchmarks, such as small brass plates anchored in the ground, that have known geographic coordinates.  This project supports the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Guam’s Water and Environmental Research Institute in their efforts to accurately monitor water levels in Guam’s aquifers.  Increasing the accuracy of water-level measurements in Guam’s long-term monitoring wells will help the water resources community address concerns over the impacts of military base relocation activities and associated population growth.  For more information, contact Jamie Carter or Ed Carlson.

Emergency Response Plan to Reduce Ship Strikes on Whales
On May 30, the Sanctuary Advisory Council of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary endorsed a Prevention and Emergency Response Plan to Reduce Ship Strikes on Blue Whales and Other Large Cetaceans in the Santa Barbara Channel.  The plan draws on an Incident Command System framework and details how and when NOAA and the U.S. Coast Guard issue a Notice to Mariners to reduce ship speeds when large cetaceans are present; aerial surveillance to track large cetaceans; education and outreach to the shipping industry; and stranding network protocols.  Sanctuary staff developed the Plan with input from the National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Coast Guard, and the Marine Exchange of Southern California.  These efforts follow the unfortunate and unprecedented mortality in 2007 of several blue whales – including one suspected and two confirmed ship strikes – which occurred within a two-month period in or near the Sanctuary.  Blue whales are listed as an endangered species and afforded protection by the Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, and National Marine Sanctuaries Act.  For more information, contact Sean Hastings.


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